ENTRIES IN PART 6:



Nick P.

Greek cinephile
  1. Le Livre d’ Image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
  2. Gens du Lac (People of the Lake, Jean-Marie Straub, 2018)
  3. Ahlat Agaci (The Wild Pear Tree, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2018)
  4. Nuestro Tiempo (Our Time, Carlos Reygadas, 2018)
  5. Tarde Para Morir Joven (Too Late to Die Young, Dominga Sotomayor Castillo, 2018)
  6. Belmonte (Federico Veiroj, 2018)
  7. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
  8. Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)
  9. Teret (The Load, Ognjen Glavonić, 2018)
  10. Rojo (Benjamin Naíshtat, 2018)
  11. Entre dos Aguas (Between Two Waters, Isaki Lacuesta, 2018)
  12. Altiplano (Malena Szlam, 2018)
  13. Waldheims Walzer (The Waldheim Waltz, Ruth Beckermann, 2018)
  14. Petra (Jaime Rosales, 2018)
  15. The Image You Missed (Donal Foreman, 2018)
  16. Sophia Antipolis (Virgil Vernier, 2018)
  17. Still River (Angelos Frantzis, 2018)

George Papadopoulos

Former General Manager, Accent Film Entertainment
  1. First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2018)
  2. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
  3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, 2018)
  4. Shoah: Four Sisters (Claude Lanzmann, 2018)
  5. A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)
  6. Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda 2018)
  7. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
  8. Wildlife (Paul Dano, 2018)
  9. American Animals (Bart Layton, 2018)
  10. Crime + Punishment (Stephen Maing, 2018)

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)

Andreea Pătru

Film critic and programmer

Genèse (Genesis, Philippe Lesage, 2018)
Di qiu zui hou de ye wan (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
Da xiang xi di er zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)
A Land Imagined (Yeo Siew Hua, 2018)
Zimna wojna (Cold War, Paweł Pawlikowski, 2018)
The Mountain (Rick Alverson, 2018)
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
Meshok bez dna (The Bottomless Bag, 2017)
Van Pao-te (Father to Son, Hsiao Ya-chuan, 2018)
Familia Sumergida (A Family Submerged, María Alché 2018)
Unas Preguntas (One or Two Questions, Kristina Konrad, 2018)
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson, 2017)
Tarde para morir joven Too Late to Die Young, Dominga Sotomayor, 2018)
What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? (Roberto Minervini, 2018)
Shéhérazade (Jean-Bernard Marlin, 2018)

Yoana Pavlova

Critic / Festivalists

It is my impression that cinema is getting more and more safe, so these 10 titles have caught my mind (and heart) with their sincerity, boldness, tiny imperfections. After visiting the Venice VR Island in 2018, I would say that immersive media is now “a thing on its own.” Speaking of moving images and digital culture, my most exciting and noteworthy discovery is BigGAN. Also, the year in which we lost Kira Muratova.

Fotbal Infinit (Infinite Football, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2018)
Fuga (Fugue, Agnieszka Smoczyńska, 2018)
Je vois rouge (I See Red People, Bojina Panayotova, 2018)
Lissa Ammetsajjel (Still Recording, Ghiath Ayoub, Saeed Al Batal, 2018)
Oiktos (Pity, Babis Makridis, 2018)
Ruben Brandt, Collecto (Milorad Krstić, 2018)
Tchelovek Kotorij Udivil Vseh (The Man Who Surprised Everyone, Natalya Merkulova, Alexey Chupov, 2018)
The Train Hamasen VR (Kuan-Yuan Lai, 2017)
Un couteau dans le coeur (Knife + Heart, Yann Gonzalez, 2018)
Vulkan (Volcano, Roman Bondarchuk, 2018)

Jesse Percival

Film Editor, Los Angeles, CA

2018 was an exciting year for cinema, no question about it. An exceptional strong turnout from both Sundance and the Cannes Film Festival meant there were no shortage of indie darlings to look forward to, but the studios also turned out some of their best films in quite some time. Who could have possibly missed the cultural moment that was Black Panther, or missed the return of the romantic comedy with Crazy Rich Asians?  But most importantly, this year gave us Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the best studio produced Blockbuster since Mad Max: Fury Road.
Though perhaps the most notable film event of 2018 was the full-fledged emergence of streaming services as movie giants. Netflix brought us new films from both the Coen Brothers and Alfonso Cuarón, and Amazon put their money where their mouth is and gave Luca Guadagnino a blank check to make a bonkers remake of a horror classic. Like the studio system, the streaming market certainly churns out a lot of junk and background noise, but for the first time in the five years since original streaming content took off the platforms are finally living up to the promise of offering filmmakers an alternative outlet to get their visions realized.

No matter which way you looked, whether on the big screen or the small screen, there was something worthwhile. If you didn’t notice those films, you weren’t looking hard enough or they got too limited of a release. This unfortunately meant films like Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada, 2018), which I would argue has the potential to be a modern American classic, got criminally overlooked. That’s why I enjoy these end of the year lists and especially the World Poll, because it gives me a chance to share my love of all the films I saw, and gives me a chance to discover all the films I was too blind to notice. Obviously I can’t see everything (really excited to see Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018) still) and I’m only going to list films I saw in Los Angeles cinemas in the year 2018, including some festival titles from last year.

  1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Christopher McQuarrie, 2018)
  2. Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)
  3. First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)
  4. Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada, 2018)
  5. Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)
  6. Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
  7. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
  8. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
  9. Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)
  10. Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
  11. Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)
  12. Zimna wojna (Cold War, Paweł Pawlikowski, 2018)
  13. Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2017)
  14. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, 2018)
  15. BlacKKKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)
  16. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 2018)
  17. Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018)
  18. The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard, 2018)
  19. Crazy Rich Asians (Jon M. Chu, 2018)
  20. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2017)

Antoni Peris Grao

Miradas de Cine / Culturaca (Film/ Culture Looks)

Just as every year, enjoying and diving in cinema, I much appreciated a whole bunch of movies. Some of them are here, though I could have shared a list twice longer.
No doubt I enjoyed a lot the first five, being attracted to them because of their uniqueness. Nevertheless, it’s nearly impossible for me to set them above the rest. As for all the others, I decided to group many of them according to the topics or the style.

