The POPAXIOM Top 10 Films Of 2018

Best of 2018

The cinema year that was 2018 will go down as epic, as diversity proved to be a winner at the Box Office, many fan-favorite directors released films, several classics were re-visited with sequels, and audiences showed surprising support for non-franchise fare.

But what movies made the inaugural BEST OF list for POPAXIOM? Check out the ten films below, and let us know what your best movie moment from 2018 was in the comments.

10. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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2018 was hailed by many as the “Year of the Documentary,” as four documentaries made over ten million dollars each at the box office, and it is a rare feat for even one to do so. The most financially successful of the four (having made over $22 million), Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, comes in at the tenth spot on this list. It is definitely one of the most emotional documentaries to be released in a long time. Even those unfamiliar with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (guilty) loved the documentary because of its charm and fabulous execution. This is a feel-good film in a time when bad news seems to be dominating everyone’s lives, and as Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

9. Bad Times at the El Royale

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Bad Times at the El Royale was a film that proved to be quite divisive among critics. Some claimed that it was nothing more than a rip-off of Tarantino, while others hailed it as a great Tarantino homage. It’s understandable why it didn’t work for some, but its witty dialogue and thought-provoking allegory are enjoyable and compelling. Goddard crafts a fascinating retro world and characters that are equally interesting, having them build off of each other to deliver the film’s message. You may not feel the same way, but hey, “Let’s have ourselves a tussle!”

8. Assassination Nation

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Assassination Nation is perhaps the most underseen and underappreciated movie of 2018. Neon pushed it nationwide, yet it still didn’t get nearly enough attention. Perhaps its edgy subject matter put off some audiences, but this film couldn’t be more relevant to today’s society. A cautionary tale about technology and the online culture, this film is both shockingly important and yet seemingly ahead of its time. Although it is only sitting at a 56 on Metacritic right now, this is the most likely of the films on this list to be looked back upon in the future and remembered more positively.

7. BlacKkKlansman

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Spike Lee delivered his best film in ages with BlacKkKlansman, which tells the true story of a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Grounded by a compelling protagonist and filled to the brim with biting satire, this film shows what we all loved most about Lee at the beginning of his career. This film also contains one of the breakout stars of the year, John David Washington (son of Denzel), who plays protagonist Ron Stallworth. Even more impressive, though, is that Lee managed to tie Stallworth’s story to modern events without feeling preachy.

6. The Old Man & the Gun

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Supposedly Robert Redford’s swan song, The Old Man & the Gun is certainly a great send-off for the beloved and talented actor, and it’s director David Lowery’s most accomplished film on top of that. Its message may be much more straightforward than those of Lowery’s other films, but it is still something that will resonate with audiences, especially older ones. On a technical level, the film is magnificent, with great cinematography that is gloriously retro. It is simply a hoot to watch, and Redford is at his best.

5. Free Solo

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It isn’t often that a documentary makes the list of the best movies of the year, so having two in the top 10 is crazy. Free Solo isn’t just the best documentary of 2018, it’s probably the best documentary of all time, period. The subject is fascinating, and Alex Honnold is compelling and has a great sense of humor. It is also one of the most exhilarating and intense films you will see all year, as the climbing scenes are wonderfully shot in a way that makes them thrilling to watch. This is also one of the rare documentaries that actually calls for big-screen viewing, although it has already passed out of theaters. Still, this film is definitely worth a watch in any format you can see it.

4. Widows

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Steve McQueen’s newest film, Widows, was an absolute surprise. No one expected it to be bad, but few expected it to be as outright amazing as it actually was. It takes the tropes of the heist genre and spins them, creating a refreshing story that is exciting and compelling. If that wasn’t enough, the film also incorporates a complex storyline about political corruption. Viola Davis delivers another phenomenal performance in her lead role, and she is backed by a massive (and massively talented) supporting cast. Somehow, Daniel Kaluuya managed to top himself in this film, playing what is perhaps the best antagonist in any film this year.

3. Sorry to Bother You

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Say what you want about Sorry to Bother You, but you cannot cite it for lack of creativity. This is one of the craziest satires to come out in a long time. The first half of the film, involving Lakeith Stanfield’s telemarketer using his “white voice” (David Cross), was all that was marketed, and it’s hilarious. However, the second half of the film turns sharply into dark comedy, with a terrifyingly and uproariously inventive idea unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. If you missed this one, now is the time to check it out.

2. Mary Poppins Returns

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Who would have thought that a sequel to a beloved 54-year-old classic would be so great? But it is! Mary Poppins Returns is as “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” as the original, able to capture the same magic for audiences both young and old. It tells an original story with brand new songs, but following the same arc and spirit of the classic. Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda both give phenomenal performances in the film, the soundtrack is great, and the visuals are phenomenal. Perhaps most impressive is the film’s blend of animation and live-action footage. This is the film you need to go out and see with your family this holiday season!

1. Annihilation

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Annihilation was released in February, and it mostly flew under the radar despite receiving a largely positive reception. It is rare that a film released so early in the year is the best film, yet this managed to stick around at the top. It warranted not one, not two, not three, but four viewings in the theater. The visuals are impressive, the performances strong, and the story great. If someone tells you that you won’t understand the film, they’re not doing it justice. For the most part, it’s not that difficult to follow.

On the other hand, it is true that it won’t resonate with everyone. If you don’t sympathize with the characters and the message, you may not enjoy the film. It’s worth giving it a shot, though.

There are some great films that got left off this list, such as The Oath, Vox Lux, Burning, The Favourite, and Green Book, but the above are our top 10 films of 2018. Do you agree or disagree with any of our picks? What are your top 10 films of 2018?

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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