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The Austin Chronicle Top 10 Films of 2018

Our favorite films from our least favorite year

By Richard Whittaker, December 28, 2018, Screens

If 2018 will be looked back on for anything cinematically (not that historians will lack material from this year), it will be the year when Hollywood and the indies put their money where their mouth is when it comes to representation in front of and behind the camera. Even five years ago, it would have been a dream to think that there would be more than one major studio film about the African-American experience, but this year we had BlacKkKlansman, Blindspotting, Sorry to Bother You, If Beale Street Could Talk – and it felt like the start of something, not just a moment. This came in the same year as Crazy Rich Asians filling multiplexes and Roma – a Spanish-language story told from the viewpoint of a Mexican housemaid – being Netflix's big Oscar push title.

On the grander scale, Marvel ruled the roost: Black Panther was both a victory for representation and a damn fine superhero movie; Avengers: Infinity War provided the best and most jaw-dropping cliffhanger since "Luke, I am your father"; Ant-Man and the Wasp was its own ridiculous self; and even the off-brand titles like Deadpool 2 and the genre-shattering Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse delivered the crowd-pleasing goods. So, no, superhero movies aren't dead.

Taking a local view, Austin may sell itself as a music town, but it's also a filmmaking town. From Oscar winners to the rising tide of indie horror filmmakers and web series innovators, we're in an amazing position. This year's crop of locally made and produced movies saw some of our directors at their very best – Yen Tan's tender AIDS drama, 1985; PJ Raval's gut-punch indictment of imperialism and bigotry, Call Her Ganda; and the Zellner Bros.' cheeky, quirky, and sharp Western reinvention, Damsel.

On a personal note, I'll look back on 2018 as my first full year as Screens editor for The Austin Chronicle – a dream position for me since I first interned in these dusty halls back in 2006. It's given me an opportunity to work closer than ever alongside names synonymous with the section as well as a new wave of talent that I have been lucky enough to see with a byline in these pages. Thank you all.

It's from those writers – more particularly, the roster of permanent critics – that the Chronicle's Top 10 list has been drawn. For stats wonks, we all drew up our own top 10s (see below) and then each film was awarded points (10 for first place, nine for second, etc., plus a bonus five points per critic) to give weight to a plurality of opinions. In the case of a tie, the film named by the largest number of critics came first. Hop online to see their full lists, plus more Top 10s, including our most-read reviews (No. 1 will shock you!), stories, and the films coming soon that you need to see.


The Austin Chronicle Top 10 Films of 2018

1) Roma

2) First Reformed

3) The Favourite

4) Leave No Trace

5) You Were Never Really Here

6) Mandy

7) Burning

8) The Rider

9) Sorry to Bother You

10) Shoplifters

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