It’s hard to believe another year’s passed by! 2018 certainly was a stand-out year for Cinema and Team Mr. Will true to tradition, share with you their best of 2018. If you haven’t seen some of these, it’s time to start adding to your Must-See Lists this winter!
AMANDA GILMORE (@gilmoreamanda)
It was such a great year for Film that it’s near impossible for me to choose the Top Ten. I could have easily made a Top 30 list (if it was allowed). However, I managed to squeeze in ten films, which are in alphabetical order rather than being ranked. I’ve included films from a range of genres and narratives that I’ve thought about since my first viewing.
A Star Is Born
A Quiet Place
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse
Ready Player One
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald
A Quiet Place
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Legend of the Demon Cat
Mary Poppins Returns
As usual, my list consists of movies I saw on the Silver Screen within the calendar year. They’re organized according to release date, and are thus relieved of any hierarchy. Annihilation is the dark Sci-Fi wizardry I live for; Ready Player One is my kind of Spielberg cinema; and A Quiet Place is my top scare of 2018. Solo gave me more Star Wars; Demon Cat made this year’s TIFF magical; and First Man is the brand of brooding Drama I adore. Fantastic Beasts 2 is dope AF; Green Book is a beautiful performance piece; and Spider-Man is the Comic Movie I’ve been waiting forever for. To wrap it all up… Mary Poppins Returns! She has, and it warms my heart.
DAVID BALDWIN (@DaveMABaldwin)
2018 was an incredible year for Cinema. Full stop. If anyone tells you otherwise, they did not see enough movies. Every genre fired on all cylinders, and the mid-budget and independent scenes were filled with positively exquisite Filmmaking that will go down as some of the best of the decade. And even better than that, 2018 proved the power and importance of diversity and gender in Cinema. The number of movies I genuinely liked and loved that missed my Top Ten can attest to how outstanding a year this was. But I can say with confidence that the list of films below shook me right through to my bones whether through fear, laughter, wonder, charm, thrills, or genuine emotion. And yes, I know I cheated with including a tie — but it would be a disservice to not include all of these titles on my list.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
The Hate U Give
[tie] Can You Ever Forgive Me? / Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
GEORGE KOZERA (@PartyG)
I saw 164 movies this year. It took a long time to whittle the list down to 26 movies that I considered to be the best of 2018. This was a year that brought fantastic highs that had me gasping with wonder and admiration or so bad that they had me rolling my eyes in disbelief! Whether it was one of the most original Horror movies in a long time (A Quiet Place) or a Superhero, Comic Book movie so innovative and supremely well-acted that it validated a genre many were hoping would just go away (Black Panther). It was a banner year for documentary features, musicals and an LGBTQ movie was released for the first time ever by a major Hollywood studio (Love, Simon). Dramas were rampant with stories that touched one’s soul, though there was a lack of Comedies that were consistently funny throughout (with the exception of “Game Night”). All that said, I submit my pick for the best film of the year and the next nine movies (in alphabetical order) that moved, enthralled and will stay with me for years to come.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Lean on Pete
Leave No Trace
Mary Poppins Returns
Three Identical Strangers
JUSTIN WALDMAN (@DubsReviews)
It is time for the annual Top Ten movies I saw that I absolutely adored and loved this year. Some are best of the year, while others are the movies I had the most fun watching this year. There have been some truly incredible movies this year, and dare I say the ‘blockbusters’ for the most part have been fine, nothing really spectacular outside of a few gems. If you haven’t seen something on this list, go out and see it. Most of these movies will appeal to the masses, enjoy yourselves. Here’s to a 2019 with some hot titles coming out over the next few weeks, Glass anyone, and next few months, US am I right? 2019 is sure to be a stellar year
Anna and the Apocalypse
A Quiet Place
Sorry to Bother You
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
“I connect to her personally. This isn’t a story about my daughter. This is a story about me, now, through her.”
This type of observation is not what I thought I would hear from Bo Burnham. Admittedly, my knowledge of the 27-year-old Comedian was limited to his scene stealing role in last summer’s Oscar-nominated The Big Sick. But as I discovered his eclectic and zany stand-up comedy routines and music videos on YouTube (the online arena where he was first noticed by the likes of Judd Apatow), I began to put together a picture that contradicted the lanky, insightful and thoughtful Writer/Director I was listening to in a recreated TTC subway car alongside other local online journalists a few weeks ago.
His Film, Eighth Grade, has received unanimous praise since debuting at the Sundance Film Festival this past January. The Film revolves around Kayla (Elsie Fisher) and how she navigates through the challenges presented by her last week of middle school. The Film is honest, raw and unflinching in its awkwardness, but it is also quietly hilarious and moving.
