By: Billy Cross
I always feel my end-of-the-year lists are incomplete and this year is no exception. While I’ve seen a good amount of movies this year, many of them were experienced in my living room on my modest-sized screen and subpar sound system. It’s not ideal to say the least. This town’s only independent cinema has been marred by projector failures and financial uncertainty, leaving a two hour drive to the closest option. With that said, I’m certainly looking forward to 2019 as our little cinema seems to be on the up-and-up, and my list of anticipated movies is growing fast.
Well, without further ado, I give you my 10 favorite movies of 2018:
Alex Garland’s follow-up to Ex Machina may be muddled by a clunky, exposition-heavy script, but the sci-fi concept is ripe for inventive visuals. Boy, does it deliver. The psychedelic horror of the so-called Shimmer is so wild it’s worth a watch.
9.) Minding the Gap
It’s a documentary not about skating, but about the skaters, their torrential lives, and the various means they use to cope. It’s an earnest, empathetic, and heartbreaking.
8.) Eighth Grade
One of the best horror movies of 2018.
7.) Isle of Dogs
Those folks still endeared by Wes Anderson’s style will find themselves charmed yet again by his latest animated project. At least I was. Still, not all is entirely predictable. This is Anderson’s shot at sci-fi, set entirely in futuristic Japan with robotic dogs, whirligigs, and post-apocalyptic trash island, crafted in that signature diorama, pseudo-tableau style. Even though it’s pretty low on my list of overall films of his, it’s still full of vibrant characters, artful animation, and detailed sets.
Oh, man I don’t even know what to say about this. Just see it. It’s some of the scariest imagery imagined, ratcheted up by an incredibly vulnerable performance by Toni Collette as a distraught mother. I’m excited to see what Ari Aster brings out next.
5.) The House That Jack Built
Lars Von Trier pisses people off again with a divisive pitch-black comedy starring Matt Dillon as a methodical, narcissistic serial killer. There are scenes that had me rolling, others that arrested. If that sounds like your thing, then you’re going to love this.
4.) Let the Corpses Tan
It’s the perfect melding of arthouse and grindhouse. The Belgium/French duo of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani arrest the senses with every click of the gun, creak of the leather, or assault of the flesh in a crazy European acid western.
3.) First Reformed
Paul Schrader’s ode to the transcendental style he is so familiar with is a gut punch. Ethan Hawke gives one of his best performances to date as the tortured Reverend Toller. My earlier review here at LVL sums it up best: “It isn’t for everyone, but it should be. It’s a vital piece of classic-style cinema that taps into the anxieties of our current societal failings, calling them out without flinching. It’s a brutal character study. It’s a call to arms. Whatever you get out of it, Schrader’s film will stand as a moving work that deserves our attention.”
2.) Phantom Thread
Many folks consider this a 2017 film. Many “Best-of 2017” lists featured this pick, but theaters around me didn’t play it until January 2018, so I consider it a 2018 film. And it’s P.T. Anderson so of course it’s going to be on the list. This was a number 1 pick for so long until another certain quirky period piece. Anderson delights with a unconventional romance that appears cold, somewhat distant at a glance, but is full of warmth. I’m mostly joking but what you will find is that not only is Daniel Day Lewis a force, but he is matched by Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville as they navigate his temper with nuance and control.
1.) The Favourite
Incredible film from start to finish. Yorgos Lantimos’ most accessible film yet, but it’s not without his distinctive idiosyncrasies. Cordial exchanges are delivered with sharp, seething ulterior motive. And no actor goes unnoticed because each one – Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Nicholas Hoult – is at peak sass. I didn’t ever think a period drama would make the top of my list but here we are.