Jesse’s top five favorite movies of 2018


2018 was one hell of a year for me. By the time this list gets posted, it’ll be officially one year since I was asked to join the Flixist team! In that year I’ve been to film festivals, NYCC, seen some putrid, horrifying, no-good, vile, and nap-inducing movies like Slender Man (worst movie of 2018 by the by), but most importantly, I’ve seen some damned good movies too! So many in fact, that narrowing it down to a Top 5 was next to impossible. Why is it a Top 5 you may ask? Because it makes it more special! Not every movie can be the best movie of the year. What are we? The Most Popular Film category at the Oscars???


But in all seriousness, picking just five movies that I loved in 2018 and ranking them was like deciding which orphans get to be adopted and which are left to become Newsies rejects. Despite that difficulty, there weren’t as many movies to agonize over for this list. Sure, 2018 may have been the most profitable year for Hollywood ever, but none of the movies really lit my world on fire this year. There weren’t any movies that instantly jumped in my favorite movies of all time. 2018 just gave us good, if not great, movies, but just not legendary ones. Still, I have to choose five movies I loved, so here are my personal picks for the best of 2018.

Anna and the Apocalypse

5) Anna and the Apocalypse

A cult classic if I’ve ever seen one, I was surprised with just how much Anna and the Apocalypse stuck with me after I saw it. I can safely say that before watching it I never saw a musical about the zombie apocalypse set during Christmas in the UK, but now I can cross that one off my list.

Gimicky nature aside, I was pretty surprised at just how much heart went into this movie. You’d expect a movie like this to constantly nudge and wink to the camera about how strange and ridiculous its premise is, but it plays the concept completely straight. When people die here, they take the serious approach to the point where I was genuinely sad that some characters died off. And no, main character syndrome isn’t in effect here. Everyone is fair game to be axed off.

But the real sleeper hit is the soundtrack, which is just plain excellent. Outside of the obligatory Christmas songs, all of which are original mind you, there are a couple of great songs that I would listen to outside of the season. “Break Away,” “Hollywood Ending,” and “Give Them a Show” are excellent on their own, which is always the sign of a fantastic soundtrack. I can see a few theatre nerds developing feelings for Anna and the Apocalypse, which is about un-theatre as Repo! The Genetic Opera, so you know it has to be good.

4) Searching

I called Searching the best movie I saw during the summer and meant every word of it. Based on the trailers, I thought that this would be just another generic thriller with a focus on technology, but I was dead wrong. Not only was the use of technology in the movie inspiring, but the actual movie itself was fantastic on its own.

This isn’t the kind of movie that just tells you all of the major twists as its happening. You feel like you’re a part of this mystery as well, helping John Cho find his lost daughter who suddenly vanished out of thin air. Just when you start to piece together the truth, or what you think is the truth, the movie will either throw a curve ball at you and force you to reevaluate everything you thought up until that point, or the characters will realize what you just figured out and react accordingly. Plus the entire twist ending plays out perfectly with a phenomenal reveal of what actually happened and the fate of Cho’s daughter. I knew this would be one of my favorite movies of the year when one minor throwaway plot point comes back in the finale as the determining factor for whether or not John Cho’s daughter is even alive or not. Expertly crafted and highly recommended.

3) Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I’m not someone that typically goes to see documentaries in theaters, let alone go out to watch them. However, something special just struck me about Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and did the one thing that no other movie this year made me do; it tried to make me into a better person. It reminded me that everyone has the capacity to do good in this world and to help others in need, whether they’re young or old. It said that it’s okay to help others and for many people, it’s a message that I think we need to see more of today.

I honestly don’t have much to say about why it’s good. It’s a documentary about Fred Rogers, one of the undeniable saints of many adult’s childhoods. It’s just a movie about a kind man and his philosophy not only on children’s education but the psychological development of both children and adults. But that simplicity is what makes it stand out. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It just lets Fred Roger’s actions speak for themselves. Plus it’s the only movie this year to make me openly cry in a theater and let me assure you, I wasn’t the other one. Any movie that can do that, documentary or not, deserves to be included in my Top 5.

2) Mandy

If you want a violent, in your face Nic Cage crushing a man’s skull with his bare hands, this is the movie for you. Mandy is the most visceral action/horror movie of the year with style to spare. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I first saw Mandy, but I know for a fact I won’t forget it any time soon.

If you expect balls to the wall action from the moment the title card pops up, you’re going to be a bit disappointed. Mandy is a slow burn of a movie, starting off quiet and peaceful before escalating into a sensual and glorious coke-fueled nightmare. This comes across like it was plucked straight out of a 42nd Street theater in the 70’s, but given all of the polish and grandeur of Mad Max: Fury Road. There are no words to describe how other-worldly and beautiful Mandy is, but I should stress that you don’t really watch Mandy. You experience it and by the end, you’ll feel shock and awe at the spectacle you just saw.

Also, Nic Cage gets into a chainsaw duel with a member of a crazed hippie cult after doing coke from a Satanic biker. That alone is worth the price of admission.

1) The Favourite

Until I saw The Favourite, I had no idea what I would eventually declare my Film of 2018. My feelings shifted every day, but there was never a choice that I could confidently sit on and tout for its excellence. All that changed after I saw The Favourite and knew that this would be my favourite movie of the year without question.

The Favourite has a little bit of everything. It’s a political thriller, a love story, a historical drama, a subversive comedy, and nearly becomes a Shakespearean tragedy by the very end. The unpredictability of each scene always kept me interested, but the acting is what commanded my attention. Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are fantastic here, but it’s Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne that steals the show. She’s able to perfectly capture the feeling of what it’s like to be a monarch that has lost touch with humanity and so desperately wants to interact with someone, hell anyone, but constantly makes terrible character judgments and surrounds herself either with people who are looking to use her for political gain or people who uses her for status and nothing else. It’s heartbreaking really.

All of that intricacy is wrapped in a heart-stopping production that looks beyond outstanding. The sets are immaculate, the production is stunning, and the camera work helps take you through Queen Anne’s palace. I wish I could have stopped the movie as it was screening just to admire each shot for its complexity, whether it was because of the actor’s giving it their all or for the meticulous details in the sets. After I saw The Favourite, there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt that this would be my favorite movie of 2018. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it as hard as I did, but now I guess I’m just another one of Queen Anne’s lovers.

Jesse Lab
The strange one. The one born and raised in New Jersey. The one who raves about anime. The one who will go to bat for DC Comics, animation, and every kind of dog. The one who is more than a tad bit odd. The Features Editor.