The Best Movie Of 2018 Is . . .

I speak nothing but the truth when I say that I’ve never paid much attention to the Golden Globe Awards, which are honors bestowed upon the film and television industries. (I’m not anti-awards shows, by the way, being a lifelong Oscars devotee.) However, two news flashes are in order in regard to that opening sentence: 1) Hardly anybody gives a shit about what I do or don’t pay attention to, which is entirely as it should be. 2) Many millions of people pay a good deal of attention to the Golden Globe Awards, which may or may not be as it should be.

Recently, though, for the first time ever I did spend a few minutes looking online at the nominees and winners from the Golden Globes event held on January 6. That’s because I was curious about how much overlap there would be between my choices for 2018’s best flicks and the choices of the folks who vote for the GGs.

There wasn’t a ton of overlap. The Globes nominated 20 films (five nominees in each of four categories: drama; musical or comedy; animated; foreign language). I saw only six of them, of which I thought highly of three (A Star Is Born; BlacKkKlansman; Isle Of Dogs). And as for the winners, I caught but one: Green Book, good but not special in my estimation, won in the musical or comedy division, though in my view it isn’t a member of either of those genres. It’s a drama with light comedic brushstrokes. Whatever.

Also bringing home the bacon at the GGs were Bohemian Rhapsody (drama), Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (animated), and Roma (foreign language). I have a feeling that I’m going to love Roma when I see it. As for the latest Spidey affair, there’s almost zero chance that I’ll fit it into my schedule during my remaining time on Planet Earth. Bohemian Rhapsody, though, definitely is on my radar screen.

So much for the Golden Globe Awards, then. The time now has arrived for me to pen some thoughts about my nominees for best picture and about why my winner from that pool captured the top spot. Caveat: Even though I’ve seen a lot of movies — 32 — that were released in the USA during 2018, there’s no question that numerous good ones didn’t pass before my eyes. But you can’t see everything. Away we go.

Of the 32, a few, such as The Death Of Stalin and On Chesil Beach, stunk up the joint mightily, in my modest opinion. But most of the others were enjoyable, some remarkably so. And a small group were not only highly enjoyable but thought-provoking and poignant too. It’s those three characteristics that elevate them into my Best Films Of 2018 category. Here they are: The Hate U Give; The Insult; American Animals; BlacKkKlansman; The Rider; Leave No Trace. Three others (Eighth Grade; First Man; Can You Ever Forgive Me?) came awfully close to making my list, but six is more than enough for me to deal with.

That sextet is a very fine group. I mean, these are thoughtful, carefully-crafted movies. The Insult, filmed in Lebanon and subtitled, peers at the societal and familial ramifications brought about by two men’s stubbornness and unchecked emotions. BlacKkKlansman and The Hate U Give throw American racism right smack into your face. American Animals, about which I’ve previously written (click here), is a depiction of screwy, exciting people on a crazy quest. Their quest kept me nervous as hell.

The final two flicks, unlike the four just mentioned, are enveloped with calmer vibes. A quiet, contemporary tale set among Native American cowboys, The Rider matter-of-factly and movingly presents tragedy and love in equal measures. And what about Leave No Trace (click here to read my earlier comments about it), in which a father and his teenage daughter, living off the grid, eventually have to decide how far into society they will venture? Well, among other things, it absolutely broke my heart.

When I began tossing around ideas for this article, I thought it would be difficult for me to select a winner. Turns out it wasn’t. Only one of the nominees has popped into my mind semi-regularly since I watched it. And although each of the six got to me in one or more meaningful ways, the depth to which Leave No Trace penetrated leaves no doubt that crowning any other movie would be oh so wrong. Leave No Trace, I bow before your powers.

At the start of Leave No Trace, directed and co-written by Debra Granik (who notched those same credits for 2010’s excellent Winter’s Bone), dad Will (played by Ben Foster) and daughter Tom (played by Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) are doing their best to keep away from organized society. They live in a makeshift campsite deep within an Oregon public forest, where they forage and hunt. Will, an emotionally and psychologically damaged war vet (he probably served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, though we never find out), has chosen this life for them. But he’s not a hopeless case, not when it comes to Tom, who is the apple of his eye and for whom he’d do just about anything. And Tom’s feelings for her father are as deep as his are for her.

