1. The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)
2. Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-don, 2018)
3. Lazzaro Felice (Happy as Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
4. Peterloo (Mike Leigh, 2018)
5. The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
6. Au revoir là-haut (See You Up There, Albert Dupontel, 2017)
7. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
8. Manbiki Kazouk (Shoplifters, Kirokazu Koreeda, 2018)
9. Las Herederas (The Heiresses, Marcelo Martinessi, 2018)
10. Diamantino (Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, 2018)

A much better year than last year, that went some way to restoring my faith in cinema

Honorable mentions
Jusqu’à la Garde (Custody, Xavier Legrand, 2017)
Îmi este indiferent daca în istorie vom intra ca barbari (I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, Radu Jude, 2018)
The Old Man and the Gun (David Lowery, 2018)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)
Waldheims Walzer (The Waldheim Waltz, Ruth Beckermann, 2018)

Geronimo Elortegui

Film Reviewer, Editor. Lente Creativo. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Two groups, with the tops and the runner ups.

1. Tops, in alphabetical order
Ang panahon ng halimaw (Season of the Devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)
Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018)
Vergel (Kris Niklison, 2018)

2. Runner-ups in alphabetical order
Avant la fin de l’été (Before Summer Ends, Maryam Goormaghtigh, 2017)
D’après une histoire vraie (Based on a True Story, Roman Polanski, 2017)
Dark River (Clio Barnard, 2017)
Desmadre: Fragmentos de una relación (Mothers, daughters & other issues, Sabrina Farji, 2018)
El ángel (Luis Ortega, 2018)
Esto no es un golpe (Sergio Wolf, 2018)
Fleuve noir (Black Tide, Erick Zonca, 2018)
Gangbyub Hotel (Hotel by the River, Hong Sang-soo, 2018)
Gräns (Border, Ali Abbasi, 2018)
Gueule d’ange (Angel Face, Vanessa Filho, 2018)
In den gängen (In the Aisles, Thomas Stuber, 2018)
La enfermedad de los domingos (Sunday´s Illness, Ramón Salazar, 2018)
Le cahier noir (The Black Book, Valeria Sarmiento, 2018)
Les garçons sauvages (The Wild Boys, 2017)
Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018)
Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017)
Mutafukaz (MFKZ, Shôjirô Nishimi and Guillaume Renard, 2017)
Newton (Amit V. Masurkar, 2017)
Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
Pin Cushion (Deborah Haywood, 2017)
Praça Paris (Lucía Murat, 2017)
Señorita María, la falda de la montaña (Miss María: Skirting the Mountain, Rubén Mendoza, 2017)
The House That Jack Built (Lars Von Trier, 2018)
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Morgan Neville, 2018)
Überleben in Neukölln (Rosa von Praunheim, 2017)
Viaje a los pueblos fumigados (A Journey to the Fumigated Towns, Fernando Solanas, 2018)
Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen, 2017)

A few great shorts…
Ant Head (David Lynch, 2018)
La Mort, Père & Fils (The Death, Dad & Son, Vincent Paronnaud and Denis Walgenwitz, 2017)
World of Tomorrow: Episode 2 – The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts (Don Hertzfeldt, 2018)

And some authors doing their best in TV…
A Very English Scandal (Stephen Frears, 2018)
The Bisexual (Desiree Akhavan, 2018)
The Little Drummer Girl (Park Chan-wook, 2018)

Le cahier noir (The Black Book, Valeria Sarmiento, 2018)

Kaya Erdinç


Touch Me Not (Adina Pintilie, 2018)
Between Regarding and Use (Nazli Dinçel, 2018)
Lazzaro Felice (Happy as Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
Whose Cheek Is This? (Charles Dhondt, 2018)
Ada Kaleh (Helena Wittmann, 2018)
Fire (RGB) (Viktoria Schmid, 2018)
Words, Planets (Laida Lertxundi, 2018)
Christopher Robin (Marc Forster, 2018)
Le voyage à travers l’impossible (The Impossible Voyage, Georges Méliès, 1904)
Ships Do Not Dock (Mihovil Pansini, 1955)
Sleep (Andy Warhol, 1963)
Chelsea Girls (Andy Warhol, 1966)
Exprmntl Knokke (Claudia von Alemann, 1967)
Gammelion (Gregory J. Markopoulos, 1967)
La Région Centrale (Michael Snow, 1971)
Geschichten vom Kübelkind (Tales of the Dumpster Kid, Ula Stöckl and Edgar Reitz, 1971)
Lancelot du Lac (Lancelot of the Lake, Robert Bresson, 1974)
Optocht (Frans van de Staak, 1980)
Sois belle et tais-toi (Be Pretty and Shut Up, Delphine Seyrig, 1981)
Het dak van de Walvis (On Top of the Whale, Raúl Ruiz, 1982)
November (Hito Steyerl, 2004)
Hanging Upside Down In The Branches (Ute Aurand, 2009)
The Extra’s Ever-Moving Lips (Lucy Clout, 2014)
Listen (Astrid Bussink, 2017)
Milla (Valérie Massadian, 2017)

