Film Hub Members’ Top 19 Films of 2018

As another tumultuous year comes to a close we invited our members in the South West to look back on the year in film and share their top 5 films of 2018.

30 members joined the Film Hub team in sharing their lists and with a total of 85 films in the long list, from mainstream blockbusters to obscure documentaries to classics seen again on the big screen it covered a broad spectrum of cinema and makes a great viewing list for the Christmas break!

We have listed the top 19 films and were so pleased so see that (a personal favourite) Chloe Zhao’s exceptionally beautiful and genre-bending drama, The Rider takes the top position.

1: The Rider (8 votes)

THE RIDER

Dir: Chloe Zhao | USA

After suffering a near fatal head injury, young South Dakota Sioux cowboy Brady (Brady Jandreau, a rodeo star on whose real-life story the film is based on) is told never to ride again – but the sport is his lifeline as well as his passion – and he struggles to find his place within a world where the phrase ride or die takes on real, high stakes meaning.

Stunning, contemplative, inspired direction by Chloé Zhao which immersed me in a world I know little about… I think that Brady Jundreau’s presence just took the experience to another level.

– Maddy Probst, Film Hub South West & Watershed

This is what cinema’s are for: stunning and intimate cinematography, stories that question everything we think we know about humanity and performances so fierce we can feel it.

-Tara Judah, Watershed

2: Cold War (7 votes)

COLD WAR

Dir: Pawel Pawlikowski | France/UK

In the ruins of post-war Poland, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and Zula (Joanna Kulig) fall deeply, obsessively and destructively in love. As performing musicians forced to play into the Soviet propaganda machine, they dream of escaping to the creative freedom of the West. But one day, as they spot their chance to make a break for Paris, both make a split decision that will mark their lives forever.

Classic combination of taut story telling, beautifully composed images and wonderful use of music. It took me back to the black and white Eastern European classics of my student days discovering the power of cinema.

– Brian Clay, Moviola

 

Despite its immense sadness, this film lifted my heart in a way that modern love stories in cinema have stopped doing. A stunning soundtrack that enhanced and perfectly melded with its visuals and a great case study on the effectiveness of simplicity.

-Liz Chege, Come the Revolution

3: BlacKkKlansman (6 votes)

BLACKKKLANSMAN

Dir: Spike Lee | USA

John David Washington (the son of Lee regular Denzel Washington) stars as Ron Stallworth, the real-life black detective who went undercover in the late 70s in the Ku Klux Klan. Though he communicates with members on the phone (even managing to dupe the Grand Wizard, David Duke, played by a skin-crawlingly good Topher Grace), he sends his white, Jewish partner (Adam Driver) to ‘stand in’ for him at meetings and rallies.

Is it a buddy movie? Retro cop show? NO It’s shocking, sophisticated and very clever.

– Susannah Shaw, Curzon Cinema & Arts

As an expat American who grew up in a multiracial neighbourhood, I was bowled over by Spike Lee’s brilliant satire. It reminded me that while race relations have come a long way in the US, simmering racial tensions and inequality still exist, made far worse with Trump stoking the flames of far-right white racial resentment.

-Donna Anton, Hayle Film Club

4: Lady Bird (5 votes)

LADY BIRD

Dir: Greta Gerwig | USA

Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan as confused, precocious teenager Christine – or, as she prefers to be called, Lady Bird. She’s in her last year at a Catholic school, and dreams of a different life of cosmopolitan culture and Ivy League universities on the East Coast, lofty aspirations that cause clashes with her mother (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working tirelessly to keep her family afloat.

 

A perfectly judged coming-of-age comedy-drama whose mother-daughter relationship, so beautifully depicted by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, had me laughing and crying in equal measure.