As might be expected, though, time and the legal and social welfare systems catch up with the duo. After evaluations by social workers, Will and Tom are placed into a soft corner of the real world. The second half of the movie is an elegant laying out of their responses to their new circumstances. The movie’s end, sad and profound, yet life-affirming in a sense, just might break your heart as much as it did mine.

Okay, I’m about to bid you adieu, but first I have to state the obvious. Namely, it’s as clear as a bright, sunny day that no one movie is the best of 2018, or of any year. Everyone has their own opinions. The Golden Globes picked their 2018 winners, and I’ve picked Leave No Trace. I’d be very interested to know which films, from 2018, you think stand out from the rest, or any other thoughts you have about movies. So, please don’t be shy about adding your comments. Gracias. Goodbye till next time!

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90 thoughts on “The Best Movie Of 2018 Is . . .

  1. cindy knoke January 15, 2019 / 12:33 am

    I scanned this. I was a visual arts minor, and member of the science fiction film club as an undergrad, long ago and far away. I used to really like movies. I basically don’t anymore, because there are so many bad ones, but I guess I’m not paying attention. I will start with The Insult, and see if I like it. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:31 pm

      Hey there, Cindy. I bet you’ll like The Insult. It’s high quality, in my opinion. A taut, thoughtful drama.

      Like

  2. andrewcferguson January 15, 2019 / 2:13 am

    Insightful as ever Neil. I’ll give Leave No Trace a spin if I can find a cinema near here doing it, for sure. Incidentally, The Redoubtable Mrs F and Daughter and Heiress went to see The Favourite at the weekend, and enjoyed it but not massively so. Apparently D & H spent some of the time googling to see what was actually, historically, verifiable!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. lievelee January 15, 2019 / 4:42 am

    I shall have to wait until these films are in the cinemas in rural Vietnam… Might be a long wait…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Alyson January 15, 2019 / 5:25 am

    I took the time to find out what the Golden Globes actually were this year, and discovered they are the “accolades bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association beginning in January 1944, recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign” – Didn’t know that before.

    Enjoyed your (annual) essay on who might be the big winners and your own predictions. I loved Bohemian Rhapsody but noticed it didn’t get great reviews from the critics. I would love if it won something big!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:38 pm

      BR went home with a Golden Globe for best drama. I think that the main actor might have won a GG too. Maybe BR will win some Oscars. It probably will.

      Like

  5. Mahvish (towhomitmayconcern) January 15, 2019 / 7:27 am

    I already saw spider verse in the theaters and it was amazing. Not Oscar worthy I’ll admit. My next mission is to watch Bohemian Rhapsody.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:40 pm

      I saw the star of BR on a late night talk show recently. He’s also in a TV series called Mr. Robot.

      Like

      • Mahvish (towhomitmayconcern) January 15, 2019 / 2:57 pm

        I heard about that show. Now I know what I’ll be doing (and forcing my husband into doing) late night over the weekend after the kids are in bed 😏.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Laurie Graves January 15, 2019 / 8:04 am

    Leave No Trace is one of my favorite movies of the year, too. So very, very good! I was pulled right into this film from the first minute. Along with the terrific acting and story is the beautiful cinematography. Great choice!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:42 pm

      Hi Laurie. I wonder how well Leave No Trace did at the box office. I hope it has found an audience on Netflix or whatever streaming/on demand service is carrying it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie Graves January 16, 2019 / 8:52 am

        I’m not sure how well Leave No Trace did. It is now on Amazon Prime. I plan to watch it again.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. greenpete58 January 15, 2019 / 8:28 am

    You’ve got excellent taste, Neil, so I’ll trust your opinion about “Leave No Trace.” And it sounds like a film that’s up my alley. So I’ll definitely watch it. Another one I want to see is a new film about Van Gogh’s painting, starring Willem Dafoe, directed by Julian Schnabel. I like Vinnie, Willie, and Jules.

