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A 2018 cinematic year in review

By and in Culture

To say that this year has been overwhelming for movie lovers is an understatement. From blockbusters to dark comedies, 2018 has delivered some of the most innovative films for every possible taste. Here are some of our highlights spread across several genres.

Sorry to Bother You

Introducing Lakeith Stanfield as a telemarketer who thrives in the business by using a “white voice,” Sorry to Bother You is as much a racial satire as it is a commentary on capitalism. The title refers both to the main character’s telemarketing job and to the fact that it addresses social issues that some might not wish to hear about.

The ingenious plot and the surreal aesthetics, including experimental visual and performance art and some crazy bioengineered horses, make Sorry to Bother You hard to compare with any other movie. Besides, if there was an award for best earrings, Tessa Thompson’s character would be the deserving winner.


Annihilation is a mind-blowing sci-fi film by Alex Garland, who had already immersed himself in the genre with movies like Ex Machina and 28 Days Later. Annihilation creates an authentic atmosphere defined by an unsettling curiosity overtop a foundation of fear.

Determined to find answers to what happened to her husband, Lena (Natalie Portman) enters the Shimmer, an alien domain occupying Earth. Lena’s experience inside the Shimmer is so refreshingly weird that Annihilation dances right onto our 2018 must-watch list.


After winning several Oscars for Gravity in 2014, Alfonso Cuarón delivers another intimate yet quieter and more down-to-earth film. Based on Cuarón’s childhood memories during the 1970s, the movie revolves around Cleo, a young Indigenous woman working in a middle-class house in the Colonia Roma neighbourhood of Mexico City.

The black and white cinematography, filmed by Cuarón himself, matches the bittersweetness of the story, exposing the alienating experience felt by many domestic workers throughout Latin America.

The Death of Stalin

Armando Iannucci directs a raw comedy that is as funny as it is cruel. The script seizes upon the power vacuum created by the death of Soviet Russia’s cruelest dictator.

The severity and hilarity of the film is captured in a scene where the chief bureaucrats argue overtop a half-dead Stalin on whether they should call a bad doctor or no doctor as all the good doctors had been killed. A bad doctor, it was decided, would either kill Stalin — meaning no risk of retaliation — or save Stalin, in which case the doctor would turn out to be good.

The chaos in The Death of Stalin satirically depicts the absurdity behind authoritarian power.

Private Life

Tamara Jenkins wrote and directed this compelling drama about a New York couple in their 40s desperately trying to have a child. Life gets more chaotic when their 25-year-old niece moves in with them and becomes their prospective egg donor.

Private Life shows the rollercoaster of emotions brought on by the processes of insemination, in vitro fertilisation and adoption, but the movie peaks in its examination of the intimate struggles of everyday married life. Jenkins’ honest storytelling combined with the moving performances by the actors make Private Life a worthy movie to watch during the winter break.

Avengers: Infinity War

After 18 movies, nearly every Marvel hero converges into this epic battle to save the universe. For the past six years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has built up the appearance of Thanos, the ultimate supervillain who is motivated to purge half of the population to reduce its burden on the galaxy’s finite resources.

While we aren’t big fans of big superhero movies, we can appreciate Infinity War’s audacity for breaking down superhero-movie tropes. The ending of this movie — which heightens the stakes of the Marvel universe — is what makes it worthy of mention, vanishing half of the heroes before they can save the day.

Isle of Dogs

If anyone can make a picturesque movie set in an island of rotting garbage, it is Wes Anderson. In the beloved director’s newest stop-motion movie, all the dogs of the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki are infected with a contagious disease, for which they are exiled to a place called Trash Island.

The movie follows a pack of untamed dogs as they help Atari, a 12-year-old boy who flies to Trash Island to look for his four-legged friend Spots. In a context of xenophobia and oppressive governments, Isle of Dogs tells a kind-hearted story about resistance, friendship and acceptance. Oh, and it has some kick-ass haikus.

First Reformed

First Reformed focuses on the crisis of faith of Toller (Ethan Hawke), a reverend in upstate New York. The script lays bare the tortured souls living in a bygone era of American Christianity and battered civic order. The film is shaped by the correlation between Toller’s decline in faith, decline in church and decline in health.

Toller, attempting to console Mary (Amanda Seyfried), a grieving parishioner, agrees to play the mysterious game that the widow and her husband used to play. As Toller becomes more involved in Mary’s life, his obsession with her deceased husband’s past as a militant eco-terrorist has damaging consequences.

Written and directed by Paul Schrader, the writer behind Taxi Driver, First Reformed is an absolute must-watch.

Regardless of whether you like world-shattering superhero action, dark comedy with a cutting social critique or picturesque foreign drama films, the movies released this year have plenty to offer for viewers of all stripes.

Gabriela Perez, Thomas Renwick

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