Eliú Escamilla

Cinephile and English Teacher

Abaton (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2017)
Epilogue (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2017)
Elohim (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2017)
Monody (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2017)
Trois gouttes de mescal dans une coupe de champagne (Teo Hernández, 1983)
Grappe d´yeux (Teo Hernández, 1982-1983)
Le Voyage Au Méxique (Teo Hérnandez, 1989)
Season of The Devil (Lav Díaz, 2018)
Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
Armageddon 2 (Corey Hughes, 2017)
Fotbal Infinit (Infinite Football, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2018)
Grass (Hong Sang-Soo, 2018)
Drown Among The Dead (Rubén Gutiérrez, 2018)
Beyond Beach (Clara Winter, 2018)
Tokyo Vampire Hotel (Sion Sono, 2017)
Le livre d´image (The Image Book, Jean Luc Godard, 2018)
Our Time (Carlos Reygadas, 2018)First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)
Baronesa (Juliana Antunes, 2017)
Grandeur et décadence d’un petit commerce de cinéma (Rise And Fall Of A Small Film Company, Jean Luc Godard, 1986)
The House That Jack Built (Lars Von Trier, 2018)
Restos de Viento (Wind Traces, Juliana Montemayor, 2017)
Rita, El Documental (Arturo Díaz Santana, 2017)
The Dust Channel (Roee Rosen, 2016)

Fernando Chaves Espinach

Costa Rica / London, UK – Writer, former programmer Costa Rica International Film Festival, student at Birkbeck

Best film experiences 2018 (released in Costa Rica or the UK)
The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018) + They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Morgan Neville, 2018): One may debate issues of authorship around Orson Welles’s “last film”, and yes, four decades of expectations coloured the reception of the movie, but the finished product is a stunning piece of cinema by itself. Seen together with Morgan Neville’s accompanying documentary (which is not very strong on its own but is full of impressive outtakes), The Other Side of the Wind conjures up the dreams and nightmares that animate Welles’s art: masculinity, genius, power, deception, betrayal.
(Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018): Unsettling, sexy, and surprising. Di qiu zui hou de ye wan (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bi Gan, 2018): By the time you enter the “dream” within the movie, you realise you’ve been dreaming all along, as nobody but Bi Gan is crafting such sensuous, trance-like film poems.
Manbiki Kazoku
(Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018): Top form humanist cinema by a master of subtlety.
The Rider (Chloé Zhao, 2017): Elegant and ambiguous, it’s the kind of film that grows on you hours and days after you leave the cinema.
Leave No Trace
(Debra Granik, 2018): One of the most intense features of the year, it’s anchored by two stunning performances that Debra Granik’s intelligent direction carefully draws from Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie.
La Casa Lobo (The Wolf House, Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña): A grim fairy tale that emphasizes the sculptural and the handmade, but cohesive enough to make for an unnerving viewing experience.
Les garçons sauvages (The Wild Boys, Bertrand Mandico, 2018): It’s wild, it’s strange, it refuses to be conclusive or even clear-eyed, in love as it is with its own style. So what? It’s fascinating. Jiānghú érnǚ  (Ash Is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018): Zhao Tao channels everything that’s unique about the filmmaker’s work, the sadness, the sense of hope, the eroticism… It’s not easy to warm up to it, but you emerge from the movie as if from a novel packed with surprises on every page.
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018): Only Spike Lee could handle this burning piece of art, which in someone else’s hand may have gone overboard. His anger is intelligent and piercing; his filmmaking, as muscular and fun as ever.

The year in Central American cinema
Around 35 feature films made in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Panama premiered in 2018. Few had significant exposure in international festivals and most continue to struggle for healthy box office returns in their home countries. As countries such as Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica continue to up the ante in terms of quality and ambition, it will become increasingly important to strengthen distribution and exhibition structures (though Central America’s fractured politics may prove an insurmountable challenge for regional efforts).

