I ain't even going to pretend that these are the best movies of the year, because to you they may not be. I don't even want to hint that my taste is somehow better than yours and that these 10 movies are essential to your cultural health. They're not.
Instead, I'm simply going to tell you why these are my favorite movies of the year. If they sound interesting to you, I hope you check them out and tell me what you think. With that obligation out of the way, let's get to some honorable mentions.
Wonder Woman, It, The Post, Coco, Baby Driver, Thor: Ragnarok, Mudbound, Good Time and The Lost City of Z are wonderful movies. Some of them, like Thor, are some of the most fun I've had in a theater all year, others were absolutely heart breaking (Mudbound), terrifying (It), inspiring (The Post), or gave me a new soundtrack to obsess over (Baby Driver). They all do have one thing in common: They missed the cut.
Let's get to the top 10.
Phantom Thread is a lingering gothic romance about one very dysfunctional relationship. You have a particular genius, a fashion designer played by Daniel Day Lewis, who has a demanding schedule and painstaking attention to detail. There are no wasted minutes with him, and you either succumb to his needs or get out of the way - and if you do succumb to his needs you end up being pushed out of his way.
He meets Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, a woman who does not take this bullshit. Instead of bending around him, she finds ways to turn herself into a participant in this warped love story. Yet it works, and it works because it comes across as a dark fairy tale, a haunting romance with sadistic acts that, somehow, comes across as tender and sweet.
P.S. The soundtrack is the best muscial score of the year.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Guardians 2 feels like it lost the attention battle to Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017, and that's a shame. What you have here is a rich story about characters coming to terms with their fathers legacies and of learning not to glorify the past too much.
Sure, it's wrapped up in an action comedy piece of spectacle, but it also manages to deftly balance hilarity, action and heartwarming feels. This is a superhero movie that's ultimately about how sometimes family are the people you choose, not the people you're stuck with.
Plus, the soundtrack is incredible. From George Harrison to Cat Stevens, I still listen to this soundtrack weekly.
The Florida Project
Walt Disney World is the happiest place on earth, it's where people from all over the world travel to spend thousands of dollars on a week of bliss. Yet, just a couple blocks down the road is extreme poverty. This dichotomy is always in the background of The Florida Project, which follows a couple of kids who have parents that are just scraping by in the rundown motels outside of Disney World.
That's the dichotomy in the foreground. The innocense of childhood with a backdrop of parents who are making decisions, sometimes terrible, to try to allow us to live our childhoods. These dual dichotomies really underline the sadness at the heart of The Florida Project, but it's not an outright sadness.
The best way to describe how this movie feels is a rickety bridge. It looks like it could need some help, but it's still solid enough to keep going with the bare minimum. As you move across it, and as the movie continues, that bridge starts to get real shaky. It feels like the bolts are coming off, hinges are bending and you could fall into the river below at any moment.
Call Me by Your Name
"Nature has a cunning way of finding our weakest spot." Man, this movie has a way of finding its way into you. It's a film about first romance and self discovery, but it feels almost like a dream, or a lazy summer day. You have 17-year-old Elio falling in love with his dad's 24-year-old student, and his gradual discovery and acceptance of who he is and what he wants is something else to watch.
That's down to how incredible Timothee Chalamet is in this as a 17-year-old who isn't quite sure how to handle what he wants. He knows what he wants, but he's in this weird place about it. He both wants to go for it and not go for it at the same time, and that stop-start emotion is hard to convey, but Chalamet does it effortlessly. It's hard not to watch him here and expect him to crank out genius performances for the rest of his career.
What do you think of when you think of superhero movies? Because Logan takes all of that and throws it in the trash. Logan comes across as a western, or an old samurai movie, rather than a superhero movie. It could easily be the story of a dying man in a world that's left behind, finding out how to care about the daughter he never thought he knew. The fact that Logan, aka Wolverine, is a former X-Man in a future where mutants are hunted down and killed is background noise.
Hugh Jackman delivers a career-best performance as a man who has lost all hope in everything, yet Dafne Keen matches him at every turn as his daughter. She's a powerful figure, and it's impressive to have that command of the screen at that young of an age. No wonder people want a sequel just about her.
I was absolutely floored by BPM, and I hope to never ever watch it again. It follows a group of activists in the 90s as they take on sluggish government action on HIV/AIDS. As they try to accomplish their goal, you feel the clock ticking on them. These people are dying, and every wasted second or mistake by the government and pharmaceutical companies cost them their friends and family.
In the second half, the film gets away from the activism and begins to focus on the relationships between the activists. You see how the fact that these people are dying slowly wears down on the, and how the actual act of dying underlines how personal the stakes are. You get the sense that they should give up, because it feels like an impossible task, but they also keep going, and these deaths are an instrumental reason why.
The Shape of Water
I still can't believe this movie won the Best Picture Oscar. It's a weird movie about outsiders trying to find love, continuing a running theme of Guillermo del Toro's work: Humans are the ultimate monsters. Here you have a mute woman falling in love with a fish man, and a gay man ostracized for wanting to find love with someone, all while the "normal" relationships are strained and broken. You also get a heaping helping of Cold War thriller.
One thing I can't get over in this movie is the sets. The green hues of practically everything give this world an otherworldly feel. It's almost as if the entire movie is taking place under water, which is a savvy thematic move cause the movie is called The Shape of Water, and water, of course, is one of the most powerful forces on earth - like love itself.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars has been stale for so long, it needed something to kick it in the butt, and The Last Jedi does that in spades. It's a movie that takes the many established Star Wars tropes over the years and completely throws them out. It reverts The Force back to a religious force rather than magic powers that move things. It pulls the franchise away from its Skywalker preference and points to how anyone can make a difference, not just people related to Skywalkers. It's so good that I can't imagine the next one not being a disappointment.
Blade Runner 2049
This movie is a miracle. It's not only hard to believe that a Blade Runner sequel could be good, it's hard to believe that someone would allow a hard science fiction drama with not much action and heady things on its mind to even be made. This is a movie that looks far into the future and thinks about slavery and sex and relationships and what's real and what isn't real, and whether that even matters.
2049's slow pace often makes the movie feels like its plondering around, as if it's meditating on each subject before moving on to the next one. It's definitely not a movie for everyone, but neither was the first Blade Runner. Honestly, I still can't get over that this movie was even made. It's a visual wonder.
I liked Get Out a lot the first time I saw it. It was a socially conscious horror movie that understands how to cinematically make you feel casual racism. Daniel Kaluuya's subtle performance as black man headed to his liberal girlfriend's family home for the first time makes the entire revolving world work.
The more I watched Get Out, the more I realized how incredibly fun it is. It's not only a movie with a lot on its mind about casual racism, it's a movie chock full of expert filmmaking and amazing performances. You can watch it over and over and over again and not get sick of it. Trust me, I've seen it at least 10 times now. It's genius level work.