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Movies2018 Year In Review (Drama)

Kielan EllisJanuary 1, 2019

As every year before it, 2018 was chalk full of dramatic films; some good, some great, and some terrible. Here are my picks for the 5 best and worst dramas of 2018.

5. Worst. American Animals.

American Animals is a very interesting film that caught the eye of a lot of festival audiences this year. Unfortunately, while it was trying really hard to be creative and “unique” its a carbon copy of every student film cliché and modern filmmaking convention stuffed into an over the top, inconsistent mess of a heist drama. It’s a great idea, but it wasn’t handled very well.

5. Best. The Favourite.

The Favourite borders on comedy, but in my opinion falls under the category of a satirical drama. It’s sharp, clever, cutting, and very impactful. Beautiful (and very unique) wide-angle cinematography, and incredible performances are the stand outs in this tightly directed masterclass. It’s a wonderful film, and is easily one of the years best dramas.

4. Worst. The Hate U Give.

The Hate U Give is a very important film, granted, but… it’s not a good one. It handles racial tension in a frustratingly tone-deaf way, blasting the audience with platitudes and lacking any kind of subtlety. When one character, in reference to the police, says “their lives matter too”, in one of the most ham fisted allusions to modern culture in recent memory (aside from the earlier line: “those kicks are lit”, which, might I remind you, is a real line spoken in this film). An audience doesn’t need to be spoon fed every plot point in a movie. Also it has a villain for some reason – because a race riot wasn’t enough stakes for you. Just watch Do The Right Thing, it’s so much better.

4. Best. Mid90s.

This film was a divisive one. You’re either going to love it, and find it a breathtakingly honest portrayal of childhood and youths discovering themselves and their worlds, or you’ll read it as a scary and potentially damaging glorification of underage drug use and sex. It’s one of the most raw, honest, and personal films in recent years. The actors were all excellent, (Sunny Suljic and Na Kel Smith being the stand outs), and Hill’s direction (especially for a debut) was impressive, and quite bold. It’s a great film, and it makes for the future of Hill’s filmography very exciting.

3. Worst. Hold The Dark.

Hold The Dark is so mediocre all the time that it becomes one of the worst of the year simply due to its inability to elicit feeling. What we get is another self indulgent man vs wild, cold is hell, men grunting through the snow while a wolf looks at them movie. It’s boring, frustrating, and almost every line is mumbled to the point where you’d need subtitles to get what’s happening. Honestly though, even with subtitles it probably wouldn’t make much more sense anyway.

3. Best. Roma.

Roma is a beautiful movie, speaking both cinematography wise and story wise. It’s a movie that almost feels like it’s not quite a film – in fact it’s easy to forget that you are watching a film and not just observing the lives of those inhabiting the screen in front of me. It’s mesmerizing, perfectly shot (the best shot film of the year in my opinion), and wonderfully acted. It has scenes that will stay with me for a long time, and one of the best directed long takes seen in years. Roma is a near perfect film – and is easily one of the best dramatic films of the year.

2. Worst. Jinn.

You’ve probably not seen Jinn. According to the popular film reviewing site Letterboxd, only 156 people have. Unfortunately, this writer was one of those 156 people. Jinn is trying so hard to be Moonlight that it forgets it actually has to tell a story and have compelling characters. It’s a mess, it’s boringly shot, and it’s very badly acted. Don’t waste your money – just go rewatch Moonlight.

2. Best. Thunder Road.

Thunder Road is primarily a masterclass in acting. Jim Cummings performance is incredibly formidable and if the film were eligible, should be receiving far more awards attention that it has and will receive. The direction is spectacular, the story and cutting dialogue is perfectly written, and as said, the performances, especially Cumming’s performance is heart breaking and hypnotic. Thunder Road is an underrated masterpiece, and one of the most devastatingly heavy films of the year. It certainly deserves this place on the list.

1. Worst. 22 July.

22 July shouldn’t have been made, plain and simple. It’s one of the only films of the year that was genuinely angering. Rather than being incompetently made or badly acted (which it wasn’t, it’s quite well made), the film itself is a moral and ethical stain on the filmography of Paul Greengrass. If you want to know more about why it deserves this spot, please read my review of the film on this very site. For now, just know that it’s the worst drama of the year.

1. Best. The House That Jack Built.

The House That Jack Built is incredible. The writing, the acting (oh my the acting), the cinematography, the near perfect pacing, and editing, the unique and inventive use of music throughout. It’s a masterclass in nearly every aspect of technical and creative filmmaking, and its a testament to the talents of Von Trier and the especially outstanding acting chops of Matt Dillon who deserves an oscar for this, even though there’s no way this film will be recognized for anything this awards season. The House That Jack Built certainly is disturbing, and it’s not for everyone, but it was so impressive that it’d be difficult not to put it at number one. It’s just incredible.


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