  1. Under the Silver lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2018) – Fascinating mixture of classic revisited, postmodern and contemporary cinema, is a truly L.A. movie genre experience.
  2. Burning (Beoning, Chang-Dong Lee, 2018)- also, as previous entry, reality and imagination mixed in a complex world.
  3. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017) a stylized fable where people’s desires dance among static faces.
  4. Kamera wo tomeru na! (One Cut of the Dead, Shin’ichiro Ueda, 2018) – An extraordinary funny spoof movie on zombies that is a real piece of love to the cinema and expresses itself through a brilliant tracking shot and subsequent edited actions
  5. Les garçons sauvages (The Wild Boys, Bertrand Mandico, 2017) – Seductive mixture of adventures and morbid sex, looking as Guy Maddin had adapted Adventure island or Lord of the flies thinking of Fassbinder.

Sad fables, in completely diverse styles on mankind, the pursuit of happiness, the difficulty of kindness and the need of believing in miracles, in magic or in ourselves:
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
Lazzaro felice (Happy as Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
A Fábrica de Nada (The Nothing Factory, Pedro Pinho, 2017)
Tiempo compartido (Time share, Sebastian Hoffman, 2018)
Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh, 2017)
The Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro, 2017).

Different insights on how difficult is to be a woman:
The Widowed Witch (Cai Chengjie 2017)
Tesnota (Closeness
, Kantemir Balagov, 2017)
Jonaki (Aditya Vikram Sengupta, 2018)
Ainhoa, yo no soy ésa (Ainhoa: That’s Not Me, Caroline Astudillo Muñoz, 2018)
Insyriated (In Syria, Phillipe Van Leeuw, 2017)
Ward Masmoum (Poisonous Roses, Fawzi Saleh, 2018)
Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman, Sebastian Lelio 2017)
Nepovinoveniye (Disobedience, Sebastian Lelio, 2018)

Reviews of classical genres setting the counter at start once again such as:
Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
Ang panahon ng halimaw (Season of the devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)

Or making diversions on past tracks as done in
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, 2018)
The Spy Gone North (Gongjak, Yoon Jong-bin, 2018)
Avengers: Infinity war (Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, 2018)
Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird, 2018)
El ángel (Luis Ortega, 2018)
Aniara (Pella Kägerman, Hugo Lilja, 2018)
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron, 2018).

Being pain struck with the urgency of document:
A Ciambra (The Ciambra. Jonas Carpignano, 2017) – a feature film
Rabot (Christina Vandekerckhove, 2017) – a creative documentary
No Intenso Agora (In the Intense Now, João Moreira Salles, 2017) – an essay confronting objectivity and subjectivity

… And I’m positively sure that, just having sent this list, I will miss a lot more to be mentioned. Enjoy cinema!!!

Waldheims Walzer (The Waldheim Waltz, Ruth Beckermann, 2018)

Simon Petri-Lukács

Film student based in Vienna
  1. Diane (Kent Jones, 2018)
  2. Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean- Luc Godard, 2018)
  3. Ziyou Xing (A Family Tour, Ying Liang, 2018)
  4. Chaos (Sara Fattahi, 2018)
  5. Doubles vies (Non-Fiction, Olivier Assayas, 2018)
  6. Pul-lip-deul (Grass Hong Sang-soo, 2018)
  7. Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
  8. Ahlat Agaci (The Wild Pear Tree, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2018)
  9. Ni de lian (Your Face, Tsai Ming-liang, 2018)
  10. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
  11. Angelo (Markus Schleinzer, 2018)
  12. Ba ge nu ren yi ta xi (First Night Nerves, Stanley Kwan, 2018)
  13. Die bauliche Massnahme (The Border Fence, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2018)
  14. Waldheims Walzer (The Waldheim Waltz, Ruth Beckermann, 2018)

I have seen wonderful and rewarding films by many of my favourite directors this year. However, the most inspiring experience a cinephile can have is discovery. I loved those years when my favourite film of the year was directed by someone I didn’t know earlier. I remember discovering Sophie Letourneur or Alain Gomis like that. This year was a bit different. I did know about Kent Jones, in fact I am as passionate and enthusiastic about his criticism as I am about the films of my favourite directors. As ignorant and uninformed as it sounds, I didn’t know that he wants to make a fiction film. Diane is loving, intelligent, rich, a film of significant values, a highly original work by a highly devoted fan and scholar of cinema. The most remarkable surprise of 2018.

Andréa Picard

Wavelengths curator, TIFF, Former artistic director, Cinema du Réel
  1. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
  2. Le Livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
  3. Da xiang di er zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)
  4. Dead Souls (Wang Bing, 2018)
  5. What You Gonna do When the World’s on Fire? (Roberto Minervini, 2018)
  6. COHEN (James Benning)
  7. In My Room (Ulrich Köhler)
  8. Ada Kaleh (Helena Wittmann, 2018)
  9. Teret (The Load, Ognjen Glavonić, 2018)
  10. Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhang-ke, 2018)
  11. Parsi (Eduardo Williams, 2018)
  12. Your Face (Tsai Ming-liang, 2018)
  13. Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
  14. The House that Jack Built (Lars von Trier, 2018)
  15. Lazzaro Felice (Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
  16. Altiplano (Malena Szlam, 2018)
  17. The Action Lies (James N. Kienietz, 2019)
  18. Pul-lip-deul (Grass, Hong-Sang-soo, 2018)
  19. Ray & Liz (Richard Billingham, 2018)
  20. Infinite Football (Corneliu Porumboiu, 2018)
  21. Fainting Spells (Sky Hopinka, 2018)
  22. Il Diario di Angela –Noi due Cineasti (Yervant Gianikian, Angela Ricchi Lucci, 2018)
  23. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
  24. La Flor (The Flower, Mariano Llinás, 2018)
  25. Diamantino (Gabriel Abrante, Daniel Schmidt, 2018)
  26. Di qui zui hou de ye wan, (Long Day’s Journey into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
  27. Casanovagen (Casanovagen ,Luise Donschen, 2018)
  28. High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)
  29. Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry, 2018)
  30. Wild Relatives (Jumana Mannam, 2018)
  31. Introduzione all’oscuro (Gaston Solnicki, 2018)
  32. Portraits (Tacita Dean, 2018) – Tacita Dean retrospective at Cinéma du Réel, Centre Pompidou
  33. Funk Lessons & Some Reflective Surfaces (Adrian Piper, 2018) – Adrian Piper retrospective MoMA
  34. Roi Soleil (Albert Serra, 2018)
  35. I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead (Beatrice Gibson, 2018)
  36. Terra Franca (Ashore, Leonor Telles, 2018)
  37. The films of S.N.S. Sastry (presented by Federico Rossin, 2018)
  38. Allegro Largo Triste (Aurélien Froment, 2017)
  39. I Can See Forever (Jeremy Shaw, 2018)
  40. Black Mother (Khalik Allah, 2018)
  41. Monelle (Diego Marcon)
  42. L’Empire de la perfection (John McEnroe:In the Realm of Perfection Julien Farault, 2018)
  43. Climax (Gaspar Noe, 2018)

Fidel Jesús Quirós

Editor at the Portal of Latin American and Caribbean Cinema in Havana

Do not think at any moment that this is really the selection of the best films of 2018, if you think of a cinematic environment where there is few possibilities to see the commercial or art-house hits of the year. And if you consider that Havana isn’t almost completely disconnected, in regard to downloading or streaming or any other platform to visualize features, and yet my increasingly reluctance to attend the about ten movies theatres still running here. December’s International Film Festival being the only moment to tune with some international releases and world film festival favourites.

