Our 20 Must See Films of 2018

Here is the first working list of the 20 most important films (excluding documentaries) of 2018, selected for their innovation, quality, & depth. Not all are considered to be “best films” per se, but instead carry the day with their cultural impact & utility for understanding the human material.

Some selections are subjectively driven, although I never ignore my objective grid to better hone the quality of my palate.

Some pack the indelible swords of emotion that leaves leaves unfurled and the test of maturity to be discovered by posterity.

Some are simply technical masterpieces of pace & direction: unbending in its resolve to piece together the prerequisite elements for artistry.

Discussion & disagreement welcome.

And so, without further ado . . .



First Reformed

The Other Side of the Wind

Cold War





Eighth Grade

The Endless

We The Animals

Scarred Hearts


First Man


Madeline’s Madeline

Wind Traces


Thunder Road

*list subject to change

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Vazante, You Were Never Really Here, Wildlife, The House That Jack Built, Nancy, At Eternity’s Gate, Galveston, & Happy as Lazzaro.

Madeline’s Madeline

RATING: [C+|👎]

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

-Carl Gustav Jung

Visually compelling art-piece cinema that blends the internal incidentals of psychology with the reality of the existing condition. Here, in Madeline’s Madeline, we find a moving glimpse into the capacity of overcoming the condition of bipolar-ness with friendship and theatre. Well written and creative, Josephine Decker brings together a cast of capable writers and editors that create a picture with plenty to appreciate. As Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune) writes: “It’s a movie about a theater project in search of itself, overseen by a warm, nurturing manipulator played by the excellent Molly Parker.” A film about the loss of self-control and the finding therein just in the process when another tries to become a secondary forced of manipulation. To quote Carl Jung: “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”

The masks as metaphors between the real and the “in-sane” — between the “sense and nonsense” — in all their grotesque gesturing, were apt reminders about the state of our own sickness deprived of stable medication. What Ben Sachs (Chicago Tribune) says is  therefore hopelessly wrong: Decker says plenty about the “mental illness and the art-making process,” if you pay attention.

Helena Howard was brilliant (a “prodigy” as some have called her) and even more so considering her age and zero prior film credits. Like Eliza Scanlen (Sharp Objects) and Florence Pugh (Lady MacBeth), Howard is a future force to be recognized and fed projects in order to develop and in turn feed into our own collective imagination. A.O. Scott says it best: “[i]f ‘Madeline’s Madeline’ is sometimes unconvincing and frequently unnerving, it is never uninteresting.”