In a year when the national conversation finally seems to be starting to drive popular culture rather than simply reacting to it, the movies of 2018 taught us about viewing habits we didn’t know we had, offered more and more diverse representation than ever before, and generally -- and repeatedly -- defied expectations. And what’s greatest about that output is that it means that in 2019 and for years to come, we will be having conversations about them, what they have to say, and what new passions they have introduced both to audiences and to future filmmakers. Here are all the movies in 2018 that you'll be talking about long after the end credits roll.
The year’s biggest and boldest hit has already proven that Wakanda is truly “forever,” but the film’s legacy may continue with Costume and Production Design, Original Score and Song, Sound Editing, and quite possibly, Best Picture nominations.
Hard as it may be to believe that it took this long, “Love, Simon” made cinema history as the first teen rom-com aimed at mainstream audiences focusing primarily on a gay relationship. Director Greg Berlanti explores the coming out of the title character with a sensitivity and humor that is exceptional primarily because it isn’t treated that way, giving gay teens a love story that is reassuringly similar, and triumphant, as those for their straight allies.
'A Quiet Place'
Deciding it wasn’t enough for them to be one of Hollywood’s most beloved and successful celebrity couples, John Krasinski wrote, directed and costarred alongside Emily Blunt in this original horror film that demolished box office records and dominated social media conversations for months - even if you’re still not convinced it was a good idea for two people to have a baby in a world where crying can literally be deadly.
'Avengers: Infinity War'
Anticipation for Marvel movies is always high, but “Infinity War” produced the most speculation of any of its predecessors leading up to its release. Hilariously, but maybe not unexpectedly, that has only intensified after the world got to see the film, which means that its footprint will continue to grow in the weeks and months leading up to its sequel, “Endgame,” which we’re sure will answer all questions, tie up any loose ends and leave us with nothing else to talk about.
'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'
The year’s biggest tearjerker, this documentary about longtime children’s television host Fred Rogers will be the film to beat in the Best Documentary Feature category.
Crazy Rich Asians
Romantic comedies made a roaring comeback this year thanks to “Love, Simon” and this iconoclastic adventure about an Asian-American woman who discovers that her Singaporean boyfriend belongs to one of the wealthiest - and most disapproving- families in his homeland. Familiar conventions were given a fresh coat of paint via the cultural specificities of Kevin Kwan’s source material, which director Jon M. Chu brings to the screen with vivid, romantic specificity.
'A Star is Born'
Critics started printing plaques for this film after its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and its continued run of accolades has led it to likely nominations in as many as 12 categories, including Best Picture, Director (Bradley Cooper), Actor (Cooper again), Actress (Lady Gaga), Supporting Actor (Sam Elliott), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, and of course, Original Song.
2018 was a phenomenal year for smart, sophisticated horror films focused on women, including “Hereditary” and “Suspiria.” But David Gordon Green’s 40-years-later sequel to John Carpenter’s classic eschews the franchise’s confusing mythology in favor of telling a two-handed story between iconic killer Michael Myers and his most famous victim Laurie Strode, whose trauma is played with fierce vulnerability by Jamie Lee Curtis in one of the best performances of her career.
Another Golden Globe shocker, Peter Farrelly’s dramatization of the journey taken by black classical pianist Don Shirley and his driver Tony Lip may earn nominations for Best Picture, Actor (Mahershala Ali), Supporting Actor (Viggo Mortensen), and Original Screenplay.
Since its debut at film festivals in the fall, Alfonso Cuaron’s follow-up to “Gravity” has dominated any conversation about awards hopefuls with its breathtakingly beautiful cinematography and powerfully intimate story. But the conversation that has emerged with increasingly intense passion as it debuts on Netflix is one about where and how we watch movies, on the big screen or in our homes, and what if any is the best way to experience stories that are considered “cinematic.”
'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'
The sixth "Mission: Impossible" movie may well be the best in the series. Despite his advancing age, star Tom Cruise continues his single-minded dedication towards delivering the most insane stunts and action scenes captured in a major American blockbuster. The fact that this sequel pits him against Henry "Reloading Arms" Cavill just elevates this one that much higher. Audiences and critics were on the verge of obsessive behavior when it came to dissecting Chris McQuarrie's blockbuster, especially in regards to that showstopper of a third act featuring Cruise hanging from and falling off a moving helicopter. The conversation carried over into the recent home video release of the film, making it even harder for fans to wait patiently for the next installment to hit theaters.