Film Scott Phillips' Film Reviews

My Favorite Films of 2018 (Part One of Two)

First Reformed

From the best female performance of the year to the best male performance of 2018. In the latest film written and directed by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Affliction) Ethan Hawke plays Reverend Ernst Toller, a pastor in a small church in upstate New York who is asked to counsel the husband of a parishioner. The young man is obsessed with climate change and the impending end of the world. When things take a darker turn, Toller finds himself becoming increasingly unbalanced as he explores the young man’s obsessions firsthand. Hawke gives an Oscar-caliber performance as the tormented man of the cloth, and the controversial ending of this film is sure to have viewers talking. (Currently available on digital home video and physical media.)

Free Solo

This documentary co-produced by National Geographic chronicles the efforts of Alex Honnold to climb the 3000-foot face of the El Capitan wall at Yosemite National Park … without the assistance of any ropes or climbing gear. It’s a superhuman feat that results in a once-in-a-lifetime documentary. While it will never get the attention it deserves, Free Solo sports the best cinematography of any film released in 2018. The camera crew is comprised of experienced climbers who capture Honnold’s stunning ascent while trying not to distract the climber from the life-or-death task at hand. Honnold is a fascinating character and, when he leaves terra firma, this film truly takes flight. (This film is being re-released in IMAX theaters across the country before arriving on home video in early 2019.)

Game Night

This film was a breath of comedic fresh air. After year upon year of fart jokes and bodily function humor, Game Night arrives on the scene with genuine wit and brilliant slapstick. When a group of friends get together for a murder mystery party, things go awry when they find themselves caught up in a real kidnapping. What’s the catch? They don’t know they’ve been swept up in a real crime. They think it’s all part of the game. Each cast member is comedy gold with Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams and Jesse Plemons leading the charge. The bullet removal sequence may be my favorite film scene of 2018. I laughed until I cried and then I laughed some more. (Currently available on digital home video and physical media.)

Hereditary

From the funniest movie of the year to the scariest. I’ve been a horror fan since I was a kid, and as a veteran viewer of all things frightening, it’s a rare thing indeed for a film to disturb and disquiet me like this debut feature from writer/director Ari Aster. It’s a domestic drama that becomes more twisted with each passing scene. Hereditary drips with dread from its opening moments and doesn’t let up until the credits roll. If horror films garnered any respect from the powers-that-be, Toni Collette would be clearing more mantle space during awards season. The ending will leave fans divided, but the journey is satisfying in and of itself. It’s a must-see film for horror fans, and even non-fans should marvel at its artistry. (Currently available on digital home video and physical media.)

Part Two of Scott’s My Favorite Films of 2018 will be posting in the New Year

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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