BEST KARATE CHOPS & OTHER AWARDS: Emily Mahler’s Top Films of 2018

by Emily Mahler 1,048 views0

It all started in 2011, at the ripe age of 13, when I discovered my true love for film and not just 2000’s stoner comedy Dude, Where’s My Car? (which I rented for 11 years straight at Blockbuster. I miss you, buddy!). The Social Network was more of a proper gateway drug into the world of cinema.

I tell you this story because in the summer of 2018, I met the reason why I dedicate my life and wallet to this crazy and mesmerizing art form…

Andrew Garfield.

On a trip to NYC, I didn’t just tell him that the cause of my rapid decline into film madness was his fault (and that I loved him and possibly handed him a three page letter written by yours truly (don’t judge me)) but I also saw some of my favorite movies of the year and possibly ever.

This trip to NYC is also a good excuse as to why I only watched around 35 films that came out this year. Movies are strong but Andrew Garfield and Angels in America are stronger, okay?

In other news, for the past six years, I have tried to make one of those Pinterest film diaries and for six years I have failed but this year is a little different. I found Letterboxd! An app that crashes all the time but an app that will let my film diary be neat and organized. I will use the help from Letterboxd to count down my top ten movies that I have seen from 2018.

(To the movies I haven’t seen like Roma, Hereditary, and Paddington 2:

I am so sorry that I kept watching my top four movies of the year and Inside Llewyn Davis, over and over again. I will get to you one day!)



Courtesy of Warner Bros

Directed by Bradley Cooper

“You’re my boyfriend, if you don’t treat me like your wife.”

Since June, my sorry ass was crying in every movie theater, in front of every tv screen and over every YouTube ad when the start of this trailer began. And I was crying 100% harder while watching the film.

I believe this film deserves awards, I said that it deserves ALL the awards in the last Cougar Review for the semester but I was wrong, since I hadn’t seen my number one choice. The soundtrack is amazing; I still bump it on the daily. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga did have amazing debuts within this film.

Best Supporting Animal Actor goes to Bradley Cooper’s dog, Charlie!

Currently: In theaters, available for streaming and rent soon!

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of Paramount

Directed by Alex Garland

“We have many theories, few facts.”

I would like to say I didn’t watch this movie in a theater and I hate myself for it. I was too freaking lazy to get an Uber to an Arclight, but when I found out Oscar Isaac and Alex Garland were teaming up again, I was so psyched!

I had an amazing time, of course; the two loves of my life Oscar Isaac and Tessa Thompson in one movie?! I watched it the first day of on demand release with my mom and grandma and for this reason, I think that’s why it is so low on my top ten list, which leads me to give it the award of…

Best Movie Emily Should Have Paid More Attention to goes to: Annihilation!

Currently: Available for rent

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of Annapurna

Directed by Boots Riley

“This is telemarketing… stick to the script.”

This movie is crazy amazing and I spilled my whole damn Icee on my pants when those hybrid people were shown for the first time. I never felt so amazed and struck by a movie’s twists and turns before. Boots Riley really took one for the team making a second album for the film and casting amazing actors; I truly believe this film deserves a lot more recognition.

Best Flipper of Signs goes to: Steven Yeun!

Currently: Streaming on Hulu

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Directed by Steve McQueen

“Because no one thinks we have the balls to pull this off.”

Grab your girl gang, your Brian Tyree Henry stans and your Taken movie memes because this film should have taken all of these categories’ money, stole the box office and made Steve McQueen the happiest man on Earth.

I was on the edge of my seat the whole film, starting with the beginning scene when Jon Bernthal dies. He seems to die five minutes into every movie he has ever been in, doesn’t he? AND YET.

I was also surprised, for the best, that there would ever be a movie where Miss Viola Davis and Liam Neeson would be married.

Best Crazy Brother Duo goes to: Brian Tyree Henry and Daniel Kaluuya!

Currently: In theaters now

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Directed by Greg Berlanti

“Are you disappointed it’s me?”

Love, Simon is an adaptation of a book that means a whole lot to me. So when I found out that this film was being made, I knew it was gonna be on my top ten list… if they captured the essence of the book.

