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BEST OF 2018 / Film


THE DRUNK MONKEYS

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2018


10. UNLOVABLE

Image © Duplass Brothers Productions

Image © Duplass Brothers Productions

Unlovable bounces with the unbridled energy of Charlene deGuzman, who also wrote the film, drawing on her own experiences with sex and love addiction. While in recovery, she meets a grizzled loner, played by John Hawkes in a supremely John Hawkes role, and begins to connect with someone (largely through some seriously kick-ass garage rock jam sessions) for the first time in years. But rather than use addiction as a backdrop for a rom-com, the film explores just how hard true intimacy is to find, and why we so easily trade it for whoever comes along next.

Matt Guerrero, Film Editor

9. EIGHTH GRADE

Image © A24

Image © A24

Bo Burnham’s debut film is as effective a coming of age story as it is a horror story, dredging up some long-buried trauma or social faux pas for nearly anyone who watches it. But what makes the film feel so true is not the icky particulars of teenage angst, but the boundless hope of its lead, the perfectly cast Elsie Fisher. Kayla’s world may occasionally collapse around her, but she retains an optimism that’s enough to make you wish you could do junior high school all over again. Actually, no. No, it doesn’t. Not in a million fucking years.

Matt Guerrero, Film Editor

8. THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN

Image © Fox Searchlight Pictures

Image © Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Old Man & the Gun is a good ol’ yarn, the type your grandfather would tell. This laidback, romantic affair about an aging bank robber possesses a myth-like quality. While the narrative’s pacing may be slow for some people, the cast’s charms make up for it. Magic especially shines between veterans Redford and Spacek. By not taking the material too seriously, director David Lowery explores topics such as aging and love with a dose of fun. When a film keeps a smile on your face the whole running time, it’s bound to stay with you long after the credits roll.

Sean Woodard, Staff Writer

7. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

Image © Annapurna Pictures

Image © Annapurna Pictures

Not only is Sorry to Bother You one of the best horror movies of the year, but it also happens to be one of the best comedies of the year, as well. Combining searing, intensely clever social commentary with the basics of a mad scientist/monster movie, Sorry to Bother You benefits from a casual attitude about its constant weird energy. It also benefits from exceptional performances by Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson (who is poised at this point to take over the world), Jermaine Fowler, and Armie Hammer. Sorry to Bother You is physical evidence of a dark comedy that gets literally every requirement of that concept right. It never stops forcing you to pick up your jaw from the floor.

Gabriel Ricard, Staff Writer

6. WE THE ANIMALS

Image © The Orchard

Image © The Orchard

The directorial debut of Jeremiah Zagar might be referred to as "the Latino Moonlight" by some, but that would be almost criminally reductive. We the Animals tells the story of a Latinx family of five, living in poverty, and struggling to hold onto one other. An equally clear-eyed and sentimental look at the relationships in a family, based on a memoir by Justin Torres. The movie centers on the youngest son Jonah, who is just discovering his sexuality, which alienates him from his far more macho older brothers and father. But the ensemble is equally important. Sheila Vand and Raul Castillo play Jonah's parents, a couple who despite their love for one another, might not be able to make it work. There's violence, anger, and all sorts of ugly behavior by all involved in the family. But the love between them is real, too. Perhaps you can relate.

Ryan Roach, Worth A Click: A Movie Review Podcast

5. ANNIHILATION

Image © Paramount Pictures

Image © Paramount Pictures

Few books have gripped me in recent years as much as Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, a glorious mix of puzzles boxes and the surreal. Alex Garland’s Annihilation is a loose adaptation of the first film, maintaining its tone and general ideas while using a different plot. Yet this loose adaptation manages to capture the feeling of unease in Vandeermeer’s novel, specifically the sense of body terror: what you thought was you may no longer be you; unfortunately, you’ll be aware enough to experience this transformation. For all the moments of horror, Garland’s film also captures beauty, sometimes merging it with disgust as he does in one sequence involving an old base camp, a corpse, and a new natural wonder growing out of both. Unbelievable colors and images come from humanity’s decay. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a depressing or uplifting view of what may happen when nature turns on humanity.

Donald McCarthy, Staff Writer

4. A QUIET PLACE

Image © Paramount Pictures

Image © Paramount Pictures

It's been a long time since I chewed my sweater sleeve in anxious horror during a movie, but that's what happened during A Quiet Place (I also left nail marks in my son's knee). I'm not sure how it will translate at home, but seeing this tense of a movie- let alone one with almost no dialogue- in a silent, equally anxious theater was the highlight of my admittedly scant movie going year. Who knew Jim from the Office could deliver such an effective horror show? And props for casting an actual deaf actor for a deaf role; that sort of inclusion is frustratingly rare.

Kolleen Carney Hoepfner, Editor-in-chief

3. WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR

wont.jpg

The idolization of Fred Rogers is understandable, but also a little disconcerting at times. Won’t You Be My Neighbor functions as a tribute to the iconic children’s host and public television advocate. At the same time, the movie also breaks down the almost mythical heights that Rogers has reached in our perception of him. Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a biography that highlights a remarkable human being and his remarkable works. It also reminds us that Fred Rogers was a human being. The great things he did in his life were not because of some magical power that only he possessed. The good in Mr. Rogers exists in most people. Above all else, this incredible documentary reminds us of this fact over and over again.

Gabriel Ricard, Staff Writer

2. ROMA

Image © Netflix

Image © Netflix

The most important shot of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma comes just after Cleo, played by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio, has comforted Pepe, the youngest child of the family she works for, by pretending to be dead alongside of him. The camera pans up, to a clothesline filled with the laundry that we have seen Cleo washing earlier. As the camera tracks we see not only how much work Cleo has to do each day, but we see other clotheslines on other rooftops, and beside them other maids from other families, washing and hanging clothes. With one shot, Cuarón tells us that we are seeing only one of the countless stories from the countless Cleos, each of their lives as filled with miracles and pain as the delicate story that Roma gives us.

Matt Guerrero, Film Editor

  1. THE FAVOURITE

Image © Fox Searchlight Pictures

Image © Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Favourite, a stylized period piece set in Queen Anne’s court, is more lesbian role play than historical reenactment. Complicating the usual Yorgos Lanthimos cynicism (Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Lobster), the film both pities and revels in the empty decadence power breeds, with slow bacchanalian pans across court frivolity and quiet holds on vulnerable exchanges. Alternating between domination and submission, Rachel Weisz as grisly Lady Sarah, Emma Stone as cunning, doe-eyed Abigail, and Olivia Colman as impetuous, tormented Queen Anne are so compellingly human and cinematically badass, it’s impossible to pick a favorite, which is exactly the point.

Shari Caplan, Poet