Papiro & Mint is back and nothing better than starting 2019 with our highly anticipated list of the best movies of the year. 2018 was a hard year for cinema, not only in terms of quality but many great movies that came out were classified as a 2017 release by the Imdb, and many movies that are classified as 2018 films will only hit the big screen in most countries throughout this year.
With that said, I didn’t have the opportunity to watch some titles like At Eternity’s Gate, Climax, Vox Lux and Girl. But just like last year’s Lady Bird and Phantom Thread – which didn’t make the official list of Papiro & Mint but were obviously supposed to be in it – I’ve decided to share my list as it is now since the Oscar nominations are coming less than 24 hours and the mentioned titles will definitely have their space in the blog through the following months. So here are Papiro & Mint’s best movies of 2018:
15. “Annihilation” by Alex Garland
It’s a shame Annihilation isn’t getting much recognition through award season and I believe that’s because the film was released back in February. One way or the other, we mustn’t forget how important this film is within its genre. Being a mixture of Under the Skin with Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Annihilation is based on the book by Jeff VanderMeer that tells the story of a scientist who decides to enter an alien zone to discover the mysteries of what happened to her husband. Once inside, the natures of law don’t apply and what she discovers will make you have very interesting conversations with the people you watch by exploring themes such as nature and existentialism.
14. “We the Animals” by Jeremiah Zagar
Another movie that didn’t get much recognition in 2018, We the Animals is the amazing film of Jeremiah Zagar based on the biographical novel by Justin Torres. The movie talks about the childhood of three brothers living with their parents who keep fighting and the fantasy world one of them creates to escape the pressures and sadness of growing up. With an amazing cinematography and script, We the Animals is a powerful coming of age story that tackles themes of sexuality, identity, and masculinity, resulting in a beautiful crossover between Where the Wild Things Are with Moonlight.
13. “Suspiria” by Luca Guadagnino
Like every single Luca Guadagnino film, I’ve waited months for me to finally watch Suspiria. Even though I thought it was amazing the first time, I actually had to revisit the film a week later to fully understand it and place the dots as I had a little too much beer and no subtitles for the German parts when I’ve first watched it. Either way, what a film! It has nothing to do with the original and I dare to say we can’t even compare because they are extremely different. Like Dario Argento, Luca Guadagnino created a style of its own, with an epileptic editing and an outstanding production design. Thom Yorke’s soundtrack is already a classic and I believe the importance of this film will grow with time. Definitely one of the most important movies of 2018 and a beautiful art-house horror film.
12. “A Star Is Born” by Bradley Cooper
I had no expectations whatsoever with A Star Is Born, which is probably why I liked it so much. Sorry Glenn Close, Lady Gaga nailed it and I dare to say she deserves the Oscar whatever may come. Bradley Cooper is also astonishing in the directing, I definitely wasn’t expecting. Everything about the film is great, the cinematography, the editing, the acting, the script, and the songs. Even its relevance, which even though I haven’t watched the other movies, I can tell this has a meaning in terms of relevance on the time it was released. Modern Hollywood at its best.
11. “First Man” by Damien Chazelle
Will there ever be a bad Damien Chazelle film? It’s hard to imagine that it’s 2018 and we would be talking about a movie about Neil Armstrong going to space. Fortunately, Chazelle didn’t create a movie surrounding Neil Armstrong’s legend, but the man behind the legend itself. With an amazing cinematography and editing, First Man is a tense and touching story about a man and his family and their dreams and fears while he is training to be the first man to ever walk on the moon. Chazelle does a great job by stripping Armstrong’s reputation and focuses on the man with flesh and bones. It’s almost a behind the scenes of what really happened with him, and the result is a beautiful and inspiring film that is definitely worth watching.
10. “Green Book” by Peter Farrelly
I was very surprised and disappointed when I’ve discovered people were saying bad things about this film. First, just because a character says something racist doesn’t mean the film is racist. Second, a movie is not one or two character lines. Is 120 minutes of directing, acting, cinematography, editing, sound, production and costume design, all intertwined to express a dialogue, a message or a vision towards something. Erase all of that because you didn’t agree with a character flaw says more about you than the film itself. I personally thought Green Book was amazing for bringing a unique perspective of a white man working for a black musician during the 60s and how this is seen when you travel to the conservative American south. The chemistry between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali is amazing and the chore of the film, and the material towards racism used in Green Book is way more relevant, interesting and strong than BlackKlasman, a weak movie that in my opinion is going through exactly the same thing as this one but in the oppositive direction.
09. “Roma” by Alfonso Cuarón
Another movie that I wasn’t expecting much but I had to definitely keep my mouth shut was Roma. Shot in an amazing black and white cinematography, Roma is truly what cinema was meant for. Is a movie about memories and the human condition. Is about our place in society and what brings us together. Alfonso Cuarón doesn’t take part on anything of what appears on-screen, he just shows us in very long shots, in a delicate and touching way the lives of these characters. When people compare this film to some of Fellini’s works, be not mistaken for this is exactly what watching a Fellini’s film feels like. I also dare to say is not a movie for everyone, as the language Cuarón uses here is entirely for film lovers. One way or the other, don’t hesitate to watch Roma.
08. “If Beale Street Could Talk” by Barry Jenkins
During 2018 I’ve read two James Baldwin novels and I fell in love with his rhythm and narrative. It seemed like the smoke of cigarettes, the smell of bourbon and the noise of jazz with the New York city underground were coming out of the pages of the book. If Beale Street Could Talk wasn’t one of these novels, but after watching Barry Jenkins film, I can tell that he got James Baldwin’s book right. Way better than his previous Oscar winner film Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk is a marvelous film translated into an incredible film grammar and astonishing cinematography. Not mentioning the incredible soundtrack and the surprising cameos of Dave Franco, Pedro Pascal, Diego Luna, and Finn Wittrock. I will definitely be checking out the novel after this.
