By Audrey Ruppert
It’s that time of year again - where we list the top (and bottom) movie picks for 2018. While I did manage to see a whopping 50 films or so this year, I didn’t manage to see everything, so if I missed one of your favorites, apologies!
A touching, quiet biopic by Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash,” “La La Land”) which tells the story of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. The film focuses on Armstrong’s private life and the tense family dynamic between Armstrong and his wife, portrayed by Claire Foy. This film reminds us of the human cost of innovation and progress.
Funny, poignant and powerful, this Spike Lee and Jordan Peele collaboration is surprisingly slick. It follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), Colorado Springs’ first black police officer, and his undercover sting operation to infiltrate the KKK with the help of his white, Jewish partner Flip (Adam Driver). “Blakkklansman” will make you laugh and think at the same time.
A truly terrifying tale, with a horrific message: the sins of past generations are hereditary, and you cannot escape the traumas passed down to you by your parents and grandparents. The film follows Annie Graham, a professional miniature sculptor, who makes model dolls and dollhouses for a living. By the end, we realize that Graham and her family never had any more power to dictate their lives than the dolls she painted.
Stalin and his cohort are reimagined as wisecrackers and buffoons with English and American accents; Steve Buscemi as Khrushchev is the real highlight. When Stalin dies, those around him (some more intelligent than others) must vie for power. The “reformer,” Kruschev must pit himself against the evil Beria, while tolerating the idiotic Molotov - Stalin’s formal replacement - and managing Stalin’s spoiled and unruly children. This is probably the funniest film of the year.
“A Quiet Place” comes from a novel concept that seems to have spawned numerous spinoffs, like “Bird Box.” The monsters in this post-apocalyptic thriller are blind but have an excellent sense of hearing. Make a sound, and they will kill you. If you can get past the fact that the main character is that guy from “The Office,” this real-life husband-and-wife duo (John Krasinski, Emily Blunt) will have you on the edge of your seat and afraid to crunch your popcorn as they attempt to protect their family in complete silence.
These two foreign films were so powerful that I simply had to mention them. They are available with English subtitles.
“Kler” is Polish for clergy. This lineup of Polish A-listers broke the Polish box office and sparked a national conversation about the abuses of the Catholic Church, which still holds tremendous power and influence in Poland. “Kler” follows three priests who span the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, from a senior official to a lowly lay priest, and exposes the corruption and abuse all three have participated in, but from a sympathetic perspective, which examines causes as well as effects. “Kler” is powerful and an absolute must-see.
When asked by cinema patrons what “Black 47” was, I replied, “Irish ‘Rambo’ set in 1847.” When an Irishman returns home from fighting an English war and finds his family dead and his countrymen abused and stripped of their identity, he embarks on a one-man mission to avenge his loved ones and kill everyone responsible. Pretty impressive considering all he had was a musket that must be reloaded after every shot. Half the film is in Gaelic with English subtitles, and the other half is in English.
A poignant film for our time, “The Post” reminded us of the dire need for free speech and freedom of the press. The film focuses on the owner of the Washington Post (Meryl Streep) during the Nixon era and her firebrand editor (Tom Hanks) who face potential criminal indictment for revealing vital information about the corrupt administration through the newspaper.
“Sorry to Bother You” is a wacky, off-the-wall take on racism and the evils of a society, which glorifies corporations. While the film lacks direction and coherence, there are gems of brilliance here hidden in the rough. Watch with an open mind (it is strange) and you might just enjoy it.
“The Darkest Minds” and “Fifty Shades Freed” win my worst film of the year awards. The former is hopefully, but doubtfully, the last of a series of bland, young adult, post-apocalyptic drivel spawned in the already questionable wake of “The Hunger Games,” which makes little logical sense and is hardly compelling. The latter was watched with my boyfriend; we hoped this would be in the “so bad it’s funny” category - it wasn’t. It was just bad. What happened to the “racy” (it was never even that racy) source material? It was a badly botched kidnapping drama that ends, terrifyingly, in a sociopath procreating with a brainless woman who lacks personality.
READ MORE REVIEWS FROM 2018:
The Highly Anticipated “Widows” Nearly Lives Up To The Hype, But Not Quite
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” Is Nothing New, But Still Fun
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” Offers Nothing Interesting, But Nothing Egregious
“Red Sparrow” Is An Experience More Than Entertainment
“Black Panther” Illustrates The Struggle Present Throughout Black Literature And Social Movements