But even when we are a little in retard with the rest of the world, at the end a great part of previous year films are finally released here more widely on specialized television shows, which most of the time said nothing new to me. So at least, you can trust that this little bunch really did. They are not here, just because they were considered good, important or well crafted, but because they really surprised or mesmerized me.

Here previous year’s hits always resound next one, and so did Luca Guadagnino’s Call me by Your Name (2017) surprisingly the most popular romantic film of the last Oscars season. English speaking, with US production, but with a French summer mist trapped in an Italian lust, and all captured by the Asian gaze of avant-gardist cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. A born classic, which the Academy did not longer award, since it consecrates instead now bizarre genre films.

On the other side of American splendour, it is Raoul Peck’s I am not your Negro (2016), a subjective immersion in the turmoil surrounding the life and death of three black heroes of American Civil right movement. A films to filmgoers that want to vanish forever racism and sideways homophobia. Cesars awarded it, Bafta also did, and the Oscars missed the chance again.

South of Rio Bravo, Mexicans tried to be once hand to hand with Tinsel town, and yet in a way they are gradually colonizing Hollywood with their craft. But yet in plain Mexican land, superb native films are made, such as Alejandra Márquez Abella’s Las niñas bien (The Good Girls, 2018) that proves how captivating and subtle Latin American film can be, portraying the downfall of a world of opulence and splendour.

Cuban films are constantly reborn from the ashes, no matter what the political, social, economic or cultural circumstance are. And so does Arturo Soto Díaz’ awesome Nido de Mantis (Mantis Nest, 2018), which blends the 1960’s revolutionary spirit with the glamour of the 1950s, the stagnation and triumphalism of the 1970s and 80s, and the gritty realism of the 1990’s Cuba Special Period of scarcity. On the other side, it is the South American apparently stern realism of Beatriz Seigner’s Los silencios (2018), brutally riveting with its fascinating look at war, displacements, and survival, merging gradually equal doses of gritty and magical realism.

To cross the Atlantic and back again to the American continent, and from there to every other part of the world – as the convulse 1960s roll on- that is what Fermín Muguruza’s adult animation Black is Beltza (2018) does. So naïve as captivating at showing all this overwhelming parade of mythical figures and spaces of the revolutionary wave of the moment, telling us how latent and alive all this love, anarchy and idealism are still today.

If you want to go deep into the always surprising charm of the European cinema, nothing better than the French Louis Garrel’s A Faithful Man (L’Homme fidéle, 2018), the invisible man, a jewel of only 75 minutes that unfold like if were the nowadays customary films of 2 and a half hours, showing how much we waste in production and spectator patience, and creating instead a fanciful intimate universe of feeling and time span. Or it is just Jean-Claude Carrière’s script.

I attended two last decade Danish films, Susanne Bier’s In a Better World (Hævnen, 2010) and Martin Zandvliet’s Applaus (Applause, 2009). The first seems as if shot and produced last year, as the world gets deeper everyday into the whirlpool of war, violence and intolerance, it precisely denounces. Worth to be included in a Universal Museum of Man and Human and Civil Rights for generations to come if they survive. Well Up! That was made by a Woman Filmmaker. Martin Zandvliet’s Applause, on its turn, seems ageless with its chamber cinema aesthetic, austere setting and little cast that become increasingly suggesting, oppressive and dramatic.

My generation come in retard to the Asian wave in festival of the 80 and 90`s live action features, other than the always present Japanese animation. From Anime showcase I was really tantalized by Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000); opening the new millennium by gathering the romantic Western tradition and Eastern phantasmagorical universe, taking dystopic heroes to the extreme of bizarre aesthetic of films to come.

Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
Nido de Mantis (Mantis Nest, Arturo Sotto2018)
Los silencios (Beatriz Seigner, 2018)
Las niñas bien (The Good Girls Alejandra Márquez Abella, 2018)
Black is Beltza (Fermín Muguruza, 2018)
L’homme fidèle (A Faithful Man, Louis Garrel, 2018)
Hævnen (In a Better World, Susanne Bier, 2010)
Applaus (Applause, Martin Zandvliet, 2009)
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (Yoshiaki Kawajiri, 2000)

Las niñas bien (The Good Girls Alejandra Márquez Abella, 2018)

Christopher Llewellyn Reed

Lead film critic at “Hammer to Nail,” film critic at “Film Festival Today,” co-host of the podcast “The Fog of Truth,” and host of Dragon Digital Television’s “Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed”

Top Picks of 2018:
I found 2018 to be a terrific year for cinema, especially within the realm of independent and low-budget filmmaking (though there were a few big films I enjoyed, too). I became part of a documentary-themed podcast, The Fog of Truth, in January, with two other people, which means I started watching even more documentaries than I already did, previously. I have therefore organized my list, below, into separate narrative fiction and nonfiction categories. I have an initial Top 10 for each, and then an additional 10 runners-up, as well. I was particularly drawn to unusual stories, or movies that took significant chances with form and tone, though these risks had to be incorporated into a coherent overall vision. I had the great pleasure of reviewing all but one of these films (Ali Abbasi’s Gräns) for either Hammer to Nail or Film Festival Today, so if you want to find my detailed thoughts on any of these, head on over to those sites. Enjoy!

