Film Scott Phillips' Film Reviews

My Favorite Films of 2018 (Part Two of Two)


Richard is having a fling with Jen (Matilda Lutz). The two are frollicking at an exotic remote rendezvous before Richard embarks on a hunting trip with his two friends. When one of the men rapes Jen, Richard decides it’s simpler to kill her than have his affair revealed. And that’s when this action-packed, technicolor masterpiece begins. Matilda Lutz is a force of nature as a hot pants wearing, lollipop sucking fantasy who transforms into a bad ass angel of death and wreaks her revenge on the men who victimized her. (That’s not exactly a spoiler given the title of the film.) Revenge is a thriller with an agenda. The film examines the “male gaze” tendency to reduce women to objects and to see their sexuality as an invitation for unwanted advances. I’ve seen Revenge three times now, and I still can’t believe that this brilliant thriller is the debut feature from writer/director Coralie Fargeat. I truly can’t wait to see what she does next. (Currently available on digital platforms, physical media and the Shudder streaming service)

Sgt. Stubby

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

The Little Doggy Who Could. Sgt. Stubby was one of the most captivating stories of 2018, on-screen and off. This animated film comes from Fun Academy Motion Pictures, an independent animation studio, and opened on over 1200 screens nationwide. In a film genre dominated by Disney, Pixar and other corporate behemoths, it’s an unprecedented distribution accomplishment. Sgt. Stubby tells the tale of a dog who fought in the trenches of World War I and was ultimately given an official rank by the U.S. Army. It’s a heart-warming story that features beautiful, painterly animation. If you have not yet discovered this family-friendly gem, you have a treat in store for you and your youngsters. (Currently available on digital platforms and physical media)


2018 was a year in cinema that examined the nature of family and the ties that bind, and no release did that better than this film from Hirokazu Kore-eda. A group of small-time thieves survive in contemporary Japan by stealing to supplement their meager incomes. When they take in a young girl living in an abusive household, they begin to receive unwanted scrutiny from the authorities they are doing their best to avoid. Shoplifters shows us that family is simply a concept, a social construct that has little to do with genetics and instead springs from love and sacrifice. At one point in the film, our protagonists are listening to a fireworks display that they can’t see. Their faces are filled with wonder. Much like the bonds between these characters who share no biological ties, the fireworks display isn’t the genuine article, but it sustains them nonetheless. (Currently playing in select theaters)

A Star is Born

My favorite film of 2018. It gets everything right about falling in love, chasing your dreams and “the in-between times” when that dream or new love can’t keep your personal demons at bay. Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a country-rocker whose career is fading. He plays to packed houses, but you can tell he hasn’t had a hit in awhile. He’s coasting on his legacy. Enter Ally: a young waitress/hostess who’s a talent waiting to be discovered. Their ensuing relationship launches Ally’s music career as Jackson struggles with the darkness inside himself. The cinematography and sound design put the audience on the stage with the kick drum thudding in our chests and the lights shining in our faces. It’s a stunning cinematic accomplishment. The film has suffered recent backlash because some critics can’t accept the fact that a big successful studio film can also be a work of art. (Currently playing in theaters and hits digital home video on January 15, 2019 with a physical media release on February 19, 2019)

1 comment on “My Favorite Films of 2018 (Part Two of Two)

  1. Pingback: From Our Members’ Desks (Jan. 14, 2019) – Online Film Critics Society

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: