THE BEST AND THE REST OF 2018
I’m just I’m a tooouch too late, but I’m also lazy as all hell. And medication can do… strange things.
Anyhow, instead of bitching, let the show begin!
As usual, 2018 was average for Hollywood films: a flood of CGI and terrible comedies. But, quality indie and foreign flicks were abundant.
It is often a case of needing to know where to hear/read about such films and where to look. Fantastic films are easy to miss. And while it presented one of my picks here, it meant I couldn’t see it on a big screen. This is not a good thing.
Speaking of Netflix and the like, it is sad to see films that are meant to be seen on a big screen relegated to how good your home theatre is. But it is a natural evolution; the generation that most movies target these days bury their heads in phones and ipads for everything… including movies.
But it is a two-sided coin: Netflix makes it much easier to make and distribute a film. But, it is already over-stuffed with them. We all know that Netflix will make anything, and without extensive PR work (such as Roma) it will become hard for some films as they become lost within the absurdly large library.
AHEM. Enough rambling, lets jump straight into my pathetic post about 2018, being published in the middle of April, 2019.
THE MOST AVERAGE, FORGETTABLE FILM OF 2018
This achievement is worse than being terrible. Unmemorable is the last thing you want, in any form of art. Some sort of impression must be made. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, The Old Man and the Gun achieves this with a definite ‘over-60s’ vibe as long-time actor Robert Redford signs out.
His last film is utterly forgettable: a mess filled with jokes that old ladies around me laughed at, mushy dialogue as he meets a woman who waits for him in prison (awwww!), and the worst crime of all: destroying such potential, this was a a criminal who robbed banks (and escaped prisons) an absurd amount of times. We are talking 20+ escapes and countless banks.
His biopic, if it could be called that, guns down any sort of action regarding heists or anything regarding his criminality, replacing it with the rom-com story-line that had both my father and I groaning multiple times while overhearing “isn’t that sweet” comments around us. The only thing I can remember about the film, apart from the core story, is that it had good music. Tom Waits I think featured. Other than this though, it is lost into the ether, doomed to be remembered as something that was… well, unmemorable.
The only photo you need to see.
THE MOST LAUGHABLE FILM OF 2018
Of course there have been worse movies released in 2018, (Holmes and Watson spring to mind) but The Nun was surely the most laughable. Looking like a guy from a black metal band, corpse paint and all, somehow she is in a serious ‘horror’ film.
Starting in Romania (yet still trying to be based on true stories?), the opening events seem destined for a laughable film: the cross on the wall turning over, the candles blowing out… the clichés are overwhelming. I’m sure I ruined many moviegoers’ experience by laughing like the insane alien that I am.
I tried to keep it quiet, but while much of the film is funny in how bad it is, most of it is, well, plain silly. Also, I must offer a shout-out to the scene in the graveyard that has a fantastically terrible jump scare that had me cackling.
Was this film really meant to scare people?
Woops! Sorry, wrong picture.
THE BEST SOUNDTRACK OF 2018
As a music fanatic, this one is especially hard. So many contenders: Jonny Greenwood’s You Were Never Really Here, Colin Stetson’s Hereditary, Martin Todsharow’s The Captain (Der Hauptmann), Haroumi Hosono’s Shoplifters, Ben Salisbury and Geoff Burrows’ Annihilation, Christophe Beck’s Anon, Hans Zimmer’s Widows, Alexendre Desplat’s Isle of Dogs, Disasterpeace’s Under the Silver Lake, Justin Hurwitz’s First Man. The Favourite’s fantastic collection of classical and modern classical, even the previously mentioned The Nun had some good moments musically. I’m sure there are more I am forgetting.
This year has been a very good year for music in film. But there were two that somehow stood out from this already amazing collection. Both, I just could not help but come to back to again and again, and surely the amount of times I have played the winner it is over 300. 400? A thousand? The Runner Up is Thom Yorke’s Suspiria, but winner by far was this man’s final soundtrack before his unfortunate passing: Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Mandy. The film would not be as good as it is without this score searing through the intensity of the images.
THE MOST OVERRATED AND DISAPPOINTING FILMS OF 2018
With all the hype, it is hard to not decide that A Star is Born was easily the most overrated film of 2018, without question. The film isn’t terrible, but it is far from a masterpiece. The music was certainly excellent and I listen to it regularly, but there wasn’t much else amazing or ground-breaking about the film.
A Quiet Place was another fantastically overrated film, complete with a horrid last act and plot devices that were there just for the sake of it.
As for disappointments, Chang-dong Lee’s Burning was an interesting character study but ultimately underwhelming. Meanwhile, Sicario 2 was a needless sequel that ditched the tension of the first film, concentrating mainly on action set pieces. Expectations: they can often ruin a movie.
AND, finally…. THE BEST FILMS OF 2018 in the highly regarded opinion of the moondancer
(As always, these are usually based on how many times I wanted to revisit them, how keen I was to write about them, or their ability to stick in my very bad memory months after watching)
MANDY (Directed by Panos Cosmatos)
Destined to be a cult film for decades to come, Panos Cosmatos has created the perfect film for Nic Cage’s unique sense of crazy. Demon bikers, an LSD fueled (and scarily believable) cult complete with a messiah like figure, Cage in chainsaw duel… yes, a chainsaw duel… these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this incredibly unique film that is drenched in red lighting for its entirety – appropriate given the bloodshed.