Burnham finished the first draft of the Script in 2014, and it took three years before he was finally able to make the Film. His initial intention was to write a story about the Internet from the point of view of someone like him, but quickly pivoted when he realized how it “just felt so embarrassing because [the character] was just so hateable and like why? Why is this person doing this? But when you’re an eighth-grader, and when you’re 13 – you can kind of forgive our behaviour a little bit better.”. As he was preparing to write the story that would become Eighth Grade, he watched YouTube videos made by teenagers as inspiration: “I [transcribed] exactly what they said, every sound…‘uh yeah, so, eugh, neugh, sorry, blah, so what I’m trying to say is.’. That’s what I was trying to write. Cause the way kids actually sound is so much more complex than the way kids are written and performed.”.
Where other Filmmakers and Writers have told stories within the nostalgic realm of high school, Burnham felt it was very important to set his story in middle school. He points out emphatically early in our discussion that “You’re coming of age in high school, but high school’s like yeah, you’re becoming an adult. When you’re in eighth grade, you’re literally still a child.”. And this way of thinking extended into his depiction of the Internet and its importance to Kayla and the rest of her classmates: “The Internet means the most to those kids, because they don’t know a world before it. It’s not this other thing to them that they’re living with. It’s the way that they live, and always have.”.
When it came time to cast the Film, Burnham says there was no magical formula: “It was just a mixture of kid actors. All of the extras were just from the school, from the surrounding areas and the day players were ones from the school we shot at. The girl whose pool that is, is in the pool party scene with some of her friends.”. He wanted the Film to be as authentic as possible and acted alongside the actors during rehearsals to make them feel comfortable. But what he strived for on-set was to “make a safe environment for the kids to be free…and give them permission to be themselves.”.
While we touched on various aspects of the Film from the awkward humour (“I love cringe. If you’re cringing it means you’re feeling it with the person”), to the Film’s electronic Score (“I wanted the music to be intense…and reflect her inner experience which is visceral and big”), to even politics (“I was certain I was making it for Hillary’s America…[Now] I don’t know if the country makes it to when she’s a senior”), the most enlightening aspect of our discussion was also the most mature. In discussing the importance of Kayla’s father Mark (Josh Hamilton) to the story, Burnham says that parents “don’t specifically know you moment to moment, but they know the big overarching you that at that age you just can’t attend to because two years ago feels like fucking forever ago and you were a different person.”. But while the watchful parental aspect is heavily emphasized, Burnham feels the Film’s more relevant thesis is that “moments that don’t sound like a big deal, of all different types, when you actually live them, are a huge deal.”.
Burnham’s lasting hope for Eighth Grade is simple from the on-set: “I just hope people see it and feel something.”. He hopes it will serve both parents and children well but notes that “It definitely wasn’t [made] for eighth-graders. I hope eighth-graders like it, but it’s definitely not primarily for them.”. As he dug a bit deeper however, touching on the inherent sexism involved in centring the Film on a young girl, it becomes clear what his ultimate intention was in making the Film: “Like no one goes oh Hamlet, was that only for Princes of Denmark? Everyone sees themselves in him, even if they aren’t a prince, or a man, or Danish or whatever he was. And I think a 13-year-old girl can be the same thing. Everyone should be able to see themselves in her.”.
When asked what’s next, Burnham deadpans, “I’ll bang my head off the wall. I’m not a great multitasker.”. It’s only after he says this that I begin to remember who Burnham was before he made Eighth Grade and how many of his fans will soon see a completely different side of him. And as someone who has yet to properly harness time management, I know we will be awaiting eagerly whatever he crafts as his follow-up.
Elevation Pictures release EIGHTH GRADE in Toronto on Friday, July 20, 2018 and additional cities starting Friday, August 3, 2018.
Date: Wednesday, August 1st, 2018
Location: Grant Park (Landmark)
Date: Wednesday, August 1st, 2018
Location: Park Lane
Date: Wednesday, August 1st, 2018
Location: City Centre (Landmark)
Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school—the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year—before she begins high school.
Eighth Grade is a coming-of-age story that follows Kayla (Elsie Fisher) in her last week of her disastrous last year of middle-school before entering high school.
Writer-Director Bo Burnham crafts a beautiful coming-of-age story that doesn’t use cliches. The Film is earnest in its depiction of a young girl trying her hardest to fit. And in being earnest Eighth Grade has moments of hilarity and awkwardness that many can relate to. Fisher gives a breakthough performance as Kayla. She never misses a beat and carries the Film effortlessly. Josh Hamilton (American Horror Story, 13 Reasons Why), who plays the father, gives ones of his best performances as the worried and caring father.
Eighth Grade screens at Sundance on Jan. 19 at 6PM at PC Library, Jan. 20 at 8:30AM at Egyptian PC, Jan. 21 at 9:30PM at Rose Wagner SLC, Jan. 24 at 5:30PM at The MARC PC, Jan. 25 at 6PM at Sundance Resort, and Jan. 26 at 3:30PM at Eccles PC.