Below are 6 of my favorite movies from 2018. Many of them deal with really relevant issues that I think are important to consider moving into the new year. I have included trailers for each!
1. 'Sorry To Bother You'
This directorial debut of Boots Riley was definitely one of my favorite films of 2018. It is unlike any movie I have ever seen, addressing many relevant issues of 2018, among those being race and gender relations and problems associated with free-market capitalism. The social issues addressed, however, are placed into an almost cartoonish version of the future in Oakland, CA, made absurd by an uncomfortable and ridiculous twist.
The film traces the rise of the main character Cassius Green from a low-level telemarketing job to a top job selling what is essentially slave labor for exorbitant amounts of money. I especially love the character of Detroit, Cassius' girlfriend, in this movie. She is bright and colorful and transcends the typical love-interest role in her fully-fleshed out character. She has her own plans and goals completely separate from Cassius, making her realistic and showing her importance as a character. Hopefully going into 2019 we will see more original movies like 'Sorry To Bother You.'
2. 'Isle of Dogs'
'Isle of Dogs' is a film set in a futuristic Japanese city where dogs have been exiled to a trash island. The plot traces the journey of the mayor's ward, a 12-year-old boy named Atari, to find his lost dog Spots. The movie is directed by Wes Anderson, who is an acquired taste for many. However, I believe this film can be appealing to many. It has unique animation and plot, has lots of humorous moments, and a great cast and score. I love in this movie how the story is told essentially from the dogs' point of views in that the dogs talk in English and the humans talk in their native Japanese language. However, this is an also issue because it kind of narrows the audience for the film into those that primarily speak English, which ruins the effect for any Japanese speakers.
3. 'Eighth Grade'
This movie is probably the most accurate portrayal of eighth grade and middle school that I have ever seen. Comedian Bo Burnham wrote and directed this film that details the tribulations of eighth-grader Kayla struggling to fit in in her last weeks of middle school. The film is really funny, as would be expected, but it also has moments of extreme discomfort for the audience, which only enhances it as a whole. The arc of the movie is very similar to that of a typical year of an eighth grader. I also relate to this movie because I struggled in middle school with shyness and making friends, as does the main character Kayla.
4. 'First Man'
Directed by one of my favorite directors, Damien Chazelle, 'First Man' depicts the life of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, played by Ryan Gosling. I liked this movie a lot because instead of just idealizing Armstrong as an American hero, Chazelle spoke to the people close to Armstrong and did his best to portray him as he actually was. The true Armstrong was a quiet, reticent man who suffered a lot. Armstrong's son says that 'First Man' is the most accurate representation of who Armstrong actually was. I also enjoy that the movie is focused on all Armstrong's life instead of only the moments that we know him for. It shows events in how they mattered to Armstrong rather than in how we all think those events should be shown based on our conceptions of Neil Armstrong as solely being an American hero.
Directed by Spike Lee, BlackKkKlansmen shows how in 1970 African-American Ron Stallworth worked for the Colorado Springs Police Department to infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. Ron Stallworth becomes a double persona, the true Ron taking on the responsibility of talking to the KKK grand wizard David Duke on the phone and white detective Flip Zimmerman assuming the role of Ron Stallworth at KKK meetings. This movie had a lot of funny moments and draws on current modern issues with race relations.
However, I do believe that Spike Lee could have been more subtle with tying the movie to current issues with white supremacy. The connection was already evident throughout the film, showing footage from riots in Charlottesville and Trump's press conference at the end of the movie shoves an already obvious message into the audiences' faces. The message is an important one, but I think it would be more effective if the audience was left to figure it out for themselves, which is easy to do looking at the rest of the film. However, I think this was a good movie and a really important one in the modern era.
This Netflix movie is based on a novel where a Texas girl deemed fat decides to participate in the pageant her mother is so dedicated but that she herself has ridiculed her whole life. It has a sweet story and lots of uplifting themes that need to be reiterated in this current era. The most important of those themes is that your weight does not correlate with your worth.
Others may call you fat and you may feel insecure about your weight, but this movie shows that beauty and quality of character can be found in any person, no matter how much they weigh. I like this movie as well because it emphasizes the importance of family and friends and reinforces that those relationships can be just as, if not more, important than romantic relationships. This movie also has an awesome Dolly Parton-heavy soundtrack, featuring a song Parton wrote for the film 'Girl in the Movies' which was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Although 2018 was a rough year, we had a lot of great, landmark movies come out! 'BlacKkKlansmen' and 'Sorry to Bother You' address white supremacy and race issues in two different and effective ways and 'Dumplin'' addresses issues associated with body image. We can learn from these films going into 2019 and can hope for a better future!