Some of the most exciting films were documentaries, such as Nosotros las piedras (We the Stones, Álvaro Torres Crespo, 2017), a gorgeously shot, deep exploration of the lives of gold panners in the southern tip of Costa Rica, the colorful portrait of the salsa icon in Yo no me llamo Rubén Blades (Rubén Blades Is Not My Name, Abner Benaim, 2018), and Gloria Carrión’s moving inquiry into the heritage of the Nicaraguan revolution, Heredera del viento (Heiress of the Wind, Gloria Carrión Fonseca, 2017), which premiered in her country only weeks before the brutal crackdown on dissenters of Daniel Ortega’s regime.

Some prominent features had belated premieres in their home countries, such as the stunning drama Medea (Alexandra Latishev, 2017) and the disquieting documentary Olancho (Christopher Valdés & Theodore Griswold, 2017).

Some of the most prominent premieres were El baile de La Gacela (The Gazelle’s Dance, Iván Porras, 2018), La palabra de Pablo (Pablo’s Word, Arturo Menéndez, 2018), Diciembres (Decembers, Enrique Castro Ríos, 2018), and Dos Fridas (Two Fridas, Ishtar Yasin, 2018). Popular comedies continue to prove box office gold, such as Congelado en Rusia (Frozen in Russia, Arturo Montenegro, 2018) and Maikol Yordan 2 (Daniel Moreno, 2018), but most have yet to cross borders into the other countries in the region.

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster


Survivor’s Guide to Prison (Matthew Cooke, 2018)
A Fantastic Woman (Sebastián Lelio, 2018)
La Bestia (The Beast, Pedro Ultreras, 2010)
Machines (Rahul Jain, 2017)
Two Gates of Sleep (Alistair Banks Griffin, 2010, Filmatique)
Christmas, Again (Charles Poekel, 2014, Filmatique)
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, 2016)
Level 16 (Danishka Esterhazy, 2018)
XXY (Lucia Puenzo, 2007)
Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda, 2017)
The Land of Steady Habits (Nicole Holofcener, 2018)
The Kindergarten Teacher (Sara Colangelo, 2018)
Lazzaro Felice (Happy As Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
Nostalgia (Mark Pellington, 2018)
I Am Not a Witch (Rungano Nyoni, 2017)
Plastic China (Jiuliang Wang, 2016)
Törst (Thirst, Ingmar Bergman 1949)
La cordillera (The Summit, Santiago Mitre, 2017)

“There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do.”— Anaïs Nin. It’s been a traumatic year in so many ways, and yet art and film sustain us, nurture us and galvanize us. It’s been a busy year for me, both creating experimental films and sharing films with audiences and students, who look to us for hope and guidance, whilst truly alarming political events seemingly turn us more and more towards the darkness. My list should include the films I taught in my LGBT+ class and my feminist fairy tale screenwriting class, because those films inspire my students to create bold queer texts, feminist horror fables, and refugee tales that we may well see sometime in the future on the silver screen. I live and teach in the reddest of red states, and many of my students live in terror. I can honestly say that art and the cinema are crucial to survival in these dark times. Light always comes from the darkness: perhaps it is not surprising that there are so many talented and courageous filmmakers making important and brilliant work as we enter the ‘brave new world’ of the 21st Century.

Mark Freeman

Academic, Editor and Podcast Host for Senses of Cinema

It’s been an insanely busy year for me with a range of work and Senses related developments that have kept me moving – but not always necessarily towards the cinema. 2018 was one of those years where I grabbed film and television when I could, but a lot passed me by. So I’m not sure this list is in any way representative of anything beyond the great stuff I grabbed in between meetings and tapings and more meetings. It’s worth recognising that when life speeds up, the streaming service becomes the go-to for the time poor. I envy those who made it to week-long festivals and curated retrospectives and a whole raft of new releases. On the upside though, a trip to Mumbai opened up not just a peek into one segment of the Indian film industry, but a really heartening insight into the global state of film and television education from South Africa to Romania, London to Los Angeles, from Benin to Columbia. And despite all of the madness of 2018, there were still some films that I absolutely need to celebrate.

My Top Ten for 2018

1. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
2. Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)
3. Lean on Pete (Andrew Haigh, 2017)
4. Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2017)
5. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)
6. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anerson, 2017)
7. Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2018)
8. BlackkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)
9. Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
10. Manbiki Kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018)

But a shout out to a couple of others across film and television that I really loved this year:

The Good Place (Michael Schur, 2016-)
Zimna Wojna (Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2018)
International Survivor – South Africa and New Zealand. Despite the dumb premise, the US Season 37 Survivor: David vs Goliath was also a welcome return to form.
Spiderman – Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsay, Rodney Rothman, 2018)
Cargo (Ben Howling, Yolanda Ranke, 2017)
Upgrade (Leigh Whannell, 2018)

And finally, 2018 marked the end of FilmStruck, an incredible streaming service that opened up so much to so many. Very sadly missed.

Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2017)


Writer, teacher, director of International Film Festival in Paraguay

My best cinema experience in 2018 consists of films seen in large screens in my home country Paraguay and in Argentina, where I visit many times a year.

True film-events and the best festival only releases in Paraguay
120 battements par minute (BPM Beats Per Minute, Robin Campillo, 2017)
Acqua e Zucchero: Carlo Di Palma, i colori della vita (Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma, the Colours of Life, Fariborz Kamkari, 2016)
Aus dem Nichts (In the Fade, Fatih Akin, 2017)
Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
Chaco (Danièle Incalcaterra and Fausta Quattrini, 2017)
Geumul (The Net, Kim Ki-duk, 2016)
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)
Kono sekai no katasumi ni (In This Corner of the World, Sunao Katabuchi, 2016)
Los gigantes no existen (Chema Rodríguez, 2017)
Soshite chichi ni naru (Like Father Like Son, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2013)
The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders and  Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, 2014)
The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017)
Umi yori mo mada fukaku (After the Storm, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2016)
Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, 2017)
The Carer (János Edelényi, 2016)
Ucitelka (The Teacher, Jan Hrebejk, 2016)
Visages Villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda, 2017)

My favorite new films released commercially in Paraguay
Coco (Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, 2017)
Las herederas (The Heiresses, Marcelo Martinessi, 2018)
Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen, 2017)

My favorite new films seen in Argentina, mostly at Pantalla Pinamar, Buenos Aires International Film Festival and Mar del Plata International Film Festival
Alanis (Anahí Berneri, 2017)
As boas maneiras (Good Manners, Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, 2017)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller, 2018)
Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)
Den 12. mann (The 12th Man, Harald Zwart, 2017)
Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio, 2017)
El árbol negro (Máximo Ciambella and Damián Coluccio, 2018)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)
Jiānghú érnǚ  (Ash Is The Purest White, Zhangke Jia, 2018)
Pachamama (Juan Antín, 2018)
Maghzhaye Koochake Zang Zadeh (Sheeple, Houman Seyyedi, 2018)
Sinfonía para Ana (Symphony for Ana, Ernesto Ardito and Virna Molina, 2017)
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)
The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, 2017)
Umimachi Diary (Our Little Sister, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2015)
Wildlife (Paul Dano, 2018)
Yara (Abbas Fahdel, 2018)

Guilty Pleasures
A Simple Favor (Paul Feig, 2018)
Cry-Baby (John Waters, 1990)
Das finstere Tal (The Dark Valley, Andreas Prochaska, 2014)
Thoroughbreds (Cory Finley, 2017)
Thunder Road (Jim Cummings, 2018)

The best new films about films
Becoming Cary Grant (Mark Kidel, 2017)
Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (Daniel Raim, 2015)
Hitler’s Hollywood (Rüdiger Suchsland, 2017)
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (Matt Tyrnauer, 2017)

Retrospective delights: favorite re-viewings this year
Bachelor Mother (Garson Kanin, 1939)
Boy A (John Crowley, 2007)
Das Lamm (The Lamb, Wolfgang Staudte, 1964)
El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive, Víctor Erice, 1973)
Le mépris (Contempt, Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
Lone Star (John Sayles, 1996)
Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
Naked (Mike Leigh, 1993)
On Golden Pond (Mark Rydell, 1981)
Skammen (Shame, Ingmar Bergman, 1968)
Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night, Ingmar Bergman, 1955)
Kirmes (The Fair, Wolfgang Staudte, 1960)
The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann, 1953)
The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
The Secret of Kells (Nora Twomey and Tomm Moore, 2009)
Tomorrow Is Forever (Irving Pichel, 1946)
Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961)

Steve Gaunson

RMIT University

Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (Julien Faraut, 2018)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
Se rokh (3 Faces, Jafar Panahi, 2018)
The Eyes of Orson Welles (Mark Cousins, 2018)
Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2017)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2018)
Gurrumul (Paul Damien Williams, 2018)
Ghosthunter (Ben Lawrence, 2018)
Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2017)
You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2017)

Gurrumul (Paul Damien Williams, 2018)



2018 was an extremely strong year for world cinema. A big reason for the year’s high quality was the strongest Cannes in almost a decade. 12 of the 20 films in this list premiered at Cannes including 7 out of the top 10 films. This end of the year list includes just a fraction of the worthy films that showed at Cannes and other film festivals. There are still more than a dozen essential 2018 films that I missed seeing and will likely spend the better part of 2019 catching up with.

