The year of 2018 (and its ancillary weeks in 2019 as far as this list-building exercise is concerned) was intense, in a film-watching sense. Both by force of circumstances and a specific drive, I never watched as many films as in this particular window.
One effect of this is neither unexpected nor unwelcome in the slightest: my horizons were broadened further, as I watched a more varied slate of films. It has been a step in the right direction; the sweet spot, if there even is such a thing, is still far, however. More voices, of diverse origins and sensibilities, allow for a richer tapestry. (Notably absent of this list are documentaries, which I didn’t see nearly enough during the year, alas.)
That goes to show that a year is too short a period to watch all the movies there are to see, and that a list of 10 names is simply too restrictive. This year, in particular, it has been impossibly hard to decide the favorite film out of nearly a handful; with each day comes with a new opinion on the matter. With that in mind, I’ll do something slightly different with this list: it’ll be presented in alphabetical order, and I will refuse, even under duress, to reveal the top of the top 10 of 2018. (Also, if I watch a 2018 film that I think deserves to be here, I’ll add it to the list. That’s the beauty of having a flexible 10.)
I invite you to voice your opinions in the comment area below. What films did you like the most? Have you seen these?
Without further ado:
The attacks that occurred in Norway were so horrific that they indeed deserve multiple works to tell what happened. These two films are complementary experiences, very different from each other (and curiously, Greengrass got out-Greengrass’d by Poppe) both emotional, tough to stomach. At the center of both, in spite of the attacker, is a core of undeniable humanity.
The six episodes that form Buster Scruggs are very different, but they have in common, a few elements: the excellent and enormous cast in great shape, the production values and top-notch, and the mix of entertainment value with human nature insight.
Films that deal with hot-button issues, directly or not, are often weighted down by a sense of self-importance. It’s not the case here. Spike Lee takes his ideas very seriously, but in this case, he manages to make a very entertaining film to showcase them.
In spite of the name, this is a somewhat cold experience, but for once that is not really a problem, as this ponderous, observant film has such an interesting, thought-provoking storyline, and a stunningly beautiful film to watch.
A beautifully shot and acted love story, one that is very touching and insightful about the place the story happens. It is reduced to its more basic elements, making this a curiously melodrama-less romance, but stronger for it.
A modern-day noir with an extra-dose of darkness and grittiness, this film goes through a twisty plot and a good chunk of character development with great purpose. It helps matters that Kidman gives such a powerful performance.
The farthest thing from a bombastic experience, even if the subject matter seemingly calls for it. The journey portrayed was only possible due to an attention to detail that is borderline obsessive (which it needs to be); likewise, the film is about all the nuts and bolts, both within and without the head of the main character. It’s amazing how emotional it is, even being this quiet.
A fine example of extra economical cinema, it works because the acting of Jakob Cedergren is on-point, working with a character whose personality is fleshed out in service of an exciting, provoking story.
Poetic, powerful and poignant, this film furthers its case about a few very relevant issues by having a sweet, relatable relationship at its core, one that should by all rights be blissful. It is a fine piece of filmmaking and a fine piece of rhetoric as well.
In 2018, if one is looking for the top-shelf films about super-heroes, it’s towards animation one must look. These two films are focused, imaginative, emotionally engaging and visually interesting, unlike the live-action counterparts.
The beautiful animation, in rare stop-motion style, is filled with distinctive characters; the voice acting is top-notch. But it’s the story that matters, and this quest for a lost companion is touching and an insightful reflection on some current issues.
The latest entry in the storied action franchise (the best one being made today) is good evidence that you can have insanely exciting action sequences and emotional connection with the characters and their plight, without any sacrifice of either.
Two Brazilian films, directed by women, set in São Paulo, starring Júlio Andrade playing musicians, telling stories where music is an essential element to evoke emotions. They have a lot in common, but they are also quite different movies: they offer very different looks at relationships (romantic, familial or something else). Both are very effective and touching.
For starters, bar none the best ensemble acting of the year. That’s not why the film is in this list, however; it’s because of its non-judgemental, humane look at those that slip through the cracks even in a rich society; it’s because of the beautiful web of relationships in the portrayed family; it’s because how touching it all turns out to be.
This is a great, tough emotional journey, that allows a peek at characters not usually in the spotlight. It’s also a craft marvel (sound design is great, and the camerawork is simply brilliant), all working for a very clear and particular aesthetic choice.
Not quite a heist movie (it is better thought of as a character study around a heist), this film offers, on top of a thrilling story, a hard look at all sorts of power relationships: political, gender, racial, among others. It is very effective both as storytelling and as commentary.