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The 50 Best 2018 Films We’ve Already Seen

Written by on January 8, 2018 

Milla (Valérie Massadian)

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What is living a life? If life is a refraction of specific moments and repetition than the beauty of being given a body is in the loop of breath and how it changes as days pass. Valeria Massadian’s Milla is a stunning portrait of the quotidian nature of life and how it gives birth to larger or more staggering moments. In her film we get a sense of who Milla is and how her everyday decisions impact her life, at first a hazy recollection on the timelessness of romance bursts apart when cause and effect bring motherhood, death and music. Cinema as humanity. – Willow M.

Mrs. Fang (Wang Bing)

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Mrs. Fang is a study of a face and a sober essay on death. It’s also about fishing. As profoundly moving as it is troubling, this new masterwork from documentary filmmaker Wang Bing might ask a great deal of anyone sitting down to watch it, both ethically and otherwise, but also, in cinematic terms, it delivers a great deal. The face in question is that of Fang Xiuying, an elderly farmer who died of advanced Alzheimer’s in 2016. Wang’s film is an uncompromising document of the last ten days of her life. Indeed, for obvious reasons, death filmed in this way remains something of a cinematic taboo, but any viewer willing to give in to the rigorous format and somber nature of what’s on screen might just find something cathartic. – Rory O’Connor (read his full review)

Mrs. Hyde (Serge Bozon)

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Mrs. Géquil is a delicate woman, at least in the eyes of her patronizing husband (played by José Garcia) as well as, perhaps, in the eyes of her boss and the vast majority of the students in her class. However, if the Robert Louis Stevenson reference in the title hasn’t led you to this conclusion already, then perhaps the casting of Isabelle Huppert in the lead role just might: she will not be referred to as delicate for very long. Mrs. Hyde, a socially bellicose, darkly humorous farce with aesthetic and spiritual echoes of both giallo horror and recent Kaurismäki, is the latest work of film critic-turned-actor-turned-director Serge Bozon. He’s a filmmaker who has, in the past, used similarly absurdist tropes — although never through such a playfully pseudo-supernatural façade — to talk about issues of class and gender politics in contemporary France, evidenced in Tip Top (also with Huppert) and La France. – Rory O. (full review)

Occidental (Neïl Beloufa)

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A city in turmoil, a small hotel, two mysterious guests, and one incredible ‘70s-inspired set are just some of the elements in play throughout Neïl Beloufa’s fun, genre-hopping Occidental. When two men claiming to be Italians check in to the bridal suite during a protest in the streets of Paris, the hotel’s strict manager suspects something may be wrong, although it soon turns out that she may know more than she lets on. Besides admiring the film for its detailed, retro production design of the hotel itself (which Beloufa used as an art installation after shooting), Occidental flits between genres, ideologies, politics, and ideas with a weightlessness that makes it fun to figure out how its twisty narrative will unfurl. Occidental may be elusive by design, but with its lean runtime and appealing aesthetics it’s hard not to just sit back and enjoy the experience. – C.J. P.

Piazza Vittorio (Abel Ferrara)

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Who knew that, of all people, Abel Ferrara would provide one of the more fascinating films to deal with Europe’s migrant crisis? Piazza Vittorio is Ferrara documenting his own neighborhood (he moved to Italy several years ago), but through his own perspective as an immigrant. He interviews dozens of people, from old Italians bemoaning the influx of refugees to new immigrants talking about their desire to build a new life for themselves. By collecting these interviews, along with some of the confrontational flair Ferrara is known for, Piazza Vittorio turns into a mosaic of people who, despite their ignorance or difference of opinions, want to live quiet, comfortable lives. Ferrara understands the connective tissue joining these disparate voices, which is what makes his documentary work as both a slice of life and a fascinating commentary on one of today’s most divisive issues. – C.J. P.

PROTOTYPE (Blake Williams)

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The deadliest hurricane ever to make landfall within the U.S. occurred in-and-around the coastal city of Galveston, Texas in 1900. The storm took roughly 10,000 lives and stripped from the city its title, “The Queen of the Gulf,” which was earned from being the region’s most populous, cosmopolitan, and progressive. During the storm, a mysterious televisual device was built and tested –perhaps mysterious in part because, at the turn of the century, motion-picture photography was only a few years old, and all new devices capable of capturing duration and space must have been originally perceived with an air of skepticism of sorcery. As Blake Williams’ PROTOTYPE opens on historical photographs of a sunny day in early September, 1900, it is perched right on the cusp of pivotal events: of the region’s landscape as the deadly storm soon takes hold, and of the development of cinema as its evolution takes off through the course of the 20th century. – Andrew W. (full review)

Where is Kyra? (Andrew Dosunmu)

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So much of so many film festivals — Sundance especially — feel enormously focused on metropolitan life, New York City in particular. In Where Is Kyra?, director Andrew Dosunmu finds fertile ground in this well-worn location. Starring an against-type and utterly fascinating Michelle Pfeiffer as the titular Kyra, the film narrows in on the tragedy of getting old in America. – Dan M. (full review)

The Workshop (Laurent Cantet; March 23)

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Laurent Cantet has been a bit absent in the international cinema scene ever since winning the Palme d’Or for 2008’s The Class. It’s not for a lack of trying, of course. He’s released two feature since then (Foxfire and Return to Ithaca), but they just didn’t catch on the way his best movies (Time Out, Human Resources) have in the past. He’s now back at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section with The Workshop, (L’Atelier), which has Cantet’s gift of mixing social relevance through wordy dialogue with nail-biting tension, and is as relevant as anything playing at the festival. The tension takes time to build, but when it finally explodes, it brings a whiplash one never sees coming. – Jordan R. (full review)

We could go beyond 50 as well, so here are some left-overs that we either couldn’t make room for or we were more mixed on: Blame (1/5), The Party (2/16), On Body and Soul (2/21), Thoroughbred (3/9), Final Portrait (3/23), Dim the Flourescents, Apostasy, How to Breathe Underwater, Godard Mon Amour, Avenues, April’s Daughter, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Based on a True Story, En el Séptimo Día, Borg/McEnroe, and The Wandering Soap Opera.

Which of the above films are you most looking forward to in 2018?

ContinueOur 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2018

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