2018 was a brilliant year for exceptional and diverse film-making. John Preston picks his top 10 films. These are of equal merit and in no particular order; they just all need to be seen!
In a film that is simultaneously subtle and grand, Steve McQueen remakes a personally influential TV show from his childhood with the devastating, tremendous Viola Davies at its core. A compelling heist film which has so much style and, thankfully, substance that the genre is almost redundant.
You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay returns with an extraordinarily beautiful and horrific film. Much is implied but little is said or fully explained.
Joaquin Phoenix is suffering from PTSD and lives with his elderly mother. He is a big, gentle, tortured soul and an extremely competent hitman to boot. It’s a brilliant performance and Ramsay’s best film to date.
This film certainly had the trailer of the year, no contest. Whether the film itself could ever fulfil on its audacious promise is debatable, although the first half comes close.
Installed like one of her models in her own miniature homes, Toni Collette is the film’s protagonist and matriarch, and is astounding throughout and reason enough to watch.
Leave No Trace
Debra Granik’s thoughtful and potent fourth full-length feature is a non-ironic portrayal of rural American and the people who live on the outside of it.
Thomasin McKenzie plays the young daughter of a man who can’t live in a safe, conventional home and the day comes when she must decide what her future will be.
Harry Dean Stanton’s swan-song is of course beautifully acted. It is also a light-hearted but profound look at the sudden arrival of an existential crisis afflicted upon a man lucky enough to live into his nineties with few of the expected mental and physical ills.
David Lynch and a 100 year-old tortoise have sublime cameo roles.
A Fantastic Woman
Sebastián Lelio brings a sly, surreal edge to his story about what constitutes family in the moments of crisis. This is bold cinema that is as pure as his protagonists’ intentions.
Daniela Vega is exceptional and finds a sweet spot between believability and near super-powered emotion.
Focussing on Elizabeth Moss’ hysterical performance as a wide-eyed journalist in Ruben Östlund’s portrait of an amoral museum owner, The Square is sadly brief but one of my favourites of the year.
The film covers a lot of ground and is reminiscent of Robert Altman’s multi plotted work, often set in a particular industry. A complete, unabashed riot.
The start of this wonderful film set in Paraguay sees two women in a relationship which has allowed one to selfishly thrive and other to retreat – something that neither of the characters seem to care about or even be aware of.
Circumstances dictate that the quieter woman must take the lead with funny, moving and inspirational results.
Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographical black and white epic plays as both dreamlike and spotlessly naturalist, leading the viewer, trancelike, to eventually succumb to its beauty and power.
Roma is unlike anything I’ve seen this year and its incredibly composed long shots and surprisingly moving emotional core are complete works of art.
A Quiet Place
For a Hollywood mainstream horror and the umpteenth post-apocalyptic vision, A Quiet Place was self-assured and surprising in its originality.
For at least the first 20 minutes or so there is little dialogue, even though there is a large, active family on the screen. The result is oddly disconcerting.
Emily Blunt and her on-screen daughter are superb.