Best of 2018

Sinekdoks' Best of 2018

Welcome back to Sinekdoks with the annual ‘Best of the Year’ series—an appreciation content to honor my most favorite movies that were released in 2018.

Speaking of 2018…

The year has been the toughest one for Sinekdoks since the blog first established on 2013. I’ve been going on painstaking writing hiatus—something that I haven’t ever done before—for more than once during the year. I think the major reason behind it was some kind of breakdown iI experienced n the wake of the year. There was some kind of guilty feeling emerged when I start writing. I was lucky that it was only a temporary state. However, the consequence was more dire than I thought it would be. I was having difficulty in keeping up with blogging routine; at the same time, I began to luxuriate myself in the opulence of something called procrastination. During that blogging hiatus, I only occasionally shared my thoughts on movies I watched via Twitter and Letterboxd.

It wasn’t until December that I started to realize that I need to write something in order to find my pace back. And then, I gain this momentum  to post Sinekdoks’ Best of 2018 and, respectively, announce my commitment to post regularly on Sinekdoks.com again.

Best of 2018

The composition for Sinekdoks’ Best of 2018 is slightly different from the previous years. I shortlisted around 38 movies from all movies I watched during the year. Usually, I would narrow down the list up to 20 top movies; however, this year I would put all those shortlisted titles in the list in alphabetical order and specially classify only the top 10 movies to be put in a count-down order.

So, here we go.

22 July

22 July (Paul Greengrass)
Jonas Strand Gravli, Anders Danielsen Lie, Jon Oigarden

Along with Erik Poppe’s U: July 22, Paul Greengrass’ based-on-actual-event drama makes the strongest feat of the year. If the former presents an immersive cinematic experience into the midst of Utoya camp massacre, the latter offers a reflective thought and a more personal  insight to the emotional state of real persons who were involved in the incident. The movie sends an urgent message regarding the hazard of right-wing extremist violence—now more than it is later.

A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place (John Krasinski)
John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds      

The premise is breathtakingly original. In a world where silence is the only way of survival, a couple with kids—who had learned how to survive without making any noise—is making a big mistake when their birth control program fails. Some people call it a huge plot-hole; but, when you see it as a mere parental error (well, some parents make the most desperate effort when being under pressure), it—at least—makes sense.

Black Panther

Black Panther (Ryan Coogler)
Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o

King T’challa (Boseman) and the world of Wakanda has made quite an entrance in Captain America: Civil War; however, the solo movie is excruciatingly fresh and superior. In the moment of Marvel Cinematic Universe fatigue, Black Panther shines as an amalgamation of Shakespearean tale, real-word commentary and a cultural celebration. This is one of the most important superhero movies ever made.

Brother of the Year

Brother of the Year (Vithaya Thongyuyong)
Sunny Suwanmethanon, Urassaya Sperbund, Nichkhun

This GDH’s feel-good family drama knows how to treat the audiences right. Starting out as a sibling rivalry blending in with romantic comedy, the Thai blockbuster escalates quickly into a heart-breaking drama in an unexpected turn. Sunny flaunts his prowess by showing quite a range of character—from a happy-go-lucky guy into a sentimental brother.

Burning

Burning (Lee Chang-dong)
Yoo Ah-in, Jun Jong-seo, Steve Yeun

Poetically, Lee Chang-dong (Poetry, Secret Sunshine) confidently turns the multi-layered Haruki Murakami’s short story, Barn Burning, into a two-and-half hour of elusive, jazzy, and moody piece that focuses more on the characters. Murakami’s fans will quickly notice the writer’s signatures in this movie—from mementos like map, jazzy tunes, and lonesome protagonist to the touch of ambiguity, sensuality, surreal plausibility and the flair of commercialism.

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians (Jon M. Chu)
Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh

Romance as a genre is not dead. I repeat, romance is not dead. Jon M. Chu brings all his Hollywood money to Singapore and works with an all-Asian ensemble of cast to make this ambitious project happens. Chu transcends the giddily exuberant story from the book into an intimate cultural homecoming—that values the culture and, most importantly, love itself.

Creed II

Creed II (Steven Caple Jr.)
Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

Ryan Coogler’s Creed was stunning and an instant classic that arises from the glory of another classic. Making a follow-up to it was almost the direst work; but, Creed II did it. Using all the remnant of Rocky’s legendary story, the sequel plays a little orthodox with the genre-clichés; but , all the hooks and the jabs landed perfectly, while the uppercut concluded it once and for all.

