The Best List: 2018 (So Far) / by Louis Holstein

2018 has been an interesting year for the art world. While there has not been anything that has completely stopped me in my tracks, I have been pleasantly surprised at a host of pieces. I've broken down the various art mediums into, film, theatre, and music. I know I'm skipping over hoards of other art forms, but for my own sanity I just have broken it down to those three. (Let's be honest, good TV doesn't come out till the fall anyway.) Okay, here we go! 


Black Panther, February 16th. Black Panther is one of the most memorable and enjoyable Superhero films I have seen in a very long time. I say that with a smile on my face because Superhero films have become entirely mundane. I feel like there is a new film every two months, and yet there is nothing new about it. Black Panther, however, introduced us to the beautiful country of Wakanda, an emotionally complex villain (whom I actually disliked a lot, but that's for another blog post), and four wonderfully strong female leads. Surely this was not a typical superhero movie! NOT TO MENTION, this was a film (have I mentioned a Superhero film?) comprised of an almost entirely African American cast. This now sits in my top three Superhero films of all time and I'll be shocked if it doesn't score that Best Picture nomination come the 2019 Academy Awards. 


A Quiet Place, April 6th. I'm rarely fond of the horror/monster genre. The classic "cat and mouse chase" that monster movies generally present does not do it for me- in fact, it gives me anxiety (maybe that's the point?). So going into A Quiet Place I was extremely nervous. If you've seen it, you know that the first five minutes set the viewer's heart racing and it doesn't let up until the end the film. You may be wondering how it would make it in my "best of list?" Simple: we are introduced to characters that are more than just people to kill off. Beneath the cheap scares, this is a story of family, heart, and what one will do for the people they love. Its complexity reminds me of last years, Get Out. Also, it's basically a silent film... brilliant. I know the producing team has already started their Academy Awards campaign, so we'll see what happens.


Incredibles 2, June 15th. The Incredibles is in my top three Pixar films, alongside Finding Nemo, and Coco, so I had fairly high expectations going into this Superhero family sequel. Not to mention that it took them 13 years to produce this follow-up, so in my mind- it had better be good. Spoiler alert: it was. It was so good, that I honestly can't compare the first one with its sequel. They are both such strong films that they are able to stand on their own! Brad Bird created MAGIC, twice! Not only was this fun children's animated fare, but it was also a social critique that adults could get behind. I enjoyed every second of it and it will go down in my movie history as one of the best sequels ever, right there with The Empire Strikes Back, Spiderman 2 (Toby McGuire) and Toy Story 2. Get that speech ready, Brad, you've got an Oscar coming your way.


Won't You Be My Neighbor, January 19th (Sundance). I'm not sure where to begin with this documentary. I laughed and I cried and I thought about it for hours after I left the theater, heck, I'm still thinking about it right now! Won't You Be My Neighbor takes us behind the scenes on one of the most influential Children's Program of all time: Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood. We see the hopes and fears and ambitions of Fred Rogers as he embarks to fulfill his call and ministry. I had no idea what an incredible man and pastor Fred was. This documentary will be one on my mind for years to come and I can't wait to buy it to watch it again. Everyone needs to see this film, it will heal your soul and bless your heart. As a Pastor, it gives me a story to stand on. I know Best Documentary is always a stiff category in the Academy Awards world, but I am praying, this film makes it at least to the nomination stage, if not a win.


I've already covered this a bit in my New York City post, but I wanted to highlight these extraordinary shows again.

Carousel, Opened, April 12th. I knew they second they announced this production in 2017, that I had to get to New York to see it, and boy am I glad I did. Nominated for 10 Tony Awards, Carousel blew my expectations out of the water and set new expecations for the Broadway shows I see in the future. Josh Peck's choreography is unlike anything I have witnessed on Broadway (and I've seen a lot of Broadway). It was ballet heavy, yet modern. The dancers swept the stage and the crowd with every number. Jessie Muller, Josh Henry and Lindsey Mendez sang us out of the house multiple times. It is now one of my favorite shows. Full of heart and empathy, it reminded me that we are all broken and in need of love. Love is a choice and it covers a multitude of sins. This specfic production was deep and alive, full of passion and talent. I have to say, they just don't write musicals like they used to. If you're in New York, go see this show, you won't regret it. 


The Band's Visit, Opened, November 9th, 2017.The Band's Visit technically opened last year, but after winning 10 Tony Awards this past June, including Best Musical, Best Director, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, and Best Featured Actor in a Musical, I think it's safe to put this on my list for 2018. We were lucky enough to see this dazzlingly simple production this past May and I can't stop raving about it to anyone and everyone who will listen. The Band's Visit tells the story of a twist in events that leads to the unlikely friendship between a group Israelies and Egyptians. I can't think of a show more needed in this day and age, reminding us that through compassion, empathy, and music, we are all human.  


I have not been able to gather my thoughts in an articulate way about music so far this year. For that reason, I'm not going to write anything about them until the end of the year. Below are my top three albums of the year so far. 

There's still a lot of year left (especially in the movie world) so we'll see where we are in December. Let me know have been your highlights for the year so far in the comments below!