2018 was the year I saw the most movies in the theater. So many films looked good and many exceeded my expectations. I remember last year in my “Best Movies of 2017” blog, I said I was still waiting for Asians to have a chance to shine in a Hollywood film because they are always given such short shrift, and then Crazy Rich Asians came out the following year. And that’s only one of the films from 2018 that broke the mold. Here are my favorite movies of 2018 (Documentaries and foreign-language films are not included).

January

Paddington 2

February

Becks

Black Panther

As a Marvel geek, I was well aware of the history of the superhero Black Panther before I saw this movie, but I was still surprised by how much I loved it. In many ways, the story of T’Challa the king of Wakanda was a classic hero tale of good vs. evil and confidence overcoming doubt, which have been storytelling formulas since the days of Shakespeare, and it is even similar to other Marvel movies as well. The thing that made it so memorable was the race of its cast. This is significant because being black is about more than just skin color. Being black is a completely different experience from being white in a variety of ways. Killmonger pointed this out when he planned to use Wakandan resources to help save his people back in his home country. This makes Black Panther a film that could only have been about black people, and for a heavily promoted Hollywood blockbuster backed by Disney, that was a huge moment for black audiences because it told the world that their stories matter too.

Early Man

Loveless

The Party

Annihilation

Game Night

March

Thoroughbreds

The Death of Stalin

Love, Simon

Isle of Dogs

Ready Player One

Gemini

April

Blockers – Funniest film of the year

My choice for funniest film of 2018 is the raunchy comedy Blockers starring John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz as a trio of parents who try to stop their daughters from having sex on prom night. It was much smarter and more heartfelt than most movies of this genre, and it owes a lot to Judd Apatow and his brand of humor. Also one of the most feminist movies of the year as well. But most importantly it made me laugh out loud.

Chappaquiddick

A Quiet Place – Most original film of the year

The story of a world where monsters attack you for making noise made this silent horror film deeply suspenseful and frightening, not to mention a great showcase for John Krasinski and Emily Blunt to act without speaking. Plot holes have frequently been pointed out but I was too absorbed by the brilliant storytelling to give a damn.

You Were Never Really Here

Lean on Pete

6 Balloons

Sgt. Stubby An American Hero

The Rider

Avengers: Infinity War

Disobedience

May

Tully

Deadpool 2

First Reformed

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Tale

June

Upgrade

American Animals

Hereditary – Scariest film of the year

The family in this movie may be the most dysfunctional of 2018. Thankfully you don’t exactly want to see likable people go through the things the characters in this movie go through. Something bad happens to someone, family members get blamed, and it all goes downhill from there.

Alex Strangelove

Incredibles 2

Set It Up

Damsel

Leave No Trace

July

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Sorry to Bother You

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Eighth Grade

Office Uprising

Blindspotting

This movie may have captured the feeling of being a black person in America better than any other film this year. It is definitely original and frequently uses abstraction and flights of fancy to drive its points home, making for a memorable experience. It tells the story of a man played by Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) who is trying not to get in trouble while on probation but finds it difficult in the city of Oakland where life for a black man is twice as hard.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Puzzle

August

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

BlacKkKlansman

A Prayer Before Dawn

Crazy Rich Asians

It was one thing for Hollywood to make a film led by an Asian cast, but this was also the best romantic comedy in ages and my new favorite rom-com of all time. Equally romantic and comedic, with the comedy side aided heavily by Awkwafina.

Alpha

The Wife

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Searching

Juliet, Naked

September

A Simple Favor

The Angel

The Land of Steady Habits

The Sisters Brothers

Colette

The Old Man & the Gun

October

A Star Is Born

A movie I initially dismissed as being another unnecessary remake directed by an actor pretending to be an auteur, but I was proven wrong. Both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga have done Oscar-worthy work in this romantic drama, and surprisingly the music isn’t bad either.

The Hate U Give

Private Life

22 July

The Kindergarten Teacher

Apostle

First Man

Halloween

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Mid90s

What They Had

Wildlife

November

Boy Erased

A Private War

Bodied

The Other Side of the Wind

Overlord

Widows

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Cam

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Creed II

Green Book

The Favourite

The Clovehitch Killer

Anna and the Apocalypse

If Beale Street Could Talk

December

Ben Is Back

Icebox

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Best film of the year

Hard to know where to start with this film, which is also the best animated film of the year, the best sci-fi film of the year and the best superhero film of the year. Into the Spider-Verse embraces its cartoonyness more than any other animated film, often looking like a comic book come to life. It’s the most radical thing to happen to animation since Yellow Submarine. The story about a boy named Miles Morales who teams up with a band of Spider-Men from alternate dimensions to defeat Kingpin (best known as the villain from Daredevil) was many things. Funny, heartfelt, original, action-packed, and for me the best movie of 2018.

Bumblebee

Stan & Ollie