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham)
Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton

Famous YouTuber turned writer-director Bo Burnham crafts a coming-of-age story that feels close to his personal experience and, at the same time, feels real to the audience. The irony, the proximity, and the candid sense of modern adolescent vulnerability keep resounding, especially with Fisher’s grounded performance. It all feels real, heartbreaking and optimistic at the same time, even when the movie feels ‘small.’

First Man

First Man (Damien Chazelle)
Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke

Ryan Gosling’s performance is utterly exquisite in his second collaboration with Oscar-winning director, Damien Chazelle. The flight of Apollo 11 is retold in a bold, solid angle as the story is built upon emotion upon sacrifices and losses. For an out-of-the-world triumph, First Man feels ethereally grounded to Neil Armstrong’s personality. It’s always about the emotion. Just look at the landing scene or, most importantly, the hand touching scene between Gosling and Foy.

First Reformed

First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried

Hawke is terrific in Paul Schrader’s come-back. First Reformed, a story about a pastor who experiences breakdown in faith, is everything about Hawke’s exceptional performance. The whole movie is tough watch. The conflicts and how Reverend Ernst Toller—Hawke’s character—deals with them almost always make it uncomfortable to even grasp.

Game Night

Game Night (John Francis Daley, Jonatha M. Goldstein)
Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler

The most exhilarating movie of the year, undoubtedly, goes to Game Night. Daley and Goldstein had proven a point in injecting tremendous energy and creating a nonchalant comedy of errors to be the sole winner here. The clever script is full of adroit banters and perfect comedic timing. While you might retort at how slapstick it could be, you’re definitely lost it at the marketing effort of selling this movie as a cousin of Horrible Bosses.

Green Book

Green Book (Peter Farrelly)
Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali

An Italian-American man chaffeuring an African-American music prodigy in a Cadillac that belongs to the latter person was not an ordinary thing to see back in the 60s; especially when they’re on a road trip across states. Therefore, the titular green book is a necessary starter-pack for them. It’s quite surprising that Peter Farrelly of the Farrelly Brothers tackles such serious issue in his solo venture; but, it’s not surprising that Green Book is a fun drive from the beginning to end, moreover when both Mortensen and Ali synergize in an award-deserving chemistry.

Hearts Beat Loud

Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley)
Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Toni Collette

I would like to call Hearts Beat Loud the Begin Again of 2018, but that sounds too underwhelming. Both movies beat on the same heart about music, reconciliation and starting over. The original music is ethereal and pleasant; and so are the leading actors. With this and some other brilliant warm movies, 2018 is such a year for feel-good pieces.

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson)
Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray

Wes Anderson stunningly crafts out a warm dystopian story in his second stop-motion feature. Isle of Dogs is heavy on details; but, surprisingly, is also in political message about animal rights (the title sounds like ‘I love dogs” anyway). Taking references to Japanese cyber-punk pop culture, Anderson is also bold enough in celebrating the culture he’s borrowing without any fabricated translation. This stop-motion also further evidents that with Anderson, over-simplification is nowhere to be found.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)
Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie

Following up Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik creates a similarly quiet story about a daughter. This time, the breakthrough star is Thomasin McKenzie who stars along side the terrific Ben Foster, a former soldier struggling with PTSD who decides to isolate himself and his only daughter deep in the forest. The conflict is heartbreaking—it quietly demands for your attention without ever ceased toshow you how the calm story can be so profound.

Love, Simon

Love, Simon (Greg Berlanti)
Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Jennifer Garner

In a modest—non-campy and non-pretentious—way, Love, Simon sets up a new sub-genre that Hollywood should acknowledge—a queer teenage romcom. With fresh casts and vibrant storytelling, Greg Berlanti (producer of Riverdale) presents a movie that tackles the issue of coming out warmly and sincerely in not an over-glorification way. It has now belonged to the list of best teenage romcoms ever.

Mandy

Mandy (Panos Cosmatos)
Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough

Andrea Riseborough enchants you with her elusive stare while Nicolas Cage slays humanoid riders from hell in this blood-gushing, LSD-induced, enigmatic nightmare. It is basically a revenge thriller—but it doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before. I almost belive that Panos Comatos drugs me with nightmare-inducing drugs and steals the whole nightmare out of my sleep and makes it into this bravura.

