View Single Post
Old 01-01-2019, 07:42 PM   #12
Foggy Foggy is offline
Blu-ray Grand Duke
Foggy's Avatar
Dec 2008

See Runner-ups HERE

Previous years lists
| 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 |

#1 Burning

Directed by Chang-dong Lee
Written by Jung-mi Oh & Chang-dong Lee
Based on the book by Haruki Murakami
Starring Ah-in Yoo, Jong-seo Jin, Steven Yeun

Synopsis: Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood as him, who asks him to look after her cat while on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.

Verdict: Dizzying and boardline hypnotic psychological thriller that seems to play like an anti-mystery. It has you scanning for clues and piecing together a narrative before the questions begin and once you’ve reach the climax, a very clear solution is convoluted by an unsatisfying conflict, one that makes you second, third and forth guess yourself over and over. A lyrical meditation on loneliness, the parable around the need for connection and a metatextual lesson on curiosity that not only kills the cat, but has it vanquished into oblivion.

#2 You Were Never Really Here

Directed by Lynne Ramsey
Written by Lynne Ramsey Based on the book by Jonathan Ames
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov

Synopsis: A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe's nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

Verdict: The most visually stimulating and beautifully constructed film of the year, Lynne Ramsey transforms a lurid pulp novel into a devestating personal odyssey into psychological detachment and the search for redemption through violence, constantly undermining expectations and wasting little time. It’s a hypnotic vision accompanied by Johnny Greenwood’s spine-tingling jazz score into a film that uses precious few words but speaks volumes.

#3 If Beale Street Could Talk

Directed by Barry Jenkins
Written by Barry Jenkins Based on the book by James Baldwin
Starring KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King

Synopsis: A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.

Verdict: Telling a story of a tragic injustice that is far too many people’s reality. Barry Jenkins is one of the few filmmakers who has a complete grasp on the texture of cinema. He even manages to control the way smoke rolls of a cigarette, If Beale Street Could Talk is sensory overload, capturing intimate moments with the most uncompromising and unflinching ways to reach right into your being and bring you into his films.

#4 First Reformed

Directed by Paul Schrader
Written by Paul Schrader
Starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer

Synopsis: A minister of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns and a tormented past.

Verdict: Dense faith-based drama that brings the broad spectrum of personal and global damnation together into a truly chilling and challenging vision. Ethan Hawke’s discordant priest finds himself swaying towards extremism when he’s faith seems to fail him, however Paul Schrader’s film, despite how somber and pessimistic it appears, is in fact a transcendent experience that offers more undefined, even hopeful, answers to times in crisis.

#5 The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Directed by Desiree Akhavan
Written by Desiree Akhavan & Cecilla Frugiuele
Based on the book by Emily M. Danforth
Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck

Synopsis: In 1993, a teenage girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians.

Verdict: An exceptionally well-realised coming of age film revolving around a gay conversion camp. Desiree Akhavan realises the humanity that lies within humour and the resilience within spirit. That’s not to say the film doesn’t approach it’s subject matter with seriousness, but instead of moments of horror, it captures more the psychological implications and downright manipulation of identity amongst impressionable youth, making for enraging drama.

#6 Sorry To Bother You

Directed by Boots Riley
Written by Boots Riley
Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun

Synopsis: In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.

Verdict: Audacious and biting capitalist satire that’s one part Terry Gilliam and a hint of the early Spike Lee. Sorry To Bother You soars beyond expectations bringing wildly expansive themes into an absurdist setting to concoct a wild hybrid of social comedy and science-fiction horror that’s feels refreshing, despite its horrific reality.

#7 The Favourite

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Written by Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara
Starring Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone

Synopsis: In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.

Verdict: Fearlessly subversive costume farce that mixes it’s frilly dresses and frolicking with the vile dirt, vomit and semen that has been swept aside from so many prestige productions. The Favourite is hysterically crass, but also a truly gripping power play between three women who’s loyalty and alliances cannot be trusted, armed with a wonderfully sharp script, Yorgos Lanthimos reinvigorates a stale genre with his signature dry and uncomfortable sensibilities.

#8 BlacKkKlansman

Directed by Spike Lee
Written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Based on the book by Ron Stallworth
Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier

Synopsis: Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader.

Verdict: Spike Lee stamping his flag firmly in the current social-political landscape with a true-life procedural drama that’s stranger than fiction. Bold and confrontational as only Lee can achieve, his film bounces between ridicule and distress, bringing alarming implications to the present in a way that left the theatre I was in completely shook.