Note: this list is restricted to only 2018 titles.

1. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
Christian Petzold’s masterful adaption of Anna Seghers’ 1942 book is a cinematic treat! With just a few tweaks, Petzold has ensured that there is a constant tension between the past and present in the film. This balance between past-present highlights how history repeats in cycles and shows that a book written almost 80 years ago speaks to today’s world situation. This is because throughout history there are always people or communities that are persecuted and forced to leave their homes. The film is further elevated by a haunting love story, one which references Casablanca with hints of Kafka and Beckett.
2. Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018)
Burning, Lee Chang-dong’s cinematic return after a gap of 8 years, smartly transforms a Haruki Murakami short story into a seductive thriller that lingers in the memory long after the credits.
3. Di qiu zui hou de ye wan (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
Bi Gan’s sumptuous film provides an emotional ride across space and time by mixing past, present and dreams.
4. Ahlat Agaci (The Wild Pear Tree, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2018)
Ceylan has combined the visual strength of his previous films with a meaty narration resulting in a tour de force which covers topics ranging from literature, religion, romance, philosophy to politics.
5. Da xiang xi di er zuo (An Elephant Sitting Still, Hu Bo, 2018)
Hu Bo’s first and only feature was one of the most emotionally devastating films of the year. Shortly before the film was completed, 29 year old Hu Bo committed suicide. He didn’t live to see the film’s World Premiere at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival where it was extremely hard to secure a ticket to see this almost 4 hour film. Such is the strength of Hu Bo’s artistry that the film’s length is never felt. Instead, one is drawn into the lives of the four characters in Northern China and invested in their fate.
6. Sir (Rohena Gera, 2018)
Rohena Gera’s astute film gets at the core of what we seek in relationships and what causes two people from radically different backgrounds to form a connection. The end result is one of the most charming films of the year lit by a vibrant performance by Tillotama Shome.
7. Fausto (Andrea Bussmann, 2018)
Canadian director Andrea Bussmann creatively uses the text of Goethe’s Faust as a jumping point to explore myths, local legends and tales in Mexico’s Oaxaca coast. The decision to use low light for shooting many of the scenes results in a shape-shifting film that strips away the concept of time; the film could be set decades in the past or could be contemporary. The end result is exhilarating as the film shows a unique way to perceive history and cultures.
8. Donbass (Sergey Loznitsa, 2018)
Sergey Loznitsa cleverly depicts how events in Ukraine are influenced by the overarching influence of Russia. An urgent film that also depicts how the media is being manipulated by politicians resulting in further blurring between real and fake news.
9. Jiānghú érnǚ  (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
Jia Zhangke’s newest film is a perceptive depiction of the Chinese landscape, both social and economical, over the course of two decades.
10. Another Day of Life (Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow , 2018)
Based on late journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski’s book of the same name, Another Day of Life is a fascinating mix of documentary and animation that captures the energy of Kapuscinski’s book about the Angolan civil war.

Honourable Mentions (alphabetical order as per English title)
Se rokh (3 Faces, Jafar Panahi, 2018)
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)
Closing Time (Nicole Vögele, 2018)
Zimna Wojna (Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018)
Weldi (Dear Son, Mohamed Ben Attia, 2018)
Djon Africa (João Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis, 2018)
Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
Grass (Hong Sang-soo, 2018)
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
Ang panahon ng halimaw (Season of the Devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)

