Film Scott Phillips' Film Reviews

My Favorite Films of 2018 (Part One of Two)

The Cakemaker

One of several heart-breaking love stories on my list. Thomas is a young baker from Germany who is having an affair with Oren, a married Israeli man. When Oren is killed in a car accident, Thomas travels to Jerusalem in search of answers and to learn more about the man he had grown to love. The Cakemaker is captivating for its originality. It avoids typical tropes while it explores the nature of extramarital relationships. The film is not an examination of sexual identity. Oren’s love for his wife and his love for Thomas stand on equal footing. The film is refreshingly free of the themes so often found in films about same-sex relationships. Instead, The Cakemaker is an examination of love and asks if it’s possible to truly love two different people at the same time. (Currently available on digital home video)

Destroyer

As I stated in my full-length review of this brilliant crime film from director Karyn Kusama, I’ve never been a big fan of Nicole Kidman. I’ve always found her to be a bit frosty, a little stand-offish in her performances. So, I’ll be the first to say that her work in Destroyer knocked me on my ass. Kidman plays Erin Bell, an alcoholic cop who makes your average burnout look like the picture of stability. It’s years after an undercover operation went sideways on her when a recent murder victim brings her past crashing into her present. Destroyer has that gritty atmosphere and bleak tone that simply can’t be fabricated. Like all good crime films, the narrative immerses the audience in this world of cops, drug dealers, bank robbers and the innocent people caught in the crossfire. It’s a hybrid of a western and an L.A. noir with Kidman staggering through the landscape like a post-modern cowboy who’s been thrown from her horse. (Currently playing in select theaters and expands soon.)

The Favourite

In general, I find Yorgos Lanthimos kinda irritating. In his absurdist deadpan comedies (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), the affected acting and monotone dialogue leaves me cold. I can’t help feeling like Lanthimos is entertaining himself and if he entertains the audience in the process, it’s probably by accident. So I was understandably surprised when I fell in love with The Favourite, a dark satire about the reign of Queen Anne in 18th century England. Olivia Colman gives the best performance by a female in 2018 with her portrayal of the emotionally unbalanced monarch, and Rachel Weisz isn’t far behind with her stellar work as the queen’s advisor and sometimes lover. The screenplay has bite to it, and there are more clever lines of dialogue than you can count. Lanthimos turns the standard historic costume drama on its head to great effect. (Currently playing in theaters in wide release.)

2 comments on “My Favorite Films of 2018 (Part One of Two)

  1. Pingback: From Our Members’ Desks (Jan. 7, 2019) – Online Film Critics Society

  2. Pingback: My Favorite Films of 2018 (Part Two of Two) – The Movie Isle

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