Shaune’s top 10 movies of 2018

Our year-end countdown lists wrap up with Shaune’s picks for the 10 best movies of 2018:

10. “Den of Thieves” — You won’t find this movie on anyone else’s top 10 list (at least not the 10 best movies) but I genuinely enjoyed it.  It may come off as a “Heat” rip-off at first, but underneath, it is layered with complexity and has some incredible and smart action scenes.  Plus, it’s Gerard Butler’s best performance in years.

9. “Aquaman” — I didn’t want to like “Aquaman,” but I did.  In fact, I loved it.  Director James Wan pulls no punches and gives us 2.5 hours of over-the-top, outlandish, CGI-filled fun. This is what a comic-book movie should be.

8. “The Strangers: Prey at Night” — This much-delayed sequel shamelessly borrows style, music and camera techniques from ’70s and ’80s horror movies and gives us an homage to the classic style. We end up with a ridiculously fun horror movie.

7. “Upgrade” — This under-the-radar sci-fi revenge film came out of nowhere and blew me away. With fight scenes straight out of “The Matrix” mixed with a technology-filled plot that plays out like an extended “Black Mirror” episode, it will likely be considered a cult classic.

6. “Game Night” — “Game Night” was such a surprise that it had to make my top 10.  The music and cinematography have a sheen that elevates this from a standard, forgettable comedy to a classic.  It has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments from start to finish, making it the best comedy of the year.

5. “Black Panther” — Most people liked “Black Panther” for its social relevance and use of a mostly African-American cast.  I enjoyed it because director Ryan Coogler made a great film.  The characters are likeable, the music stands out, the technology is fun and Killmonger is a great villain.  Marvel continues to up its game with each new film.

4. “A Quiet Place” — The deafening silence of the theater in the first act was unlike anything I’d experienced before. John Krasinski hits a home run in his directorial debut with a stylish, original take on the horror genre.  Using an intelligent, terrifying monster, he manages to give us a character piece about the love between parent and child while overcoming tragedy, guilt and blame.

3. “Hereditary” — The best horror movie in recent years, “Hereditary” sticks with you like the image of a dead animal on the side of the road as you drive by.  Creepy, atmospheric and unsettling, it succeeds on all fronts.

2. “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” — As the sixth movie in the series, it’s hard to believe “Fallout” could be this good, but it is. With unbelievable action and breakneck pacing, Tom Cruise proves he is still not too old for his ridiculous stunt work.

1. “Avengers: Infinity War” — “Infinity War” isn’t a perfect movie, but after almost 10 years of anticipation, the Russo Brothers give us everything we had waited for: thrilling action, perfect character balance, high emotional stakes and an ending we couldn’t believe (even though we all knew it was coming).

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