Flora Georgiou

Melbourne based freelance writer and filmmaker

On Her Shoulders (Alexandria Bombach, 2018)
A mindfully rendered documentary about survival, endurance and a yearning to speak  the truth and fight for justice, integrity and personal dignity. Nadia Murad has survived the barbaric rule of ISIS, forced into sex slavery while  also witnessing the ethnic cleansing of her people; the Yazidis of Northern Iraq. Brombach, captures the vulnerable yet courageous Murad, (who has been appointed the Goodwill Ambassador For The Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking)  on her  around the world mission, endeavoring to educate and  raise awareness while she  deals with  her own experiential  scarring.
Ahlat Agaci (The Wild Pear Tree, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2018)
This is a beautiful lyrical   journey of a man’s return to his rural childhood residence. Set around a rustic landscape, with stunning allegorical cinematography Ceylan reels you into a thoughtful and rather melancholic and yet somewhat confronting story about one  man’s courageous urge to quell his frustration and write his first novel.
Los Silencios (Beatriz Seigner, 2018)
It is a confronting and honest portrayal of a refugee family fighting to survive in a war torn country side while trying to make ends meet and maintain a sense of civility and personal pride. A truly mesmerizing film that was  shot and set in the troubled Amazonian heartland of South America.
Mary Magdalene (Garth Davis, 2018)
This is a bold and challenging interpretation of the Mary Magdalene story. The brave and whimsical Mary Magdelene (Rooney Mara) reveals the constrictions of patriarchy in her rebellious intentions to  break free from her over bearing  family and follow a new revolutionary movement led by Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix). A feisty feminist interpretation written by Helen Edmonson and Phillipa Goslett reveals a true and sincere side to the Mary Magdalene story. The sweeping panoramic shots superbly encapsulates the rustic biblical era.
Felice come Lazzarto (Happy As Lazzaro, Alice Rohrwacher, 2018)
This is a hauntingly real- surreal film, vivid in its portrayal of impoverished Italy and the corruption of wealth. It has a distinctive modern edge while it pays homage to the great masters of Italian cinema- specifically Pasolini and Fellini. It is a heartfelt cinematic gem based on a true story.
The Green Fog (Guy Madden, 2017)
This is a fun and playful cinematic post-post- modern journey into the streets of San Francisco. Madden draws on his love of the city and his passion of film and television,looping and editing his favorite scenarios into a quirky facetious film essay.
Accidence (Guy Madden, 2018)
A short film/music video is  a fabulous  one single shot   reinterpretation  of the  Rear Window  masterpiece by Alfred Hitchcock.
Donbass (Sergei Loznitsa, 2018)
A wildly reflective, satirical episodic and frenzied exploration of  the  recent  political climate in the  Ukraine. Loznitsa delivers a cutting edge approach to narrative cinema with poignant subject matter and madcap  stories that are hilariously farcical with a  a full cast   of beserk characterizations of people across the socio- politico  domain.
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, 2017)
An epic of a documentary, that explores this massive institution and its sub branches throughout New York City. Wiseman is masterful at maintaining a thread that binds all the libraries across the boroughs. There is a commitment by the people who work within and from the people  who utilize it. This a definitive landmark documentary celebrating the resources, people and the big city.
Blaze (Ethan Hawke, 2018)
A beautiful raw biopic about Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey) who was part of  the Texas Outlaw Music Movement ,  ironically just  as he was gaining  popular recognition the  “unsung hero’s”  life was abruptly and tragically cut short. The idyllic American wilderness  was his inspiration and home where he lived a reclusive lifestyle in a tree-house  with his girlfriend Rosen (Alia Shawkat).  Blaze is strikingly picturesque, considering its low key production, the film is  built on honest and grounded performances. A graceful independent production!
Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
Godard’s new collage film is a cataclysmic explosion of images reflecting poignant moments in history that have had a significant catapulting effect on the world. Some might say The Image Book is his swansong, but whether it is or not he has created a superb reflective montage of his own personal beliefs and ideals. He has never ceased to rock the boat and consistently shake the foundations with stylistic controversy and solid great breaking anarchic filmic methods that reflect his erudite world knowledge and striking point of view.

Sean Gilman

Film critic in Tacoma

Best of 2018 (World Premieres)
1. Jiānghú érnǚ (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
2. Netemo sametemo (Asako I & II, Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, 2018)
3. Pul-ip-deul (Grass, Hong Sang-soo, 2018)
4. Support the Girls (Andrew Bujalski, 2018)
5. If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)
6. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)
7. Rizu to aoi tori (Liz and the Blue Bird, Naoko Yamada, 2018)
8. The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018)
9. The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack, 2018)
10. Dìqiú zuìhòu de yèwǎn (Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Bi Gan, 2018)
11. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
12. Zimna Wojna (Cold War, Paweł Pawlikowski, 2018)
13. What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? (Roberto Minervini, 2018)
14. Bisbee ’17 (Robert Greene, 2018)
15. Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018)
16. Nǐ hǎo, zhī huá (Last Letter, Shunji Iwai, 2018)
17. Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman, 2018)
18. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Ramell Ross, 2018)
19. Minding the Gap (Bing Liu, 2018)
20. Liteul poreseuteu (Little Forest, Yim Soon-rye, 2018)

US Premieres
1. La caméra de Claire (Claire’s Camera, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
2. Maison du bonheur (Sofia Bohdanowicz, 2017)
3. 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)
4. Yoru wa Mijikashi Aruke yo Otome (Night is Short, Walk on Girl, Masaaki Yuasa, 2017)
5. Hanagatami (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 2017)
6. Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sunshine In, Claire Denis, 2017)
7. Jiāniánhuá (Angels Wear White, Vivian Qu, 2017)
8. 1987: When the Day Comes (Jang Joon-hwan, 2017)
9. Bamchigi (Hit the Night, Jeong Ga-young, 2017)
10. Katte ni furuetero (Tremble All You Want, Akiko Ohku, 2017)

