And now it is time for the speech I make every year: What I’m about to list out are my favorite movies. I’m not saying that these are the best movies of the year — these are simply the ones that affected me the most. I feel strongly that art (and yes, movies are art) should elicit a reaction.
Here’s why each of these films got the biggest reactions out of me (listed in alphabetical order):
Avengers: Infinity War – Watching this movie was the most fun I had in a theater this year. At the end as each character started … um, well, I won’t spoil it for the approximately TWO people who still haven’t seen it yet … but let’s just say that at the end I was literally howling at the screen alongside another enthusiastic critic. Yes, we were obnoxious, but there were only other critics in the theater so whatever. It was a blast and I still laugh when I think about it. I was entertained by every single second of this movie.
Black KkKlansman – I love “I can’t believe this actually happened” stories. And it’s hard to think of a crazier story than a black police officer (played by John David Washington) who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan and then persuades his white partner (played by Adam Driver) to stand in for him during in-person meetings. One part flabbergasting, one part infuriating and one part hilarious, this is the kind of movie I think everyone in America needs to watch. Especially since director Spike Lee directly ties this incredible story from the ‘70s to present-day events with a gut-punch of an ending sequence.
On the Basis of Sex – Are you a woman or a man? If you answered yes, then you should watch this movie, which just hit theaters on December 25. It stars Felicity Jones as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she struggles to find a job as a lawyer and eventually takes the fateful case that would determine her legacy and the trajectory of the rest of her career, culminating in her appointment to the Supreme Court in 1993. While the documentary RBG is also excellent and earned an Honorable Mention from me below, I liked On the Basis of Sex more because it goes deeper into the pivotal case where Ginsburg challenged a law that claimed unmarried men were not entitled to tax breaks for their elderly parents’ nursing care (whereas women were). That’s right, although she might now be known as a champion of women’s rights (are you a woman who has a credit card? That’s but one of countless things you can thank RBG for), Ginsburg made her name arguing that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their gender.
Ralph Breaks the Internet – I’ve spent my entire career in and around the internet industry, and so I both laughed and cried over this supremely clever ode to all things great (and not so great) about our online world. While Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are still the stars of the show in this sequel, it also features cameos by countless other Disney and Lucasfilm characters — from all of the Disney princesses to C-3P0 — that will make you want to see it more than once just to catch everything.
Sorry to Bother You– This was by far the strangest and most original movie I saw in 2018, and I’m still thinking about it. It takes place in a world not unlike our own, but something’s a little … off. Lakeith Stanfield plays Cash, a man struggling to work his way up at a telemarketing firm, and Tessa Thompson plays his performance-artist girlfriend who has no love for The Man. After Cash realizes that his employer might not be exactly what it seems, he has to make some tough choices. You just gotta see it. It’s social commentary at its best from first-time writer/director Boots Riley.
A Star is Born – An Oscars front-runner and the third remake of the 1937 classic. Director and star Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga breathe new life into this timeless, tragic love story, which both gave me the chills and brought me to tears.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies – As a huge fan of this Cartoon Network animated series (my family even dressed up as the Titans last Halloween!), I was thrilled with this film adaptation. This is the movie that made me laugh the hardest this year, and we play its soundtrack daily at home.
Three Identical Strangers – No film made me sob harder than this documentary, which covers the bizarre saga of three triplets who were separated at birth and then reunited thanks to a chance encounter in college. (There’s much more to it than that, but I won’t spoil it.) As the parent of an adopted child who is forever wondering about questions of “nature versus nurture,” this story took me on a emotional rollercoaster ride.
Vice – This is another film that was just released on December 25, and it’s about Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) and the enormous influence and power he wielded over the course of his political career. From the same team behind The Big Short, it’s funny, educational and eye-opening. It made my list because I learned so much about how Cheney’s decisions continue to affect all of our lives — in addition to the lives of millions around the world.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – And finally, a sweet documentary about a man who was a constant, positive presence in countless children’s lives thanks to his show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Though soft-spoken and zen-like in his calmness, Rogers was not afraid to tackle tough issues and be direct with children about them. This film made me realize how desperately we need a figure like Mister Rogers right now.
Crazy Rich Asians
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Quiet Place
What were your favorite movies this year?