Every year around this time comes the task every cinephile anticipates and regrets in equal measure: making a best of the year list. From analyzing technical precision, studying the nuances in a performance, right down to personal preference, it almost becomes a futile effort in deciding what films are the best of the best since no two people will have the exact same list. But without further ado, I submit my five absolute favourite films of 2018.
5. The Favourite
I love Yorgos Lanthimos; he’s one of the best filmmakers working today. The Favourite is his most intriguing yet accessible work so far. It presents an interesting theory on the private lives of real, historical figures. Olivia Colman gives the best performance I’ve seen this year, but the entire cast does an incredible job of bringing the entire movie together. I found The Favourite to be consistently funny when it wanted to be and disturbing when it wanted to be. The entire film works exactly as the filmmaker intended, and that’s a rare feat for any director to accomplish.
Alfonso Cuaron is a master at creating remarkable movies built around observing people from a distance. His camera glides in and out of the action like an invisible character floating about. Roma focuses on a year in the life of a family dealing with all kinds of turmoils, and for a film as small scale as this, it is a complete roller coaster ride of emotions. Roma can’t be watched casually either. This is the depiction of a world that requires your attention to small human behaviours that give you an understanding of what is happening on screen. If you allow yourself to be guided by Cuaron’s cinema, you will be greatly rewarded by Roma as a completely immersive experience.
3. A Quiet Place
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of A Quiet Place is that it got large audiences to collectively be quiet during a movie. Its premise of a world overrun by monsters who are attracted to even the slightest sound sets a wonderful creative limitation for director John Krasinski. Almost 80% of A Quiet Place is dialogue-free, which forces Krasinski to find new, inventive ways to create suspense. There’s barely a moment to relax in this movie’s brisk 90 minutes. It’s as fun as it is scary. It creates a believable world that exposes our reliance on sound to communicate. I loved everything about it.
Anyone familiar with director Steve McQueen would probably have anticipated a movie far more thoughtful and complex than what the American trailers for Widows advertised. Nevertheless, Widows is an amazing character focused heist movie that has four amazing female protagonists thrown into a world that they have no choice but to understand if they want to survive. It may be unclear at first how the political and mafia elements tie into the heist, but upon its second viewing, all the characters have a direct or indirect impact on how the events play out. Widows is intense, socially aware, riveting storytelling from its opening frame to its last.
1. A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper could very well be the next great director. With A Star Is Born, he comes out of the gate swinging on all fronts. I think what makes him such a great filmmaker is his ability to foster the talents of the people working with him. His casting of Lady Gaga, Sam Elliot, and Dave Chappelle in A Star Is Born is the result of understanding their strengths and the characters he wants to emulate on screen. He knows how to emphasize and execute the screenplay’s emotional beats. He allows the music department to produce incredible songs that stay with its audience. A Star Is Born is my favourite film of the year not because of the story Bradley Cooper wants to tells, but how he wants to tell it.
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