2018 was a big year for me personally. In many ways it was the most significant of my life so far. In May I got engaged, and recorded the first full-length album with my band. In October, I got married. Went on my honeymoon. Navigated the first holiday season as a member of a new family. It was wonderful. It was also a lot.

With so many major life events demanding my time, energy, and focus, it’s only natural that the hobby of movie watching and reviewing fell by the wayside, at least somewhat. 2018 was the year in which MoviePass ran out of favor (and money) roughly a year after its historic price drop brought an unprecedented number of subscribers to the service. It was the year FilmStruck left us. So not only was my movie viewing down by sheer numbers, but the avenues by which to explore it were narrowing as well.

All this is to say that I didn’t see as many movies as usual in 2018, and as such I don’t feel that my annual top list is as meaningful is it might have been. I know there’s so much that I missed. And I know, therefore, that this list isn’t likely to turn anyone on to any small movies that flew under their radar. So I can’t help but feel my excitement about this annual effort isn’t what it usually is. That said, I can’t break with tradition; and my discussion of movies is always about what they mean to me and not about any supposed social import or insider clout. So it is without pretense or ego that I offer you the 10 movies I liked most from last year.


Dying of the Light (2014)
Director: Paul Schrader
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Alexander Karim
Running Time: 1 hr, 34 mins
Rated: R

Review by Daniel Stidham

Early in Dying of the Light, the camera zooms in on a man’s hand which then begins to tremble uncontrollably. The hand belongs to Nicolas Cage, and this shot is the first best hope we have that the film we’re watching will be worthwhile. Though Cage has a notoriously uneven track record, many of his highest highs involve him playing disturbed, afflicted, or deeply neurotic characters. Leading Man Cage, National Treasure Cage, is fine as far as he goes; but what you really want is Matchstick Men Cage, Bad Lieutenant Cage. You want the guy who has unpredictable freak-outs, manic ticks and ridiculous hair. Sometimes it’s a thin line that separates “I want to take his face…off!” from “No, not the bees,” but we’re willing to take that risk because when it works it pays off big time; and for at least a few minutes of Dying of the Light, it looks as though we’re about to be treated to the next entry in the “Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit” canon.

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Knowing (2009)
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury
Running Time: 2 hrs, 1 min
Rated: PG-13

Review by Brother Reed

I just can’t take Nicolas Cage seriously any more. I’m not sure exactly why. Oh, who am I kidding? I know why. It’s the whole “Wicker Man” fiasco. Now that I have seen this man running around in a bear suit punching women in the face (a questionable career move but undoubtedly amusing) it’s just harder to picture him in a serious dramatic role. That’s too bad, too, because Cage has actually been in some great movies since he got started in the early 80’s and turned in a few notable performances as well. Even in this decade he’s done Adaptation, Matchstick Men, and Lord of War, all of which should have elevated his career to the point where Ghost Rider, Next, and Bangkok Dangerous would not have been necessary. Perhaps they weren’t. Perhaps even in his pre-castle-crisis days he simply enjoyed B-movies and undercooked sci-fi. But I made a mistake, too. I didn’t have enough respect for the influence said B movies and undercooked sci-fi have on me. I’m a sucker for a great idea so when I heard about Knowing I turned a blind eye to Cage’s concerned-looking visage on the poster and bought a ticket anyway. READ FULL REVIEW