(Editor’s note: Since December/January is a time for everyone to make year-end best-of lists, we asked our staff to do the same. Next up is Grants Coordinator Dana's top ten of 2018!)
1. Happy as Lazzaro (dir. Alice Rohrwacher)
I enjoyed Alice Rohrwacher's last film, The Wonders, about a family of bee-keepers in Italy, but nothing prepared me for the beauty, joy, and pain of Happy as Lazzaro, my surprise favorite of the year. It's a fairy tale out of time, but with sharp insights into contemporary global economics (seriously). Read nothing about it (spoilers would really ruin this one) and watch it on Netflix immediately.
2. Support the Girls (dir. Andrew Bujalski)
The sweetest, nicest film of the year. Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson and Shayna McHale are all pitch-perfect as T&A bar employees just trying to make it through today - and helping their friends do the same.
3. Leave No Trace (dir. Debra Granik)
It's a crime that it took Debra Granik 8 years to release another feature (especially since her first, Winter's Bone, launched Jennifer Lawrence's career and was nominated for several Oscars), but I'm so glad Leave No Trace is here now. A quiet, profoundly moving film about parenting and mental illness.
4. Shakedown (dir. Leilah Weinraub)
Not officially released in the US yet, Shakedown is an intensely personal documentary by artist/designed Leilah Weinraub about the Black lesbian club scene of the early 2000's. The film is made up of Weinraub's archival footage, and provides the world with a peek into a subculture that created a world of their own.
5. Burning (dir. Lee Chang-dong)
The ending of the year, that leaves audiences with a huge, audacious question mark. Another film that is much better the less you read about it, so don't let the runtime scare you (it was the longest film at this year's MFF) and dive in.
6. Two Plains & A Fancy (dirs. Lev Kalman & Whitney Horn)
The two plains and a fancy of the title are the three main characters, who have traveled from New York to the Old West in 1893 in search of a hot spring. But the plot is really beside the point, as directing team Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn create a psychedelic alternate history with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
7. The Favourite (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone are all fantastic as the three tightly-bound, fiercely ambitious women, who have a fascinating amount of intimate bonds with one another. But Nicholas Hoult, as the scheming, bewigged Harley stole every scene for me, and elicited howls of laughter from the audience.
8. Madeline's Madeline (dir. Josephine Decker)
What are the bounds of muse-dome, and what does that mean for creators? Josephine Decker's ingenious Madeline's Madeline approaches that question with the story of teenaged Madeline (Helena Howard, who will, if this world is fair, become a breakout star) whose experiences with race, mental illness, and family are appropriated by her acting coach (Molly Parker).
9. Unsane (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
A mid-year release from Steven Soderbergh (so glad you're back, Steve!), Unsane cleverly plays with the tropes and boundaries of the thriller, questioning the "crazed woman" stereotype. Claire Foy's Sawyer is stalked, institutionalized, and then maybe stalked again? It's a harrowing ride where you are unsure where you're going.
10. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (dir. Desiree Akhavan)
Heartbreaking without being maudlin, Cameron Post is the story of Cameron, who, after being discovered in flagrante with her best gal pal after prom, is sent to a gay conversion camp in the early 90s. Cameron and her friends at camp are young, confused, and angry at their families, but they don't let it destroy them. They decide to build something new.