-Donna Anton, Hayle Film Club

=5: You Were Never Really Here, Leave No Trace, Three Billboards & Summer 1993 (4 votes each)

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Dir: Lynne Ramsey | France/USA

Joe (Phoenix, who won the Best Actor prize in Cannes for his brilliant performance) is a Gulf War veteran turned assassin for hire who rescues young girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade. When Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov), a senator’s daughter, is taken, he’s contacted to take care of it – but Joe’s escape plan suddenly derails, unleashing a maelstrom of violence…

The work of three masters (Ramsay / Phoenix / Greenwood) at the top of their respective games working in perfect harmony.

-Neil Fox, The Cinematologists & Falmouth University College

LEAVE NO TRACE

Dir: Debra Granik | USA

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie gives an incredible breakthrough performance as Tom, a teenager who has been living in the Oregon woods with her troubled father Will (Ben Foster), from an early age. Camped in the forest, they are peaceful, lo-tech survivalists, perfectly attuned to each other and the natural world. When a chance encounter blows their cover and social services intervene, the pair escape on a perilous journey back to the wilderness, where they are finally forced to confront their conflicting desires and re-evaluate their relationship…

A brilliant follow-up to Winter’s Bone with superb under-played performances from the two leads.

– Brian Clay, Moviola

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI

Dir: Martin McDonagh | USA

Frances McDormand delivers a blistering performance in Martin McDonagh’s scandalously funny drama about the battle between a grieving mother and the local head of law enforcement.

It’s been seven months since her daughter was murdered and foul-mouthed, tough-as-nails Mildred (McDormand) is fed up. Outraged that the investigation has gone quiet, she sets about provoking the local police department with a series of messages plastered on three billboards outside her home town. So begins a rapidly escalating and very public feud between Mildred and venerated community leader Police Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).

 

Beautifully written and acted, breathtaking, couldn’t even bear to leave to go to the toilet.

-Malisa Sledmere, No 6 Cinema

 

Excellent acting and excellent story!

-Curtis Fulcher, Bridport Arts Centre

SUMMER 1993

Dir: Carla Simon | Spain

In summer 1993, following the death of her parents, six year old Frida leaves Barcelona and her grandparents for the countryside where she will now live with her uncle and aunt. Exploring an unfamiliar and estranging rural world, still burdened by the trauma of her profound and confusing loss, she struggles to settle into the new family dynamic.

Beautifully evocative landscape of rural Spain that works as a gentle hand to hold for a young girl whose mother has recently passed away in a cathartic film that reminds you of the joys of being a child.

-Oliver Treasure-Smith, Curzon Cinema & Arts

Clear eyed, open hearted, devastatingly emotional. Showed the fragility and the ruthlessness of children. Had to sit in the cinema for half an hour after the film finished to have a good cry.

-Anna Navas, Plymouth Arts Centre

=9: Shoplifters, A Quiet Place, In the Fade, The Wife, Faces Places, Pin Cushion, A Fantastic Woman, Sorry to Bother You, Roma, Black Panther & A Star is Born (3 votes each)

SHOPLIFTERS

Dir: Hirokazu Koreeda | Japan

Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, Like Father Like Son) returns with this Palme d’Or-winning masterpiece about the forces holding an impoverished family together on the outskirts of Tokyo.

One of Hirokazu Koreeda’s best, revisiting his family theme with inspired subtle story telling

-Brian Clay, Moviola

A QUIET PLACE

Dir: John Krasinski | USA

John Krasinski writes, directs and stars in this nerve-jangling, clammy-palmed thriller about a family who must survive in a world where the slightest sound brings out deadly monsters.

One of the best cinematic experiences of the year.

-Ti Singh, Film Hub South West & Bristol Bad Film Club

IN THE FADE

Dir: Fatih Akin | Germany/France

Diane Kruger picked up the Best Actress prize in Cannes for her role in this riveting thriller, winner of the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, about a grieving woman searching for justice.

I was BLOWN AWAY!

