Best Movies of 2018

Hereditary focuses on the relationships between the Graham family, and their reactions to deaths they face.

The thriller begins with a wide shot of a dollhouse, and as the camera zooms in audiences see it is actually the Graham family home.

This shot suggests the family members are nothing more than dolls being controlled by an unseen force.

This is reflected by Annie Graham, played by Toni Collette, the mother in the film, who designs miniature dolls and homes.

There is also the feeling that we’re watching everything from a more knowing, sadistic perspective,” Director Ari Aster said in an intevew with indiewire.

As a mother, Annie should be in control of what happens in the household.

However, Hereditary proves that the family holds no power in their fate.

All decisions lead to one road, and, despite Annie’s attempts to retain control, she too is a pawn in the game.

Hereditary rises suspense and suspicion with its questions- what is a family, who determines our fate?

Does grief destroy a person or bring out their true self? These questions and more are analyzed in the psychological thriller.

Steve Graham knocks on his son’s door and whispers the first lines of the film.

“Come on, Peter,” he says. “Wake up. Peter. Wake up.”
The family- Annie, Steve, Peter, and the 15 year old daughter Charlie.

The dynamics of the family are established as Annie and Steve nag after Peter, a high school senior, to watch his younger sister.

The family are attending a funeral; Annie’s mother, Ellen, has died and left Annie as the only living member of her family.

Annie speaks to the funeral home in convoluted words and, as her mother lies in a casket 10 feet from the podium, is clearly troubled by the lack of closure her mother’s death brought to their relationship.

“My mother was a very secretive and private woman,” Annie says. “She had private rituals, private friends, private anxieties. It honestly feels like a betrayal just to be standing here talking about her.”

She stares down at a piece of paper while she speaks and occasionally scratches words out from her seemingly prewritten speech.

Charlie stares at her grandmother’s dead body, and the gold symbol worn on a chain around her neck, as her mother speaks.

She turns away from the body and a man in black smiles at her.

“You could always count on her to always have the answer,” Annie continues.

“And if she ever was mistaken, and well, that was your opinion… And you were wrong.”

Charlie munches on a chocolate bar as the uncomfortable speech continues.

When Annie notices the candy her eyes hone in on Charlie.

“Does that have nuts?” Annie asks. “’Cause we don’t have the EpiPen.”

Hereditary stands out from other horror films for several reasons, most noticeably being its treatment of jump scares.

The horror genre is famous for its use of jump scares, even leading some films to be recognizable from the jump scare alone.

The Conjuring features a frightening game of ‘hide and clap’ between a mother and her daughter. While the mother, Lorraine, searches for her daughter and wears a blind fold the audience is let on a frightening secret: Lorraine isn’t playing a game with her daughter, but a demon hiding above the wardrobe.

Films like Hereditary and The Conjuring demonize the mother in each film because it is unsettling, a mother is expected to cradle her baby and smile when she wakes.

Annie screams for her children to understand her after she coats them in paint thinner and stands above them with a lit match.

Hereditary takes this technique a step further by refusing to use sharp noises or quick flashes to pull a reaction from audiences, instead relying on the uncomfortable in your face acting of Toni Collette and her children Peter and Annie, played by Alex Wolff and the chilling Milly Shapiro.

Bohemian Rhapsody begins with several shots around Freddie Mercury, from close ups of his beloved cats to the famous handlebar mustache as “Somebody to Love” plays joyously in the background.

Rami Malek’s portrayal of the unforgettable, flamboyant Mercury has already won him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture.

Throughout the film, Mercury expresses a fear of loneliness.

Mecury feels he doesn’t fit in.

He’s a young, queer Parsi boy with an anterior overjet growing up in the 1970s.

Throughout the film he identifies most with “the misfits.” “We’re [Queen] four misfits who don’t belong together,” Mercury says.

“We’re playing for other misfits. They’re the outcasts right at the back of the room. We’re pretty sure they don’t belong either. We belong to them.”

The theme of self-love is an important one.

The movie asks one important question throughout the plot, is success worthwhile if there is no one to share it with?

Bohemian Rhapsody examines Mercury’s growing understanding of his sexuality.

Exploring one’s sexuality was not uncommon in the 1970s, but being a part of the LGBTQ community can seem ostracizing.

The film hit a personal note for LGBT audiences when Freddie explored the meaning of bisexuality.

Mercury holds eye contact with another man as he walks into the restroom when the band is on tour.

In seconds, the moment is over and the film returns to the life of a touring rock and roll band.

The ‘MENS’ door closes and Mercury returns to the phone call from his wife, but the audience can see the curiosity on his face.

As the film progresses Freddie’s curiosity leads to Freddie is lost when he and his wife separate, and his band members go forward to have wives and children.

After a particularly raging party, Mercury speaks to his future partner Jim Hutton.

Mercury lays on his couch in his mansion, drink in hand, it would seem he had the world at his feet.

The insightful conversation between the two men in the afterhours of a party reveals Mercury’s darker moments and difficulty. Hutton bids the man farewell after a failed flirtation and a deep conversation.