#9 Wildlife

Directed by Paul Dano
Written by Paul Dano & Zoe Kazan Based on the book by Richard Ford
Starring Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbould

Synopsis: A teenage boy must deal with his mother's complicated response after his father temporarily abandons them to take a menial and dangerous job.

Verdict: A melcholic study on the collapse of a mid-Western nuclear family in idyllic 50’s America. Downplayed, both often poetically captured, Dano illustrates a changing time in regards to marital roles and the pressure it places on traditional vows, framing the events through the eyes of the son, who is left split between two people who can’t help but hurt one another.

#10 The Rider

Directed by Chloé Zhao
Written by Chloé Zhao
Starring Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lily Jandreau

Synopsis: After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.

Verdict: Fiction and reality blur in Chloé Zhao’s Western drama, casting a real life family into the drama, she manages to capture something that feels beyond authentic. A heartbreaking portrait of a quickly evaporating world that feels on the brink of oblivion, using genre iconography in lyrical ways to create something that feels like a epilogue on a great American novel. It’s a little miracle of filmmaking.

#11 Roma

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Written by Alfonso Cuarón
Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Jorge Antonio Guerrero

Synopsis: A year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

Verdict: Cuaron deeply empathetic and wistful auto-biographical drama has a scale and a sweep to it that would usually be seen as detrimental to it’s more intimate lense. But in creating moments of mass spectacle and turmoil he weaves the two aspects of his film, the nation and the people, into a entwining and lyrical reflection on compassion and consideration that lies at the core of everyone.

#12 Capernaum

Directed by Nadine Labaki
Written by Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily & Michelle Keserwany
Starring Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole

Synopsis: While serving a five-year sentence for a violent crime, a 12-year-old boy sues his parents for neglect.

Verdict: A truly distressing experience about impoverished life and survival in a third world country. Labaki’s social-realist drama pits the life of a street-smart kid into a desperate situation in an exceptionally stressful and heartwrenching sequence of events that digs into the true worth and price of a human being in the world.

#13 Annihilation

Directed by Alex Garland
Written by Alex Garland Based on the book by Jeff VanderMeer
Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson

Synopsis: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.

Verdict: Stunning and hypnotising, Alex Garland’s science fiction take on the Heart of Darkness narrative delivers high concept ideas and themes, realised through a strangely empathetic landscape that illustrates a beautiful experience into the human psyche. Combining Tarkovsky’s visual poetry, with Lovecraftian horror to create a film that’s almost indescribable.

#14 Widows

Directed by Steve McQueen
Written by Gillian Flynn & Steve McQueen Based on “Widows” by Lynda La Plante
Starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki

Synopsis: Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Verdict: Mainstream cinema has been begging for a new crime epic for years now, and finally Steve McQueen manage to deliver. Widows is sprawling with characters across social class and upbringing to deliever a story that continuously streamrolls complex talking points into a thrilling twisting and mature narrative.

#15 Assassination Nation

Directed by Sam Levinson
Written by Sam Levinson
Starring Odessa Young, Abra, Hari Nef

Synopsis: After a malicious data hack exposes the secrets of the perpetually American town of Salem, chaos decends and four girls must fight to survive, while coping with the hack themselves.

Verdict: With a marketing campaign leaving many alienated before the film had even been released, Assassination Nation might be the most misunderstood film of the year. With targets scattershot all across political leaning, age and gender, Assassination Nation feels like the work of Brent Easton Ellis and Chuck Philanuck for the social media age, sharply cutting through privacy invasion and generational discourse that attacks all equally, climaxing in a sequence that would make Brian DePalma envious.

#16 Mandy

Directed by Panos Cosmatos
Written by Panos Cosmatos & Aaron Stewart-Ann
Starring Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache

Synopsis: The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiraling, surreal rampage of vengeance.

Verdict: Idyllic dreamscape turns into apocalyptic nightmare, as an unleashed Nicolas Cage becomes hellbent on revenge. Hallucinogenic in scope, vile in content but poetic and methodical in tone, Mandy is a film that beats to it’s own unique tune, crafting a entrancing spell before delivering on a trailblazing final act that is a balance between being tragic and hardcore as ****.

#17 Thoroughbreds

Directed by Cory Finley
Written by Cory Finley
Starring Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin

Synopsis: Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems-no matter what the cost.

Verdict: Bleak and pitch black comedy involving a murderous mixture of privilege and angst, with Cory Finley’s script working hard to continually second guess and twist sympathies with it’s two lead performances, leading to a very acidic and cold-blooded tale that’ll leave you reeling well after the credits have rolled.

#18 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
Written by Phil Lord & Rodney Rothman
Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld

Synopsis: Teen Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man of his reality, crossing his path with five counterparts from another dimensions to stop a threat for all realities.

Verdict: Five Spider-Men for the price of one, Spider-Verse boasting not only the most imaginative visual style in cinema this year, but also the most fluid storytelling ever dedicated to a comic book film. Beginning in a place of rule breaking and continually adding fun turns from there, Spider-Verse succeeds on almost all levels even when the wheels threaten to fall of the track.

#19 Hereditary

Directed by Ari Aster
Written by Ari Aster
Starring Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Alex Wolff

Synopsis: After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

Verdict: Immediately disquieting and alarming, Ari Aster’s debut film creates an inescapable descent into despair and anxiety amongst a dysfunction family unit. Featuring one of the most head-spinning first act twists, the film begins to slowly unravel, before whole-heartedly committing to the most extreme version of events imaginable, pushing it’s subtext to the absolute limit of horror.

#20 Destroyer

Directed by Karyn Kusama
Written by Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
Starring Nicole Kidman, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan

Synopsis: A police detective reconnects with people from an undercover assignment in her distant past in order to make peace.

Verdict: Scorched-earth pulpy revenge take starring a disheveled but trail blazing Nicole Kidman on the path for redemption. Destroyer is simply damn good filmmaking, featuring a showstopping multi-block mid-film shoot-out to a fluent twisting, looping narrative, Karyn Kusama’s film is often nasty and pessimistic like the best detective dramas, but closes on a wonderfully bittersweet note that strikes through it’s pitch black heart.

#21 The Death of Stalin

Directed by Armando Iannucci
Written by Armando Iannucci, David Schneider & Ian Martin
Based on the comic book by Fabien Nury & Thierry Robin
Starring Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Simon Russell Beale

Synopsis: Moscow, 1953. After being in power for nearly 30 years, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin takes ill and quickly dies. Now the members of the Council of Ministers scramble for power.

Verdict: Ingenious farce from The Thick of It’s Armando Iannucci that manages to paint self-obsessed leadership and petty vain power plays into something both relevant and timeless. Armed with a razor sharp script and a host of character performers charged with broard archetypes to clash with one another, The Death of Stalin is the most razor sharp comedy in recent memory.

#22 Shoplifters

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Written by Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Mayu Matsuoka

Synopsis: A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find outside in the cold.

Verdict: Cementing Koreeda as the true successor to Yasujirō Ozu, Shoplifters is an observational drama of a dysfunctional family unit that balances the true nuance of family bonds with a challenging darkness that lies true to many. Offering just enough background information to work out the backstory and dynamic of the family throughout, Shoplifters is a rewarding, yet completely heartbreaking film.

#23 Suspiria

Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Written by David Kajganich Based on the characters by Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi
Starring Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth

Synopsis: A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.

Verdict: More a cover version of the Argento classic than a simple retelling, Guadagnino’s film oozes period autmosphere with pure expressive excess, combined with a Thom Yorke score to die for, to create a supernatural epic that’s as singular and sublime as it’s ancestor.

#24 Leave No Trace

Directed by Debra Granik
Written by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
Based on the book “My Abandonment” by Peter Rock
Starring Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster, Dana Millican

Synopsis: A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.

Verdict: Proving mature drama doesn’t need excessive content, Debra Granik’s film is a stripped down, minimalist examination of a father and daughter relationship that has been affected by trauma passed down through the years. Moving towards a conclusion that finds difficult truths in the search for real happiness, Granik entrusts the two leads to enhabit the true beating heart of the film, making for a very understated, but richly moving experience.

#25 Blindspotting

Directed by Carlos López Estrada
Written by Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal
Starring Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar

Synopsis: While on probation, a man begins to re-evaluate his relationship with his volatile best friend.

Verdict: Really honest and charming story of present day Oakland, swirling around a number of hot points in regards to race relations. Blindspotting isn’t an angry film, but in fact a deeply understanding one. Using humour to communicate whilst taking a reality to many very seriously, the film is successful at being often surprising and illustrative of abstract concepts such as communities and heritage. The big sleeper hit of the year that you won’t want to snooze on.

Last edited by Foggy; 02-27-2019 at 05:17 PM.
  Reply With Quote
Thanks given by:
Al_The_Strange (01-07-2019), Heinz-Klett (01-03-2019), Hucksta G (02-14-2019), jacobsever (01-02-2019), Karmasux96 (01-11-2019), Lepidopterous (01-08-2019), Mandalorian (01-26-2019), The Debts (01-02-2019), TheDZA (01-08-2019), willtopower (02-13-2019)