2018 was a remarkable year for film; more than many other years it represented a congregation for a variety of diverse perspectives, both in gender and race. Which led to some interesting movies, this is the first of two parts that will cover the bottom half (ten to six) of the best films of 2018.
#10 – Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
This is a pure good vibes movie. The fact that “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” features little to no genuine criticisms of its subject matter can be seen as a flaw, but by the time the film is finished it’s hard to care. Mr. Rogers has been dead for fifteen years now and if there was something to be dug up on the man, in today’s media landscape it would have come to light by now. The film is enrapturing from beginning to end, as a character study of a man who managed to live up to the myth, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is equal parts astonishing and inspiring.
#9 – Eighth Grade
This recent resurgence of the John Hughes-esque teen movies has been delightful. “The Edge of Seventeen,” “Lady Bird,” and now “Eighth Grade” have been better in many ways than actual John Hughes movies. “Eighth Grade,” was comedian Bo Burnham’s directoral debut and continues a lot of the hallmarks that made “Edge of Seventeen” and “Lady Bird” great. The movie features a murderous row of excellent performances, many of them previously unknown. What makes the film work more than anything else is its heart. This is a movie that wears its sense of empathy as a badge of honor.
#8 – Suspiria (2018)
This is the closest film on this list to a “guilty pleasure” pick. This is a messy movie that is liable to lose a lot of people. “Suspiria” has some of the most gorgeous, horrific, and memorable sequences of any movie in 2018. The standout sequence being a scene early on the film where a dancer is contorted and thrown around like a ragdoll. It emphasizes a lot of what works about “Suspiria,” it is subtle and it’s horrifying without being over the top and gory. There is gore in the film, but it’s employed sparingly and plays second fiddle to the texture and atmosphere. The most apt comparison that one can make about the “Suspiria” remake is to a Jackson Pollock painting. To the untrained eye, it looks like a bunch of nonsense and squiggly lines, but there’s a sense of genuine risk that permeates the entire film.
#7 – Shirkers (2018)
The culture has seen a lot of different efforts to increase representation in the filmmaking process, it has become a big facet of the “#MeToo” movement. “Shirkers” is a movie made by a woman of color detailing her experiences having her directorial debut obstructed by an older man. Even if that topicality was all there was to “Shirkers,” the movie would still be pretty engaging. The stages of grief that director Sandi Tan goes through are fascinating and have a lot to say about the creative process. What makes “Shirkers” ascend into the stratosphere however, is the clear and present love that all involved have for the moviemaking process. This is a film that is married to the idea of film as a universal language, and is at its most beautiful when Tan is describing the painstaking lengths she went through to get ahold of and watch “Blue Velvet” as a teenager. “Shirkers” is an easy film to root for and its relatability is what helps it reach greatness.
#6 – Roma (2018)
“Roma” is a technical powerhouse and a marvelous achievement both for Netflix and director Alfonso Cuarón. Cuarón’s voice comes through in waves here, the film is based off of experiences from his childhood and the unified family is a clear and important theme, even if child Cuarón is not the main character. What makes “Roma” such a thrill is its composition, though. Every shot in this movie could be analyzed in an art museum. “Roma” is gorgeous and mesmerizing.
Next time, we will go over numbers five to one.