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.

Wind Traces


I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow.

Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.

Wind Traces is a haunting and sobering portrayal in the aftermath of death, and the individual paths family members take towards convalescence. A creative confluence of A Ghost Story, A Monster Calls, and Pan’s Labyrinth, Jimena Montemayor tells a wonderful tale of the resilience of children and the psychological matrix of parents in a functioning environment that continues demanding their presence. As C.S. Lewis wrote: “pain insists upon being attended to.” And, in the film, we see the jealous attention demanded from those who grieve by the Tragedy that already took so much. 

A mother (Dolores Fonzi), in her own way: finding solace in alcohol and prescription medication, finding herself slowly removed from the day-to-day announcements of parenting and seeking moments of comfort in the outside air of communal living.

A daughter, in her own way: finding solace in her headstrong maturity—demonstrating a poise and a disturbance that develops and unfolds in a single line to her mother who seems all but content to surrendered to the demons of her grief.

A son, in his own way: finding solace by his innocence and insecurities—imagines the spirit of his father returned as a monster-memory enshrouded by the Native American culture stories and the outlines of natural order that he shared with his father.

For a child, a monster calls: for the adult, the dread is in the memory.

A funeral elegy in the form of continued existence, Wind Traces reminds us that the art of living after death is a deeply precarious form of survival based on the distribution of our love. Anyone who struggles with similar themes will find the film a deeply rewarding experience so long as your patience allows for your mind to stay focused. While at times tedious and slow, the film finds its traction in the Final Act, where the story adds layering to what was otherwise a simple demonstration of fine filmmaking.

An impressive young female director from Mexico and the best film I saw at the Atlanta Film Festival.