With cold weather in our midst, what better thing to do than catch up on movie-watching this holiday season? From social justice films revolving around Oakland (“Black Panther,” “Blindspotting” “Sorry to Bother You”) to innovative horror flicks (“Hereditary,” “Annihilation” “Mandy”), 2018 has been an exciting year for cinema.
Take a look at the Emerald’s top five films of 2018.
“Blindspotting:” Beautiful ruminations on race and class in Oakland, California
“Blindspotting,” directed by Carlos López Estrada, is one of the most poetic, socially complex and visually stunning films of the year. The film addresses race and gentrification in Oakland through the complicated friendship between Collin (Daveed Diggs) and Miles (Rafael Casal) who are, real-life friends, Oakland natives and spoken word poets.
The film begins with the dramatic question of whether Collin will get through his last three days of probation without incident. From there, the film continues at a fast, melodic pace through witty, spoken word-style dialogue, dream sequences and constant points of tension between the characters and their ever- changing environment. A can’t-miss!
“Oh Lucy!:” An insightful, humorous look at American xenophobia
Newcomer Atsuko Hirayanagi’s feature debut “Oh Lucy!” is one of the best and most underrated films of the year. Almost like a reversal to “Lost in Translation,” the film discusses American xenophobia and racism from a Japanese perspective such as when Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima) follows her English teacher (Josh Hartnett) to Los Angeles on a romantic whim.
The film is a delight from start to finish, ranging from hysterical to philosophical in mere minutes as Setsuko discovers herself and the world around her.
As the film was barely released in cinemas, many viewers may have missed this charming romantic comedy with a message. One of the only films this year rated 100% fresh on rotten tomatoes, “Oh Lucy!” is not to be overlooked.
“The Favourite:” An art-house comedy with political intentions
“The Favourite,” is one of Yorgos Lanthimos’ most accessible films, an artistic, raunchy comedy set in early 18th century Britain.
Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz star as two women in competition for Queen Anne’s affection. The queen is played by Olivia Colman in one of her best performances to date. While not for everyone, this quirky, modern take on royalty and power — complete with explicit sex scenes and undignified swearing — paints a comparison to today’s politics.
One of the early front-runners for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations, “The Favourite” adds another stunning feature to Lanthimos’ distinctive directorial collection.
“Widows:” A feminist, social justice- themed heist film
“Widows,” Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen’s newest feature, is a socially relevant heist film with a stunning ensemble cast. The films stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki as women widowed after the death of their criminal husbands who form a heist plan to get the justice they rightfully deserve after the death of their criminal husbands.
Fraught with plot twists and transformational acting, “Widows” proves that the heist movie can be a more than an action flick. Set in Chicago, the film uses it’s immoral subject matter to address corruption and race relations in Chicago.
“Widows” is a perfect film for the whole family, with enough thrills and complex character studies for every film viewer!
“Eighth Grade:” A comical observation of life as a teenage girl
“Eighth Grade,” stand-up comedian and Youtuber Bo Burnham's debut feature, is a hilarious, relatable look into the life of an eighth grade girl. Starring newcomer Elsie Fisher as the insecure, Instagram-obsessed Kayla, the film delves into the everyday anxieties and struggles of being a teenage girl in the digital age.
“Eighth Grade” is a must-see for teenagers, their parents and general movie-goers. The film tackles issues of sexual harassment, mental health and the effect of social media on youth culture. Still, the dialogue of the film remains light-hearted and witty, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.