Mid90s

Mid90s (Jonah Hill)
Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston, Lucas Hedges

It seems that Jonah Hill makes a personal memoir in his directorial debut. Set in the suburban of Los Angeles in the mid 90s, the movie follows an innocent kid as he befriends skate crews and begins to enjoy his teenage life. The whole vibe feels a little like Lady Bird, but Hill is definitely is not Greta Gerwig. Mid90s isn’t as reflective, but definitely it is more immersive. The nostalgia feels so good.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Christopher McQuarrie)
Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill’s commitment that single-handedly ruined Justice League is enough of a reason to make it the best action movies of 2018. Mission: Impossible movies are only getting better from time to time. Heightened the scale, heightened the scale, heightened the risk, heightened the stunt is not enough; the most important thing is to keep the story as solid as possible. That’s how Fallout wins.

Novitiate

Novitiate (Maggie Betts)
Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo

Writer-Director, Maggie Betts, brings forth a poignant and provocative carefully-made observation about a Catholicism way of life most people don’t dare to choose—the convent life—in Novitiate. It’s a shame that a story this powerful is overshadowed by its non-universal nature and theme which made it difficult to reach wider audience. However, for this effort, Maggie Betts deserves more attention for his directorial tenure.

One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead (Shinichiro Ueda)
Takayuki Hamatsu, Harumi Shuhama

JUST WATCH IT NOW! This. Is. Perfectly. Right.

Searching

Searching (Aneesh Chaganty)
John Cho, Michelle La, Debra Messing

Cho’s absorbing performance as a devastated widower in the search of his missing daughter really helps Searching in crafting emotional Gone Girl with completely UI presentation. While it might not be the first to devise such presentation, it is the first to make the presentation an integral part of its heartfelt story. It’s never about the high-concept thriller or the claustrophobic atmosphere, it’s always about the lump in the throat.

Skate Kitchen

Skate Kitchen (Crystal Moselle)
Rachel Vinberg, Jaden Smith, The Skate Kitchen

Acclaimed documentary director, Crystal Moselle, directs The Skate Kitchen—an all-female skate collective based in NY, in this debut feature. Exploring the aesthetic and social media literate skare scene through candid depiction of characters and ambiance, Skate Kitchen feels exhilarating and meditative at once. It’s, again, another feel-good movie to catch up from the 2018 rosters.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Bob Presichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman)
Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld

We already have three Spider-Men swinging from one movie to another for the last two decades. In response to such kind of statement, Into the Spider-Verse blatantly gives us a bold questions: “What about more?” And they did give us more Spider-Man incarnations in one movie. With striking direct-from-comic-book style of visuals and, most importantly, a solid multi-verse plot, Miles Morales, Peter Parker and their Spider-Comrades present an inventive specta-show to swing into the higher tier of best Spider-Man movie along with the first two Raimi’s Spider-Man.

The Night Comes for Us

The Night Comes for Us (Timo Tjahjanto)
Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle

In a different constellation of action movies, Timo Tjahjanto brings a vicious new guy called The Night Comes for Us. Without any doubt, it’s that reckless and relentless half-brother of The Raid series made by a devoted worshiper of cinema’s god of death (as seen in Macabre, Killers, Headshot and May the Devil Take You). The filmmaker unhesitatingly and infamously sacrifices human blood, bone, flesh, skin, intestine and, even, the dearest Indonesian darlings. F— your acquired taste.

Thoroughbreds

Thoroughbreds (Cory Finley)
Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin

Thoroughbreds is a stylish mixture of ‘the art of low-key thriller’ and well-written dark comedy about teenage angst. Remember From First to Last’s album ‘My Teen Angst Has A Body Count’? This is the manifestation of it. For the whole duration, we are given some unapologetic psycho-talk nurtured perfectly by the stunning leading actresses—who, I believe, will be big stars in the future.

Thunder Road

Thunder Road (Jim Cummings)
Jim Cummings, Kendal Farr, Macon Blair

Similar to First Reformed, Thunder Road is the story of masculine vulnerability. Cummings excellently writes, directs and stars in this oddball dramedy about a cop whose life goes downhill since his mother passes. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but it’s also relieving and, most of the time, hilarious.

