The Best Movies You Missed in 2018

Mon Mon Mon Monsters

Movies about bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are funny (Mean Girls), some are dramatic (Bully), and some are cathartic (My Bodyguard, Three O’Clock High). Mon Mon Mon Monsters is all of those things, but it’s also so much more. I’ve been singing its gnarly praises since last year when it floored me on the festival circuit, and now that it’s streaming I’m beating the drums for it again. The film introduces us to a weak teen who’s harassed by his peers until he ultimately joins them in harassing others. It’s a devastatingly real character arc that lands punch after punch to your gut. Oh, did I mention there are also monsters, some very funny and blackly comic beats, and a scene of carnage on a bus that might leave you rethinking public transportation? – Rob Hunter

Of Fathers & Sons

Talal Derki infiltrates an Islamic Caliphate inhabited by radical Islamist families. He does so under the guise of trying to spread their truths. What unfolds is so disturbing and ungodly, I still can’t get it out of my mind 8 months later. While I’ve heard cries that a documentary like Of Fathers & Sons has the potential to seed even more egregious Islamophobia in those who thoughtlessly and sickeningly attribute suicide bombings to their neighbor with a hijab, I don’t think it does. By seeing what a jihadist community is like, it gives bigots a chance to realize that their neighbors with different cultural backgrounds are absolutely nothing of the sort. They aren’t sending their children to military camp, or sniping other neighbors in the name of Allah, or faithfully belting songs about genocide. Derki’s film feels necessary in a frightened conservative America. It has the potential to show many how fucking foolish and inhumane their false assumptions about Muslims truly are. – Luke Hicks


On The Ropes

2016’s Plan B was the year’s best action movie that none of you saw, and On the Ropes is looking to accomplish the same feat this year. The same on-screen team headlines both, and while their latest lacks the pure fun of the earlier film it once again showcases their incredible fighting skills and abilities. Can Aydin and Phong Giang are stuntmen with personalities, and while you’ve seen them without knowing it in many of your favorite action movies here they get to shine with their faces visible. Seek this one out, and after you’ve enjoyed the terrific fight sequences make a point of finding the even better Plan B. – Rob Hunter


Pork Pie

Famed Kiwi director Geoff Murphy (The Quiet Earth, 1985) passed away recently, but happily he was able to see his son Matt pay tribute before he went with a fantastic remake of his own Goodbye Pork Pie (1980). Pork Pie follows the adventures of a mismatched trio of accidental outlaws as they race across New Zealand in a Mini Cooper, and as action/comedies go it’s a film filled with heavy and effective doses of both. The car stunts are fantastic and remind of the heyday of the 80s where safety protocols were often ignored in favor of fun, and the film even manages to find real heart amid the action. – Rob Hunter


Prospect

What’s your favorite sci-fi/western mash-up? Outland? Oblivion? Firefly? Prospect is better. Writer/Directors Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl throw their souls into this glorious production that drops a father (Jay Duplass) and daughter (Sophie Thatcher) onto a forest moon and pits them against poisonous elements that are both natural and unnatural. The vibe is industrious steampunk meets the shootist showdown morality of The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. As always people are the problem, and when you stumble upon Pedro Pascal, you better have faith in your quickdraw prowess. The film was made for a buck and a quarter, but you would never know it. Pick a location like the Hoh Rainforest, lean in, and let your actors take over. Caldwell and Earl prove that the indie spirit can work in any genre, not just in slasher scares, but in also in the rich, bold final frontier.  – Brad Gullickson


Support The Girls

Dazed and Confused meets Hooters. Support the Girls has no plotline really, and I mean that as a compliment. Few can pull off the distinct style of Linklater: utterly relatable and engrossing. Most attempts to replicate it come off as boring and lifeless. But writer/director Andrew Bujalski is his own commonplace magician in the director’s chair. His film is the offspring of Linklater’s influence and the zeitgeist of 2018, and it’s a knockout winner. Regina Hall plays a Hooters-equivalent restaurant manager. Haley Lu Richardson and Shayna McHayle (aka Junglepussy) headline a delightful supporting cast. And you simply watch a day in the life of King. Give it 10 minutes before you’re completely invested, and just let the end wash over you like the cinematic wave of brilliance it is when you find yourself wishing it was 8 hours longer. – Luke Hicks


Sweet Country

Australia’s racist history — and as is often the case, present — has been the basis of several fantastic films over the years from The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) to The Tracker (2002), and now Sweet Country can be added to the list. It’s a powerful tale of injustice brought to life with gorgeous visuals and a trio of stellar performances by Hamilton Morris, Sam Neill, and Bryan Brown. It’s a hard watch at times, but it’s also both beautiful and necessary. – Rob Hunter


Thoroughbreds

What a strange, surreal, sharp, dark, and handsome film. Both Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy prove that we’ll be lucky to have them on our screens for years to come. Erik Friedlander’s score is the low-key best of the year. Cory Finley’s writing and direction are energetic, thrilling, and Sorkinesque. I will leave the plot a mystery because it is way more fun that way. If for nothing else, see Thoroughbreds because it is one of the last chances you’ll get to see the late, immaculate Anton Yelchin, whose tragic fluke of a death is one of the worst things that has happened to film since Philip Seymour Hoffman died. – Luke Hicks


Thunder Road

Jim Cummings takes his thirteen-minute short film involving a police officer’s emotional descent into madness while eulogizing his mother and expands the awkward horror into a beautiful, gripping human saga. It’s one thing to write a line of dialogue that shifts from tragedy to comedy to alarm in the span of a few breaths, but it is an entirely other thing to perform it. Cummings masterfully changes gears to match the spastic interior experience of his character, and his exhibition is as marvelous as any popcorn brawl of CGI. Thunder Road explodes with the life of its central performance and will have you cringing and crying as erratically as Officer Arnaud. – Brad Gullickson


Unlovable

Charlene deGuzman cuts into her personal battle with sex and love addiction, and with the aid of director Suzi Yoonessi, delivers a cathartic dramedy that refuses to fall into Hollywood stereotype. Guided by top-tier method sidekicks in the form of Melissa Leo and John Hawkes, deGuzman cruises through the narrative with boundless enthusiasm, winning the audience despite chaotic character choices that never seem manipulated by the script as much as by the insanity of everyday rebellious psychology. In other hands, Unlovable could sway into RomCom pap or dreary indie melodrama, but through deGuzman and Yoonessi, the film champions the battle with the muck we all have stagnating under the surface. – Brad Gullickson

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Brad Gullickson: @@MouthDork Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.