He summarizes Freddie Mercury’s struggle in a sentence. “I like you too, Freddie. Come and find me when you decide you like yourself.”

The film did receive criticism for accuracy.

The decision which most directly impacts Queen, Freddie Mecury’s solo career, was falsified for drama.

Only drummer Roger Taylor had a brief solo career, but the film used the cliché “band breakup” to further the plotline.

The film suggests Mercury’s solo career is due to his feelings of loneliness and insecurity.

The 80s was an especially ostracizing time for queer men, and Mercury is no stranger to his own fears of solitude.

“All of the darkness you thought you’d left behind comes creeping back in,” Freddie said.

Bohemian Rhapsody contains several themes, one of the most prominent being the power of friendship and love.

Jim Hutton is an incredible example of self-acceptance.

Jim relates to Freddie’s dejected confession of loneliness, but finds a way to shine light on Mercury’s troubles.

“What is it that you do with them?” Freddie asks.

Jim smiles before offering a piece of heartfelt advice. “Spend them with real friends.”

Clichés aside, Bohemian Rhapsody is a fast paced, energetic film which remains true to the spirit of Queen. Rami Malek’s ability to pull audiences in is a convincing and heartfelt portrayal of Queen’s convoluted lead singer.

Superhero movies have proven themselves time and time again at the box office, but no film more-so than Black Panther.

King T’Challa surpassed Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Spiderman: Homecoming as a solo superhero film with 1.34 billion dollars as of May 22, 2018.

The bold, action packed film presents T’Challa as a strong and just ruler with the support of four equally resilient women- his mother, Ramonda, younger sister Shuri, bodyguard and warrior Okoye, and the spy and love interest Nakia.

One of my favorite traits of this movie is the blend of African culture and futuristic technology.

The film never backs down from deep subject material or visual elements which further fuels the intricate battle between T’Challa and Erik Kilmonger.

Perhaps Black Panther’s greatest triumph is the solemnity it uses when addressing racism and the struggle of finding your identity in a world which beats you down.

Kilmonger, while depicted as the villain of the film, is never treated as such by T’Challa.

This is another aspect of what sets T’Challa apart from his predecessors, his ability to acknowledge flaws in his homeland and in his ruling.

Filled with action, incredible acting, relevant songs, and a strong message of the meaning behind identity and discovering what and who a person is willing to stand for in all walks of power Black Panther was a strong opening to 2018 and left its mark in the marvel cinematic universe.

This romantic comedy may be considered too light for any nominations, but it goes without saying- Love, Simon was an innovative film enjoyed by audiences.

Based off the young adult novel Simon vs The Homosapien Agenda, Love, Simon focuses on the complicated life of the closeted, high school senior Simon Spier.

Simon is defined by his love of his friends and his family and, like most teenagers, his desire to fit in.

This becomes increasingly difficult as Simon attempts to hide his sexuality from those around him.

When Spier learns of Blue, a gay high school student who has anonymously come out on a local school blog, his life becomes even more complicated.

Simon reaches out to Blue and the two continue to happily share experiences as they become increasingly closer.

Similar to a John Hughes film, Love, Simon tackles the experience of gay teenagers as Simon endures harassment, secret crushes, and emotional coming outs to his friends and family.

Full of humor and heart, Love, Simon is a delightful spin on the previously forgotten teen romantic comedy.

Voted Best Kiss at the MTV Movie & TV awards Love, Simon was clearly a favorite with young people and is easily one of the most memorable movies of 2018.

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse could have been another company’s attempt to rewrite the famous spider bitten superhero, but the film’s characters, design, soundtrack, and overarching plot allowed the film to create a fresh dynamic with interesting characters each given individual moments to shine without taking away from the main character.

The quick movements, steady animation, and upbeat soundtrack quickly establishes the film as a great family movie and a tribute to comic book lovers.

Voices like John Mulaney and Nicholas Cage add the star quailty, and Shameik Moore and Jake Johnson have an undeniable chemistry as MIles Morales and Peter Parker.

Parker’s universe shows a Spiderman enduring a harsh reality as he and longtime girlfriend Mary Jane Watson terminate their relationship when the dangers of Peter’s life become too much and leads the famous couple to question their future and, ultimately, separate.

Parker explains their situation in a single sentence “She wanted kids and it scared me.”

Little did Parker know he would soon fight true horrors with a group of teenagers, avenging the death of an alternate Peter Parker and carving the way for Miles Morales’ Spiderman.

Miles Morales is a cool kid from Brooklyn, who starts the movie high fiving friends and questioning his parents’ decisions like any other teenager.

Miles’ awkward first day of school is filled with laughs for parents and kids alike, establishing Miles as the friendly face behind the soon to be friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

Miles’ life becomes more complicated after he and his Uncle Aaron spray paint a hidden room in a Brooklyn subway, and Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider.

Into the Spiderverse follows a similar path of strength and sacrifice without appearing sanctimonious or repetitive.

The unique art form of Into the Spiderverse highlights the distinctive, vibrant colors.

This animated film is a pleasant expansion of Spiderman, and an instant classic to the super hero universe.