Welcome to our annual editors top 10 of the year! Through the rest of the year, we’ll be sharing 10 of our favorite things (no offense, Oprah) of this past year and we hope you love them too. Of course we love everything we’ve shared, but these things are all extra special to us.  – Liz and Kristen

Every time we tried to pick a single movie that stood above the rest this year…well, we just couldn’t. What really stands out to us about 2018 are the growing number of movies for our families that feature diverse heroes (and villains!), both kids and adults, so that more of our kids can see themselves reflected back at themselves on the big screen.

The wonderful diversity of 2018 movie heroes: T'Challa and Killmonger in Black Panther
Marvel Pictures (also at top)

Of course Black Panther stands out above all (read this terrific post in which moms of color share the importance of Black Panther), solidifying the permanent place in our kids’ imaginations of heroes like T’Challa, Killmonger,  Nakia, Okoye, and our kids’ favorite, Shuri.

(We’ve had many debates about who’s smarter, Shuri or Tony Stark. Shuri takes it every time.)

Hard to believe that Black Panther — as well as the Wakandans’ return in Avengers: Infinity War — was just this year, right?

the diversity of 2018 film heroes: Miles Morales in Into the Spider-Verse
Sony Pictures Animation

We closed the year with Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, which is one of the best animated movies ever, let alone superhero films. Shameik Moore brought Miles Morales to life perfectly, and we’re going to be hearing a lot more from him.

Even Aquaman took a turn, casting the multiracial Jason Momoa as the lead, in lieu of the “generic blonde animated dude” of our own childhoods.

We also fell deeper in love with Donald Glover’s Lando who was easily the most memorable thing about Solo: A Star Wars Story. And Lena Waithe’s performance as Aech/Helen in Ready Player One was another show-stealer.

The importance of diversity in movies: Amandla Stenberg in The Hate U Give (20th Century Fox)
20th Century Fox

It wasn’t all just superhero films though that finally showed Hollywood there’s a strong market for more diverse film heroes. We were thrilled with the success of movies like The Hate U Give , and Ava DuVernay’s remake of Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time both featuring incredibly strong young Black female leads (Amandla Stenberg, Storm Reid) backed by talented and diverse supporting casts.

Though we would have liked a little more Common in The Hate U Give, hint.

Our kids adored Mary Poppins Returns, and we shouldn’t overlook the fact that Puerto Rican-born Lin-Manuel Miranda not only had second billing as Jack in a traditionally lily-white Disney franchise, but was an essential aspect of the film’s appeal to a broader audience.

Families with older kids agree that Crazy Rich Asians was a total delight, but it was also important, walking right into traditional Asian culture and relationship themes (if broadly, for comedic impact) in lieu of just casting Asian actors in a white-centered story. We’re hoping it kicks off a resurgence of good romantic comedies because oof, it’s been too long — and we’re hoping to see way more of Constance Wu on the big screen. Let alone Awkwafina, who also stole Oceans 8 this year, hands-down.

Love Simon: A beautiful teen movie for LGBTQ inclusivity (20th Century Fox)
20th Century Fox

For LGBTQ+ tweens and teens who rarely see themselves as more than the sassy sidekick or gay best friend, 2018’s screen adaptation of Love Simon, was incredibly meaningful. Right down to the on-the-nose but apt tagline, Everyone deserves a great love story. Nick Robinson and Keiynan Lonsdale make the sweetest couple — sorry for spoilers.

All of this matters to because all kids need to be able to see themselves as the heroes, the heroines, the leaders and the romantic leads in their own lives. Nothing does this more than movies, plays, and books.

 

However in the long run, what may most important about the success of a broader range of films in 2018 is who’s behind the scenes. A more diverse range of directors, producers, and crew members. In Hollywood, success means power and independence, and we can’t wait to see what’s to come from relative newcomers to feature directing, like Ryan Coogler (now responsible for the number 3 all-time top-grossing film ever), Peter Ramsey, George Tillman Jr., Sylvain White, Jordan Peele (though probably not for younger kids, if you’ve seen the terrifying trailer for Us, yikes!), and Boots Riley.

But wait…where are the Latino directors? The Asian directors? The women directors?

We’ll give the last word to Ava DuVernay, who tweeted a response to her inclusion on blackfilm.com’s list of the top 10 Black directors of 2018:

More sisters coming soon. Very soon.

We’re counting on it.

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