Top 10 Best Narratives (in alphabetical order):

  • Blindspotting(Carlos López Estrada, 2018)
  • Beoning(Burning, Chang-dong Lee, 2018)
  • Capharnaüm(Capernaum, Nadine Labaki, 2018)
  • Eighth Grade(Bo Burnham, 2018)
  • The Favourite(Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
  • First Reformed(Paul Schrader, 2017)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk(Barry Jenkins, 2018)
  • Nancy(Christina Choe, 2018)
  • The Rider(Chloé Zhao, 2017)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse(Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, 2018)

Top 10 Best Documentaries (in alphabetical order):

  • The Dawn Wall(Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer, 2017)
  • Free Solo (Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, 2018)
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening(RaMell Ross, 2018)
  • Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.(Steve Loveridge, 2018)
  • Our New President(Maxim Pozdorovkin, 2018)
  • RBG(Julie Cohen, Betsy West, 2018)
  • Science Fair(Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster, 2018)
  • They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead(Morgan Neville, 2018)
  • Three Identical Strangers(Tim Wardle, 2018)
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?(Morgan Neville, 2018)

10 Narrative Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):

  • Black Panther(Ryan Coogler, 2018)
  • Estiu 1993(Summer 1993, Carla Simón, 2017)
  • Gräns (Border, Ali Abbasi, 2018)
  • Der Hauptmann(The Captain, Robert Schwentke, 2017)
  • Manbiki kazoku(Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018)
  • Monsters and Men(Reinaldo Marcus Green, 2018)
  • Night Comes On(Jordana Spiro, 2018)
  • Se rokh (3 Faces, Jafar Panahi, 2018)
  • Svanurinn(The Swan, Ása Helga Hjörleifsdótirr, 2017)
  • We the Animals(Jeremiah Zagar, 2018)

10 Documentary Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):

  • Charm City(Marilyn Ness, 2018)
  • Ingrid(Morrisa Maltz, 2018)
  • The Island(Adam Weingrod, 2017)
  • Island of the Hungry Ghosts(Gabrielle Brady, 2018)
  • Maiden(Alex Holmes, 2018)
  • Minding the Gap(Bing Liu, 2018)
  • On Her Shoulders(Alexandria Bombach, 2018)
  • 306 Hollywood(Elan Bogarin, Jonathan Bogarin, 2018)
  • The World Before Your Feet(Jeremy Workman, 2018)
  • Yours in Sisterhood(Irene Lusztig, 2018)

In addition to all of the above feature-length films, I’d like to also mention two short documentaries, one released by the UK newspaper The Guardian‘s documentary group, entitled Black Sheep (Ed Perkins, 2018), and the other as a New York Times‘ Op-Doc, entitled Earthrise (Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, 2018). The first is a profound examination of how one young man overcame the racism of his home town, while the second revisits the Apollo 8 mission. Both are beautifully assembled and phenomenal examples of the craft.

May the year 2019 offer us many more like these, plus ones we cannot yet imagine!

Bérénice Reynaud

California Institute of the Arts, Film at REDCAT

Being hospitalized and then in recovery during the best part of the year, I missed a lot of mainstream films in theater, but still managed to see enough to produce a credible, and, I hope, an entertaining list.

In alphabetical order (by director) and in different sections.

Girls that Make Me Happy:
Guo Chun Tian (The Crossing, Bai Xue, 2018)
Pinochet Porn (Ellen Cantor, 2008-2016)
Sir (Rohena Gera, 2018)
Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, 2018)
Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman, 2017)
Capharnaüm (Capernaum, Nadine Labaki, 2018)
Wild Relatives (Jumana Manna, 2018)
O Caderno Negro (The Black Book, Valerie Sarmiento, 2018)
Purge this Land (Lee Anne Schmitt, 2017)
Rouqing shi (Girls Always Happy, Yang Mingming, 2018)

Two films that revisit, in their own way, a utopia coined during years of activism a few decades ago: the creative value of artificial families. Within the context of mainstream society, it does not work – but somewhat it does – and then it’s exhilarating – and with the right kind of acting it’s also great cinema:
120 Battements par minute (BPM (Beats Per Minute), Robin Campillo, 2017)
Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters, Koreeda Hirokazu, 2018)

There is something in each of these films that just get “it” – “it” being the kernel of reality that only cinema can “touch” (to quote Johan van der Keuken) – always ready to leap toward the realm of the invisible:
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
“Der Klang, die Welt…” (Robert Beavers, 2018, short)
L. COHEN (James Benning, 2018, short)
Cocote (Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias, 2017)
Jiang hu er nv (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)

Shéhérazade (Jean-Bernard Marlin, 2018)
Rojo (Benjamin Naishtat, 2018)
Se rokh (3 Faces, Jafar Panahi, 2018)
Zhuang si le yi zhi yang (Jinpa, Pema Tseden, 2018)
Si ling hun (Dead Souls, Wang Bing, 2018)
Zi You Xing (A Family Tour, Ying Liang, 2018)
Hitsuji no Ki (The Scythian Lamb, Yoshida Daihachi, 2018)

Archival Pleasures:
Retrospective Moustapha Alassane (1942-2015), “Pioneer of the Golden Age of Nigerien (not Nigerian: the man is from the country of Niger), organized by Amélie Garin-Davet
Luminous Procuress (Steven Arnold, 1971), restored by the Pacific Film Archive
The work of Barbara Hammer, especially her landmark film, Nitrate Kisses (1992), restored by Mark Toscano
Queen of Diamonds (Nina Menkes, 1991), restored by the Academy
La Telenovela Errante (The Wandering Soap Opera, shot by Raul Ruiz in 1990, edited/completed by Valeria Sarmiento in 2017) 

Guilty Pleasures:

Crazy Rich Asians (John M. Chu, 2018) – because the film bombed in China for the same reason it was a hit in the Asian American community: what is novel in Hollywood (an all-Asian cast) is just an everyday reality in Beijing. Paradox and irony. But Michelle Yeoh (excellent!) in a couture pantsuit, and the fashion show,         and the food, and the mansions… this was a lot of fun.

The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, 2017) – because the film is banned in Russia, but made ex-Soviet Union denizens laugh, because Steve Buscemi, wearing a cheap suit over his pajama, is playing the role he was made for (Nikita Khrushchev), because every dead dictator deserves to be put in an end-of-the-year list.
Wo Bu Shi Yao Shen (Dying to Survive, Wen Muye, 2018). Starring a well-known comedian (Xu Zheng), but directed by a first-time filmmaker, this unpretentious commercial film about a group of patients breaking the law to get cheaper anti-cancer medicine struck a raw nerve in China and became an unexpected box-office success.

Semi-guilty:
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller, 2018) – because Lee Israel believed in texts written (or typed) on paper, the way some of us believe in analog cinema, and Melissa McCarthy made us believe she believed.

Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters, Koreeda Hirokazu, 2018)

Marina D. Richter

Freelance film critic, Austria

I was surprised to find more films on my list than expected, but at the end of the day, it was a very good year for the arthouse cinema. It wasn’t bad either in terms of good commercial productions, so if there is a reason to complain, other than maybe about the size of your popcorn, if you are that kind of consumer.

20x feature-length films in 2018:
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
La enfermedad del domingo (Sunday’s Illness, Ramón Salazar, 2018)
Niña errante (Wandering Girl, Rubén Mendoza, 2018)
Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreda, 2018)
Dom boraca (Home of the Resistance, Ivan Ramljak, 2018)
Invest in Failure (Notes on Film 06-C, Monologue), (Norbert Pfaffenbichler, 2018)
Îmi este indifferent dacǎ în istorie vom intra ca barbari (I do not care if we go down the history as barbarians, Radu Jude, 2018)
Extinção (Extinction, Salomé Lamas, 2018)
In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018)
Jiang hu er nv (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhang-ke, 2018)
A Portuguesa (A Portuguese Woman, Rita Azevedo Gomes, 2018)
Fotbal Infinit (Infinite Football, Corneliu Porumboiou, 2018)
Joy (Sudabeh Mortezai, 2018)
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)
Crowhurst (Simon Rumley, 2017 – released in 2018)
Gyeo-wul-ba-me (Winter’s Night, Jang Woo-jin, 2018)
In the Middle of The River (Damian John Harper, 2018)
Chaos (Sara Fattahi, 2018)
A Land Imagined (Yeo Siew Hua, 2018)

10+ First Feature:
Da xiang xi di er zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)
Teret (The Load, Ognjen Glavonic, 2018)
Mid90s (Jonah Hill, 2018)
The Song of The Tree (Aibek Daiyrbekov, 2018)
Diamantino (Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt, 2018)
The Parting Glass (Stephen Moyer, 2018)
Diki pole (The Wild Fields, Yaroslav Lodygin, 2018)
Khrustal (Crystal Swan, Darya Zhuk, 2018)
Pafsi (Pause, Tonia Mishiali, 2018)
Girl (Lukas Dhont, 2018)
Yung (Henning Gronkowski, 2018)

5x Honorable Mentions:
Await for Further Instructions (Johnny Kevorkian, 2018)
Lifeboat (Josefine Kirkeskov, 2018)
53 Wojny (53 Wars, Ewa Bukowska, 2018)
Jinpa (Pema Tseden, 2018)
Obscuro Barroco (Evangelia Kranioti, 2018)

20x Shorts:
Skip Day (Patrick Bresnan & Ivete Lucas, 2018)
(Fool Time) Job (Gilles Cuvelier, 2017)
Fauve (Jérémy Comte, 2018)
Sashleli (Eraser, Davit Pirtskhalava 2018)
L’été et tout le reste (The Summer and All the Rest, Sven Bresser, 2018)
Patision Avenue (Thanasis Neofotistos 2018)
Je sors acheter des cigarettes (I’m Going Out for Cigarettes, Osman Cerfon 2018)
Deer Boy (Katarzyna Gondek 2017)
Prisoner of Society (Rati Tsiteladze 2018)
Cadaver Exquis (Stéphanie Lansaque 2018)
Momentum 142310 (Manuel Knapp, 2018)
La Chute (The Fall, 2018)
An Excavation of Us (Shirley Bruno, 2017)
Пять минут до моря (Five Minutes to Sea, Natalia Mirzoyan, 2018)
Raymonde ou l’évasion verticale (Raymonde or the Vertical Escape, Sarah van den Boom, 2018)
Untravel (Ana Nedeljkovic, Nikola Majdak jr, 2018)
Haus der Regierung (Herwig Weiser, 2018)
Taking Stock (Duncan Cowles, 2017)
Egg (Martina Scarpeli 2018)
To Dasos (The Forest, Lia Tsalta, 2018)

The most impressive personal cinema experiences in 2018
The retrospective “The B-Film: Low Budget Hollywood Cinema 1935-1959”a cooperative project between the Viennese Filmmuseum and the Viennale, curated by Haden Guest.  Notably: “Daughter of Shanghai” (Robert Florey, 1937, 35mm), “The House of Fear” (Joe May, 1939, 35mm), “Island of Doomed Men” (Charles Barton, 1940, 35mm), “The Face Behind the Mask” (Robert Florey, 1941, 35mm), “Donovan’s Brain” (Felix E. Feist, 1953, 16mm) and “Outrage” (Ida Lupino, 1950, 35mm).
Open air cinema screening (Kino wie noch nie, Augarten, Vienna) of “Koyaanisqatsi” (Godfrey Reggio, 1982, 35mm)
The screening of “Schamlos” (Eddy Saller, 1968, 35mm) within the /Slash film festival, in presence of Udo Kier

Daniel Ribas

Programmer (Porto/Post/Doc and Curtas Vila do Conde), Assistant Professor, School of Arts, Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
How do we make sense of our world? In this labyrinth of images, sounds, thoughts, ideas. This film uses its own fragmented world – its anomalies and perversities – to think freely about us. Violence, war, virtue, democracy, the Arab world, all of these are part of a possible future. Godard is not optimistic, we know, but the very idea of this film existence proves that something is ahead in our future.
First Reformed  (Paul Schrader, 2017)
A strange remake of “Taxi Driver”, Schrader again focuses on a man and his quest for some kind of redemption. Can a woman allow that? No, she can’t. Built in a tense narrative of long scenes, the film leaves us with a sense of malady, of a time in which we are lost.
Zama (Lucretia Martel, 2017)
Against all odds, Martel excels in a period film. Yes, because it’s an OVNI and a science fiction of the past. The despair of the main character is our despair, of these modern times.
Ganbyun Hotel (The Hotel by The River, Hong Sang-soo, 2018)
By its serene narrative, “Hotel by the River” is a meditation on death and on a legacy, but doing that with small translucent scenes, full of bittersweet mood. One of his best films, touching in issues such as fatherhood and man-woman relations.
L’amant d’un jour (Lover for a Day, Philippe Garrel, 2017)
Best dance scene of the year, in a film that shows us how we need to live in contradiction. Garrel is always Garrel. This one is vintage.
A Árvore (The Tree, André Gil Mata, 2018)
Emotion is a derivative of time. In his “The Tree”, Gil Mata explores our conscience of life, its heaviness, its coldness, which are all adjectives for living. In these long tracking shots, the film allows us to sense the world around, and even if there is a sense of outdatedness, that’s precisely what matters: being there, being here, it’s all the same.
Fausto (Faust, Andrea Bussman, 2018)
Stories, we are always lost in the stories. In “Fausto”, Bussman deepens the idea until we are submerged in a labyrinthic imaginary of mythic stories and small talks about every day. Mystic and reality getting together.
Gulyabani (Gürcan Keltek, 2018)
After “Meteors” in 2017, the Turkish director brings us to a zone of discomfort, tracing the life of a seer, in a cinematic ‘tour de force’ that overwhelms by its beauty and reflexive tone. A small film about cinema.
No Intenso Agora (In the Intense Now, João Moreira Salles, 2018)
Memory is a beautiful lie. This film sees the past as something so intense that its fragments keep haunting us, no matter what we can do against it.
Infinit Football (Infinite Football, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2018)
A film about football, a film about life, a film about a human being. As a Portuguese, I know how football is beautiful, so, yes, it can be discussed and it can be talked. And, like everything, football is life.

Stuart Richards

Film critic and lecturer in Screen Studies at the University of South Australia

For this year’s World Poll. I have compiled my 26 favourite films for 2018. For the final episode of Plato’s Cave in early December, I contributed my top ten films that received some form of release in Australia. They are as follows in no particular order:

120 Battements Par Minute (BPM (Beats Per Minute), Robin Campillo 2017)
Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
Love, Simon (Greg Berlant 2018)
Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018)
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
Strange Colours (Alena Lodkina 2018)
Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2018)
The Tale (Jennifer Fox, 2018)
Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, 2017)
Zimna Wodjna (Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018)

Now that I am no longer confined to just ten titles (oh the freedom!), I would like to add these titles:
American Animals (Bart Layton, 2018)
Aus dem Nichts  (In the Fade, Fatih Akin, 2017)
Backtrack Boys (Catherine Scott, 2018)
Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio, 2018)
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (Jessica Leski, 2018)
Jusqu’à la Garde (Custody, Xavier Legrand, 2018)
La Enfermedad del Domingo (Sunday’s Illness, Ramón Salazar, 2018)
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan, 2018)

Beyond these titles, my top films that I saw at a film festival that have not yet received a release in Australia are as follows:
Holiday (Isabella Eklöf, 2018)
La Nuit a Dévoré le Monde (The Night Eats the World, Dominique Rocher, 2018)
Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu, 2018)
Rökkur (Rift, Erlingur Thoroddsen, 2017)
Sauvage (Camille Vidal-Naquet, 2018)
Un Couteau Dans Le Coeur (Knife + Heart, Yann Gonzalez, 2018)
We The Animals (Jeremiah Zagar, 2018)

Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2018)

Peter Rinaldi

Filmmaker and writer in New York City. He hosts Filmmaker Magazine’s BACK TO ONE podcast which features working actors talking about the acting craft

Because I (a) haven’t seen every single movie this year and I’m (b) inclined to reject the idea of “best” in art, I will only name 5 films, in alphabetical order, which I would not be able to remove from a list of favourites this year, no matter how many films I see.
Zimna wojna (Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski 2018)
Nepovinoveniye, (Disobedience, Sebastian Lelio 2018)
Nancy (Christina Choe, 2018)
We The Animals (Jeremiah Zagar 2018)
You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay 2018)

And 5 indie films with super small releases in America this year that deserved more attention:
Unlovable (Suzi Yoonessi, 2018)
Galveston (Melanie Laurent, 2018)
The Party’s Just Beginning (Karen Gillan, 2018)
Mobile Homes (Vladimir de Fontenay, 2018)
Jinn (Nijla Mumin, 2018)

Peter Rist

Film studies Professor at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

From December 1st 2017 to November 30th 2018, I went to the cinema over 315 times (including at festivals) and saw more than 375 feature films for the first time (in theatres, on TV, on aircraft, or my desk-top computer). And yet, I feel that I am still behind with new films. For the first time in two decades, a new theatrical film venue opened in Montreal, the Cinema Moderne operated by Roxanne Sayegh (who had previously headed up the city’s wonderful documentary festival RIDM), and it is “marvelous” – very small (only 55 seats) – but a genuine repertory cinema, showing work of very limited interest – e.g., Kiorastami’s 24 Frames – but also giving Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018) a local run, complete with Atmos Dolby sound. But, here is the problem: we will probably never get to see other Netflix titles, like Lazzaro Felice (Happy as Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018), the way they should be seen, and with Disney about to take over much of Fox, including the impressive Searchlight arm, non-commercial features, especially in languages other than English and French will become even rarer in cinemas, although Cinema Moderne will do their best to fill the gap. On the commercial front, the 22 theatre Cineplex Forum, not far from where I live,, continues to regularly show more than 20 different titles every day, including popular fare from India, China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and sometimes Russia, Israel and the Arab world, very few of which ever get reviewed locally. Montreal is still a very fine place to live, and more-and-more a cultural, social and political oasis in this crazy, horribly right-leaning world.

Six films for the ages (in the order in which I saw them):

Fengyu zhi ye (The Stormy Night, aka “On a Stormy Night” or “Night of Wind and Rain”, Zhu Shouju, 1925)- at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, March
Grass (Hong Sang-Su, 2018) – at the FILMART, HK, March
Zama (Lucretia Martel, 2017)- on TV, in the pressroom of the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF), March, and then, thankfully, in a film theatre, Cinéma du Parc, Montreal, June
Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017) –  Goethe Institute at du Parc, June
So-gong-nyeo (Microhabitat, Jeon Go-Woon, 2017) – FanTasia festival, Montreal, July
Vivek (Reason, Anand Patwardan, 2018) – Cinema Politica, Montreal, September

Another 20 new(ish) films (in the order in which I saw them):
The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey, 2017) – in release, Montreal, December 2017
Werewolf (Ashley Mackenzie, 2016) – on an Air Canada flight to San Francisco, January
24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017) –  at HKIFF, in a cinema, March
The Rider (Chloe Zhao, 2017) – HKIFF, in another cinema, March
You Were Never Really Here (Lynn Ramsey, 2017) – in release, Montreal, April
Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, 2018) – in release, Montreal, July
Madeline’s Madeline (Josephine Decker, 2018) – at FanTasia, August
Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2017) – at the First People’s Festival, Montreal, August
Tirss, Rihlat, Alsoo’oud ila Almar’I (Erased,____Ascent of the Invisible, Ghassan Halwani, 2018) – “Wavelengths,” TIFF, September
Zhuang si le yi zhi yang (Jinpa, Pema Tseden, 2018) – TIFF, September
Félicité (Alain Gomis, 2017) – at Cinema Moderne, Montreal, September
Que Horas Ela Volta? (The Second Mother, Anna Muylaert, 2015) – Festival du Film Brésilien de Montréal, at du Parc, October
O Processo (The Trial, Maria Augusta Ramos, 2018), – RIDM, November, plus Ramos’ Seca (Drought, 2015); see “older films” below
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross, 2018) – RIDM, November Zi hua xiang: 47 Gong li si fen ke si (Self Portrait: Sphinx in 47km, Zhang Mengqi, 2017), RIDM, November
Segunda Vez (Second Time Around, Doria García, 2018) – RIDM, November
Les âmes mortes (Dead Souls, Part 2, Wang Bing, 2018) – RIDM, November
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-Dong, 2018) – press screening, Montreal, November
3000 Layla (3000 Nights, Mai Masri, 2015) – Cinémathèque Québécoise, November

And 14 older films seen for the first time (in the order in which I saw them):

Byeoldeului gohyang (Heavenly Homecoming to Stars, Lee Jang-Ho, 1974) – Korean Film Archive on YouTube, January
Address Unknown (William Cameron Menzies, 1944) – 35mm print, Noir City, San Francisco, January
Chikamatsu monogatari (A Story from [by] Chikamatsu, aka “Crucified Lovers”, Mizoguchi Kenji, 1954) – digital restoration, in Singapore, March
Éloge de retour (Ode to a Journey Home, Lysanne Thibodeau, 2001) – on TV, at her memorial service, Montreal, April
Sommarlek (Summer Interlude, Ingmar Bergman, 1951) – 35mm nitrate print, the Nitrate Picture Show, Rochester, NY, May – one of the few Bergman films that is not misogynist
Trade Tattoo (Len Lye, 1937) – 35mm Technicolor nitrate (wow!), Rochester, May
Marseille (Angela Schanelec, 2004) – on my desk top computer, MUBI, May
Tian xia di yi quan (King Boxer aka Five Fingers of Death, Jeong Chang-Hwa as “Chung Chang-Hwa”, 1972) – 35mm Shawscope print, FanTasia, July
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) – 70mm restoration (blown up to IMAX), Toronto, September (I had only seen it before on 16mm, and on TV, and projected digitally)
L’auberge rouge (The Red Inn, Jean Epstein, 1923) – Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Oct.
Tokyo ondo (Nomura Hotei, 1932) – 35mm, Pordenone, October
Husbands and Lovers (John M. Stahl, 1924) – 35mm, Pordenone, October
Sangre (Amat Escalante, 2005) – Cinema Moderne, November
Juízo (Behave, Maria Augusta Ramos, 2007) – RIDM, November

Finally, some praise for Philippine filmmaking. Until this year’s HKIFF in March, I had never seen any of the late Ishmael Bernal’s work; I managed to catch Pagdating sa Dulo (At the Top, 1971) on video and now realize that there was a big gap in my understanding of film history. Secondly I must mention the bravery of some Philippine filmmakers who are exposing government and police corruption and killings within the drug trade. At FanTasia I was impressed by Mikhail Red’s Neomanila (2017), and Erik Matti’s Buy Bust (2018), while I am prepared to break my #1 rule of not giving Netflix any promotion this year by drawing attention to Brillante Mendoza’s 13 episode TV series Amo (2017). Although not of the same high standard as the late Lino Brocka’s sensational, slum-set films, they follow his example of mixing sepia-tinged hyper-realism and violent melodrama.

Kate Robertson

Australian writer and academic based in New York

This list is limited to films that, broadly, fit into the horror genre, which test and transform the limits of the screen.
Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)
As Boas Maneiras (Good Manners, Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas 2017)
Aterrados (Terrified, Demián Rugna, 2017)
Cargo (Ben Howling & Yolanda Ramke, 2017)
The Endless (Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, 2017)
Gräns (Border, Ali Abbasi, 2018)
Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
Laissez Bronzer Les Cadavres (Let The Corpses Tan, Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, 2017)
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)
Possum (Matthew Holness, 2018)
Sorry To Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018)
Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)
The Devil’s Doorway (Aislinn Clarke, 2018)
The Ritual (David Bruckner, 2017)
The Witch in the Window (Andy Mitton, 2018)
Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017)
Thoroughbreds (Cory Finley, 2017)
You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2017)

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2017)

Melanie Robson

Early career researcher in film; Teaches film at UNSW and AFTRS in Sydney

My list includes my favourite films screened theatrically (or streaming only) in Australia in 2018. The first five are what I consider to be the most powerful and important films of the year, in no particular order. Each one is accompanied by my commentary:

Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
Certainly my favourite film this year, and I’m quite sure it will quickly become a classic. Cuarón never fails to leave me in awe with his strikingly beautiful camerawork, which Roma has in spades. But where this film is truly powerful is in its palpably personal narrative; Cuarón makes poignant and intelligent commentary on class divisions and domestic labour, while maintaining the perspective of a young boy who we can only assume is a version of Cuarón as a child.

Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2017)
Thornton delivers again with a distinctly Australian take on the Western genre (which suits our landscape and the outback’s sense of lawlessness remarkably well). True to the genre, its narrative centres on troubling race relations, at times delving into the deeply confronting. A striking performance by Hamilton Morris (as Sam), who has little dialogue but expresses everything required in his facial expressions.

BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)
The only film on this list I’ve seen twice. My first viewing was one evening at the Sydney Film Festival in June and there was a vibrant feeling of excitement and apprehension in the audience. Spike Lee’s films are always passionate and controversial, and BlacKkKlansman wears its controversy proudly in its title. The narrative and thematic content is bold and confronting, but little else needs to be said about that than what has been said elsewhere. The production and sound design are an unparalleled highlight for me in their blend of historical realism and homage to Blaxploitation films. Performances by John David Washington, Adam Driver and Laura Harrier are electric.

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)
A predictably divisive film, given its status as a remake of a cult horror classic. There are certainly substantial aspects of Argento’s original that I prefer—namely its delay in revealing the witches and its manically expressive soundtrack. I was particularly taken, however, with Guadagnino’s distinct visual style, his narrative changes, and his historical contextualization which help the film stand on its own, quite distinct from its predecessor. I also love the use of dance as a performative mode of expression and meaning. Tilda Swinton’s multi-character performance fooled me (I didn’t know it was her in three separate roles), and discovering this after watching added another level of delight.