Netemo sametemo (Asako I & II, Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, 2018)


Producer or Executive Producer of 70 feature films, MOW’s, miniseries and TV series over 46 years including “Patrick”, “High Tide”, “The Lighthorsemen”, “Screamers”, “Last Dance” and most recently (in partnership with Kris Wyld) the TV series “Pulse” for ABC-TV. “The Unusual Suspects” his first book was published in 2015

Top 10 (Eligibility: 2018 festival films in theatrical, festival, premiere DVD or VOD or streaming first release in the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand) listed alphabetically by title.

Assassination Nation (Sam Levinson, 2018)
Extraordinary faux apocalyptic piece as the lives of 4 teenage girls offline and online converge and explode in contemporary Salem as racism and far right ideology go through the cynical lens of provocateur Sam Levinson.
Jiānghú érnǚ  (Ash is Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
Memories of Hong Kong action cinema of the 70’s swirl through Jia Zhang-ke’s epic but led by a woman protagonist who turns the tables on her craven mobster ex-lover when she emerges from prison after accepting a jail term on his behalf. A parable for the commercialism and westernisation of contemporary China, but also a reflection on revenge and forgiveness.
The 15:17 to Paris (Clint Eastwood, 20180
Eastwood presents the 3 actual participants in the terrorist train incident in this meditation on heroism, fleeting fame, religion, patriotism, friendship and Hawksian professionalism.  He throws in a touch of Langian destiny to elevate an essentially simple tale.
First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2018)
Schrader continues to riff off the austere concerns of Bresson and Dreyer in this contemporary consideration of “Diary of a Country Priest” (1951).  Deftly balancing hope and joy, pessimism and despair, Ethan Hawke’s Rev. Toller, searches for the elusive grace that forever eludes him.
Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)
The ultimate revenge driven thriller with a truly insane performance by Nicholas Cage, “Mandy” feels like a late 50’s Vincente Minelli melodrama with the volume amped up to 150%.  Littered with references to seminal 70’s and 80’s B horror titles, the film takes on a biblical overlay as we meet Linus Roache’s cult adherents and Cage’s concluding “I’m Your God Now” blasts home its blood directed power.
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
Set in the 70’s in Mexico city, filmed in extraordinary black and white 65mm, Cuaron’s film has the same magic as early Italian neo realism with its lifelike tableaux, and ultra-realistic and naturalistic performances.  Drawn from his own experiences as a young man in an upper middle-class household, Cuaron tracks the impact of the family breakup against political events of the time through the eyes of family maid Cleo.
Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018)
The ordinary and extraordinary lives of a family of shoplifters living on the edge of society in contemporary Tokyo. The seemingly tight knit group progressively corrode until ultimately the law catches up with them.  Koreeda continues to analyse the family unit in surprising and even shocking ways.
A Simple Favor (Paul Feig, 2018)
Feig draws on a series of Hitchcock tropes and washes them through a rinse of black comedy; gender politics; French 60’s pop tunes and a little Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoven 1992) and Diabolique (H.G. Clouzot 1955).  Very dry and intricate yet woven together in a fully satisfying script.
Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2017)
Tough revenge western.  Thornton shoots in a largely classical style but of course we view the film’s progression through contemporary eyes as issues of race, colonialism and appropriation bubble to the surface.  There is a simplicity to the film – not quite as stripped down as with Bud Boetticher and Randolph Scott – but austere nonetheless.  Rolf de Heer’s The Tracker (2002) also comes to mind.
Zimna Wojna  (Cold War, Pawel Pawikowski 2018)
A fantastic dammed love story spread across Eastern Europe and Paris in the 50’s, Pawikowski’s romantic black and white epic tracks two doomed lovers whose obsessive passion ultimately destroys them.  Music floods the film’s images and adds to the entrancing baroque of the visuals.

