I thought I would change things up this year. Instead of doing a standard top ten best/worst list, this year I am doing a top five best/worst as well as my top five performances of 2018. Let us know your thoughts.
Top 5 Best Films:
5. “Isle of Dogs” – Dir; Wes Anderson
Like most Wes Anderson tales (pun intended) that end up becoming cult classics, the most forgotten movie of 2018 is “Isle of Dogs”. On the surface it is a stop motion animation farce set in Japan about a dog flu outbreak in the technologically advanced city of Megasaki that forces all possible canines carrying the disease to be sent to trash island. But there is so much more just like all of Anderson’s work. Political undertones are combined with poking fun at cultural stereotypes. But none of that matters because at its core “Isle of Dogs” is about friendship and how that is portrayed through the innocent eyes of a child. Anderson’s meticulous style is unlike any other filmmaker which makes one appreciate him further. Here he finds heart and ingenuity that it does not take an animal lover to relate to.
4. “Hereditary” – Dir; Ari Aster
“Hereditary” is a whirlwind of family pain wrapped in the convenient genre term of horror. Toni Colette, who was certainly snubbed for an Oscar nod, is kind turned to brutal as a mother who cannot help but lose her mind given the circumstances. New director Ari Aster creates a world where the main character must coup with the loss of her mother and a child while trying to maintain her sanity. On top of that, the film is compartmentalized both visually and story wise like the same doll house type art Colette’s character creates to try and get through her suffering. Then all hell breaks loose. Not a perfect movie as the ending admittedly goes off the rails a bit too far, “Hereditary” is a completely original theater experience and shows that a new auteur in the world of cinema has arrived.
3. “Eighth Grade” – Dir; Bo Burnham
The best thing YouTube has ever produced is not a video. It is a real portrayal of the modern experience growing up as a teenager that writer/director Bo Burnham turned into the best unsung movie of the year. Elsie Fisher is a break out as a pimple faced nervous young girl about to leave the awkward junior high phase and confront the pressures of high school. Her single father does not relate to her desires of becoming a star on social media. Sounds like a cliche story you see on reddit or snapchat right. Nope. Burnham has constructed a piece that any person can relate to and remember those moments they did their best not to embarrass themselves in both school and work. All we can do is learn. “Eighth Grade” is far more concerned with that concept than trying to be cooler than everybody else.
2. “A Star Is Born” – Dir; Bradley Cooper
No singular piece of “A Star is Born” is head and shoulders above any other film of 2018 other than perhaps the outstanding Lady Gaga song “Shallow”. The acting is very good but not all time. The cinematography and editing is top notch but not game changing. The script is well put together but yet another remake of an old story. What makes “A Star is Born” such an unlikely success is its un-relented passion. One of the world’s biggest stars in Lady Gaga has a few big sequences, but it never feels forced. Bradley Cooper finds this strange balance of telling a cliche story while also infusing it with honesty that few films have the guts to do. It will make one clap then cry in the right ways.
1. “Roma” – Dir; Alfonso Cuaron
Welp, this was easy. “Roma” is in its own class compared to all other films of 2018. Writer/director/cinematographer Alfonso Cuaron went back to his home country Mexico to craft a story about a simple and loving human being doing her best to survive and be happy with the odds pit against her. Watching this film cinematically is like visiting the most pristine art museums in the world. Every shot is exquisite. And on top of that, the story of houseworker Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) is something that the rich portion of society can sympathize with while the poor empathize simultaneously. Cleo’s cyclical journey from heartbreak to not wanting to become a mother and eventually finding her strength to support a family that does not place her on the same level is the type of journey only the most cynical of people would be unable to appreciate. If you are not afraid of a black and white film or having to read, “Roma” is the most enriching experience one could have.
Top 5 Worst Films: