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Best films of the year

The top ten films of 2018: 10) A Heathers for Generation Z, the protagonists of Sam Levinson’s biting, bloody, and over-the-top satire Assassination Nation are teenage girls blamed for society’s ills, and forced to fight back. The film is smart and wild, and in featuring a transgender student as one of the leads, breaks ground for a high school comedy/thriller.

9) Blackkklansman manages to be both one of Spike Lee’s best films (and biggest hits) since the era of Malcolm X and Do The Right Thing, and also most frustrating for it’s positive depiction of police in the era of COINTELPRO. But despite the valid complaints, Lee is still a brilliant filmmaker working at the top of his game, and the film is a powerful statement on enduring white supremacy, with a devastating conclusion that points directly to today.

8) Blindspotting, a story of two working class friends in Oakland trying to get by, is directed by Carlos López Estrada, but in many ways it’s a showcase for writers and stars Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs. The two writer/performers come from the worlds of spoken word poetry and hip-hop, and have made a film about racism, class, police violence, gentrification, and cultural cooptation that is rooted in poetry.

7) Shoplifters, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, is a drama that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. From the vantage point of life on the fringes of Japanese society, the film explores class and chosen family and the hustles it takes to survive.

6) Did you hear about a new film that tells the true story of early 20th century Korean and Japanese anarchists fighting Japanese colonialism in Korea? Lee Joon-ik’s inspiring historical drama Anarchist from Colony was a box office hit in Korea in 2017, but received only a limited US release.

5) With Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler made perhaps the best superhero film ever, and stirred hours of debate, while bringing out spectacular performances from a brilliant cast, especially Michael B Jordan as the antagonist (not villain).

4) Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, a black and white drama about an indigenous domestic worker and the family she works for in Mexico City in the early 70s, feels like a European art film from that era. Cuarón submerges you in her life, from mundane tasks to relationships and friendships, to life and death events surrounding her. The standout scenes and images will stay with you long after you’ve left the theater.

3) Youtube-star-turned-filmmaker Bo Burnham expertly and empathetically explores the awkward pain of middle school in the era of social media in Eighth Grade. The film is anchored by a perfectly earnest performance by Elsie Fisher, who had just finished middle school when the movie was filmed.

2) Musician/activist filmmaker Boots Riley’s blends science fiction, satire, and social commentary in Sorry to Bother You. Like Riley’s music, the film wears its revolutionary anticapitalist politics on its sleeve but lures you in with sly humor. The film would be worth seeing just for the design, from Tessa Thompson’s outfits to the fully imagined future that seems just days away.

1) Every frame has meaning, and every moment is crucial in If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’ beautiful follow-up to 2016’s Moonlight. Hollywood has often shown Black pain and suffering, but Jenkins excels at showing the love, tenderness and desire – within families, and between lovers – that the film industry has rarely cared to explore. Faithfully adapting James Baldwin’s novel of the same name, Jenkins explores heartache and injustice, but also beauty, passion, and poetry.

Jordan Flaherty, "Best films of the year," The news. 2019-01-01.
Keywords: Arts , Social aspect , Film industry , Social media , Historical drama , Art film , Japanese society , Cultural cooperation , Police violence , Heartbreaking , Heartwarming