Author Topic: The Best Films of 2018, According to a Geek  (Read 621 times)

Offline westendboy

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The Best Films of 2018, According to a Geek
« on: December 25, 2018, 12:12 »
In coming up with my top films of 2018, I am reminded of one of Roger Ebert’s tenets with regard to good movies: “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.” When it comes to my favourite films of this year, these films satisfy that requirement. A Quiet Place is a monster-of-the-week movie but it takes away the sound element that is almost the quintessential ingredient of this genre. The darkly hilarious The Great Buddha+ skewers the state of religion in these present times to hilariously gut-bursting proportion. Along With the Gods: The Two World is able to use an inventive way to make me look inward to evaluate my life. All these movies all brought something different to the plate for me.

This year I am not just going to include movies that were screened in the cinemas, but also include movies I have seen that opened somewhere in the world. There are so many great movies out there that for some reason some heads of cinema chains think will not sell any tickets here; that is just criminal to me. But with all the streaming devices out there, there are no more excuses left not to watch good movies.

Finally, I need to declare that this is but a list and as all lists go, they are all your-mileage-may-vary territory. My only intention is to hopefully get people to check out some good movies.

10 Widows

The thieving ensemble is not whip-smart, possesses no relevant skills and has everything to lose. They are not looking for comeuppance for the deaths of their husbands; it is sheer survival that make them want to pull off the heist. It is a solid marriage between hard-hitting themes and popcorn entertainment. Thankfully, Widows refuses to exploit the widows’ plight for fun or cheap entertainment and in so doing it will leave you pondering about the world we are living in, a world ruled by nepotism, racism and sexism.

9 Raazi

Spy movies tend to ram up body counts and suggest they are superheroes. Raazi is a timely reminder that all spies start somewhere. The story grips you with its central character’s authenticity, all the way to the last frame. It also invites us to question our sense of patriotism in these current times when allegiance can so easily shift for personal benefits. In the end, war is futile and it doesn’t just destroy lives and property, it destroys one’s very soul. When Sehmat screams and begs for one last ounce of humanity, it is the cry of every tormented soul in times of war. Alia Bhatt delivers the best performance I have seen and I say this after watching so many noteworthy actresses’ performances this year.

8 Leave No Trace

Powerful, intense and beguilingly affecting, it feels like a social critique of our current times, but underneath it all it is a story of a father and daughter who can’t live without each other. The story of Leave No Trace is so subtle and unassuming, it will sneak up on you and before you know it you are in the palm of the storyteller’s hands. There are so many wondrous scenes and deeply moving scenes of kindness. How it never stoops down to become a didactic preaching exercise is a wonder. The movie shows you that one can live off the grid without wifi, something I and many others can’t do without. It also shows you a world where there are people who choose to live that way, nothing wrong with that.

7 Andhadhun

Andhadhun is about a blind pianist who ‘saw’ a murder and all the shenanigans there after. That’s it, to say anything more will rob you of the pleasure of watching the funniest and darkest comedy-thriller of the year. Andhadhun crackles with effervescent energy, manages to give a high five to Bollywood of the olden days, twisting and turning towards a climax that is fully earned.

6 Roma

Alfonso Cuarón went from the epic vastness of space in Gravity (2014) to the singularity of a middle-class family in his hometown Mexico. It is a semi-autobiographical film observing a family’s domestic helper with events taking place in 1970. The movie feels episodic, doesn’t judge and is artfully restraint. Quietly funny, tender and heartbreaking, Roma offers up a gorgeous black and white cinematography that puts you in the household as you watch mundane household tasks performed, surreptitiously putting you in a familial cocoon. This is going to give Kore-eda’s Shoplifters a run for the money in the Best Foreign Film category.

5 A Star is Born

The story of how one star gradually goes supernova, while another fades into oblivion is a story as old as romance, but first-time director Bradley Cooper has given the laboured story a fresh coat of paint and it is a movie for that informs these times. The devastating love story never becomes manipulative. Although the music and songs direct and reflect the feelings of the characters, it never cheapens the narrative by being overly sentimental. A Star is Born’s blend of romantic tragedy and emotional delimma is presented with compelling conviction and honesty.

4 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri sets out as if to find out who the killer/s is/are, but as the narrative progresses it isn’t just about that anymore. Martin McDonagh has a lot of up his sleeves and it becomes brilliant character studies about how people deal with pain and anger. No one is drawn in pure shades of good or bad, everyone is capable of being the best of themselves and in a blink of an eye becoming the worst. How he teeters characters on dark comedy and then rein them in through pure heartbreak is a high-wire act magnificently captured. One of the joys of Three Billboards is the characters’ unpredictability, even down to the peripheral ones. Just as we get too comfortable, the screenplay throws us a sucker punch we never see coming. It is the level of trust these authentic characters generate that brings a richness seldom experienced. It is almost spiritual in the way a film can create such empathy.

3 Mandy

Demons on bikes, popping eye-balls, crushing skulls and all sorts of ultra-violence formed the fabric of Panos Cosmatos’ phantasmagoric Mandy, but underneath the copious amount of blood and psychedelic pallet lies an emotional beating heart. It starts off as a dreamy love story and then quickly descends into a hellish nightmare. Uncompromising and unapologetic, without an iota of pandering, this needs to be experienced and it is probably best to watch this in an inebriated state. Mandy could easily have been the origin story of Marvel’s Ghost Rider with Nicholas Cage at his loony best.

2 Burning

Burning, based on Haruki Murakami’s short story Barn Burning, is allusive and elusive; it begins as a brilliant character study and gradually shifts its gear segueing into psychological thriller territory with nary a misplaced beat. Get ready to slip into Lee Chang-Dong’s rhapsodic wonder of a tale, patiently waiting for the bomb to drop. It is when the head film becomes a mind film in the second act that it pays dividends tenfold. Lee fills every frame with meaning, enhanced and accentuated in no small part by the three superb leads. He priorities rhythm and texture over narrative clarity, immersing us in a hypnotic menagerie of the basest of human behaviour. Burning is an engrossing tale of the unravelling of a rational and innocent mind by sheer desire, rich with characterisations and themes. The searingly breathtaking scene of the young girl dancing in the fading light of the setting sun, as two men watch and talk in double-entendres about burning barns is the most unforgettable scene I have seen in any film this year.

1 Shoplifters

The ideas explored in Shoplifters are multi-faceted and piercingly intelligent, intermeshed into a tapestry that will fall apart if even one scene is taken out. The script is subtle and draws empathy readily. So many times the dialogue feels innocuous, only for the poignancy to hit you in the gut some time later. It doesn’t judge, never points a finger at any party, nothing here errs on the side of twee. The tone is deftly maintained from the first frame to the devastating last. This is essential viewing and provides many involving examinations of what constitutes a true family. If ever there is a film that can declare that sometimes, just sometimes, water can be thicker than blood, this is it.

Honour Roll
Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds, Black Panther, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, The Cakemaker, The Endless, Upgrade, Lean on Pete, A Quiet Place, Eighth Grade, Spider-man: into the Spider-verse, The Great Buddha+, Phantom Thread, Searching, BlacKkKlansman, Custody, Shadow, A Prayer Before Dawn, The Guilty

In terms of TV series, I didn’t watch a lot and I can safely say The Haunting of Hill House is the best of the lot.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2018, 07:41 by westendboy »
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Offline kardtoon

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Re: The Best Films of 2018, According to a Geek
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 16:29 »
Thank you for sharing. Great list.