10. Never Goin' Back

Move over Harold and Kumar: Angela and Jessie are in town. In "Never Goin' Back," the classic stoner comedy genre is given a lively twist by featuring two teen females as the lead. The result is a refreshing, modern take on a fun best buddy / coming-of-age story. Read the full review.

9. Paddington 2

"Paddington 2" is a charming, cheery, heartwarming adventure tale of the good-natured bear from Darkest Peru that will please adults (like me) who grew up reading the British book series as well as kids today who are just discovering Michael Bond’s tales of innocent chaos (and marmalade). The film is wildly successful in balancing silly slapstick for the kiddos with some quite funny gags and jokes for the grown ups. This is a rare movie where every single mention serves a purpose and eventually pays off. Pay attention to the little details because they’ll come into play somewhere later in the film, and mostly to witty effect at that. Read the full review.

8. Crazy Rich Asians

When it comes to standard issue rom-com territory, "Crazy Rich Asians" nears perfection. It’s impossible not to fall victim to the film’s abundant charms. I’d vote this one as 2018’s Most Likely to Become an Instant Classic, especially if you enjoy bubbly, feel good entertainment. This movie has quickly earned a place in my highest echelon of great modern romantic comedies alongside “Love Actually,” “While You Were Sleeping,” “Crazy Stupid Love,” and “Serendipity.” Read the full review.

7. You Were Never Really Here

Casting the lead role in a dark revenge thriller like “You Were Never Really Here” is tough because only truly talented and mesmerizing actors have the ability to pull it off. I saw it last year with Robert Pattinson in “Good Time” and now it’s the troubled Joaquin Phoenix stepping into a deeply challenging role. Barely speaking more than a few pages of dialogue throughout the entire film, Phoenix’s reliance on facial expressions, shifting eyes, and hulking yet hunched physical stature is an astounding achievement here. He’s far from subtle but carries the weighty character of Joe by creating a frightening, existential anti-hero that won’t soon be forgotten. Read the full review.

6. If Beale Street Could Talk

Once in a blue moon a filmmaker comes along that lights a fire of excitement in fans of the medium, and with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” director Barry Jenkins cements his place as one of the most talented auteurs working in the industry today. His extremely personal adaptation of the classic James Baldwin novel is his follow-up to 2016’s Best Picture winner “Moonlight,” and I would be both pleased and not at all surprised if he takes home more awards at the Oscars this year. Read the full review.

5. The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Growing up is hard enough but growing up gay in the early 1990s was agonizingly difficult, a sad truth that’s explored with the utmost sincerity in the lovely, touching, and heartbreaking "The Miseducation of Cameron Post." Adapted from the novel by Emily M. Danforth, the film tells the story of high school junior Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) who, after being caught in the backseat of a car at the Homecoming dance with her best friend Coley (Quinn Shephard), is sent off to a private evangelical boarding school devoted to "curing" her lesbian tendencies and same sex attraction. Cam is being taught to "pray the gay away" in hopes that she can live a "normal" life and one day have a family of her own. Read the full review.

4. Avengers: Infinity War

By design, "Avengers: Infinity War" is not made to be divisive, but there will be a built-in contingent of naysayers that will long to hate it. Marvel fans, I’m here to alleviate your fears. If you take away only one thing from this review, make it this: you will not be disappointed with this movie. This is a prime example of what every successful blockbuster should be: it’s thrilling, surprising, emotionally devastating, eye-popping, and a slam-bang exhilarating ride. What does this movie get right? Just about everything. Read the full review.

3. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

To this role Melissa McCarthy brings a dejected picture of the human nature of loneliness, with an uncanny ability to create sympathy for the complex, difficult, and disgraced best-selling author, Lee Israel. She also nails a likeable-yet-not sarcasm that comes from her character thinking everyone else is a complete idiot. Everything about this understated film hit the right notes for me, and it is one of the very best I have seen this year. Read the full review.

2. Leave No Trace

There’s something special about director Debra Granik, a woman who can tell a story like the one in “Leave No Trace” with a certain type of understanding and grace. Her style is perfect for this material, a film that’s reminiscent of “The Florida Project” in that it gives a voice to folks whom society would rather ignore. This film is the textbook definition of intimate storytelling with its complex characters, hypnotic cinematography, and an overwhelming feeling of both despair and hope. This film affected me on a deeply emotional level, and it’s one of the very best of the year. Read the full review.

1. Blindspotting

Owing much to its impassioned artistry and racially charged themes, the indie dark comedy “Blindspotting” comes out swinging. Whatever your expectations are for this film, it exceeds them in every way possible. Its anger is offset with a clearer understanding, and the shrewd balance of organic humor with agonizing intensity left me rattled, shaking, and close to tears. Read the full review.


11. First Reformed

The parallels of the destructive natures of polluters are likened to organized religion, as the poison is nearly one and the same. One may be destroying our planet, but the other could be destroying our souls. Read the full review.

12. Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

This summertime surprise took me from zero expectations to maximum fun in less than 84 minutes. The tone is so all-around good-natured that you can’t help but have a great time at this movie. Read the full review.

13. Den of Thieves

Are there plot points that make zero sense? Yeah, there are. And there are a lot of them. But do the myriad implausibilities ruin the entire project? No way. Just go with it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good this movie really is. Read the full review.

14. Anna and the Apocalypse

This is a film geek achievement in offbeat originality that delivers a fresh and fun twist on the zombie genre. Read the full review.

15. mid90s

A realistic and raw tale of coming-of-age insecurities with a hearty dose of skate culture nostalgia. Read the full review.

16. The Hate U Give

Here is a strong, far-reaching tale of black female empowerment and dignity, a reminder that love is bigger than hate. Read the full review.

17. Hearts Beat Loud

A beautifully low-key, heartfelt, small scale story of how music aids us in speaking our inner truth. Read the full review.

18. Piercing

Based on Ryu Murakami’s cult novel of the same name, “Piercing” is a shocking, gory, sleazy, wickedly stylized film that seamlessly blends psychological horror with comedy as a bloodthirsty romance blossoms between the closet psychopath and the equally unstable call girl. Read the full review.

19. Lords of Chaos

Films don’t often leave me speechless but after the final credits rolled on “Lords of Chaos,” I was so stunned and shocked that I felt like kicking a baby and running to a back alley to throw up. Read the full review.

20. First Man

The film has a surprising low-budget feel that’s well-suited to Chazelle’s style and doesn’t stray far from his indie film roots. Read the full review.


Louisa is a proud member of the Nevada Film Critics Society and is a writer and critic for Screen Zealots.

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