    But I’ll be honest, I’m not much for most films coming out of Hollywood these days. Too many stinkers, too many bombastic superhero mega-flicks aimed at children and childlike adults. And WAY too much self-congratulatory PC for my taste. Awards? What are they? Who’s done the best marketing job? I prefer Golden Raspberries (Razzies) over Golden Globes. But, like you so aptly said, nobody gives a shit about what I do or don’t pay attention to. That’s not as it should be, but I’ve learned to deal with it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:44 pm

      Pete, a year or two ago there was a mindblowing film about VVG called Loving Vincent. It’s amazingly creative. If you haven’t seen it, check it out!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Still the Lucky Few January 15, 2019 / 8:52 am

    Oh, the suspense! I waited with bated breath for you to reveal your top pick (you should write mysteries) and was disappointed, since I haven’t seen “Leave No Trace”. But never mind, it hasn’t arrived at our local theater yet, and I may yet have a chance to see it! Thanks for this—it made me realize that 2018 was a good movie year!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:46 pm

      Afternoon, Diane. Leave No Trace is gone from the theaters. I suppose you can find it on Netflix or some other streaming service. Or maybe it’s on demand on various cable tv providers. You’ll like it!

      Like

  9. eden baylee January 15, 2019 / 11:26 am

    Great review of the film. It makes me want to see it though I doubt I’ll get to it pre-Oscar time. Roma is supposed to be terrific. Friends of mine saw it and could not stop raving.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:49 pm

      Yeah, Roma is at the top of my to-be-seen list too. Here’s a great doc you might like: The World Before Your Feet. It’s about a guy who is attempting to walk on every single block, park, cemetery, etc. in all five of New York City’s boroughs. I liked it a whole lot.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. JT Twissel January 15, 2019 / 1:14 pm

    I haven’t seen any of the movies but I am interested in Roma and Green Book. Thanks for the recommendation of Leave No Trace…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:51 pm

      I’m not sure if Roma has made it yet to any of my area theaters. If not, I’ll head into Philadelphia to catch it. Have a great week, JT!

      Like

  11. Ann Coleman January 15, 2019 / 2:22 pm

    I never watch award shows (a bit too self-congratulatory for my taste), but I will give some of your moves a try. Especially Leave No Trace.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Janet Sunderland January 15, 2019 / 2:27 pm

    Of the movies I’ve seen, I’d say Blackklansman is the best. Lead actor is up for best actor. The film is also culturally important. Most people don’t know the history.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:56 pm

      Glad to hear from you, Janet. Right, it’s an excellent and an important movie. Spike Lee, its director, has spent much of his career making movies about racism and race relations. He’s not afraid to speak out.

      Like

  13. joyce hamilton January 15, 2019 / 2:37 pm

    I saw Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians and the Wife. Hopefully l will see more before the Oscars.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 15, 2019 / 2:59 pm

      Hi Joyce. Before we know it, the Oscars will be here. There isn’t going to be a main host this year. Maybe that’s a good idea. We’ll find out!

      Like

  14. George January 16, 2019 / 1:11 am

    I’d not heard of Leave No Trace. I’ll have to seek it out (and prepare to be heartbroken).

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Gallivanta January 16, 2019 / 7:32 am

    About the only time I get to see a movie is on an aeroplane! So I don’t see very many films at all, let alone the really good ones. But I am going to trust your judgement on Leave No Trace because young Tom is our very own Thomasin, from New Zealand acting royalty. https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/103397671/thomasin-harcourt-mckenzie-from-acting-royalty-comes-nzs-newest-young-movie-star Her grandmother, Dame Kate Harcourt, is an amazing woman.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. alhenry January 16, 2019 / 9:56 am

    Boy, am I with you re: On Chesil Beach. I was trapped on an airplane while watching this one, and so I did the only sane thing I could: I fell asleep halfway through. Sadly I did not see many new films this year–really good films seem few and far between now and so we’ve gotten out of the going-to-the-movies habit and watch British series on Netflix. I did love the Christopher Robin film you suggested last year, so will def give your recommendations here a serious lookover. I’m looking forward to the RBG film but as we left for vacation the day it came out, I will have to wait until we return to check it out.

    I stopped watching the GGs when Colin Firth stopped being a regular nominee.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. selizabryangmailcom January 16, 2019 / 9:44 pm

    We haven’t gotten out much this past year, I can see. Movies like The Hate U Give and Spike Lee’s stuff don’t ping my radar, but the reasons why are long and involved.

