It’s been a dichotomous year at the movie theatre.
Despite a multitude of sequels and reboots that didn’t quite hit the mark (ahem, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado), there was still a wide swath of innovative, engaging cinema for audiences.
From the juggernaut Avengers: Infinity War to the sublime beauty of Roma, there was something for everybody. In no particular order, here are the best movies of the year.
Avengers: Infinity War
Despite a recent surge of hate against this overly long superhero movie, Infinity War is, in no uncertain terms, a juggernaut. Packed to the gills with Marvel superheroes, its story of banding together to defeat a common enemy is familiar, but there’s something about the way it unfolds that makes it stand out. No spoilers here, but people are still arguing about that ending and what it means for its upcoming sequel.
The Hate U Give
Intense right out of the gate, this coming-of-age story will stick with you months after viewing. The Hate U Give provides a much-needed look into black America and the power of the police. In a time of brutality and uncertainty, the movie is especially poignant and moving. Be prepared to be wowed by relative newcomer Amandla Stenberg, who leads the film as protagonist Starr.
Yes, a 1.5-hour thriller starring John Cho is one of the best movies of the year. Woefully underappreciated and overlooked, Searching is gripping the whole way through and has an ending that’s very difficult to figure out before you reach it. It also expertly has its characters using the internet in a non-boring, captivating way, a feat that most movies can’t accomplish.
This one’s divisive. Many critics found First Man to be slow, meandering, even pointless. But it is a truly beautiful movie, a quiet, pensive piece about being the first man on the moon. As played by Canadian boy Ryan Gosling, Neil Armstrong’s life gets a few more dimensions added to it; the haunting score and astounding visual effects only add to its otherworldliness.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
You might be asking how a cartoon could possibly make it onto the best-of list. This version of Spider-Man, which feels like the umpteenth, is arguably the best. It makes fun of itself as well as the superhero genre, and features a multitude of different animation styles. It’ll far exceed your expectations.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the most talked-about movie of the year, Black Panther. With a solidly black cast and taking place in an entirely black nation (Wakanda), the Marvel-Disney movie was the first in modern cinema to focus on a black superhero. With a bumping soundtrack, lots of action and an outstanding car chase scene, there’s plenty to enjoy here outside of the bigger message. Unsurprisingly, a sequel is already in the works.
Some film purists are up-in-arms about Roma, saying you need to see it in the theatre to truly “get” the experience, not watch it on Netflix (where it’s currently streaming). If you’re not a stickler about these things, then you’ll most likely enjoy this either way. A sumptuous, beautiful black-and-white feast, Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) delivers once more with this story of strife in 1970s Mexico City.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Visual feast Beale Street, Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to Moonlight, is just as sumptuous as its predecessor. Saturated and dreamy, the movie is superficially gorgeous, hiding a deep, dark core that emerges as the film progresses. Buttressed by superb acting (including Canadian Stephan James) and a condensed, simple story, it’s a film that’ll draw you in and leave you overly emotional.
The hilarious original movie is a tough act to follow, but somehow Deadpool 2 managed to match the funny and even up it a little. Expected raunchiness and vulgarity abound, but it’s done cleverly and with an expert touch, so it’s never too far or too much. Aside from a slight drag near the climax, the Ryan Reynolds-led movie is the funniest of the year and doesn’t disappoint.
Again, you might be thinking: a CGI-filled movie — a sequel, no less — about a stuffed bear? Get out of here. But really, this is a heartfelt, lovely film, fun for the kids and the adults. There’s something so genuine and sweet about the film, and its original storytelling and fine comedic acting (by the likes of Hugh Grant) seals the deal.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.