What were the best films of 2018? Who deserved more recognition and what did you miss? Here’s a complete movie guide that will help out.
Every year, we ask ourselves the same questions.
What did I achieve in my life?
Why did Trump become president?
What were the best films of the year?
While I won’t be able to answer the first two questions, the last one is in my reach.
Personally I believe that 2018 was a year beaming with quality cinema, but nothing truly stood out. While previous years brought likes of “Moonlight”, “Whiplash” and “Shape Of Water”, 2018 was a real challenge when fishing out the elite. My favorites weren’t films that stole my heart – rather than that, the sum of the factors weighing in was more than praiseworthy. Notwithstanding, it was a real struggle to find a real winner.
So what were the best movies then?
Here’s my list – it includes all of the films that I’ve seen during the entire 2018 (produced in 2018 too). They either premiered during a festival, Netflix or had a regular distribution.
Best Films of 2018 – The Cultural Hater Guide
Dir. David Bruckner
Plot: The film follows a group of friends, who travel to Sweden in order to commemorate the loss of their deceased pal. Once there, the pack is haunted by a deadly, unknown creature.
“Ritua” is beaming with a fantastic, brooding atmosphere, which is then backed up by a ridiculously powerful setting in the woods.
The true reason for so much love for this indie British horror (I also named it one of the best horror movies of 2018) is the approach towards its characters. Where most horror movies suffer from the overall shallowness, Bruckner seizes an opportunity to shine. His protagonist is believable, while his motifs understandable and true. The concept of a horror-driven trauma is served more than justice here.
#19 The Hate U Give
Dir. George Tilman Jr.
Plot: A teenage girl Starr witnesses the shooting of her friend Khalil. As a witness, Starr needs to find the balance between representing the people of her neighborhood and fighting for her future.
American independent cinema stood strong this year and “The Hate U Give” is the first representative of that versatile group in the 2018 Movie Guide.
What I really appreciated in Tilman’s directing style was the steady hand he had when “The Hate U Give” was on the edge of a moralizing triviality. The film grasps the hardship of moving in the American society’s ladder, as well as portrays the police force brutality in a deep, thoughtful way.
Amanda Stenberg in the lead role was also a very firm choice and carried the spectacle superbly.
Dir. Jason Reitman
Plot: Tully is a mother who struggles with finding happiness and self-fulfillment. Only when she finds a new babysitter for her newborn child, she begins to see that life has a lot more to offer than the daily routine.
Charlize Theron won an Oscar for a reason. She’s this incredible kind of entertainer, whose charismatic attitude can carry even the most average film.
Luckily, “Tully” wouldn’t be average even without her talent. The script is an intimate take on the struggles of being a mother – the everyday drama and luggage that women need to carry. It’s a heart-warming dramedy, which – although uses some cliches and shortcuts – constitutes a solid look at the dry side of life.
Plus Theron is mind-blowing there.
#17 Cold War
Dir. Paweł Pawlikowski
Plot: A romance set in the 60s in Europe, when two Poles face insurmountable obstacles to be together.
The Polish director, who won an Oscar a few years ago for “Ida”, marches towards his second nomination this year.
On one hand, “Cold War” often plays too close to “Ida”. Both stories are set in the 60s, which determines the characters and their problems to a certain degree. On top of that comes the similar aesthetics,
Despite the fact that Pawlikowski likes likes to feel at home, it’s a marvelously constructed film. The cinematography is of utmost grace, it asturates “Cold War” with an incredible amount of style and sharpness. Additionally, both Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot – playing the two main characters – did a tremendous job acting-wise.
#16 The House That Jack Built
Dir. Lars von Trier
Genre: thriller / horror
Plot: The film is a collection of five randomly picked memories of Jack – a pedantic serial killer.
Lars von Trier’s career had its extreme ups and downs – while “Breaking the Waves” and “Melancholy” are both classics, “Antichrist” belongs to my list of most unbearably bad films of the century.
I was afraid of “The House That Jack Built”, because it seemed like a ticking bomb of an overly intellectual discussion about depravity. Fortunately, the film gets pretty graphic, but makes hell of a point in doing so.
Matt Dillon is more convincing as a OCD’ed sociopath than any recent portrayal of a serial killer, while von Trier’s poetic approach allows the protagonist to fit in the frames perfectly. “The House That Jack Built” might be excessively harsh to watch sometimes and it’s not a film for everyone – nonetheless, its weird humour and Dillon’s nailed-it role are worth your time.
Dir. Paul Dano
Genre: drama / book adaptation
Plot: Set in the 60s in American, a young boy observes his parents’ marriage turn into nothingness.
Paul Dano is a fantastic actor and I’ve been keen on seeing him in the role of a director.
“Wildlife”, however, belongs to Carey Mulligan. Her performance as an unfulfilled woman in a sexist society is nuanced and believable – there is an incredible amount of emotions hidden under the mask of a good 60s housewife. Mulligan finds cunning ways to juggle her character, but never jeopardizes the integrity of it.
It’s also a beautifully shot film, with Paul Dano giving his soul and vision. It’s a beautifully poetic drama, which somehow got a bit lost on its way to awards.
Dir. Wojciech Smarzowski
Plot: The lives of three priests in Poland showcase the spectrum of the Catholic Church and rot inside of the organisation.
Wojciech Smarzowski has been known to shock the Polish audiences.
The director usually tackles the “flammable” topics, just like his latest film – “Wołyń” – about the Polish-Ukrainian massacre that took place before the World War II.
“Clergy” digs deep into the most iconoclastic topic in Poland – the church and all the issues swept under the rug. In a topic so difficult to handle, Smarzowski found balance and artistic maturity to talk about all the sins of the Catholic priests. It’s a disturbing drama – one that pushed people to leave their comfort zone and face the crude reality. Smarzowski has scored a great win.
#13 High Life
Dir. Claire Denis
Genre: Sci-fi / Drama / Thriller
Plot: A man and a small kid are stranded in space, left for a certain death. The plot exhibits the events that led to this tragic situation.
Robert Pattinson has won my heart last year, with his “Good Time” landing a high spot among the very best films of 2017.
This incredibly talented beast has done it again – this time under the watchful eye of Claire Denis in “High Life”. His performance in “High Life” is full of layers and fits the partially surreal, partially horrory science fiction indie darling. It’s gross, it’s shocking and man, does it deliver.
Dir. Ethan Hawke
Genre: Biopic / Romance
Plot: “Blaze” tells the story of Blaze Foley, a country singer who worked with, among others, Townes van Zandt.
A wonderfully directed biopic by Ethan Hawke is his personal love letter to the country music. It’s a slowburn, festival kind of cinema, which cinephiles will find mesmerizing. The duo of two leading characters played by Ben Dickey & Alia Shawkat – melted my heart with their tenderness. I believe that the beauty of “Blaze”‘s soundtrack goes without a saying.
2 thoughts on “Cultural Hater’s Guide To The Best Films Of 2018”
“fortunately the film gets pretty graphic”…..and that you consider makes a good film?
Thanks for your comment!
Concerning your question – I don’t think that any film needs violence to make a point. Hence, I don’t think that using violence is the foundation of a good film.
Having said that, “House That Jack Built” needs being graphic to make contrast. It’s bold and pushes boundaries. It made me highly uncomfortable, but that’s exactly what causes it to be interesting. It’s not a pleasant viewing – it is supposed to be a challenge, a disturbing look at a sick mind doing sick things.
Hope that clarifies it a bit!