Your guide for a New Year’s binge fest.
2018 was an interesting year for film. As I am writing this introduction we still don’t have a host for the Oscars (I’ll do it if they ask), and we also have a highly divided public on what should even be nominated for Best Picture. I suppose I should go ahead and say that Black Panther is not going to be in this list, but it isn’t a bad film.
I am willing to bet that most of the movies on this list aren’t going to be Oscar contenders. Should we care? Maybe? Winning an Oscar helps solidify an actor/director/genre for the future, and it is unfair that comic book movies (which I am not a fan of) aren’t given their recognition. Though, at least they make all the money in the world. Horror is likewise ignored, so I find myself aligned with comic book fans on this issue. Yes, there is artistic mastery in Marvel films, and yes there is excellent acting in horror. It is too bad that these films aren’t recognized by what is supposed to be a celebration of all cinematic artistic excellence.
Seeing films that we enjoy ignored by the Academy might explain why the event has been bleeding viewers for some time. However, I think it is important for folks to recognize that just because a movie isn’t recognized by a bunch of crusty old farts doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. Find critics who appreciate what you do, and build your own lists of must see films.
For a comparison, here are my wife’s favorite films of 2018 first:
And, here is my top ten (I write the blog, so my list gets fancy photos):
- The Night Comes for Us
While the plot of this film falls into the whole “assassin wants out and must kill his former friends” trope, The Night Comes for Us tells a similar story in an absolute violent spectacle. Crazy set-pieces and blood-soaked fights make this the best action film of 2018.
- First Reformed
First Reformed forces the audience to follow Pastor Toller as he confronts doubt and despair while facing health issues and a radical environmentalist. Through excellent dialogue and powerful directing, this drama is one no one should miss.
While I took issue with the tone-shifting conclusion, Hereditary is a smart and well acted horror film. Toni Collette should be praised endlessly for her performance as the grief-stricken and depressed Annie. This film proves once again that sharp and smart horror has a place in the mainstream.
Spike Lee is at the top of his form in this fact-based drama. Electric leads and a depressingly timely topic make this film not only one of Lee’s best, but also one of the best films of the year.
Passion, obedience, and guilt are at the center of this religious-themed drama. Excellent acting and dialogue make this one of the most thought-provoking and powerful films of the year.
This quiet, dreary, and unsettling drama confronts issues of guilt and trauma in an unblinking and powerful way. Sean Harris shows that an actor does not need to speak much to convey real and tragic emotions. This little gem should be close to the top of all horror-fans must see list.
- The Endless
Aside from being a fascinating film with excellent characters, The Endless also proves that Lovecraftian horror can be done well without the need for an absurd budget or CGI creatures. The slow sense of dread accomplished here makes the reveal of what is happening all the more interesting.
- Leave No Trace
One of the finest acted films I have seen in a long time. Leave No Trace deals with real issues and presents the characters as real people. Powerful, timely, and tragic, this one is not one to miss and proves that director Debra Granik needs to make more films.
Somehow, this film manages to be off-putting and hypnotic, beautiful and hideous, and a remake and something entirely new. Suspiria isn’t an easy watch, but the experience will stay with you long after the credits roll.
- The House that Jack Built
Anyone who knows me is likely not surprised by this one. In perhaps his best, and likely his last film, Lars von Trier take us on a journey with a violent and deranged sociopath. The film tries to shock, disgust, and discomfort the viewer, but also showcases the horrific treatment of women in society, and how easily violent men can get away with madness.