They did.

I have seen this film eight times and each time just makes me so happy and sad at the same time. This movie was the first mainstream rom-com the LGBTQ community could see in themselves and for that I am grateful.

Best Movie I am Grateful for goes to: Love, Simon.  

Currently: Available for rent!

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of Focus Features

Directed by Spike Lee

“All the power to all the people.”

I read the memoir of the real Ron Stallworth just hours before sitting in the theater and let me tell you… Spike Lee turned it up 100 notches and it needed that to be the action packed movie it portrayed in the trailer’s montages.

In this upcoming awards season, I hope we see more praise for John David Washington’s performance. This movie shows the world’s terrifying actions and I believe it made a statement, and put a proper point across.

Best Karate Chop goes to: John David Washington!

Currently: Available for rent

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of Sony

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman

“Are you mad at me? I feel like you’re mad at me.”

Spider-Man has been a part of my life since I was three years old. I don’t remember a time in my life without the amazing storylines, so this film was truly out of this world for me. The animation and story are top notch, and it feels like you are right in the middle of the story AND the comic!

To be honest, I wish more superhero movies were like this; no more crappy CGI and trying to fit every detail as possible in less than two hours (I’m looking at you DC).

I hope to see more from this incredible team in the coming years, because we all know it took them so long to release this one.

Best Christmas Song goes to: Spidey Bells by Chris Pine

Currently: in theaters now!

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of Amazon

Directed by Felix Van Groeningen

“Um…  just doing what needs to be done.”

Like everyone in Hollywood, I have a clear fascination with Timothee Chalamet. So, when I heard he was gonna be in another movie with none other than Steve Carell, I ran to the theater on opening day. I knew what the film was about and that it was going to be hard but it ended up being worth it.

This film, after it ended, made me have a conversation with my mom about addiction. I learned more about my family and how this disease affects everyone. It was a beautiful film (no pun intended) but it also provided me a valuable lesson.

Best Life Lesson goes to: Beautiful Boy

Currently: in theaters now!

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of A24

Directed by Bo Burnham

“…to the coolest girl in the world.”

When I found out that Bo Burnham was directing a movie, I screamed. When I watched said movie in theaters for the first time, I quietly screamed because this movie was relatable to me when I was graduating eighth grade, first hearing about Bo Burnham.

Now I’m a college student, and I am grateful I have a movie where I can cringe at a character who doesn’t realize they are playing me and thousands of other people. Bo Burnham did a stellar job in this film and he’s won the award for best directorial debut in 2017 in my heart.

Best Cringe goes to: Eighth Grade

Currently: available for rent

You can watch the trailer here.


Courtesy of Annapurna

Directed by Barry Jenkins  

“I want to hold you in my arms, and I got to hold our baby in my arms.”

If Beale Street Could Talk won my heart and this number one spot right when the opening titles started to roll. Barry Jenkins is one of my favorite filmmakers working today and he proved that by making me crying from the beginning to the end of this fantastic film. I can’t say much about it because I’ll probably cry till I can’t see anymore.

Let’s just say I am very grateful for that European writing trip in 2013 that Jenkins took. We got two beautiful and thought out movies (including Moonlight) and I personally got two more movies on my favorites of all time list.

The acting was amazing and each character had their own standout moments. I was in such awe of Kiki Layne and Stephan James’ performances; they had me shaking.

I will be rooting for Regina King as best supporting actor as well as best overall mother this awards season.

Best Movie of 2018 goes to: If Beale Street Could Talk

Currently: in select theaters; goes wide January

You can watch the trailer here.


Top Three Movies Where I Spilled an Icee:
(in order of pain and amount spilled)

Full Icee on the floor, cut open my chin with the straw.

Crunched Icee cup and didn’t realize till the drink was all over my pants.

Full force slurp became full force on my shirt.  


(to prove a point)





I just want to put it out there: I couldn’t write this list if it was written too seriously, but my love for these films are serious and they do deserve some love and attention from everyone. Thank you for reading my list, and I hope we have a great year of film next year.

Happy New Year!

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