9. The Greatest Showman (Michael Gracey, 2017)
The Greatest Showman tells the story of PT Barnum, the real-life showman who promoted hoaxes in the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film blatantly glosses over the dark side of Barnum (like exploiting minorities and showing hoaxes) but it offers a dazzling look into show business with excellent performances from Hugh Jackman as Barnum, Zac Efron as his partner Phillip Carlyle, and Zendaya as the acrobat Anne Wheeler. The songs are well-written and catchy as hell, and I listened to the soundtrack for weeks after I saw it.
10. Fifty Shades Freed (James Foley, 2018)
Fifty Shades Freed is the climax of the Fifty Shades trilogy and follows Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) as they navigate married life. Not everything is whips and roses as a dark figure from their past shows up. I haven’t seen the first two films but based on what I saw in Freed, it looked like an unnecessary sequel. I would have loved to see more BDSM and scenes showing how the two adjust to married life. Dornan is stiff as Grey but Johnson is charming and vulnerable as Steele.
11. The Cloverfield Paradox (Julius Onah, 2018)
In a very ambitious move, Netflix goes the sci-fi route with the surprise release of The Cloverfield Paradox, the third film from the Cloverfield franchise that connects Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). This installment is set in space and is meant to tie the three films together. The result is a thrilling watch that proposes an interesting premise and great storytelling.
12. Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1991)
In this legendary documentary, Livingston examines the inner world of New York City’s drag culture. She interviews the gay and transgender communities that participate in balls, or competitions where attendees must walk down a runway and be judged based on the realness and beauty of their drag, and their dancing abilities. The documentary is tenderly made without exploiting the culture and its people, and we see the joys and sorrows behind the beauty of each queen.
13. Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)
For Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next film, the studio tackles the rich history of T’Challa in Black Panther. As the titular superhero, he is the newly-crowned king of the fictional reclusive African nation Wakanda. As T’Challa comes to terms with being the new ruler, someone from the country’s past reappears to challenge the throne and harness its precious resources. It may sound like your typical Marvel film but Black Panther is so much more and comes with a unique and empowering story.