    The Rider and Leave No Trace definitely sound intriguing!
    And weirdly, we did happen to see Isle of Dogs, which was charming and cute.

    I envy those who haven’t seen Rami Malek (star of Bohemian Rhapsody) yet in Mr. Robot (especially season 1). He’s amazing. He must be pretty damn good in the movie. Nice picks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 16, 2019 / 11:06 pm

      You know, I’ve never seen Mr Robot. I probably should give it a try. But my tv viewing pattern is pretty weird. I watch very few series. Anyway, take care. Have an excellent rest of the week.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. K E Garland January 16, 2019 / 10:23 pm

    I’ve been following you for a couple years now, and I have to say that I trust your judgment. I forget which year, but you convinced me to watch Moonlight and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve seen the Klansman movie and Green Book. I thought Green Book was pretty good, until I read an article that said Dr. Shirley’s family is angry because his character was grossly misrepresented. He, indeed, did have family. Anywho, I’ll be checking out your final selection and 8th grade…I keep scrolling past the last one, but now I’ll watch it. Thanks Neil!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 16, 2019 / 11:10 pm

      I’m not surprised to hear what you mention about Green Book. I hate it when biopics take big liberties with what the real situations were. Thanks for stopping by, Kathy. Be seeing you.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. tanjabrittonwriter January 16, 2019 / 10:46 pm

    I watch so few new movies, I don’t really have an opinion. But BlacKkKlansman is about a Colorado Springs police officer, so I hope to watch it at some point soon. I was shocked and saddened when I first learned about the KKK activities in Colorado.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. johnlmalone January 17, 2019 / 6:36 pm

    An interesting selection. The film I most want to see is ‘Isle of Dogs’ by Wes Anderson. I saw ‘Death of Stalin’. It stank. I will catch ‘Roma’ shortly which seems the most interesting of the lot: a well-known director, a previously unknown main actress

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Jacqui Murray January 18, 2019 / 11:29 am

    Very thoughtful comments. I just can’t get excited about any of what’s coming out lately. Maybe I’m changing. I’ve been spending many hours on old movies, TNN sort. What they lack in sophistication is well made up for in storyline.

    Thanks for your summaries. Now I can be somewhat intelligent discussing them at dinner parties!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. cincinnatibabyhead January 18, 2019 / 2:08 pm

    I would lean more towards the “Neilies” than the Globies (never watched them). You have stirred up some interest for me. You know CB,I like the hidden gems and a good story and good performances and good cinematography and dogs and ……

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Isabelle January 18, 2019 / 4:00 pm

    Like you, Leave No Trace is my choice Neil. Atonement and Dunkirk are two films that made a huge impression. Both touched the theme of WW2 I’ve realised, especially the role Britain played during the war, although the first one is a romantic film and the latter a war film. Have a great weekend! Isabelle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 18, 2019 / 6:00 pm

      Evening, Isabelle, though I suspect you’re asleep by now. You’ll like Leave No Trace. It has a terrific script. The movie feels natural.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. sniderjerry January 19, 2019 / 8:35 am

    Speaking of fun and funny, are you going to see the movie “Stan and Ollie”? Have a great day – Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 19, 2019 / 10:00 am

      I’m thinking about catching that one. It’s gotten good review, I think. Take care —

      Like

  25. smilecalm January 19, 2019 / 2:08 pm

    glad to hear they
    all are winners!
    i hope to see
    them someday 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 19, 2019 / 4:36 pm

      Hi, and thanks for dropping by. Today I noticed that one of my cable networks has Chinatown on demand. Have you seen it? Pretty great movie from, I think, the 1970s. I should watch it again.

