The Class of 2018: My Favorite Movies

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I’ve watched movies every which way during these past twelve months, giving more time to them than I had in any previous year. There were the usual methods — discs bought, rented, and borrowed; digital versions streamed and purchased — as well as, for the first time in my life, weekly trips to the theater. The latter happened thanks to a MoviePass subscription that I officially started last October. As I continually read every prediction of doom concerning the company’s teetering business model, I’m making the most of the opportunity it offers — to see new movies, and to see them in the proper environment (more or less). True, I’ve exposed myself to a lot of forgettable fare this way, but I was also able to see every Best Picture nominee for the first time (and all the nominated documentary shorts, just for fun). As for home viewing, I cancelled both of my streaming subscriptions (FilmStruck and MUBI) at the end of last year. Now I’m mostly limiting myself to the movies I already own, as well as the occasional library visit. Such savings!

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The Ascent

Besides my January retrospective (focused this time on the films of 1987), my viewing schedule has been pretty scattershot. I’ve spent some time acquainting myself with more directors: Samuel Fuller, Catherine Breillat, Errol Morris, Edward Yang, Kenneth Lonergan, Volker Schlöndorff, Julie Taymor, Béla Tarr, Michael Haneke, Olivier Assayas and Aki Kaurismäki. I watched the first four Dirty Harry movies and the first four Death Wish movies. I completed my “Both Versions” blog series with its last five entries (on Blade RunnerAmadeusThe New WorldThe Grandmaster and Goodbye to Language). I continued to chip away at the noteworthy films of the current decade.

There are two outstanding facts about the movies I saw this past year. First is that I — still a relatively inexperienced cinephile with major gaps in expertise — had a series of what I’ll call “breakthrough” moments with some pantheon directors. In other words, there were certain directors with whom I’d had at least a passing familiarity for years, without ever unabashedly loving a film of theirs — until now. These greats include Carl Theodor Dreyer, Yazujirô Ozu, Sergei Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky, Harold Lloyd (an actor, but we can call him an auteur) and Krzysztof Kieślowski. The fact that I hold mealy-mouthed opinions about these men’s consensus masterpieces, only to turn around and give my approval to less significant works, is neither here nor there. I still lack the confidence to take a truly contrarian stand. My default position is that I’m probably wrong.

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The second piece of trivia I want to point out is the simple fact that I saw some very long movies this year, and I mostly loved them. A total of four exceed Gone with the Wind in length: A Brighter Summer DayMysteries of LisbonSátántangó and Shoah. That last one is longer than the first two combined. With Shoah, we’re getting up into the rafters as far as what constitutes a feature film. In terms of extreme duration, the only remaining frontiers for me to plant my flag in are Jacques Rivette’s Out 1 and Christian Marclay’s The Clock. Additionally, I saw a few serials and multi-part projects. The distinction between movies and TV may be mostly useless at this point, but I think I still need to draw a line between self-contained works and stories told in installments. (“What about Marvel?” Eh, shut up.) There was the eight-part Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-1998), the ten-part Les Vampires (1915-1916), the ten-part Dekalog (1988-1989) and, my favorite of a glorious bunch, the eighteen-part Twin Peaks: The Return (2017). That last one got a mention from me on another blog as my favorite “movie” of 2017. So you can see me over there, eating my cake, at the same time that I’m over here, having it. My main list of favorite movies is restricted to “feature films” — those movies that are designed to be viewed in one sitting, lasting somewhere between 40 and (at least until I see the Rivette and the Marclay) 566 minutes.

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Here are my favorites among all the movies I saw in the last twelve months: the class of 2018. There are a whopping seventy-eight of them, blowing away last year’s personal record of sixty-four. I’m just loving things willy-nilly now.

