The best films of 2018

The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles)

Although much closer to F for Fake than Citizen Kane, this film is completely fresh and nothing like Welles had done before. Even though the film has been finished by people other than Welles, from what I understand about the history of the project, I doubt the finished product would have looked much different to what we see now. Welles' desire to challenge viewers, to evolve as a filmmaker and create a lasting masterpiece is absolutely fascinating. Essentially we have three Welles characters, that is: Welles portraying two different film directors, and John Huston playing Orson Welles the character. Although directed by Welles, Welles directs the primary film as if he is the editor for a documentary film crew, then there is the film within the film that Welles directs as if he is an artistic avant-garde film director like Antonioni. Although this film is more akin to a parody than a serious effort, it has some absolutely incredible sequences that you wont soon forget. Then there is John Huston's character who is undoubtedly supposed to resemble Welles, he gives a furious raw performance that is genuinely terrifying at times. I found the film to be absolutely mesmirising, a must watch for film fans.

I would also recommend They'll Love Me When I'm Dead. An accompanying documentary to The Other Side of the Wind, this is an insightful piece of work which helps explain the context behind the film and understand why Welles made the decisions he made. The main feeling I felt after watching this was sadness and frustration of how Welles was treated by the American studios after Citizen Kane.  

The Image Book (Jean-Luc Godard)

It's remarkable that Jean-Luc Godard is still regularly creating new films, and even more remarkable is how fascinating they continue to be. Godard has long abandoned some of the more conventional narrative structures his early films used, and his recent output have been very experimental. This film focusses on the construction and deconstruction of film itself, of the roles and responsibilities of cinema and its failure to evolve and tackle social crisis. Godard has famously criticised cinema's failure to appropriately address the Holocaust, and I think this film goes even further in criticising our failure as filmmakers and as human beings in able to fully grasp the medium of cinema in a way appropriate for society.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Coen Brothers)

Having heard that the latest Coen Brothers' film was to be released on Netflix and was to be an anthology style film, I was a little unsure what to expect. The decision to construct a film in an episodic manner allows the Coen Brothers to be at their playful best, constructing and desconstructing characters and Western settings that we are familiar with in ways that are often equally hilarious and terrifying. My favourite segments were "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" and "The Gal Who Got Rattled".

Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson)

As usual, Wes Anderson uses his unmistakenable style to bring to life a cute "escape tale". The colours, imagery and voice characters all add to an enjoyable story, but unfortunately the film never amounts to the levels of greatness apparent in some of my favourites of his, such as Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

The use of close camera shots and intimate mise-en-scene helps build a complex portrayal of family life in modern day Japan. As the film looks at the consumption of humans by capitalism, both in work and overall society, the film questions the purpose of human connections and family, do they consume for similar purposes of self-advancement? The final act felt a little too formal and forced for what had gone before, and prevented this film from being truly great for me.

BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee)

There are sequences in this film that remind us of Lee's fantastic ability as a film director. The combination of stylish editing, music, costumes and cinematography really get the film's energy pumping through you in the film's best moments. Ultimately the narrative proves to be the most restrictive aspect of the film. The story and its characters dabble in greater moralistic questions such as the politics of the black community and what it is like to be a cop, but ultimately these are all tied together too nicely by the end.

You might also be interested in...

Le Mépris Jean-Luc Godard, 1963
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Shoplifters Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018
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Je vous salue Sarajevo Jean-Luc Godard, 1993
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Written by Daniel Metcalf

Daniel Metcalf