      Like

      • smilecalm January 19, 2019 / 7:29 pm

        yes, saw when it came out and i was in hi school. worth an encore 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  26. jeanleesworld January 19, 2019 / 3:00 pm

    Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing that animated Spider-Man sometime–yeah, it’s something kid-friendly, but the animation actually looked stylistic in a GOOD way. Something along the lines of Samurai Jack, a kick-ass cartoon from the 90s. But that’s me; I’m more of the escapist movie watcher than anything else. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 19, 2019 / 4:39 pm

      Maybe I was hasty in my opinion about Spidey. Since writing this article I’ve seen a couple of reviews that liked it a lot. Thanks for stopping by, Jean. Be seeing you!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Lignum Draco January 20, 2019 / 5:17 am

    Sometimes I want to be made to think, and other times, mindless entertainment is the go. I appreciate the review and enjoy variety.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Silver Screenings January 20, 2019 / 1:37 pm

    I haven’t seen many of the nominated movies for 2018, and I had not heard of “Leave No Trace”. (Don’t laugh.) But it sounds intriguing and when I get the chance to see it, I’ll look forward to it. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 20, 2019 / 3:21 pm

      Hello there. I wouldn’t mind seeing Mary Poppins Returns and If Beale Street Could Talk. They both came out recently and have gotten good reviews. So long for now!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. cath January 21, 2019 / 7:41 am

    32 movies this year? Really? I’m impressed. I don’t think we’ve managed that many combining tv with visits to the Picture-House, and I think of myself as putting in a lot of screen-time.

    What a useful post though. I remember your original post about Leave No Trace. Something that made that big an impact must be interesting. I’ll have to look out for it on-line.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 21, 2019 / 10:04 am

      Hi. Yes, it’s worth looking into. It’s very good. I’m glad to be indoors right now. Outside it’s 7 degrees F (-14 Celsius) where I live, near Philadelphia.

      Liked by 1 person

      • cath January 21, 2019 / 10:17 am

        Brrr. It’s about + 8 Celsius here, and I’ve been thinking that was cold!

        Liked by 2 people

  30. dugoutdiscs January 21, 2019 / 5:32 pm

    Great picks! My top three are The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Tully. Also really liked A Star Is Born and Widows. Won’t get to see a lot of the GG nominees until they open here in the UK in the next month.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 21, 2019 / 6:17 pm

      Hey there. I liked A Star Is Born a lot too. Lady Gaga is a very talented person. I’m not sure, but this might have been her first movie. She’s really good in it, as you know. Thanks for dropping by. See ya!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. pjlazos January 21, 2019 / 8:48 pm

    I’m need to see Leave No Trace, Neil. I agree with your assessments on the movies you’re listed that I have seen and also that there really is no best since it’s all so subjective which makes it sad for the losers, I guess. Although just getting a film made when they are expensive seems like entering the winner’s circle to me. I dream of one of my books being made into a movie someday. A girl can dream… :0)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 21, 2019 / 9:52 pm

      Hey, it could happen. You never know! Even if it doesn’t, it’s a hell of an achievement to have written books.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pjlazos January 22, 2019 / 7:17 am

        Aw, thanks, Neil. 🙏 It often feels a like like slogging through bubble wrap, lots of noise and missteps and some hilarious bits as well. 😘

        Liked by 1 person

  32. Paddy Tobin January 23, 2019 / 9:42 am

    I’m afraid the world of Hollywood passes me by without my noticing it at all but I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject very much.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Michele Anderson February 5, 2019 / 5:03 pm

    I’m pretty bad about going to the movies. If it’s on Netflix or Prime maybe I’ll see it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 5, 2019 / 6:05 pm

      Hi. Nothing wrong with watching movies at home. Over 40 years ago I got into the habit of going to movie theaters. And I’m still doing that. I watch some movies at home, but mostly see them in theaters. Take care. I appreciate your stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  34. carpe diem Eire February 11, 2019 / 7:52 pm

    Nothing wrong with your list the movies mentioned are as good as anything I’ve seen. But that’s the problem absolutely nothing stands out as been the best movie of the year for me. I miss the glory days of the 1990s. They made good movies then.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. The Arcane Nibbler February 21, 2019 / 12:33 pm

    Hope you got around to ‘Roma.’ It’s stunning. My favorite of the year. I just saw ‘Green Book’ last night. Meh. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was crap. I haven’t had the chance to see ‘Leave No Trace’ yet. Hearing great things about it. Hope to catch it online soon. May get around to posting my own top ten for 2018 in a week or so (in March!?!) Better late than never.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 21, 2019 / 2:07 pm

      Hi. I’ll be interested to see which ones from 2018 you think are the best. Roma’s still on my to-be-seen list. One of these days I’ll catch it.

      Liked by 1 person

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