My experience of cinema in 2018 was not exactly mind-blowing. It did not reignite my first-love feelings for movies, but I’m grateful that I saw films last year that resonated, or lingered in me for a long time.
You see, watching movies is no different from dining. You don’t overthink the food you are putting in your mouth. Once it hits your tastebuds, you immediately know whether you like it or not — mediocre, fantastic, or something you’d politely spit out in a napkin
Of course, there were also a lot of horrific and unbearable movies last year — shout out to A Wrinkle in Time and a few I watched in Macau: Mary Queen of Scots and the trippy phantasmagoria that is Mandy, which was not literally bad, but which my entire being rejected. So I’m glad I managed to come up with 10 that I loved — one of them is not exactly a movie, but a special feature that is not a TV series. And it’s mandatory viewing.
You see, watching movies is no different from dining. You don’t overthink the food you are putting in your mouth. Once it hits your tastebuds, you immediately know whether you like it or not — mediocre, fantastic, or something you’d politely spit out in a napkin.
Then there’s the surprisingly great food, that you must get a second helping of, or sometimes a third, and the taste is consistently wonderful. It’s seared in your memory and you can’t stop talking about it with people.
A great movie more than satisfies the senses — it satisfies the soul. These 10 movies made me laugh, cry, think, or reflect, and made me watch them more than once. Most of all, they reminded me why I loved going to the movies in the first place.
Here is my list of the TOP 10 MOVIES of 2018:
10. Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus – Dwein Balthazar’s gem of an indie film is a smart and humorous study of obsession. Baltazar set her lyrical and poetic reimagining of yearning against the seedy, dirty streets of Avenida, and the film is intoxicating for its style, insight, magic and realism.
9. Roma – From versatile filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron comes the unforgettable tale of an indigenous domestic helper during 1970s Mexico. Also written and lensed in lustrous black and white by the Oscar-winning Mexican director, Roma is a powerful tribute to women — as a nurturer and a sufferer. Still available on Netflix. Lucky I saw this on a big screen during my media coverage of the International Film Festival and Awards Macao. There are rumors that this movie will return to movie houses, so watch out for it.
8. Mission Impossible: Fallout – The popcorn movie of the year. Fun and refreshingly devoid of visual effects or CGI, this is real, authentic action-adventure. Tom Cruise famously broke his ankle in this movie.
7. Searching – With the entire movie taking place on a Macbook, Searching is surprisingly raw and emotional. An abduction story with a plain plotline but with astounding and ingenious delivery, you will be hooked from the time of booting to shutting down.
6. Signal Rock – Chito Roño treats us to a small-town drama with the excellent Christian Bables as his central character. A cultural and social commentary with a sterling screenplay, Signal Rock is a rarity in Philippine cinema: smart, darkly funny and thought-provoking, it stays with you for several days.
5. A Quiet Place – This is not John Krasinski’s debut feature film, but his first foray into horror. And lo and behold, he seems to be a master of the genre. Original, chilling, sophisticated, with an underlying family drama, this goes down as one of the best in the history of cinematic horror.
4. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – The Coen brothers’ western anthology series is comprised of six short stories brimming with wit, song and fantastic screenplay. Fans of western flicks or the Coen brothers’ subversive and playful mind will find this collection deeply entertaining.
3. A Star is Born – Give an Oscar already to the multitalented Bradley Cooper, who stars, writes and directs this third remake of a love story between a fading star and a rising star.
Cooper’s transformative performance is complemented by Lady Gaga’s naturalistic performance. Complete with Matthew Libatique’s glorious lensing and a very catchy soundtrack, this film is one of the brightest of 2018.
2. Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon – Named Best Film at the 14th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival Awards, Carlo Enciso Catu’s film is an unforgettable tale of love and relationship in the twilight years. John Carlo Pacala’s luminous screenplay and Catu’s confident direction bring out the beauty in the mundane and the profundity in small, gentle moments. Funny, painful and incredibly moving, the movie avoids sentimentality and instead keeps the emotions simmering with exquisite subtlety. Expect to weep at the end.
1. Hannah Gadsby: Nanette – This is not a movie, but a feature, and it’s in my list, anyway.
Netflix’s comedy special Nanette, written and performed by Australian stand-up comic Hannah Gadsby, literally changed the landscape of stand-up comedy. Controversial, hilarious and deeply profound, Gadsby dissects humor, trauma, humanity and shares the finest and most authentically frightening truth about #MeToo.
As a lesbian growing up in small-town Tasmania with a degree in art history, Gadsby, in a sharply intelligent, original and emotionally genuine show, decides to quit comedy in this comedy show. You don’t have to identify with her in order to connect with her. You only have to be human. Still available on Netflix.
Happy New Year, and let us all hope for a grander time at the cinemas this 2019!