(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 Membership Manager Kristopher's top eighteen movies of 2018!)
Every year the narrowing-down process is painful. I’ve decided not to put myself through it this year. (Even though this IS a narrowed down version of my favorites list). So, here are best films of the year for Kristopher Pollard - keeping in mind I haven’t seen If Beale Street Could Talk yet, which I’m already assuming will make me cry all the tears.
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS - dir. Coen Brothers
Tom Waits is an old gold prospector? Of course he is. Why hasn’t this happened before? This is one of several short films that take place in the old west. Incredibly entertaining.
BLACKkKLANSMAN - dir. Spike Lee
This is Do The Right Thing-level Spike Lee. Humor and character and a punch in the guts. With a particular visual style that makes the whole project unique to the iconic director.
BLACK PANTHER - dir. Ryan Coogler
There’s nothing I can say about this film that hasn’t been said better by many others. But, when just the costumes alone make you cheer and have goosebumps…That’s a good movie.
BORDER - dir. Ali Abbasi
I'll take all the adult realist fables you can crank out. It appeals to the side that wants real emotion and a gritty story. It also appeals to the side that wants fantasy, and magic, and unicorn tea parties*. Also a loud shout out to the make-up artists for this film. Unbelievable.
*there are no unicorn tea parties in this film.
BURNING - dir. Lee Chang-dong
Based on a story by Haruki Murakami - great start. An intense slow-burn thriller with strange tone throughout, which adds so much to the story. Steven Yeun is very impressive as the cold, could-be villain. Possibly my favorite of the year.
HALE COUNTY, THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING - dir RaMell Ross
Stunningly beautiful observation of life in a small town in Alabama. Ross started as a photographer, which is clear from the get-go, and is now moving toward being a thoughtful, compassionate and stylistic filmmaker. One of the best debut films in years.
I AM NOT A WITCH - dir. Rungano Nyoni
A young child is told to choose between being a witch or a goat. You know? That old story. I love films with just a touch of the fantastic. Told with humor and powerful imagery. Must-see.
IDEAL HOME - dir. Andrew Fleming
On the surface the film follows a familiar comedy template, but the chemistry and banter between Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan is top shelf charming. A very funny film with heart and an unhealthy amount of Taco Bell product placement that worked perfectly on me. Double decker taco supreme, please!
MANDY - dir. Panos Cosmatos
Oh boy…I…What?...What’s a Chedder Goblin? That’s a big chainsaw - oh! That one is way bigger….. Is Nicholas Cage crying or screaming AT a bottle of booze?!
MR. SOUL! - dir. Melissa Haizlip, Sam Pollard
The life of this cable show from 1968 - 1973 is solidified in the annals of black culture on television. With appearances from Stevie Wonder, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Al Green, Maya Angelou, and Muhammad Ali, this show had icons from every realm of American culture. A great discovery.
PET NAMES - dir. Carol Brandt
I love a good character-driven, conversation movie. Two friends - ex-partners - take a road trip and talk. And there’s a fat pug. I’m. In.
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA - dir. Stephen Nomura Schible
Elegant and artful doc about an amazing composer. You can watch this movie with your eyes closed and still appreciate it. But, don’t. Because it’s also visually very interesting. Beautiful music and a very interesting musician who creates it all with passion and talent.
SCARY MOTHER - dir. Ana Urushadze
A slowly building creepy film about a mother’s obsession with the book she’s writing. It’s like if you were tricked you into watching a family drama, but then you’re like, “Hey, wait a second! Is this a super trippy weirdo movie?” and David Lynch pops out of the bushes and screams, “Gotcha!”
SHIRKERS - dir. Sandi Tan
The story of a burgeoning filmmaker and the mystery that surrounds her first film. This doc has all the elements that make a great movie - interesting characters, surprising twists, etc. But, this film also makes my list of films about films that were never made/finished that I would LOVE to see.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU - dir. Boots Riley
A fantastical film about a telemarketer? They said it couldn’t be done! I can’t wait to see more films from Boots Riley.
THELMA - dir. Joachim Trier
The struggle between religion and sexuality plays out with supernatural results in this Norwegian film by Joachim Trier (Louder Than Bombs).
WESTERN - dir. Valeska Grisebach
My favorite new genre is Films About Masculinity Created by Women. This modern take on a western has many of the familiar elements, but with a very different perspective and sensibility. I was delighted and surprised by this tense and thoughtful film.
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE - dir. Lynne Ramsay
An incredibly fresh take on the “hitman movie.” Artful and sympathetic with an appreciation for human life that is missing from most films of this nature. Lynne Ramsay is always impressive and Joaquin Phoenix isn’t (editor's note) - however this is one of the times he is. Another possible contender for my top favorite of the year.
(You’d think with all these films I wouldn’t need an Honorable Mention list…but…)
Honorable mentions: RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Eighth Grade, The Greenaway Alphabet, and A Futile and Stupid Gesture