All The Money In The World (Ridley Scott, 2017)
I Am Not A Witch (Rungano Nyoni, 2017)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
Mudbound (Dee Rees, 2017)
The Square (Ruben Östlund, 2017)
The Post (Steven Spielberg, 2017)
Insidious: The Last Key (Adam Robitel, 2018)
Crown Heights (Matt Ruskin, 2017)
Icarus (Bryan Fogel, 2017)
Red Sparrow (Francis Lawrence, 2018)
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)
Gringo (Nash Edgerton, 2018)
The Strangers: Prey At Night (Johannes Roberts, 2018)
Isle Of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)
Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)
A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)
Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side Of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
Deadpool 2 (David Leitch, 2018)
Hotel Artemis (Drew Pearce, 2018)
RBG (Julie Cohen and Betsy West, 2018)
Upgrade (Leigh Whannell, 2018)
Ant-Man and The Wasp (Peyton Reed, 2018)
The Equalizer 2 (Antoine Fuqua, 2018)
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)
Peppermint (Pierre Morel, 2018)
Mile 22 (Peter Berg, 2018)
22 July (Paul Greengrass, 2018)
Halloween (David Gordon Green, 2018)
Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 2016)
L’insulte (The Insult, Ziad Doueiri, 2017)
Widows (Steve McQueen, 2018)
The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard, 2018)
Bad Times at the El Royale (Drew Goddard, 2018)
Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist (Lorna Tucker, 2018)
A Private War (Matthew Heineman, 2018)
Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)
Unsane (Steven Soderbergh, 2018)
First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)
The Bleeding Edge (Kirby Dick, 2018)
The Other Side of The Wind (Orson Welles, 2018)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018)
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Morgan Neville, 2018)
Sorry To Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018)
The Girl In The Spider’s Web (Fede Alvarez, 2018)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (J.A. Bayona, 2018)
The Land of Steady Habits (Nicole Holofcener, 2018)
A Prayer Before Dawn (Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, 2017)

Shawn Glinis

Film Inquiry

1. Araby (Arábia, João Dumans and Affonso Uchoa, 2017)
2. A Star is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)
3. Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sunshine In, Claire Denis, 2017)
4. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
5. The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018)
6. The Rider (Chloé Zhao, 2017)
7. The 15:17 to Paris (Clint Eastwood, 2018)
8. Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)
9. First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)
10. Burning (Beoning, Chang-dong Lee, 2018)

Paul Douglas Grant

Author of Cinéma Militant: Political Filmmaking and May 1968, co-author of Lilas: An Illustrated History of the Golden Ages of Cebuano Cinema, the editor in chief of Sinekultura Film Journal

Mein Bruder heißt Robert und ist ein Idiot (My Brother’s Name is Robert and He is an Idiot, Philip Gröning, 2018)
MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. (Steve Loveridge, 2018)
Notes on an Appearance (Ricky D’Ambrose, 2018)
SPK Komplex | SPK Complex (Gerd Kroske, 2018)
Le livre d’image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018)
A Short History of a Few Bad Things (Keith Deligero, 2018)
Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018)
Balangiga: Howling Wilderness (Khavn De La Cruz, 2018)
The Image You Missed (Donal Foreman, 2018)
Happy Lamento (Alexander Kluge & Khavn De La Cruz, 2018)

Mein Bruder heißt Robert und ist ein Idiot (My Brother’s Name is Robert and He is an Idiot, Philip Gröning, 2018)

Jaime Grijalba

Film Critic (Kinoscope, MUBI), Programmer (Valdivia International Film Festival)

While not as willing to name it one of the best years of cinema, it surely sobered me up regarding what I look for the movies that I end up watching and liking, I want them to give me an experience that reminds me that the world is worth living in, and that there is a possible world out there in which we treat each other with kindness. Also, the fact that a few of these were programmed by me at the festival I work at makes me very happy.

My list is entirely comprised of films that premiered in 2018 exclusively.

1. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
2. Relaxer (Joel Potrykus, 2018)
3. L’empire de la perfection (John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection, Julien Faraut, 2018)
4. Yara (Abbas Fahdel, 2018)
5. Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil, Lav Diaz, 2018)
6. Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)
7. Di Renjie zhi Sidatianwang (Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings, Tsui Hark, 2018)
8. The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, 2018)
9. Te Quiero Tanto Que No Sé (I Love You So Much That I Don’t Know, Lautaro García Candela, 2018)
10. Ainhoa, yo no soy esa (Ainhoa: That’s Not Me, Carolina Astudillo Muñoz, 2018)
11. Gangbyeon Hotel (Hotel by the River, Hong Sang-soo, 2018)
12. Waldheims Walzer (The Waldheim Waltz, Ruth Beckermann, 2018)
13. Manbiki kazoku (Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018)
14. Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)
15. La Casa Lobo (The Wolf House, Joaquín Cociña, Cristóbal León, 2018)
16. The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack, 2018)
17. Introduzione all’oscuro (Gastón Solnicki, 2018)
18. Jiānghú érnǚ  (Ash is the Purest White, Jia Zhangke, 2018)
19. Classical Period (Ted Fendt, 2018)
20. Las Cruces (The Crosses, Teresa Arredondo, Carlos Vásquez, 2018)

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