-Luke Doran, Curzon Cinema & Arts

THE WIFE

Dir: Bjorn Runge | Sweden/USA/UK

Glenn Close gives a truly masterful performance as a woman who has spent forty years sacrificing her own talent, dreams and ambitions to support those of her husband – until long-kept secrets are threatened to be exposed…

Glenn Close had better get an Oscar

-Helen Ostle, LA Cinema

FACES PLACES

Dir: Agnes Varda | France

Iconic filmmaker Agnès Varda teams up with street artist and photographer JR as they embark on a road trip like no other to examine what it takes to make a meaningful piece of art.

For the sheer joy of Agnes Varda and JR dancing through the Louvre (in a wheelchair), for Varda’s eternal curiosity and for the simple (and rare) understanding of the power of the image.

-Anna Navas, Plymouth Arts Centre

So thoughtful and sensitive. Loved the intergenerational exchange of ideas and life experiences.

-Malisa Sledmere, No6 Cinema

PIN CUSHION

Dir: Deborah Haywood | UK

British writer/director Deborah Haywood’s debut feature tells the heartbreaking yet charming story of a mother and daughter who struggle to escape bullies, and the terrible strain it puts on them and their relationship.

Such a visually interesting film about a troubled mother and daughter relationship. (I preferred it to Lady Bird)

-Ellen Cheshire, Kings Theatre Portsmouth

A FANTASTIC WOMAN

Dir: Sebastián Lelio | Chile/Germany/Spain/USA

Winner of the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars®, Chilean director Sebastián Lelio follows up his 2013 hit Gloria with this luminous and life-affirming gem about a young transgender woman struggling to live with her own grief – and the prejudice she suffers – after the death of her lover.

One of the most powerful films of the year for me. A study of grief, love and defiance. Performance of the year from Daniela Vega.

Anna Navas, Plymouth Arts Centre

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

Dir: Boots Riley | USA

Musician and activist Boots Riley makes an incredible debut with this breathlessly inventive and funny fantastical satire about a black telemarketer who uses his ‘white voice’ to get a promotion in a horrible corporation.

So fresh and different; managing to highlight so many current issues without being heavy handed.

-Helen Ostle, LA Cinema

Radical, fresh and thought-proving. Pure hip hop with a healthy dose of surrealism.

-Maddy Probst, Film Hub South West & Watershed

ROMA

Dir: Alfonso Cuaron | Mexico

Set in the early 1970s, the film is a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón’s upbringing in Mexico City, and follows the life of a live-in housekeeper to a middle-class family.

Every shot is picturesque and considered. I feel Cuaron offloads some colonial guilt in this very personal film. In addition, it has the best soundscape of any film released this year.

-Neil Ramjee, Moviola

 

Another rare film that I will treat myself to a second viewing of. I would have liked this to be on the Roses screen, but will have to make do with Netflix instead.

-Patrick Bliss, The Roses Theatre

BLACK PANTHER

Dir: Ryan Coogler | USA

After the King of Wakanda dies, his son T’Challa returns home to the secretive African nation to succeed him. His succession is challenged, however, and he finds himself drawn into a conflict that could threaten his entire kingdom..

‘Black Panther’ is a powerful glimpse into what is possible when we don’t veer too far from important traditions but maintain a firm grasp on the modernities of the present.

-Liz Chege, Come the Revolution

A STAR IS BORN

Dir: Bradley Cooper

In this new take on the tragic love story, Bradley Cooper stars as seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers and falls in love with struggling singer Ally (Lady Gaga). Tempted to give up on her dream to make it big as a singer, Jack coaxes her into the spotlight, and the two create a musical powerhouse. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as behind the scenes Jack fights a battle with his own demons.

I know, I know it’s cheesy but it was so much better than I thought it would be.

-Helen Ostle, LA Cinema

Raw and compassionate love and loss story done justice by brilliant performances all round.

-Oliver Treasure-Smith

That’s it for the top 19 films of 2018 but for the curious among you, you can view the whole list and voting here.

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