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DVDizzy.com's The Best of 2018 in Film

In terms of film, 2018 really blew me away. I've been a full-time critic for over thirteen years and that of course means I should have grown more cynical and harder to impress. But I found the year's cinematic offerings to be unusually good and better by volume than
any other year I've spent watching and reviewing. The bright spots were abundant and so while I still intend to do my annual worst-to-first countdown once I hit two-hundred theatrical releases watched for the year (probably around the Oscars ceremony in late February), I'm taking this opportunity to celebrate the best movies I saw last year, many of which you can still catch in theaters and should if you want to experience them with the greatest of impact.

Quickly ascending to #1 distributor by output, Netflix is changing the way movies are seen. But they're also changing the way movies are made and lending their support and ample resources to great filmmakers without the commercial demands of standard theatrical exhibition. Superheroes continue to rule the box office and they continue to qualify as above-average entertainment, but it's notable that the three best superhero movies of the year were all animated. The year's outstanding crop should serve to remind us all that animation is a medium, not a genre, though relegating it to its own Oscar category has proven the industry has yet to fully take that to heart. Sequels have never been as ubiquitous as they now are and yet the cacophony of reboots, remakes, spin-offs, and the like only allows meaningful original storytelling to shine all the brighter. Not that I don't appreciate a well-made sequel or remake, as a total of seven of them crack this list.

Without further ado, enjoy this countdown of 2018's forty best movies.

Luca Guadagnino's "Suspiria" (#37) stars Dakota Johnson as Susie Bannion, an Ohio girl who has just come to Berlin to enroll in a prestigious ballet academy.

40. Cold War - Distinctive Polish drama of star-crossed, mid-century lovers proves fairly captivating.

39. Juliet, Naked - Wit carries this love triangle comedy further than its premise alone could. Full Blu-ray Review

38. Ben Is Back - Conveys heartbreaking hold addiction has on families with strong performances and compelling narrative.

37. Suspiria - Instead of going for basic scares, Luca Guadagnino's textured, artful horror remake intrigues thoroughly and at length. Full Film Review

36. The Sisters Brothers - Offbeat western stands out on originality. Full Film Review

Burly, brawny, lavender-skinned Thanos (a motion captured Josh Brolin) is the villain who drives the plot of (#35) "Avengers: Infinity War", 2018's top-grossing worldwide release.

35. Avengers: Infinity War - Epic, character-filled sequel isn't terribly fun, but it is engrossing. Full Film Review

34. BlacKkKlansman - Though attempts to make it timely are a stretch, the true story at its core compels. Full Film Review

33. Overlord - World War II horror film is far more effective than you'd expect it to be. Full Film Review

32. Bad Times at the El Royale - Richly atmospheric character study can't sustain the intrigue of its brilliant first half, but keeps us invested. Full Film Review

31. Deadpool 2 - Clever, funny sequel exceeds expectations and its predecessor. Full Film Review

Ethan Hawke plays the tormented Reverend Ernst Toller in Paul Schrader's acclaimed (#27) "First Reformed."

30. Capernaum - A moving look at life's challenges for an impoverished Lebanese boy. Full Film Review

29. Blindspotting - Earnest in-the-moment storytelling.

28. Can You Ever Forgive Me? - Two strong performances and an interesting true story effortlessly serve this well. Full Film Review

27. First Reformed - Thought-provoking character study marks a return to form for writer-director Paul Schrader. Full Blu-ray Review

26. Boy Erased - Authentic, personal coming-of-age coming out tale is moving and well-acted. Full Film Review

The protagonist of Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" (#25) is 18-year-old Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), better known by his Oasis handle Perzival.

25. Ready Player One - An entertaining ride with some really great moments. Full Film Review

24. The Hate U Give - A thought-provoking and timely tale of race and identity. Full Film Review

23. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - Six dark, original western shorts add up to an enjoyable new Coen brothers movie. Full Film Review

22. Teen Titans GO! To the Movies - A witty superhero movie best enjoyed by those who have seen them all. Full Blu-ray & DVD Review

21. Widows - Sharp writing, directing, and acting all elevate this twisty crime thriller to great heights. Full Film Review

Chief (Bryan Cranston), King (Bob Balaban), little pilot Atari (Koyu Rankin), Boss (Bill Murray), Rex (Edward Norton), and Duke (Jeff Goldblum) make their way around Trash Island in Wes Anderson's inventive stop-motion adventure (#16) "Isle of Dogs."

20. Won't You Be My Neighbor? - A thorough and well-made love letter to one of childhood's greatest icons. Full Film Review

19. A Quiet Place - Arresting, inventive, and scary without relying on past horror movies. Full Film Review

18. If Beale Street Could Talk - Intimate character drama is told with tasteful discretion and sharp, steady direction. Full Film Review

17. Solo: A Star WarS Story - A fun and spirited character-driven adventure that stands on its own but also upholds the high standard of official episodes. Full Film Review

16. Isle of Dogs - Wes Anderson makes an original, highly creative, and charming return to stop motion animation. Full Film Review

Adam McKay's "Vice" (#12) stars a dramatically transformed Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, the 46th Vice President of the United States of America.

15. Ralph Breaks the Internet - Funny, clever, and entertaining enough to bombard you with more pop culture references than any other movie ever has. Full Film Review

14. First Man - Damien Chazelle gives us an unconventional, compelling, and wondrous dramatization of the Apollo 11 mission. Full Film Review

13. Annihilation - Alex Garland delivers more sharp, thought-provoking, powerful, original science fiction.

12. Vice - Adam McKay's inventive Dick Cheney biopic intrigues as a character study regardless of politics. Full Film Review

11. Paddington 2 - Inexplicably meets and slightly surpasses the high standards set by its surprisingly wonderful predecessor.

Ally (Lady Gaga) experiences a rise to stardom under the tutelage of Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) in 2018's (#7) "A Star Is Born."

10. Three Identical Strangers - Alternately colorful and chilling, this masterfully-told story makes an impact like very few documentaries do.

9. Tully - A bold twist cannot undercut the wealth of humanity and humor in this enjoyable latest Cody-Reitman collaboration. Full Film Review

8. The Old Man & the Gun - David Lowery's appealing cops and robbers tale is the perfect send-off for the still supremely charming Robert Redford. Full Film Review

7. A Star Is Born - Inspired new take on a much-told story arrests and moves on strong acting and surprisingly sharp direction. Full Film Review

Mark Day (Josh Hamilton) comforts his daughter Kayla (Elsie Fisher) as she burns a time capsule holding her "hopes and dreams" in Bo Burnham's "Eighth Grade", which ranks sixth for the year.

6. Eighth Grade - A genuine and striking portrait of contemporary adolescence. Full Film Review

5. Leave No Trace - Debra Granik's long-awaited follow-up to Winter's Bone is poetic, powerful, and unconventional.

Peter B. Parker, a blasť, established thirtysomething Spider-Man from another dimension, becomes a reluctant mentor to the young and curious Miles in (#2) "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse."

4. Mary Poppins Returns - Respect for the material and the right talent make this musical fantasy nearly as enchanting as the beloved original. Full Film Review

3. Incredibles 2 - Highly entertaining sequel somehow lives up to the high expectations set by the brilliant original movie and a long wait. Full Film Review

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Surprisingly fresh take on a very familiar property provides a wealth of heart, humor, excitement, and super creative visuals. Full Film Review

Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" (#1) looks at a 1970s Mexican family from the perspective of its live-in housekeeper Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio).

1. Roma - Beautiful and heartbreaking slice of life is full of artistry and humanity and unlike anything else. Full Film Review

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Posted January 2, 2019.

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