Widows

Widows (Steve McQueen)
Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez

Written by the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, Widows might be Steve McQueen’s most accessible work. His cinematic eyes find perfect matches in the stellar cast and Flynn’s carefully written script that puts more contexts to the character. Widows is more than just some heist movie, it’s a movie about people and how they cope up with loss.


Top 10 of the Year

Now, here comes the top 10 movies of 2018 hand-picked by Sinekdoks. Brace yourself.

BlackKklansman

10. BlackKklansman (Spike Lee)
John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace

This Spike Lee’s joint blatantly draws a bold line of a black-and-white viscerality without leaving any grey area. This historical thriller is a timeless propaganda piece that strongly works. Washington and Driver have some exhilarating moment fooling Ku Klux Klan members and it was a delightful thing to watch.

Ready Player One

09. Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg)
Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn

Steven Spielberg cemented his name as one of the most versatile directors with Ready Player One. Productively swinging back and forth between award-worthy drama and big-budgeted blockbusters, Spielberg really knows how to make each of the works. This one is no exception. The CGI-laden blockbuster is an exhilarating pop culture bonanza that brings us into lovely joyride for the whole duration.

Suspiria

08. Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino)

Guadagnino treats his rendition of Suspiria like an essay. As a literature savant, he interprets Dario Argento’s Suspiria with his knowledges and imagination, transliterate the message in his own style, and delivers it as a legacy of his own. The result is a brand-new Suspiria—one that is perfecting the original myth and transcends it with timeless, timely imagery.

Cold War

 07. Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski)

Lovers are torn during the cold war period—lost and found, love and loss, over and over again. Pawlikowski wrote a love-letter to his parents—turning their beautiful love story into an equally beautiful movie with mesmerizing visuals and unforgettable atmosphere. It is austere yet accessible. It is bitter, but mostly it is sweet.

You Were Never Really Here

06. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)
Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov

Phoenix goes all melancholic and brutal at the same time in Lynne Ramsay’s return to viscerality. Told piece by piece patiently, this could be escalated into a simple revenge action; but it chooses not to. Instead, it dives deep into the main protagonist’s most sombre background and emotion, only to bounce up with blood-thirsty ultra-violence.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

05. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson

The Coen Brothers’ first digital venture brought an anthology of dark Western comedy. All segments are equally beautiful and insightful. These brothers really are prodigy.

Annihilation

04. Annihilation (Alex Garland)
Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac

In his sophomore directorial effort, Alex Garland (Ex Machina) offers a serious, high-concept sci-fi about the fundamental of changing—between genetic coded self-destruction and annihilation. The result is riveting and, subsequently, vague. With contradicting plot distributed in three timelines and unreliable narrator, Annihilation certainly sparks discussion even after several viewings.

Hereditary

03. Hereditary (Ari Aster)
Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne

Hereditary is much more than new witty face of horror. It is a mindfuck—disturbing mental challenge orchestrated by Ari Aster’s mind. It’s mysterious, elusive, baffling, and bone-chilling from the start even until the insane final ten minutes. Toni Collette’s performance is otherworldly. You MUST believe that horror can be this remarkable.

ROMA

02. ROMA (Alfonso Cuaron)
Yalitza Aparicio, Veronica Garcia, Fernando Grediaga

There’s an old saying, “beautiful thing doesn’t seek for attention.” I believe that’s the most perfect phrase to define Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma—the director’s love-letter to the 1970s Mexico, a place that shaped him to be the auteur he is now. A lot of things happen in Roma, yet, Cuaron binds them up together carefully with refined visuals and technical expertise. Guillermo del Toro calls it a mural of subtexts about the zeitgeist of the place and the era. By all accounts, it is eloquent, contextual and, definitely, timeless. A cult classic.

The Favourite

01. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone

Making The Favourite the most favorite movie of 2018 is a perfect move—easy and delightful. Lanthimos strays away from making modern fable out of miserable people and, instead, crafts an exquisite period drama that feels as peculiar and as bold as any Lanthimos’ movies. Not only it is his most accessible, but The Favourite is also his most well-acted and his most celebrated triumphant.

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Author: Paskalis Damar AK

A Bali-based blogger. A cinema loner and self-claimed movie fan since 2013. Public Relation in non-cinematic world. bit.ly/1iSSB2Q

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