Author: Cameron Fairchild
BEST FILM/FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
In a year where popular American cinema turned fascinatingly, excitingly away from dominant white, straight, narratives and became ever-more critical of the institutions that uphold those narratives, (Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Love, Simon, and The Hate U Give all come to mind) a lot of the best stuff this year came from overseas films with absolutely no interest in commercial sensibilities. While Burning’s beguiling mix of mystery and psychosexual character study, Zama’s brilliantly layered excoriation of its colonizer subject, and Let the Sunshine In’s dour examination of romance were all great, there was no better 2018 film—foreign or otherwise—than Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters, a beautifully, refreshingly stripped-down family portrait that doubles as a searching examination of crime, humanity, and the fraught uncertainty of human connection. The film is gutturally, immediately human, and one of 2018’s few true masterpieces.
2018 was a great year for toxic men, on film and elsewhere, with movies like Minding the Gap, Widows, and even Ralph Breaks the Internet, examining the realities of societal imbalance and the way it stems from fragile male personalities. While those films dwell successfully in the ambiguity of their toxic characters, Mandy, the dreamy, brutal, weirdo Nic Cage revenge saga from Panos Cosmatos, allows its villain no such empathy. Linus Roache’s Jeremiah Sand is a bastard, convinced of his absolute divine right to do whatever he wants, a spiteful, deranged, and terrifyingly certain man whose fragility wreaks havoc on his followers, his victims, and anyone unfortunate enough to cross paths with him. It’s a brilliant performance, and an excellent villain for 2018.
I mean, it’s obviously Ethan Hawke for First Reformed, giving a bravely, committedly weird and off-putting performance in a weird, off-putting film. That either are as good as they are speaks to the weird power of First Reformed’s absolutely bleak, despairing script and Paul Schrader’s direction. A great film, lead by a great actor.
- Honorable mentions: Steven Yeun in Burning, Brian Tyree Henry in Widows and If Beale Street Could Talk, Ryan Gosling in First Man, Jake Johnson in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Russell Hornsby in The Hate U Give.
I’m cheating a little bit by choosing more than one person here but Regina Hall for Support the Girls and Kathryn Hahn for Private Life are pretty much absolutely tied. Both have worked as woefully under-appreciated comic actresses for years, and it is an awesome thing to see both lead these films, finally getting the opportunity to play complex leading characters in expertly-observed dramedies about existing and surviving against patriarchal and societal pressure.
- Honorable mentions: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone in The Favourite, Tilda Swinton in Suspiria, Claire Foy in First Man, Toni Colette for Hereditary.
BEST 2018 FILM THAT IS TECHNICALLY A FILM FROM 1976
Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, initially completed in 1976 but never fully edited until 2018, is, like much of Welles’ work post-Citizen Kane, at the mercy of other authors – in this case, Bob Murawski, the editor who finished the film decades after the filmmaker’s death. Exploring power, isolation, and aging, The Other Side of the Wind is an excellent swan song for Welles. While the editing speed—a perhaps inevitable result of sifting through Welles’ hours of footage—is a jarring thing to put up with for 2 hours, it’s clear that the film, however it was meant to be finished, is another masterpiece from one of the greatest minds in the history of the medium.
BEST JUSTIFICATION FOR THE CONTINUATION OF THE SUPERHERO FILM
Black Panther is pretty great but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is just a little bit greater, gorgeously animated, ambitiously characterized, and mercifully goofy. So good that it almost makes up for the last 3 Spider-Manmovies and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Miles Morales, voiced excellently by Shameik Moore, is easily one of the best characters to ever grace the genre.
BEST USE OF THE SCOUNDREL TOM CRUISE
If you hate Tom Cruise, you probably don’t care about Mission: Impossible- Fallout, and that’s fair, but also: it might be one of the best action movies ever made. The final helicopter chase alone cements Fallout as the most intensely and expertly choreographed film since Fury Road, but it also tosses off a dozen excellent set pieces on the way there like they’re nothing, including one of the all-time great Cruise Runs™ and an amazing hand-to-hand bathroom fight. An absolute pleasure from start to finish, and the kind of practical-stunt fun no CGI-heavy superhero movie will ever match.
BEST FILM THAT MADE ME CRY
First-time feature-director Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap is easily the best documentary of the year, and a blistering, intensely personal (the film centers on Liu’s childhood friends, one in particular who proves to be incredibly toxic) look at the consequences of masculinity, poverty, and familial trauma. Minding the Gap might be the most brutal-but-worth-it film of 2018.
BEST FILM THAT IS NOT A FILM
Bojack Horseman was so good this year, you guys.
BEST SUMMARIZATION OF THE CHAOS, ANGER, AND POWERLESSNESS THAT ACCOMPANIES LIVING UNDER CAPITALISM
Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You is a mess—the pacing’s shot, the characters are frequently repellant, the satire is didactic—but none of its formal messiness can dilute the film’s undercurrent of pure, boiling rage. Formally inventive, at times funny, at times truly horrifying, and all-around anger-inducing (in a good way), Sorry to Bother You is a howling rejoinder to Trump, capitalism, and ambivalence towards the mess we (white people) have made.
BEST MOVIE NO ONE SAW
Madeline’s Madeline made $185,576 at the box office this year, but Josephine Decker’s invigoratingly bizarre meditation on art, acting, and appropriation features some of 2018’s most ambitious filmmaking.
And, finally, a completely subjective Top 20 ranking of the films of 2018:
20. The Rider
19. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
18. If Beale Street Could Talk
16. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
15. The Favourite
14. Private Life
13. First Man
12. Sorry to Bother You
11. The Tale
9. Madeline’s Madeline
8. Minding the Gap
6. First Reformed
5. Support the Girls
3. Mission: Impossible- Fallout
2. The Other Side of the Wind
CAMERON FAIRCHILD | Objectively Correct | KXSU Arts Reporter