The Best Movies of Summer 2018

15. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Avengers: Infinity War will undoubtedly be the Marvel Studios film that people remember the summer of 2018. And it will be the third that comes up in future Google searches for “marvel studios 2018.” But in the moment, within its own world of dynamic size, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a very well-constructed and well-executed film with a fan-freaking-tastic cast. It’s brisk and fun and despite having a pretty convoluted story, its “villain” Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is one of the more compelling villains we’ve seen since Loki in what I like to call Marvel’s “bottle movies.” And by the way — Captain Marvel, uh, Wasp called to congratulate you as the second female superhero to get their own franchise. 😉 (Neil Miller)


14. Dirty Computer

We all owe Janelle Monáe a “Thank You” card. The idea of having shared public experiences in 2018 makes me anxious because it usually means something bad. But for a few days at the very beginning of this summer, Monáe ‘s experimental film revealed a stunning, complex narrative web that had been built around her music videos. It was challenging and vibrant, a 30-minute ride with a stunning singular vision. There’s an argument to be made that “it’s not really a movie,” to which I say two things: (1) I make the rules here; and (2) I would accept your premise, but reject your conclusion — Dirty Computer is all at once a music album/short film/art installation that spans medium and genre alike. So it is and it isn’t. But it is. (Neil Miller)


13. Revenge

I’ve written quite a bit about Coralie Fargeat’s sunlit and blood-spattered thriller from my initial review to its inclusion on my Best Horror of 2018 list, but the film is just so damn refreshing that it feels new each time. “Rape/revenge” is an off-putting term, and when most of us tune into one it’s with a desire to bypass that first part quickly en route to the latter. Not only does Fargeat understand how unnecessary it is to actually see the sexual assault, but she crafts the film’s first act with an eye for what is important — character. More specifically, the woman at the heart of the film is given personality and agency beyond mere “victim who fights back.” Jen (Matilda Lutz) is a sexual being, and while the men challenge her behavior the film embraces it rather than shames it. Male entitlement is the aggressor here, but while this may make it sound stuffy or preachy the film is anything but. It’s a bright, colorful, fully alive experience that sees a woman pushed to the edge and forced to fight back. Blood and gore splash the screen with style and vitality building to an ending that turns a beautiful, modern home into an exercise in Grand Guignol decoration. It’s a cathartic blast of crimson-colored violence. (Rob Hunter)


12. Searching

This John Cho led Sundance thriller uses a high-risk format; the entire film takes place on a series of computer screens. Cho plays a well-meaning but distant dad who puts on his detective hat when his reserved daughter goes missing. Amazingly, Cho and writer-director Aneesh Chaganty pull off the high concept. What could have been another middling cautionary tale about secretive teenage girls became a twisty, clever mystery with more than one surprise up its sleeve. It’s worth the watch for the standout opening sequence alone, a powerful mix between those Google year in review commercials and the first ten minutes of UP. (Valerie Ettenhofer)


11. BlackKklansman

Every cloud has a silver lining. So if there’s one positive to take from the mess that is the current socio-political climate, it’s knowing that filmmakers like Spike Lee are around to address the chaos with bold, uncompromising cinema. Despite being a period piece, BlacKkKlansman is very much a movie of 2018, which is a terrifying thought. The most frightening take away from the film is how it chronicles America’s history with racism to reflect how shamelessly visible it is in the modern day. From the days of slavery to Charlottesville, Lee covers a lot of ground to show how abhorrent views have never gone away and still come with dangerous ramifications. At times BlacKkKlansman is heartbreaking and uncomfortable. At others, the movie is funny and accessible in classic Lee fashion, boasting an abundance of style and cinematic craft to appreciate while pondering the grander themes on display. This is a very special move. Let’s just hope it doesn’t feel as relevant in years to come. (Kieran Fisher)

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