Best Films of the Year
It would be easy to dismiss this as a pop cultural phenom, a popcorn blockbuster for the masses. It’s Marvel by way of Disney, after all. But Black Panther as a film finally accomplished what comic books had been doing for years: Holding a mirror up to society. For numerous reasons. From nationalism to isolationism to racism. It captured that and ran it through a fantasy filter, but never lost its poignancy. Black Panther is a film for our time. A bloated, visual-effects laden, epic franchise comic book action film, that still manages to say something important, and look absolutely gorgeous doing so. The hero isn’t 100% right, the villain isn’t 100% wrong. This is a brightly-coloured grey area of a film. And it’s beautiful. Best film of 2018? Up there. THE film of 2018? Definitely.
A Quiet Place
If you know me, you know I tend to go genre with my favoured films. The Shape of Water, Arrival, The Witch. Had Black Panther not been the event it was, A Quiet Place would definitely be taking the top spot. It’s a deep contemplation on the anxiety of parenthood, particularly fatherhood. Director/star John Krasinski’s approached this with a lot of care, and we got a weighty monster film that does stick with you once throughout the entire film. You’re afraid to crunch your popcorn, slurp your soda, for fear of giving away their location.
This is a film about a particularly black experience that required the right storytellers to bring it to life. Particularly director Spike Lee and star John David Washington. To say it wouldn’t have worked with anyone else does a disservice to other artists, but I don’t think anyone else would have been able to make a 40-year-old story as relevant to today, to this day, to our lives in 2019, as Lee and Washington. I couldn’t move from my seat when the credits hit, it was that impactful of a film. Washington was perfect.
If you haven’t caught up with Yorgos Lanthimos yet, now’s the time. This will probably be his most accessible film of the past few years, yet it’s still wonderfully bizarre. I still recommend The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, but in The Favourite, he’s got a wonderful trio of actresses just going all out for the performance. Everyone else is nigh incidental to the film. It’s all about the master class we get from Coleman, Weisz and Stone, perfectly orchestrated by Lanthimos.
My criteria for “true story” or “biopic” films is always “would this be a compelling or entertaining film were it 100% made up?” Biopics have become paint-by-numbers awards bait that are more about the actor then they are the film as a whole (see Darkest Hour). But Chazelle is able to construct an exciting thriller around the early days of NASA, the Gemini then Apollo missions, and particularly Neil Armstrong. The visual style recalls some influential pieces of sci-fi, with brilliant sound design to really drive it home.
5 Worst Films
The Jurassic World Award for Most Disappointing Film
Most Surprisingly Good Film of the Year
The following contains films that haven’t been mentioned before. For instance, two of my top five are horror, but it would be pretty boring to list them again. So this serves as more of a “Best of the Rest” list.