The year that just ended was prolific regarding good productions, choosing the best movies is then a hard job for a critic. However, here is my personal selection of the ten best for 2018 plus some that were very close to making to the list too. This inventory only includes films commercially released in Montreal. In ascending order, the ten best are:
10: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (USA). Directed by Bryan Singer. A brilliant biopic of Queen’s Fred Mercury, featuring a solid performance by Rami Malek. Great music too!
9: A FANTASTIC WOMAN (Chile). Directed by Sebastian Lelio. Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, this movie presents an emotionally-charged view of the life of a transgender woman and her struggle for love and dignity in a sexist society.
8: EYE ON JULIET (Canada). Directed by Kim Nguyen. An original story where love and technology cross paths.
7: VICE (USA). Directed by Adam McKay. Dick Cheney: the power behind the throne during George W. Bush. An intense and at times ironic look at the backrooms of American politics.
6: WIDOWS (USA). Directed by Steve McQueen III. In the absence of the male members of the gang, their widows take their place, with a vengeance.
5: THE WIFE (USA). Directed by Bjorn Runge. A Nobel Prize winner for Literature who is found to have some unexpected secrets.
4: GREEN BOOK (USA). Directed by Peter Farrelly. A black pianist in New York, hires an Italian-American driver for a tour of the Deep South. Despite their differences, the two would find common ground.
3: ISLE OF DOGS (USA). Directed by Wes Anderson. A great animation movie set in a dystopic Japan of the future: the film has Anderson’s surreal touch, but it is also an ironic and critical view of abusive authority.
2: BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (USA). Directed by Drew Goddard. Unfortunately, this movie didn’t have a long run in Montreal. With a narrative that resembles that of “Memento” for the interlocking of events and times, it features a beautiful, although violent story, well-narrated and performed.
1: IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (USA). Directed by Barry Jenkins. This emotionally-charged film set in Harlem in the early 1970s, tells the love story of a black couple challenged by prejudice, racism, and also, the lack of understanding from some of the woman’s own family.
I should also consider some other remarkable films released in Montreal this year that deserve to be among the best movies of 2018, in no particular order they are:
A STAR IS BORN (USA, Bradley Cooper), BEN IS BACK (USA, Peter Hedges), THE INCREDIBLES 2 (USA, Brad Bird), WHAT THEY HAD (USA, Elizabeth Chomko), SHOPLIFTERS (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda), FIRST MAN (USA, Damien Chazelle), THE FRONT RUNNER (USA, Jason Reitman), I FEEL PRETTY (USA, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein), DON’T WORRY HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT (USA, Gus Van Sant), AT ETERNITY’S GATE (USA, Julian Schnabel), WELCOME TO MARWEN (USA, Robert Zemeckis), SMALLFOOT (USA, Karey Kirkpatrick), OCEAN’S EIGHT (USA, Gary Ross), FOXTROT (Israel, Samuel Maoz), THE DEATH OF STALIN (U.K., Armando Iannucci), THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN (USA, David Lowery), COLD WAR (Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski), THE INSULT (Lebanon, Ziad Doueiri).
Not surprisingly, American-made movies dominate the list with only a few exceptions. This dominance is basically a market situation, in turn, produced by economic power, not an indication of superior quality, in fact, those attending film festivals could attest at the high quality of productions from many other parts of the world. In any case, many of these U.S. productions carry critical views of American policies, society, and politics, which also made them interesting.