20. You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Joaquin Phoenix carries the weight of depression and PTSD with disturbing reality, making You Were Never Really Here one of the finest portrayals of mental illness in film. There is a moment within You Were Never Really Here that would feel mildly comical if there were any other director than Lynne Ramsay behind the camera. After a bloody affair, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joe lays down next to a man he’s mortally wounded and sings with him as he dies. In this moment, Joe yearns for the one thing that eludes him – death.
Director: Marielle Heller
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is possibly the most respectful depiction of the life of an introvert. Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Lee Israel contains a level of cynicism with it, but it’s presented in a very caring manner that allows people to relate to the life of the introvert. Paired with Skate Kitchen, Can You Ever Forgive Me? carries on the perfect reclamation of New York as being a diverse city that is not just white men in business suits.
18. A Woman Captured
Director: Bernadett Tuza-Ritter
There were a few documentaries in 2018 that made me aware of issues that I was either already tangentially aware of, or completely ignorant of. A Woman Captured is one such film that highlighted my ignorance about the prevalence of domestic slavery around the world. Not only did it enlighten me about a tragedy that occurs daily around the world, but it challenged the notion of the relationship between filmmaker and subject. At once, I was furious as director Bernadett Tuza-Ritter for being complicit in Edith’s domestic slave life, but as the film unveils her tragic story, moments of hope shine through the darkness.
17. Love, Simon
Director: Greg Berlanti
The romance genre had a pretty stellar year in 2018 with Crazy Rich Asians, Love, Simon, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, all coming out in the same year. My pick of the bunch is a film that hasn’t left my mind since it came out – Love, Simon. Beautifully directed by Greg Berlanti, and containing a really wonderful performance from Nick Robinson as Simon, as well as Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner as Simon’s parents, Love, Simon is a timely film about male sexuality. Love, Simon shows what it feels like to be alone with your sexuality and at a point of uncertainty about whether it’s right. The climax that has almost the whole town coming out to support Simon could have felt trite, but it’s presented with such authenticity and warmth that you can’t help but wish that every young boy growing up unsure of their sexuality gets to watch this great film to show that it’s ok to be gay.
16. In the Fade
Director: Fatih Akin
Films that deal with political turmoil as it continues to rage are often conflicted affairs. Is it possible to even see the radius from within the blast zone? Director Fatih Akin proves that it’s possible to craft a socially relevant film drawing form current world events and to still make it engaging. In the Fade carries the career best performance from Diane Kruger through to one heck of a devastating conclusion. Through the films running time she carries the weight of the death of her husband and her son at the hands of Neo-Nazi’s, trying to not let it wear her down, until it finally does. The closing moments of In the Fade stand as some of the most powerful cinema from 2018.
Director: Coralie Fargeat
Playing like Let the Corpses Tan with a plot, Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge is quite simply the best horror film of the decade. Disgusting villains make for compelling fodder for Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz’s brutalised Jen, as she hunts them down in the desert after being raped and left for dead. Yes, this is another rape-revenge film, but the direction from Coralie Fargeat ensures to not glamourize or sensationalise the act of the rape, and instead, she opts to focus on the fallout of this horrific event.
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
The world has been blessed with the pairing of Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise. One is a man who is intimate with the craft of action filmmaking, the other is a malleable tool that can be tossed around, bent and folded, bruised and battered, as per the films requirements. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the action genre working at full throttle – jaw dropping sequence after jaw dropping sequence is elevated by a thrilling plot that draws together decades of Mission: Impossible lore, culminating in the action sequence of the year. This film will never get old.
13. The Cleaners
Directors: Hans Block & Moritz Riesewick
Not long after watching The Cleaners, I put up a photo on Facebook with Prince Harry in his Nazi attire. I didn’t think much of it, but almost straight away I was given a Facebook ban. At once I was furious, but then I remembered the outsourced workers in the Philippines whose job it was to clear the internet from contentious imagery. It’s a problematic area of online life – we demand safety, but what happens when the safety we demand works against us? The Cleaners asks us to consider the effects of social media and to recognise that while our bubble on the internet is relatively safe, it is with the realisation that it actively harms many others in the world. There are no easy answers or solutions to this problem, instead, The Cleaners presents you with facts and asks you to decide for yourself how you will engage with social media.
12. Hearts Beat Loud
Director: Brett Haley
Chicken soup for the soul is the best way of describing Hearts Beat Loud. The way that Nick Offerman’s laugh makes your heart soar needs to be bottled up and given to the world – it can cure any ailment. When paired with Kiersey Clemons serene vocals, the two can do anything. While I love the films I’ve placed higher a little bit more than Hearts Beat Loud, I know that in years to come this will be the film that I’ll be reaching for when I’m feeling down. (Plus, any film that has Toni Collette, Ted Danson, and Sasha Lane, as supporting players gets a huge round of applause from me.)
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
There is a genuine sweet concept at the core of Shoplifters, where the best family is the one that you choose for yourself. This is a film that reveals itself slowly, encompassing you with a mood that is hard to shake. Ten minutes after my first viewing, I was driving in my car, and simply burst into tears. The sorrow that the film leaves you with is not a leaden one, but it does leave a mark. Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of the most patient directors working today, and Shoplifters is a monument of his great talent.