Title Director Year
Amour Michael Haneke 2012
Ariel Aki Kaurismäki 1988
The Ascent Larisa Shepitko 1977
Baby Driver Edgar Wright 2017
The Beguiled Sofia Coppola 2017
The Big Sick Michael Showalter 2017
Brazil Terry Gilliam 1985
A Brief History of Time Errol Morris 1991
A Brighter Summer Day Edward Yang 1991
Caravaggio Derek Jarman 1986
Charulata Satyajit Ray 1964
Chicago Frank Urson 1927
Cosmopolis David Cronenberg 2012
Day of Wrath Carl Theodor Dreyer 1943
The Devil and Daniel Webster William Dieterle 1941
Drug War Johnnie To 2012
Dunkirk Christopher Nolan 2017
Faces Places Agnès Varda & JR 2017
The Fisher King Terry Gilliam 1991
The Florida Project Sean Baker 2017
A Ghost Story David Lowery 2017
Glengarry Glen Ross James Foley 1992
Goodbye to Language Jean-Luc Godard 2014
The Hidden Jack Sholder 1987
Hope and Glory John Boorman 1987
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore Macon Blair 2017
I Was Born, But… Yasujirô Ozu 1932
Ida Paweł Pawlikowski 2013
Irma Vep Olivier Assayas 1996
Ivan the Terrible, Part II Sergei Eisenstein 1958
Journey to the West Tsai Ming-liang 2014
The Kid Brother Ted Wilde 1927
Kuroneko Kaneto Shindo 1968
Landline Gillian Robespierre 2017
The Last Detail Hal Ashby 1973
Lessons of Darkness Werner Herzog 1992
Little Dieter Needs to Fly Werner Herzog 1997
The Look of Silence Joshua Oppenheimer & Anonymous 2014
Manchester by the Sea Kenneth Lonergan 2016
Margaret Kenneth Lonergan 2011
The Match Factory Girl Aki Kaurismäki 1990
Mother! Darren Aronofsky 2017
Mudbound Dee Rees 2017
Mysteries of Lisbon Raúl Ruiz 2010
The Naked Spur Anthony Mann 1953
One Day Pina Asked… Chantal Akerman 1983
Paddington 2 Paul King 2017
Pariah Dee Rees 2011
Paris Is Burning Jennie Livingston 1990
Pickup on South Street Samuel Fuller 1953
Poetry Lee Chang-dong 2010
A Quiet Passion Terence Davies 2016
RoboCop Paul Verhoeven 1987
The Sacrifice Andrei Tarkovsky 1986
The Salesman Asghar Farhadi 2016
Sátántangó Béla Tarr 1994
Shoah Claude Lanzmann 1985
A Short Film About Killing Krzysztof Kieślowski 1988
A Short Film About Love Krzysztof Kieślowski 1988
Sign “” the Times Prince 1987
Song to Song Terrence Malick 2017
Speedy Ted Wilde 1928
The Steel Helmet Samuel Fuller 1951
Stolen Kisses François Truffaut 1968
A Story of Floating Weeds Yasujirô Ozu 1934
Stray Dog Akira Kurosawa 1949
Summer Hours Olivier Assayas 2008
Taxi Jafar Panahi 2015
The Thin Blue Line Errol Morris 1988
Timbuktu Abderrahmane Sissako 2014
Training Day Antoine Fuqua 2001
The Turin Horse Béla Tarr & Ágnes Hranitzky 2011
The Wedding Banquet Ang Lee 1993
Werckmeister Harmonies Béla Tarr & Ágnes Hranitzky 2000
Where the Wild Things Are Spike Jonze 2009
The White Ribbon Michael Haneke 2009
The Work Jairus McLeary & Gethin Aldous 2017
Yi Yi Edward Yang 2000

And as a reward (?) if you’ve stuck with me this long, here’s a further culling of the above list into a ranked top ten.

10. Manchester by the Sea
9. Amour
8. Pickup on South Street
7. The Florida Project
6. The Work
5. The Look of Silence
4. Baby Driver
3. Werckmeister Harmonies
2. Sátántangó
1. Margaret

One response to “The Class of 2018: My Favorite Movies

  1. Pingback: The Class of 2019: My Favorite Movies | Geppetto's Clocks·

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