2018 delivered plenty of idiosyncratic and controversial films and these 10 are worth celebrating
Let me be frank for a moment; 2018 was a year of pretty disposable films. Highly anticipated films like Suspiria and Solo: A Star Wars Story all disappointed big time, while supposedly award favourites like A Star Is Born and Widows were enjoyable but not spectacular. Smaller indie films such as You Were Never Really Here left me torn and big blockbusters, such as Avengers: Infinity War, with a promise to blow me away, were flawed yet extremely fun. To put in more context, I did not give my highest grade (A+) to any movies this year. Even though there was no Lady Bird or Arrival this year, there was still plenty of awesome movies that did leave me glued to the screen. Movies like A Quiet Place, Burning, Bumblee, Black Panther, The Incredibles 2, and Halloween were all great films that just missed my top 10 but are still worth seeing nevertheless. However, these next 10 are all films that reminded me of the power of cinema, emotionally, politically, or technically.
10. Beautiful Boy
Beautiful Boy is a film oozing with emotions. Its portrayal of addiction is one of tragic truth and doesn’t necessarily sugar-coat the issue. Director Felix Van Groeningen’s ability to make the audience feel different feelings ranging from happiness, stress, anger, desperation, and numbness, is truly an accomplishment of its own. Though the film suffers from pacing issues, they never get in the way of film’s emotion potential. Beautiful Boy touched me and stayed with me for days after the credits rolled.
I’ve always been a fan of contrived thrillers but never would I have guessed that a movie told through screens could be as engaging as Searching. The use of various screens from computers, hidden cameras and televisions heightened the movie’s overall message on identity. The film asks what if our true selves are hidden in the depths of the internet? As scary as that may sound, Searching delivers a pretty convincing argument.
8. If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins always deliver visual poems that are both mesmerizing and thoughtful. If Beale Street Could Talk is such a delightful film and just like Moonlight, it sneaks up on you emotionally. There’s both a glacial and warm quality to the overall film from its stunning cinematography to its beautiful score (which is probably one of the scores ever, and you should definitely listen to it). All in all, it’s a beautiful film worth your time.
7. The House That Jack Built
Lars Von Triers last hurrah will either be for some a good riddance or a heavy goodbye. For me, it’s a hard thing to contemplate, especially as I find Von Trier to be quite unbearable as a person. However, his films have always been deliciously dark from the bloody Antichrist to the depressing Melancholia to the sexual nihilistic fantasy of Nymphomaniac. The House That Jack Built may just be my favourite Lars Von Trier movie. It serves not only as a philosophical exploration of insanity and art but it also serves as a meta-exploration of Von Trier’s entire career.
6. The Favourite
Yargos Lanthimos is one of the most exciting directors working today. His darkly unique take on social issues and his idiosyncratic characters make for some of the best movie experiences. The Favourite doesn’t lose anything that made him such a fascinating director. His use of a lesbian love triangle to criticize modern-day politics should tell you just how bold Lanthimos is when it comes to making his films.
The cinematic social critique of 2018, Assassination Nation is not a very popular film with critics or audience. It received a rather lukewarm reception from critics and made almost nothing at the box office. However, Assassination Nation deserves your attention. It takes on a lot of topics ranging from sexual hypocrisy to the rapidly diminishing notion of privacy. It’s the boldest and most unapologetically feminist film of the year to the extent that it may turn viewers off. Controversial or not, this is definitely underrated.
It wouldn’t be the end of the year without adding yet another controversial horror film unto my list of the best of the year. Hereditary does lots of things right with its dense atmosphere, its bold choices and an engaging exploration of families. It’s genuinely scary and it is the kind of thinking horror film that demands you to listen closely to get more out of it. Hereditary builds and builds until it’s climax which will leave you speechless.
I’m a sucker for metaphorical and visually stunning sci-fi films. For this reason, Annihilation is a pretty clear choice. It’s a gorgeous film that finds the perfect balance between CGI and practical effects. However, it’s the overall message that’s most intriguing here. Pondering destruction versus change is a unique theme for a film to tackle. Garland has truly delivered the best sci-fi film since Arrival.
2. First Reformed
While I have to admit that the initial premise of First Reformed seemed a lot to tackle, Paul Schroder perfectly delivers exactly what he promised. The film tackles religion’s denial of climate change, while also looking at how our lives are ultimately affected by it. It perfectly blends reality and surrealistic qualities to tell the story and it greatly benefits from both approaches without it being too much. Schroder’s big ideas show in this passionate drama.
1. Mission Impossible: Fallout
Fallout is the best Mission Impossible movie yet. Delivering a tense and exciting film while also being technically perfect is no easy task. Yet, Fallout is the best action film since Mad Max: Fury Road. Both films are beautifully shot and boldly practical which betters the end product. I wish a lot more films could find the passion and willingness to use practical effects in their films because many times during this film, my mind was in awe at what was being made. Fallout is my best of the year without a doubt.