The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018)
As a long time Welles fan, merely the release of this film is a highlight of the year for me after such a long wait. This is one of several bold moves made by Netflix this year – to help complete an unfinished project after 40+ years. The result is an intentionally disjointed narrative, with too many close ups and muddled dialogue; an undeniable and brilliant parody of pretentious art film. It feels every bit the collaborative process of the past few decades: after Welles’ death, the project was taken over by Peter Bogdanovich and various other contributors. Parts of the film feel distinctly Welles, while other parts are an unfamiliar style. I find it a difficult film to really enjoy, but it’s certainly important, and a vital tribute to the legacy of Welles.

The following six are films I enjoyed immensely. Through no intentional design, these films are each from a different country—the USA, Iran, France, the UK, Sweden, and Japan—and each has something important to say about the culture/s they portray. Sorry to Bother You and Shoplifters, in vastly different ways, give a voice to a particular section of African-American and Japanese culture respectively that is often silenced in contemporary cinema.

  1. Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018)
  2. Se rokh (3 Faces, Jafar Panahi, 2018)
  3. Jusqu’à la garde (Custody, Xavier Legrand, 2017)
  4. The Wife (Björn Runge, 2018)
  5. The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017)
  6. Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018)

Eloise Ross

Melbourne-based writer, academic, and film programmer

20 best film experiences I had this year, in the order I had them.
Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2017)
Not quite as strong as the magical Samson and Delilah (2009), but a very well made tale of Australia’s shame.
Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
Not at all what I expected but I loved every single moment.
Faces (John Cassavetes, 1968) – 35mm print, Melbourne Cinémathèque
Who can take their eyes away from a Cassavetes film? I remain haunted by that final shot.
120 battements par minute  (BPM (Beats per Minute), Robin Campillo, 2017)
The soundtrack was my running soundtrack.
Olivia (Jacqueline Audry, 1951) – 35mm print, Melbourne Cinémathèque
Delicious to watch this incredibly stylish film in a packed cinema.
Terror Nullius (Soda_Jerk, 2018)
An important work for Australia, and the world, both irresistibly fun and incisive work from Soda Jerk.
That Brennan Girl (Alfred Santell, 1946) – Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna
A highlight of a series of Republic Pictures restorations, That Brennan Girl is a remarkably forthright women’s picture about mothers, daughters, and the struggles of a city hurt by wartime, and corruption bred at home. I was stunned by the story, and swept along by the cinematography and pace of the editing.
Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972) – 35mm print, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna
One of the most stunning, shocking, unforgettable viewings I had was an original Technicolor print of CABARET from 1972. I’m not exaggerating to say that I’ve seen this film at least 20 times. This time was different, because of format, surroundings, and no doubt, something to do with the current anxiety circulating through the world. There’s a cut in the film that is perhaps one of the greatest of all time. From a lunch between an exhilarated Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Helmut Griem, Minnelli’s “you should have been there” is cut just slightly too soon, to a body being beaten by Nazis on the street. At this cut, before I even realised it had happened, I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I was choked up. That’s never happened before, at this moment. That’s the unique power of cinema, and of the big screen.
Víctimas del Pecado (Victims of Sin, Emilio Fernández, 1951)- Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna
Incredible performance from Ninón Sevilla as a Cuban dancer who rescues and raises a child, with a few nightclub scenes whose editing (by Gloria Schoemann) has the most thrilling rhythm I think I’ve ever seen.
Ydessa, Les Ours et etc (Ydessa, the Bears and etc. Agnès Varda) – Liverpool Biennial
Less of a film viewing, and more of a gallery experience, this was part of Varda’s installation work at the Liverpool Biennial. In a small gallery space lit only by light from the door and the projector, Varda’s film screened on a wall alongside the photograph whose story the film is investigating. I watched this twice.
Acute Misfortune (Thomas M. Wright, 2018)
Tells its story in the most beautiful, painful fragments. An essential new Australian film.
You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2018)
With the previous film, and again with Cold War I was taken this year by films which told their stories in fragments, affecting great power through means – score music, sound effects, facial expressions, cinematic restraint – other than explicit narrative. These are filmmakers that recognise there is impact to be made elsewhere.
Fuga (Fugue, Agnieszka Smocynska, 2018)
Entrancing performance from lead actor and screenwriter Gabriela Muskala. Greatest dance scene of the year?
Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2018)
Reckons with Spanish colonial responsibility through the prism of a magical fever dream, countering a man’s increasing futility with an intensification of cinema’s textures, colours, sounds. Utterly absorbing and, in moments, exquisitely funny.
Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018)
Has the powerful subtlety of earlier films like Nobody Knows (2004). Such delicate attention to the desires and confusions of children, and sharply focuses the human need for life and love. One of the most notable performances of the year, from Sakura Andô (which I noted in the Senses of Cinema podcast).
A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)
I was ready to be disappointed by this film, but was utterly carried away by its energy. And by Lady Gaga. Like Manohla Dargis wrote, “too much Bradley Cooper, but I love it.”1
Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, 2018)
Simple story of a father and daughter that indicts a world’s obsession with war through gentle observations of trauma. This is a film whose strength is precisely in its lack of anger.
Zimna Wojna (Cold War, Paweł Pawlikowski, 2018)
A film worthy of its black and white aesthetic, and so much more.
Jôen (The Affair, Yoshishige Yoshida, 1967) – 35mm print, Japanese Film Festival, Melbourne
The claustrophobia of a loveless marriage and a woman struggling to learn that the reckless actions of her late mother stemmed from intimate and desperate desires. Opening with abstract images, this rapidly focuses on its very real characters, and is affecting with a cold soundscape. Loved seeing this with a celluloid grain, too.
Private Life (Tamara Jenkins, 2018)
Kathryn Hahn screaming about the prudish expectations of social workers while wielding bathroom-cleaning products in a tee-shirt and no underpants is contender for the best screen moment of the year.

Julian Ross

Programmer at International Film Festival Rotterdam and Film Festival Locarno

Nervous Translation (Shireen Seno, 2018)
Western (Valeska Griesbach, 2017)
Jiang hu er nv (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
Da xiang xi di er zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang dong, 2018)
Mountain Plain Mountain (Yu Araki, Daniel Jacoby, 2018)
The Remembered Film (Isabelle Tollenare, 2018)
Monelle (Diego Marcon, 2018)
Harano Sur (Lost Tune, Reetu Sattar, 2018)
I Can See Forever (Jeremy Shaw, 2018)

  1. Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, “Best Movies of 2018”, New York Times, Dec 5 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/movies/best-movies.html

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