There is little doubt that 2018 will go down in the record books as one of queerest years for movies. Not only were there several movies featuring LGBTQ characters, in both lead and supporting roles, playing in theaters and on-demand, such as “Annihilation,” “Love, Simon,” “The Cakemaker,” “Disobedience,” “The Misandrists,” “Skate Kitchen,” “Colette,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Boy Erased,” “Green Book,” “Instant Family,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “The Happy Prince” and “1985,” but many of them were actually good, definitely worth seeing.
Additionally, there was a strong LGBTQ presence onscreen in a number of the year’s best docs, including “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” “Whitney,” “Susanne Bartsch: On Top” and “McQueen.” Filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer even had two queer docs — “Studio 54” and “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” — playing in theaters this year.
1. “1985”­ — The subject of AIDS in the mid-to-late 1980s made a comeback in 2018 in Rebecca Makkai’s breathtaking novel “The Great Believers” and the acclaimed FX series “Pose.” With its unforgettable performances and on-target insights, Yen Tan’s extraordinary, first-rate tearjerker “1985” takes its rightful place alongside the aforementioned book and TV series, a movie that is made even more remarkable by the fact that Tan and co-screenwriter Hutch were mere children during the time period in which the film is set.
2. “Isle of Dogs” — It’s criminal that, in spite of six nominations, Wes Anderson has yet to win an Academy Award. If there’s any justice, that may change with his latest ingenious, meaningful and entertaining stop-motion feature.
3. “The Favourite” — Not only is “The Favourite” risk-taking filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ most accessible movie, it is also a hysterical, historical, queer period piece that raises the bar for all that follow.
4. & 5. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” / “RBG” (TIE) — Docs ruled in 2018 and two of the best were loving and celebratory portraits of television Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
6. & 7. “Hereditary” / “A Quiet Place” (TIE) ­­— The modern horror genre continues to morph in new and exciting ways and one need look no further than the satanic scream-fest of “Hereditary” and the silent-but-deadly horrors of “A Quiet Place.”
8. “Eighth Grade” — Comedian turned writer/director Bo Burnham’s feature film debut “Eighth Grade” is a welcome addition to the adolescent angst genre, taking the groundwork laid by John Hughes to a new, 21st century level.
9. “Sorry To Bother You” — Borrowing liberally from Michel Gondry (while also paying homage to the French filmmaker) and Spike Jonze, Boots Riley created the single most tripped-out movie of the year.
10. “The Death of Stalin” — Don’t be distracted by the title, this is hands-down the funniest, nastiest and timeliest movie comedy of 2018.
11. “The Cakemaker” — The best (and gayest) of the three foreign language films on the list, the feature film debut by writer/ director Ophir Raul Grazier, is a truly bittersweet story of love, loss and attempted redemption.
12. “Blackkklansman” — Spike Lee’s best effort since 1989’s “Do the Right Thing,” and as it says onscreen, the movie is “based upon some fo’ real sh*t” as well as the book by Ron Stallworth.
13. “You Were Never Really Here” — Definitely not for the faint of heart, Joaquin Phoenix could finally score his first Oscar win in this difficult Lynne Ramsay movie about the most unlikely of saviors.
14. “Roma” — Like the aforementioned Yen Tan film 1985, Alfonso Cuarón’s personal and intimate film is a flawless black and white period piece (the early 1970s) about outsiders, family and the human necessity of feeling loved, valued and accepted.
15. “Love, Simon” — In a year in which LGBTQ characters in movies made their presence felt in a big way, prolific gay director/producer Greg Berlanti got things started in March with this well-received film adaptation of a Y/A novel.
16. “Shoplifters” — Talk about an “instant family”! Writer/director Hirokazu Koreeda’s alternately funny, sad, heartwarming and heartbreaking movie is about a ragtag group of adults and children living together and scraping by via a combination of theft, manipulation and sheer luck.
17. “Incredibles 2” — With the exception of the “Toy Story” franchise, Disney/Pixar doesn’t have the best record when it comes to sequels (“Cars 3” and “Monsters University” come to mind), but the second “Incredibles” installment is indeed super.
18. “First Reformed” — Only Paul Schrader could have written and directed “First Reformed,” a movie about the crisis of faith experienced by a reverend (Ethan Hawke) in poor health who finds “another form of prayer” as he evolves into a 21st century Travis Bickel in a white collar.
Honorable mention (alphabetical):
“Annihilation,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “Green Book,” “The Hate U Give,” “Hearts Beat Loud,” “Lean On Pete,” “A Star Is Born” and “We The Animals”
Worst of 2018:
“A Wrinkle in Time,” “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again,” “The Darkest Minds” and “Book Club”