Best Films of 2018
This is an important moment in the history of cinema. The diversity of genre and the way filmmakers bent and distorted the lines between genres made for a year defined by independent and underground cinema. In short, the unconventional thrived. Filmmakers themselves and their creativity has never been more important. Unique and unorthodox, but confident decision making is the only way to set yourself apart in the flood of quality independent films. Each of these films, whether big budget or small reflect that ethic: that to be a true artist, you must take creative risks.
These films are in no particular order, and are accompanied by my general thoughts surrounding the film:
Intensely minimal, like the pseudo-Calvinist lead (Ethan Hawke). The film is defined by a boiling sense of white-knuckled expectation. The final act delivers. What you're left with is a cold, but truthful conversation about how one should live, and where the focus of our perspective should be.
You Were Never Really Here
A masterful genre-distorted film where drama and horror become intertwined to great thematic effect. Joaquin Phoenix is almost like the villain in a conventional horror, yet his path of destruction is an act of preservation.
One of the most successfully executed chamber piece films ever captured. A film that discuss justice and our flawed, subjective lens through which we view the world.
Panos Cosmatos is the epitome of an auteur director-- from the first frame this obvious. Mandy is a film unlike anything I've ever seen and while the aesthetic may lull you into thinking that this is some complex, subtextually driven film, it isn't. It's remarkably simple, but uses the camera, light, and editing to great effect.
Simplicity at it's finest. Mid90s is a coming of age story, but it tells the story of an entire generation coming of age. It does so without the nostalgic crutches of a Linklater film. It focuses on character, and executes with great neutrality.
A masterpiece that eclipses the original in it's broad thematic and conceptual intent. Technically gorgeous, and disturbing. Perhaps over-ambitious in certain respects, but an incredible example of how much impact a director's perspective can have on a film.
Lanthimos leaves his stilted, uncomfortable acting performances at the door, yet keeps his characters just as cold and calculating as before. Lanthimos is able to shine a light on parts of the human experience that couldn't be discussed with conventional performance.
Let The Corpses Tan
An almost entirely aesthetically driven film, but one of the most enjoyable unconventionally, as well. Where Mandy is a slow burn acid trip, Let The Corpses Tan is a cocaine fueled "eurosleaze" story about a robbery gone wrong. And again, one of the most unconventionally gorgeous films, ever.
A drama that slowly unfolds and becomes a large comment on who we are as communities. Minimal, yet effective and wonderfully acted. Heart-warming in unexpected ways.
The Sisters Brothers
Jacques Audiard made a western, so it's of course very unique. It's easily one of the best scripts of 2018. We need more stories during the mid-1800's. It's a fairly lost portion of our history and stories like this comment heavily on who we are now, because of who we were then.
Leave No Trace
Flawlessly acted, Ben Foster is yet again one of the most underrated actors. The film is understated in every way, and somehow executes a powerful, emotional drama and it's rated PG. While that's fairly irrelevant, I don't think I've ever seen a film communicate such intensity with so much restraint.
The Death of Stalin
Funny as hell. Well researched. Well acted. It's not complicated-- it's great.
I Am Not A Witch
Very, very subtle dark comedy, but sad and powerful. A film that walks the line of being emotionally powerful, yet not overwrought.
While certain moments might be overwritten, the performances force you to empathize. There is no catharsis in reality, each moment is real and heartbreaking and funny at the same time. It's unique just in the emotions that it creates within the audience.
A technically masterful film in cinematography and sound design. A moment in time of Mexico City. We're all a passive bystander to the events of this world. The Good and the Bad.
The House That Jack Built
A surprisingly funny movie that captures how even the most disturbing and disgusting individuals amongst us are deeply human. The good and the immeasurably bad of our experience is still that-- Human.
Bret Hoy is the creator and co-editor of Monolith Medium, an award winning filmmaker, and writer.