HEREDITARY (Directed by Ari Aster)
A riveting and thought provoking horror film that avoids the typical cliches, keeping you on your toes. So many horror films rely on pathetic scenes that are absurdly predictable; in Hereditary, the opposite is always true. While it certainly has psychological elements, I am happy to label it as a true horror film, which is rare. Comparisons to The Exorcist are well deserved. This also has many metaphorical pieces for you to dig into if inclined.
SHOPLIFTERS (Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda)
It never had a chance against Roma, but Shoplifters was certainly a worthy Oscar nomination. At times a tear-jerker, while other scenes are almost comedic, Shoplifters explores the dynamics of a family that has been stapled together, many (or all?) not connected by DNA, but all live in the one small flat together as a de facto family. There are many scenes that carry immense emotional heft without any sense of melodrama, while the problems the family face daily aren’t overwhelming due to the high spirits of the father and other uplifting social factors within the family. So it is far from a depressing film; ‘moving’, is more appropriate.
SWEET COUNTRY (Directed by Warwick Thornton)
An incredible Australian film that unfortunately didn’t get the attention it deserved, this Outback Western is an unrelenting look at the state of Australia only 100 years ago. It tells the story of a blackfella (an Aboriginal person) shooting a whitefella in self defense. Knowing where he stands in society, the man flees with his wife. Circumstances force him to change his course, to the point where the ‘justice’ system of 1920’s Australia is put to the test. Boldly claimed by yours truly as the best Australian film ever made in my rant of a review.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (Directed by Boots Riley)
This came out of nowhere from hip-hop group The Coup’s Boots Riley, who despite a long career in music, directs his actors and camera with precision, in the process showing us that he’s been thinking about making a film for a long time. Boots also wrote the film, and has fun with this genre mash-up that is funny, creatively satirical and culminates in a final act that is impossible to see coming. Despite the number of ideas here, it is clear that everything that unfolds is intentionally chaotic and bizarre. After this debut, there is no way to guess what is coming next.
THE DEATH OF STALIN (Directed by Armando Iannucci)
The funniest film of 2018 is a brilliant dark comedy that, while using the real people involved in the power struggle, creates a fictional and hilarious recreation of events after Stalin’s death. The dry and often incredibly dark humour is rampant from the opening scenes, and amusingly, no character is attempting a Russian accent at all. This creates a strange but appropriate disconnect between the story and Russian history; fair given most events depicted are fictional despite using real people and their real place within the government. A definite knee-slapper if British, dry humour and/or dark humour is your thing.
FIRST REFORMED (Directed by Paul Schrader)
This powerfully relevant film shot in a pre-widescreen format (The ‘Academy Ratio’) revolves almost entirely around the painful acting of Ethan Hawke as a priest, turning in a performance that blows away anything else he has done. Surprisingly, climate change enters the film as a major theme, but it works as it intertwines with the religious angle: we are destroying God’s creation. A decidedly non-conformist flick, it is powerful in its minimalism and narrative, as well as Ethan Hawke whose work here is unforgettable and the best of the year by a male lead.
ANNIHILATION (Directed by Alex Garland)
The release of Alex Garland’s second directorial effort caused a fuss online (and rightfully so) given its release on Netflix, with very few cinemas playing it, only in the US and China. This became more of an irritant when people watched the film and saw the incredible visual treats, felt the biting tension, and felt cheated. Myself included. As for the film, it is an ambitious and unique sci-fi entry that begs for multiple watches, featuring scenes that are impossible to forget. Also featuring one of the most memorable finales in recent memory, its ambiguity and daring nature mark it as one of the best sci-fi films ever made.
THE FAVOURITE (Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos)
Yorgos changes his game to present this beautifully shot period piece that is unlike no other of the genre. Intentionally incorporating modern elements while featuring a childish and oblivious queen whose erratic behaviour is hilarious at times. Yorgos puts his stamp on this film that unexpectedly has pushed Yorgos into the public eye. This isn’t a true period film: it is a period film that pokes fun and exposes the silliness of the real people who ruled in this era. His trademark bizarre elements are still present, but much more muted as the three lead actresses steal the show.
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (Directed by Lynne Ramsay)
Joaquin Phoenix, with a bushy beard, greasy hair and his handy hammer, features in nearly every scene of this dark and twisted character study. Taking place entirely at night, amplifying the dark nature of both film and character, this indie gem is another film I revisited at least four times. Even the title of the film provides possibilities to chew on; the same can be said about the ambiguous ending. Lynne Ramsay has created a film filled with tension and violence, with a memorable score by the great Jonny Greenwood. A must-watch film.
- Brothers’ Nest (a violent, independent Aussie gem)
- A Simple Favour (Juuuust edged out by Mandy, this would have been number eleven)
- Isle of Dogs (Another Wes Anderson flick that is very… Wes Anderson-like),
- The Rider (An eye-opening look into the masculinity expected in certain rodeo rider circles)
- Tully (a very eye opening film about motherhood, especially for male viewers).