The Fulcrum picks our top 10 movies of the year
These reviews do not contain spoilers, we promise.
1) Hereditary, Ari Aster
Over the past few years, I’ve found the vast majority of horror movies released have become more or less the same. This is one of the reasons Asi Aster’s Hereditary, was both an amazing and refreshing horror film, if you’re willing to box the flick into one genre.
I won’t be the first to say it, but Toni Collette deserves an Oscar for her jaw-dropping performance as Annie, the matriarch of the Graham family who is forced to watch as the death of her mother sets in motion a chain of events that begins to tear her family apart from the inside out.
Rather than keeping the audience on their toes with the constant threat of jump scares or gorey murders, Aster targets the viewer’s psyche. With each sinister development of dread, he crafts a film brimming with sickly anxiety and discomfort. Don’t be surprised if you feel the need to take a hot shower as the final credits crawl across the screen.
—Matt Gergyek, Features Editor.
2) Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino
A perfect film for treating a bad case of summertime nostalgia, director Luca Guadagnino’s cinematic adaptation of André Aciman’s romance novel of the same name is by far one of 2018’s most impactful films. Guadagnino’s skillful direction coupled with Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s breathtaking cinematography combine to create a film that maintains a sense of artistry throughout every frame. The entire film was shot with a 35mm lens and the consistency in the depth of field adds to a dreamy sort of realism that imbues the entire film.
Something exceptional about this film is its ability to be a romance, and an unrelentingly romantic one at that, and yet to feel genuine, realistic, and not nauseating. Even though the protagonists often talk to one another like poets, it never feels unnatural or forced.
Although the film’s naturalism is perhaps what makes its narrative storytelling so effective, the performances are what makes it impactful. Timothée Chalamet gives it all for his breakout performance, earning him an Oscar nomination for best actor at just 22, making him the youngest actor to do so since 1944. His vulnerability makes the heartbreaks of the film all the more heart wrenching for the audience.
—Zoë Mason, Staff Contributor.
3) A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper
A musical romance starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born provides a fresh take on the age-old tale of a young starlet and a washed-up has-been. The film follows a young woman at the start of her music career who falls in love with a burnt-out singer using alcohol to cope with his hearing loss. The film takes viewers on an emotional journey, feeling joy for Ally (Gaga) while simultaneously feeling sad for Cooper’s Jackson Maine.
The accompanying soundtrack perfectly punctuates the movie at key moments and deepens the viewer’s emotional investment in the film as only a musical can, especially standout track “Shallow”. It’s worth seeing for Gaga’s portrayal of Ally alone—it’s the movie’s undisputed highlight, proving that she is a full-fledged triple threat. While the story is not new—this is the fourth remake of the film—Cooper’s vision, combined with Gaga’s raw talent, truly set A Star is Born apart from its predecessors, and from other musical films.
—Julia D’Silva, Fulcrum Contributor.
4) Indian Horse, Stephen Campanelli
Indian Horse brings the sports movie home with an all-Canadian story and cast. Filmed in Sudbury and inexplicably produced by Clint Eastwood, the film covers the life and trials of Saul Indian Horse—a member of the Ojibwe First Nations—as he overcomes intergenerational trauma, residential school, and racism to become a professional hockey player.
Some of the tropes will be tired to sports movie fans, and the complex issues of reconciliation are not always handled in the most sensitive manner. But Indian Horse does an incredible job of taking social justice issues and distilling them into something your conservative uncle might actually watch. A few regional cultural references and some clever camera work stop Indian Horse from becoming too stale. But part of the movie’s charm is just how generic and mainstream it feels—for the first time in history, Indigenous cinema is no longer confined to tiny indie productions and avante-garde videos in sterile art galleries.
—Eric Davison, News Editor.
5) Black Panther, Ryan Coogler
Second only to Avengers: Infinity War, Coogler’s Black Panther was yet another Marvel Studios’ film to break the box office, bringing in more than $1.3 billion. The 18th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the first to feature a predominantly black cast, focusing on the events following the assassination of the King of Wakanda, T’Chaka, and the rise to power of his son, T’Challa.
T’Challa sees his claim to the throne challenged, when an outsider, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens arrives in the hidden kingdom of Wakanda. T’Challa must deal with this threat to the throne, as well as foreigners discovering the truth about Wakanda, and how best to open up to the rest of the world. The film plays on the theme of isolationism versus openness, and boasts yet another ensemble cast including Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, and Lupita Nyong’o. Jordan in particular shines in this culturally significant, award-winning blockbuster.
