The twist has become a cinema staple, using classic misdirection or playing off of viewer expectations to present a result or conclusion that we didn’t see coming. In some cases these twists are revealed mid-film, in others they leave our jaws on the floor in the final moments. In 2018 we got PLENTY of great twists that forced us to rethink entire movies or subverted our expectations to add to the viewing experience. Since this weekend we get the latest film from the master of movie twists, M. Night Shyamalan, with “Glass” I decided to take this opportunity to explore the best twists that left us all in awe and/or warranted rewatches to see what we missed. These are my picks for the Top 10 Movie Plot Twists of 2018.
For this list I looked at my favorite plot twists from movies released in 2018. For something to be considered a twist the intent must be that the viewer didn’t see it coming even if it was mildly suspected in theories leading up to the film’s release. The point of a good plot twist is to subvert the expectations of the viewer or to present us with something that changes how we see the final product.
I didn’t care how good the movies were that had these twists, rather I was more concerned with how well the twist worked and how effectively it was pulled off. Also it should go without saying with a list like this but just so nobody complains a SPOILER ALERT is in order.
Before I get to it, here are a few honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut:
- Murphy is a Dirty Cop, “The Commuter”
- Gary’s Game, “Game Night”
What was your favorite twist of 2018? Do you think Shyamalan will give us 2019’s first great twist in “Glass”? Let me know in the comments below and look for my review of “Glass” this weekend.
10. The Second Heist, “Ocean’s 8”
Every one of the “Oceans” movies contains a neat twist so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the female-driven reboot has one too. Some might point to Anne Hathaway’s character being in on the ruse as a twist but anyone who can do simple math can see that coming from a mile away seeing as there are only seven people, including Ocean, involved in the Gala heist to that point. No, the real twist comes later when we find out there was a second heist taking place completely unbeknownst to the entire crew. Instead of just stealing the Toussaint Debbie Ocean and Lou Miller also recruited “Ocean’s” regular Yen to help steal the Royal Jewels which were on display during the gala. The film hints at a second job taking place at the same time as the main theft and while we are led to believe this is Debbie trying to get revenge on her ex, as it turns out that second job is actually a much larger and riskier theft taking place in the background.
9. The Nuns are Dead, “The Nun”
Like pretty much every movie in the “Conjuring” Universe “The Nun” sports a neat paranormal-themed twist that is set up perfectly by the limitations placed on the characters. While the story involves the investigation into the death of a nun at an abbey only Sister Irene is allowed to enter as only certain individuals of religious stature are allowed in. This leaves Father Burke on the outside to eventually find out that the Abbess he had been talking to is actually dead. Now that in itself is a neat switch, but what comes later is much less expected. Since Sister Irene is the only one allowed in the abbey we don’t think anything of it when nuns attempt to keep her safe from Valak. When the demon starts to rage Irene joins the nuns in a united prayer only for Father Burke to break in and reveal that Irene is alone. Irene has a sixth sense and has been communicating with the dead nuns of the abbey all along.
8. STEM’s Plan and the Peaceful Dream, “Upgrade”
“Upgrade” is one of the best science fiction films from 2018 and its final moments are a fine example of misdirection. The film follows quadriplegic Grey Trace who willingly embraces a new AI system called STEM that allows him to be mobile again and seek revenge for his murdered wife. As the film progresses we are given warnings about STEM’s intelligence before the finale confirms that the AI has behind almost everything, influencing his creator and even coordinating the murder of Grey’s wife and his injury all in an effort to obtain a human host he fully controls. In the closing moments Grey tries to fight back against STEM’s influence and appears to shoot himself. We see Grey wake up in a hospital bed with his wife still alive and are briefly led to believe his experience was some sort of dream. Alas the truth is that STEM has locked away Grey in an idyllic dream state while taking over Grey’s body permanently, completing STEM’s plan and the movie’s twist as he leaves to join society.
7. The Snap, “Avengers: Infinity War”
While we all pretty much knew that “Infinity War” would be part one to a two-part story seeing as “Avengers 3” and “4” were filmed back to back, it was hard to believe that Marvel would pull something like this in one of their films. “Infinity War” sees the Avengers try to stop Thanos from procuring the infinity stones which would allow him to snap half of the universe out of existence. We all knew he was likely going to collect them but it was hard to believe he wouldn’t be stopped, or at least delayed, despite what the comics told us because Marvel had a poor track record of committing to character deaths. After all, superhero films always end with the heroes on top right? Apparently not as Marvel provides one of the year’s best twists and cliffhangers, Thanos snaps his fingers. He wins. The heroes lose. It’s a scenario we’d never seen before in a superhero film on the big screen, at least not like this. Many thought the film would end with Thanos retrieving the final stone and then the real battle would commence in the sequel. Instead we are left waiting anxiously to see how this will all be undone in “Endgame”.
6. The Detective’s Cover-up, “Searching”
“Searching” is an amazing found-footage-esque thriller that was a sleeper hit in 2018. The plot focuses on a father named David whose daughter goes missing and he uses internet research and social media to try to discover what happened to her. Along the way David is helped by a detective, the decorated Rosemary Vick. Several suspects are hinted at while David and Detective Vick try to solve the case. In the final act a suspect is named and commits suicide leaving David and the viewers thinking he may go without justice…that is until David comes to learn that Vick wanted to take the case and had previously worked with the suspect through a volunteer program. It’s revealed that Vick helped steer the search for David’s daughter away and manipulate the case, even convincing the suspect he had committed the crime all because the true guilty party was Vick’s son who was stalking David’s daughter. While in hindsight the detective close to the case seems like the obvious suspect, the way the story plays out gives the impression that Vick is truly on David’s side making this revelation all the more tragic.