07. “The House That Jack Built” by Lars Von Trier
As I’ve said before while commenting on the film at the São Paulo International Film Festival, most of what The House That Jack Built is, is what people made of the film. It was people who walked out of Cannes, reviews saying it was a vomitative film and that the director went too far this time, but in fact, The House That Jack Built is a brilliant comedy based on the politically correct agenda the film industry is going through right now. And of course, many people wouldn’t understand this coming from someone joking about being a Nazi at the Cannes Film Festival. One way or the other, The House That Jack Built is a hilarious provocative film about a serial killer who sees his murders as works of art but is never taken itself too seriously. Yes, Von Trier has many better works than this, but when it comes to 2018, it’s definitely one of the best movies of the year.
06. “A Prayer Before Dawn” by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire
With probably the best male acting performance of the year, A Prayer Before Dawn is a hypnotic, sweaty and violent movie about the true story of Billy Moore, an English boxer who is arrested in Thailand and ends up being a Thai boxer champion. Based on the biographical book by Billy Moore, the movie was shot on the real prison of Thailand where everything took place. Jean-Stéphane does a great job by creating a story where the communication between characters happens through fight and violence, resulting in a strange, poetic and homoerotic tale about fights, prison, and pride. Joe Cole is a monster playing Billy and would definitely deserve an Oscar nomination, but the chances are unfortunately not that many. At least he got a British Independent Award for Best Actor.
05. “Capernaum” by Nadine Lebaki
Watched at São Paulo International Film Festival and awarded the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Capernaum is probably one of the most powerful movies of 2018. The movie starts on a trail, where a 12-year-old boy named Zain decides to sue his parents for giving birth to him. What follows next is the shocking childhood story of a boy who decides to run away from his home after seeing his 11-year-old sister being sold to a marriage. Trying to survive on the streets, the film shows the hardship conditions of poor people in Libanon. Without having any melodramatic approaches, Nadine Lebaki does such an outstanding job in Capernaum that is impossible to tell what is fiction and reality by showing extremely poor and devastated places while tackling problems such as immigration and religion. Without a doubt, a must-watch film from 2018 and I dare to ask why hasn’t this film won the Palm d’Or?
04. “Mid90s” by Jonah Hill
If I had to choose only one favorite film from 2018, Mid90s would be it. I can’t tell how much I’ve loved it. Directed by the actor Jonah Hill, Mid90s is a simple coming of age drama about a 13-year-old kid who befriends some skaters of his town and is introduced to the world of skating, flirting, smoking and drinking. More than that, Mid90s is a movie about wanting to belong. Is wanting to try new things and humiliate yourself just to be accepted and part of something while you learn about yourself when you do those things. Is also a movie about family, and how we look up to our brothers, sisters and parents and how we deal with rejection. Lucas Hedges and Sunny Suljic are amazing in the film and the soundtrack is definitely a high point. Maybe being the number 4 of this list is more personal than actual quality, but sometimes, less is more and the simplicity of Mid90s is exactly what makes it so special.
03. “Happy as Lazzaro” by Alice Rohrwacher
Probably the most magical film of 2018, Happy as Lazzaro is a beautiful tale about time. Shot in a rural household in Italy, the movie follows the lives of several workers in a farm and the disappearance of one of the marquise’s son. This disappearance ends up changing the world of all the workers of the farm, especially the life of Lazzaro, who embarks on a mystical journey through time and memory. Is a little hard to talk about this film without giving too much away, but the secrets Happy as Lazzaro’s holds is probably one of the most important events of the year when it comes to filmmaking, turning Alice Rohrwacher one of the most interesting female directors working today. Also, is on Netflix, so go watch it!
02. “Cold War” by Pawel Pawlikowski
From the same director of Ida, Cold War is a 88-minute film that covers a 20 years period story of the lives of a couple during post-war Poland. With an outstanding black and white cinematography, Cold War is one of the year’s best movies for narrating the story of a couple who is forced to separate from each other under the circumstances of war. Is a movie about the dreams we want to achieve, the sacrifices we make and the exile we are forced to face. This is the kind of movie that isn’t made anymore and Pawel Pawlikowski does not only bring the nostalgia of the bohemian post-war lifestyle but also makes it a musical from a foreign language. No, people do not sing about their feelings in the movie, but music is definitely a character in the film, and it’s how it brings people together and apart. Really looking forward to re-watch this film and proudly putting it as second place on this list.
01. “Lean On Pete” by Andrew Haigh
When I’ve finished watching Lean On Pete, all I wanted to do was to hug the character of Charlie Plummer, who delivers one of the most delicate performances of the year. Lean On Pete is such a simple film but so powerful and touching that I couldn’t think of any other position to put on this list rather than the first place. Based on the novel by Willy Vlautin, the movie tells the story of a boy who works in a warehouse with a horse named Lean On Pete. After his father gets into a fight and needs to stay in the hospital, the boy named Charlie to face excruciating circumstances to try to survive and gets closer to the horse. What happens through the rest of the film is a strong and beautiful coming of age story that takes place through the roads of Oregon. Andrew Haigh creates an outstanding minimalistic direction, resulting in one of the most beautiful movies of 2018. And I dare to say, the year’s bests.
Honorable mentions to: Skate Kitchen by Crystal Moselle for simply being badass; Sorry Angel by Christopher Honoré for being sexy, beautiful and extremely french; Knife+Heart by Yeann Gonzalez for mixing murder, gay porn and dreams; and Hereditary by Ari Aster for its originality and fresh content.
What about you? What are your favorite best movies of 2018?