—Andrew Price, Sports Editor
6) Bao, Domee Shi
This year was a great start to the increase of Asian representation in the movie industry. Crazy Rich Asians was a huge hit all around the world and even Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before gained solid traction. However, the most underrated film that genuinely touched me, as an Asian-Canadian immigrant, was Bao by Domee Shi, the animated short film that was shown in theatres before The Incredibles 2.
Bao, a mandarin homonym representing both the widely-loved dish of steamed buns and the word “precious”, is a short film portraying the experience of Asian immigrant families. Based on Shi’s own experience, this short film explores the sacrifices made by immigrant parents as well as how the assimilation to Western culture affects the relationship between immigrant parents and their children.
For those who may not be able to personally relate to this narrative, I would recommend watching Bao with an open mind. For those who can relate, be sure to bring your tissues: this eight-minute film had every single first and second-generation Asian bawling publicly in theatres.
—Christine Wang, Social Media Manager.
7) Crazy Rich Asians, Jon M. Chu
Crazy Rich Asians is an amazing film for all the reasons you expect and more. First things first, it’s culturally significant. An all Asian cast was truly a step forward for Hollywood. The best part is, it didn’t seem forced. It wasn’t diversity for the sake of diversity, it was simply a movie about Asians.
Beyond that, the movie is definitely a romantic comedy, but it doesn’t follow tropes. The boy and girl are already in love and at no point is their love for each other questioned. But it goes deeper than that. Rachel is nothing like the people Nick grew up with, and his family doesn’t like that. And nothing she can do or will do is ever good enough. This movie captures the essence of relationships, romantic, familial or platonic. It pushes the message of perseverance but also of forgiveness and compromise, doing so in a way that seems light, until you realize how deep it went. This movie will make you laugh, cry, relax and stress out all at the same time.
—Oasika Sharma, Staff Contributor.
8) A Quiet Place, John Krasinski
A Quiet Place received critical and audience acclaim and has even been praised by horror author Stephen King. You’d think A Quiet Place would be your regular post-apocalyptic horror film, but it was different. As the title suggests, it is an extremely quiet movie (it was awkward eating popcorn in the theatre because everyone could hear you chew) and comes with a lot of suspense.
The movie centres around a young family attempting to survive after the world has been invaded by mysterious creatures that are blind but have an acute sense of hearing. The creatures attack anything that makes noise. Of course, it is extremely hard for the family to always remain silent, especially with young children, and much of the suspense revolves around the difficulty and anxiety at being quiet at all times.
Particularly intriguing is that the family communicates using American Sign Language (ASL), as even whispers can be heard by the creatures. The film features deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, and filmmakers also hired a deaf mentor who taught all of the actors sign language for the film. Director John Krasinski (yes, Jim from The Office), creatively emphasizes visuals, uses the silence to enhance suspense, and amplifies even the smallest of sounds. Plot lines of guilt, family, and sacrifice make this flick one of the top films of 2018.
—Kevin Geenen, Staff Contributor.
9) Deadpool 2, David Leitch
After the massive success of Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds continues the trend with Deadpool 2. Even with the high expectations set by the first movie, it’s a testament to the talent and skill of the writers and Reynolds that the second is even stronger.
The comedy is just as quick and raunchy as the first, and features just as a unique soundtrack, with Celine Dion’s vocals accompanying a James Bond-esque opening. It’s unpredictable and unapologetic about the kind of movie it is with a strong core message of family at its heart, just like Deadpool himself.
—Yi Wen Neoh, Fulcrum Contributor. .
10) Avengers: Infinity War, Anthony and Joe Russo
Bringing in more than $2 billion at the box office, the third edition of Marvel Studios’ The Avengers was a massive success, to say the least. It was also one of the largest, most ambitious films of all time, featuring an ensemble cast and crossing over with multiple other box office-smashing films, including the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Black Panther, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The film follows the Avengers as they team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and characters like Doctor Strange, who must take on the intergalactic warlord Thanos to prevent him from obtaining the all-powerful Infinity Stones. It’s an action-packed and even thought-provoking blockbuster, far superior to its predecessor Avengers: Age of Ultron and the first Avengers, setting up next year’s Captain Marvel as a sequel scheduled for May.
—Andrew Price, Sports Editor.
Honourable mention: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ron Howard
This film was attacked from the day it was announced and will be for years to come. Suffice to say, it did not deserve any of it.
Expecting a revolutionary film from the Star Wars franchise is a very common route to disappointment, and when a fan base sees tampering done to an all-time favourite character they react in certain ways. But the movie is surprisingly good. It’s not as serious as some would like but it a fun space adventure movie with really good characters and probably the last time we see Han Solo in film. Harrison Ford’s Solo will always be iconic but Ehrenreich’s wasn’t too shabby. Not to mention that Donald Glover was an absolute gem to watch.
—Oasika Sharma, Staff Contributor.