5. Darth Maul Lives, “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
Well honestly this was only a twist to those who didn’t watch the animated “Star Wars” series prior to the release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story”. Otherwise you would have known that Darth Maul, an antagonist from the much maligned “Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace”, was at least still out there. After following Han Solo through his legendary Kessel Run, love interest Qi’ra’s true allegiance is drawn into question but she turns on her supposed master Dryden Vos, killing him and allowing Han to escape. One final twist reveals that Qi’ra was neither loyal to Han or Dryden, but instead apparently sought to earn favor with Maul and takes Dryden’s place in his hierarchy. Han looks on as Qi-ra departs in Dryden’s the ship, realizing that he has been duped. It’s a fun twist that ties “Solo” to the larger “Star Wars” universe and for those who only follow the films it provides a neat cameo appearance that could speak to future dangers yet to be revealed should other spinoff movies be green lit. What makes this cameo even cooler is that Maul is played by his “Episode 1” actor Ray Park while Sam Witwer, who provides the voice as he did in the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” television series.
4. Another Dumbledore, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
I don’t know one person who saw this coming, especially since it’s a huge deviation from everything fans have come to know from the “Harry Potter” books and movies. There’s a FOURTH Dumbledore! Devoted fans have learned much about the Dumbledore family over the years and it was always assumed there were only three Dumbledore siblings, Albus, Aberforth and the deceased Ariana. In the concluding moments of “The Crimes of Grindelwald” the titular villain reveals to Credence Barebone, a character seeking answers to his own existence, that Credence’s real name is Aurelius Dumbledore, the legendary Albus Dumbledore’s third sibling. The fact that this is simply an alleged relationship that may be negated in later films keeps it from being higher on this list, but still it’s the perfect cliffhanger that forces longtime fans to question everything they’d learned and leaves Credence/Aurelius’ true abilities and Grindelwald’s plans up in the air. For the first time many fans have no idea what to expect, especially considering that J.K Rowling herself wrote this film and thus has added a new character to one of the most legendary families in her own franchise on purpose. This wasn’t just some solo writers ignoring continuity making it that much more shocking and satisfying a mystery we can’t wait to see unravel.
3. Charlie’s Death, “Hereditary”
The only twist in this list that happens at the beginning of the film, “Hereditary’s” marketing proved to be misleading as it hinted that Milly Shapiro would be the main character in the film as Charlie, the tongue clicking daughter. This expectation is turned upside down when Charlie is killed off in the first act setting in motion the entire plot. Charlie was featured heavily in trailers, the poster and other advertising leading many to expect her to be some sort of possessed child or maybe even the antagonist. Nope. Instead she’s nothing more than a roadblock for the Paimon Cult who orchestrate her death in order to get one step closer to her brother Peter to be Paimon’s new host. It’s a neat early twist a lot of people didn’t see coming that showed shades of “Psycho” when Alfred Hitchcock killed off the film’s most prominent star in the first act as well. While Shapiro wasn’t the most famous actress in the film, her character looked like she would be a much larger part of the overall story and seeing her die in such a gruesome manner when the film has barely begun shocked many theatergoers and left them not knowing what to expect for the rest of the feature.
2. Literal Work Horses, “Sorry to Bother You”
“Sorry to Bother You” touches on a lot of themes, but its use of literal work horses to represent the mistreatment of employees by corporations is probably its most…shall I say inventive. For most of the film we see main character Cash work his way up the ladder eventually earning respect from Steve Lift, the CEO of a misleadingly named company called WorryFree. While enjoying drugs with Lee, Cash becomes nervous and leaves to go to the bathroom only to stumble on a holding room for humanoid horses which, as Lee later explains, are real people changed into “equisapiens” through gene-modification who are meant to be literal work horses for Lee’s company. He wants Cash to take $100 million to be the leader of the equisapiens and keep them in line. This out of nowhere plot twist is more than unexpected. It changes everything we’ve come to know or expect from this film to that point while also hitting the nail maybe a little too hard on the head with its symbolism especially when the plot is made public and people actually praise WorryFree for their innovation despite the inhumane practice. The equisapiens become a big part of the finale and a huge part of why this film is so fascinating.
1. Tully is Marlo, “Tully”
“Tully” is an amazing film led by charming performances from Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis who play mother Marlo and night nanny Tully respectively. The two form a bond as women from different generations trying to deal with their own personal issues while supporting each other. They share stories and even go to a bar together only for us to discover that after all their bonding they are one in the same. This twist blew my mind when I saw it unfold as I came to realize that Tully was simply a visualization of Marlo’s younger self that Marlo had embraced to help work through her midlife crisis. Marlo’s maiden name is revealed to be Tully and the issues that Tully was discussing were actually demons from Marlo’s past. Once this reveal comes into play it changes everything we thought we saw on screen and even changes the emotional impact of the lessons learned. It’s a fantastic switcharoo even if it did spark negative commentary against the film for its depiction of the relationship between parenthood, pregnancy and mental illness. Most of all though it does exactly what a good plot twist should do. It changes how we see the entire project and warrants a rewatch to see what we missed making it, in my opinion, the superior plot twist to all others in 2018.