With the pandemic still ongoing, big releases are being shifted to streaming services or delayed altogether. But we remember the days of gathering in movie theaters as the lights went down for a brand new film. It feels like so long ago, but we were extremely spoiled with great movies. So here at Comic Years we are taking a look back at the best movies for each year from the 1980’s to the current day. Of course many of our lists will be skewed towards genre. But we will be including notable movies from all areas of filmmaking. So let’s time-travel together back to the year 2018, when comic book movies were at their peak. They aired alongside bold new films, and at least one high-profile remake. This is our top 10 list of the best movies of 2018 in no particular order.
Image via Paramount Pictures
Based on the book by Jeff VanderMeer, this adaptation definitely took some liberties with the source material. Directed by genre virtuoso Alex Garland, Annihilation was his first film after 2014’s Ex Machina. An all-star cast of actresses brought this eerie sci-fi thriller to life. Natalie Portman stars alongside Jennifer Jason Leigh; Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson. Together they work as a group of scientists investigating a mysterious area called ‘The Shimmer.” Inside they discover mutated plants and animals caused by an alien presence.
This film is definitely a psychological thriller, with some horror elements to the science fiction. It gets bonus points for attempting to be scientifically accurate before leaning hard into the pseudo-science. But it is the filmmaking style of Garland that is really on display here, with dreamy surrealist scenes that make the viewer question exactly what is going on. This is definitely a film that requires a couple of rewatches to comprehend, and there are many loose threads left dangling at the end. But the character studies and performances by the actresses are excellent and the intellectual nature of the film will have you talking about it long after it is over.
A Quiet Place
Image via Paramount Pictures
One of the most innovative sci-fi films of recent years is A Quiet Place. Directed by and starring John Krasinski and his real-life spouse Emily Blunt. In an apocalyptic world where aliens with hypersensitive hearing track humans by sound, a family must survive in silence. The movie takes some bold risks, with very little dialogue. Much of the acting is physical and each member of the cast brings their best to the project. Most of the dialogue that does occur is through American Sign Language. This is due to the presence of the teenage daughter Regan who is deaf. Kudos to Krasinski for actually casting a deaf actress in the role as well, with young Millicent Simmonds.
This sci-fi thriller has heavy elements of horror, complete with several dramatic jump scares. But it feels more Spielbergian than anything else, as much of the movie is seen through the eyes of Regan, the deaf child. Krasinski utilizes sound expertly in the film. Moments of complete silence occur when we are seeing Regan’s point of view. This smart science fiction film also meditates heavily on themes of parenthood, isolation, and coming of age. But in a way what is most successful about A Quiet Place is that it follows a normal family just trying to live their lives in the midst of massive dystopian crisis and apocalypse for humanity. It feels real and vital, and is executed beautifully.
Image by Matt Kennedy via Marvel Studios
2018 was a great year for comic book movies, and at the top of the list stands Black Panther.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, this film finally gave Chadwick Boseman’s T’challa a starring role in the MCU. The film follows the prince of Wakanda as he takes up the mantle of the Black Panther following his father’s tragic death in Captain America: Civil War
. But he is challenged by a Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) – an American with roots in Wakanda who feels that it is time for Wakanda to come out of hiding and help black people suffering around the world.
Black Panther is up there with the all-time best MCU movies, with stellar performances from everyone involved and a high-stakes plot that is extremely timely and relevant to real-world events. Of course it was also the first Marvel movie that put black actors in starring roles. This marked a major move forward for diversity and inclusion in the MCU. The cultural impact of Black Panther cannot be understated. And it is an excellent film, tightly paced and well-plotted. The villains are nuanced and empathetic. It is also one of the best-looking MCU movies. The beautiful cinematography and special effects truly bring the world of Wakanda to life.
Avengers: Infinity War
(Image: Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel Studios)
Of course we couldn’t let 2018 go by without talking about Avengers: Infinity War. This was the culmination of 18 previous Marvel films. This is the film that finally saw Thanos enacting his plan to utilize the infamous Infinity Gauntlet. We finally saw the Avengers team up with all of the other superheroes floating around in the MCU, including the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and many more. As Thanos goes around collecting all of the Infinity Stones, our heroes race against time to stop him. And shockingly: they fail to stop him.
This failure of course sets up the final movie in Avengers: Endgame. But it is remarkable for being allowed to happen at all. Rarely do we see a comic book movie where the heroes do not prevail at the end. Infinity War changed the game for the Avengers, it saw the deaths of several major characters and acknowledged the shortcomings of the superheroes we know and love. One of the darkest of the MCU movies, Infinity War is deeply emotional and nuanced amidst all of the action and big-budget battles. This film marked a dramatic shift in the world, as it set up the next Phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Image via Marvel Studios
Following Avengers: Infinity War was the light-hearted romp of Ant-Man and The Wasp starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. The sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man saw Lilly step into the role of superhero alongside Rudd, as the two of them teamed up to venture into the Quantum Realm. The film was notable for introducing several major concepts to the MCU that would have major ramifications later on. But as a standalone it is extremely fun and entertaining to watch. The actors are all at their comedic best, but the emotional stakes are heightened with the family drama centered around finding Hank Pym’s long-lost wife and the original Wasp. After the intense drama of Avengers: Infinity War, the Ant-Man sequel brought viewers back to the levity and fun of comic book movies.
Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse
Image via Sony
Despite all of the comic book movies that came out in 2018, Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse may actually be the most lauded of them all. The first animated film in the Spider-Man franchise gave us an alternate version of the hero in Miles Morales. But he is far from the only Spider-Man variant in the film. This was the first comic-book film to break open the Multiverse. With dozens of versions of Spider-Man appearing throughout the film (including Spider-Woman and Spider-Ham). The ensemble cast only adds to the depth of the film, and never detracts from the personal story at the heart of the movie. A brilliantly executed film full of heart, humor, and meta-fiction.
Crazy Rich Asians
Image via Warner Bros.
Now for a break from the overwhelming amount of comic book movies that came out in 2018. This was also a good year for some clever romantic comedies, including Crazy Rich Asians
directed by Jon M. Chu.
Adapted from a novel by Kevin Kwan, the film was notable for starring an entirely Asian cast of actors. It also dealt with various elements of Asian culture, including the crazy rich family of the title. The film follows a young Asian-American woman who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family. She is shocked by how extremely wealthy they are, and starts to question if she can fit into this world that her boyfriend comes from.
Crazy Rich Asians
was acclaimed for its honest and humorous depiction of Asian culture. But beyond that, it is just an extremely funny and well-written movie. It examines class differences and the indulgence of the wealthy with a critical but sensitive eye. It never punches down, or gives into harmful stereotypes. The love story at the heart of the film is also extremely believable and heartwarming without being cheesy or over the top.
Image via Blumhouse Productions
A Spike Lee joint based on a true story and memoir from Ron Stallworth. Blackkklansman stars John David Washington as the only black cop on the force in 1970’s Colorado. The story follows Stallworth as he infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan along with the help of his partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Blackkklansman is an in-depth exploration of what it means to be a black man in America. Police corruption is rampant, and racism drives many of the white cop who are supposed to serve and protect. As a black police officer, Stallworth has to navigate two worlds as he also investigates members of the civil rights movement. A smart and nuanced film, that is full of unexpected humor and heart.
A Star Is Born
Image via Warner Bros.
The film that won Lady Gaga an Oscar, and transformed Bradley Cooper from movie star into acclaimed director. The latest remake of A Star Is Born follows Jackson Maine (Cooper) as he struggles with addiction, sobriety, and the loss of his hearing. Along the way he falls in love with a young singer (Gaga). And he must cope with her star rising as his fades. The film helped turn Lady Gaga into a bonafide movie star. And it is truly Gaga who is the heart of the film. But the nuanced depiction of addiction, along with Ally and Jack’s tumultuous love story is what makes this movie a true tearjerker. The music is also excellent. Finally giving us all the Lady Gaga piano ballad album we had been waiting years for (or was that just me?). And the chemistry between Gaga and Cooper drive the story all the way to the tragic ending. A modern take on a classic story, and one of the best movies of 2018.
Image via Netflix
This Oscar-winning film by Alfonso Cuarón was an ambitious semi-autobiographical tale told entirely in black and white. Set in Mexico City in the early 1970’s, the film follows a young housekeeper named Cleo who works for an upper-class family. Family drama and strife take center stage leading up to Cleo’s revelation that she is pregnant, and must carry the child alone. Amidst all of this is the political turmoil of Mexico at the time.
A heartfelt and nuanced portrayal of both Mexico. And the women who suffered silently amidst male infidelity, ego, abuse, and political strife. The relationship between the two women in the movie is what makes it shine. Although they come from very different backgrounds they are each other’s support system. The study of class hierarchies is also a strong point in the film, showing how different but also similar the lives of Cleo and Sofía are. In the end, they are the closest thing the other has to true family. The beautiful cinematography and understated performances make for a quiet, subtle movie. Full of meditation on the type of lives we lead.
Of course these are far from the only films that came out in 2018 that we loved, but they are the movies that stuck with us years later. Tell us what your picks would be for the best movies from 2018. Join the conversation with Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today!
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.