For the penultimate article in the Almost Famous Writer advent calendar, it’s time for the most challenging, but also my favourite list of the year: my 10 favourite films of 2018.
Every year I struggle to list my 10 favourite films of the past 12 months and it’s especially a struggle to find my absolute favourite one. But this year, it was very different and I’ve known since January what my absolute favourite would be this year. But before we discuss that, I’ve listed 9 other films that have completely stolen my heart the past 12 months, and in this article I will tell you all about them.
10. A Star is Born
In the case of A Star is Born, I can wholeheartedly say believe the hype: it is AMAZING. Besides Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s great chemistry and acting, this film is just so well made. All of the performances and recorded live at music festivals, and together with Cooper’s directing, it makes for such a genuine and moving story about fame, identity and the music industry. Also I’m betting money on Gaga getting an Oscar nomination for her role as Ally, mark my words.
9. Avengers: Infinity War
OMG! Those visuals! Those jokes! Those action scenes! THAT ENDING! Watching the new Avengers: Infinity War in the cinema is (next to Get Out at Lowlands) one of the most interactive film experiences ever. I laughed, I cried (no spoilers) and I spent the next few days after watching it looking up fan theories online. But in all seriousness, a film that has had this many years of build-up, this many characters and this many story lines, and for it to be such an engaging and, quite frankly, emotional watch, deserves a spot in my 10 favourites.
8. Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand has some things to say. With her stellar performance in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri and, of course, with her Oscar acceptance speech for exactly this role earlier this year. In the movie, McDormand plays Mildred, a mother who challenges the local police department after they still haven’t found the murderer of her daughter, and Mildred is fierce, courageous and unbreakable. During McDormand’s acceptance speech, in which she asked every female nominee to stand with her, she showed that very same strength – and that’s simply amazing.
7. The shape of water
The Shape of Water is a fairytale only director Guillermo del Toro could tell, with his love for monsters and his water princess Sally Hawkins pouring from every single shot. It’s sweet, scary and strange, a story about a water monster and a cleaning lady falling in love against all odds, but it’s a story that moves, wonders and holds up no matter how many times you watch it (tried and tested, people!).
6. Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs is made with so much love, attention to detail and humour, and it’s just a joy to watch. Plus it’s about a bunch of doggos voiced by some of my favorite actors (including Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Greta Gerwig, Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson) and it was directed by Wes Anderson so I kind of had no choice but to love it.
Director Spike Lee has mastered the art of portraying pressing and relevant issues with humor, absurdity and intelligence – and his latest joint is no exception. In BlackKklansman, two police officers (one African-American, one Jewish) infiltratie the Ku Klux Klan in 1970s America. You’ll be laughing out loud at the absurdities in this movie (based on actual events!), while at the same time you never forget the very real hard-pressing issues at the heart of the story, including racism, hatred, segregation and exclusion of minorities.
4. Phantom Thread
At first glance, Phantom Thread appears to be a beautifully acted, gorgeously directed and phenomenally designed costume drama and I think we all know how much I love costume dramas. But director Paul Thomas Anderson buried dark, poisonous feelings just underneath that beautiful surface and that’s what makes Phantom Thread so bewitching.
3. Lady Bird
There are two women that have completely stolen my heart this year and they are Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig with Lady Bird. It’s a coming of age story, and even though there are a gazillion coming of age stories, Lady Bird is that one coming of age story you haven’t seen – and more specifically felt – before. Fun fact, Lady Bird is Merlijn’s favourite film of 2018, simply because Saoirse Ronan and I don’t blame him.
2. The Florida Project
The Florida Project is like one of those pastel coloured candies that are both sweet and sour. First, you have the funky exterior that tastes so sweet, like those endless summers you had as a kid, running around the neighborhood, eating pizza in bed, staying up late, collecting coins to buy ice cream. But then there’s a sour core, which reminds you that there are dark sides to pink castles and mothers struggling to take care of their children. Ultimately, though, it’s the sweetness and innocence that remains when you’re eating those candies, and that’s actually the case with The Florida Project.
1. Call me by your name
And finally, my favourite film of 2018 – and let’s be honest, one of my favourite films of all time – is Luca Guadagnino’s Call me by your name. I’ve seen it at the very beginning of the year, right when I started my internship at Cineville, and it has stuck with me ever since – the film’s beauty, subtlety and sensuality. Quite some people told me that they didn’t like the film, because according to them nothing happened. “The main characters just lay in the sun all day, eat fruit and talk about music,” they would say. But with Call me by your name, it’s what’s underneath the sunbathing, fruit eating and music making that really counts. The sensation of your first love, the dancing around each other, the euphoria when you’re finally coming together and the crushing pain when it ends. It’s all in there, and it’s created with so much understanding, care, attention to detail and, most importantly, love.
And that concludes my 10 favourite films of 2018! Be sure to check back in for the very last article of the Almost Famous Writer advent calendar, which is coming your way tonight!