The best films of 2018, final edition

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4. You Were Never Really Here, dir. Lynne Ramsay.

“Twenty-seven years ago, Gus Van Sant captured something delicately fierce about River Phoenix as he tricked on Portland streets in My Own Private Idaho. Lynne Ramsay does the same with his younger brother Joaquin, but in You Were Never Really Here the delicacy has been burned away. A hit man and all purpose fixer, Joe (Phoenix) has much to be fierce about. A New York state senator hires the Iraq War vet, still reeling with PTST, to find his abducted daughter. The chain reaction of events produces bloodier resolutions than Joe or the audience expects, thanks to Ramsay’s control over the material. By the time the credits for You Were Never Really Here have rolled, you’ll know you’ve something.”

3. Let the Sunshine In, dir. Clair Denis.

“Juliette Binoche hasn’t allowed herself to look this vulnerable and foolish onscreen in years, and if there’s any justice couples will flock to Let the Sunshine In and argue afterward about the decisions her Isabelle makes about the men she dates. If these theatergoers are Claire Denis fans, they can also debate the departure that Let the Sunshine In represents. Whichever they choose, Let the Sunshine In deserves pondering. It’s a movie I can imagine any audience except mine pressing against themselves (mine, I should point out, was characterized by impatient clucks followed by several walkouts).”

2. Zama, dir. Lucrecia Martel.

“Whether John Boorman, Terrence Malick, or Werner Herzog is behind the camera, films about European contact with indigenous peoples tend to abjure a hard narrative line in favor of a imagistic collage that often gets “hallucinatory” slapped on it like a sell-by sticker. It’s as if the concatenation of history, myth, and the director’s personal obsessions demand nothing else. Zama is more imagistic and narrative-wary than the competition, but it’s not obsessive. Argentine director Lucrecia Martel (The Holy Girl, La Ciénaga), returning to film nine years after the extraordinary The Headless Woman, depicts the frustrations of a mid-level administrator in a colonial backwater in modern-day Paraguay, awaiting the royal letter approving a transfer….”

1. Claire’s Camera, dir. Hoo Sang-soo.

“Delighted by revision as a narrative method, the Korean director Hong Sang-soo makes films that force audiences to judge the present based on the steady encroachment of the past. Populating these films with movie directors would open him up to charges of preciousness if Hong didn’t value a certain kind of drollery; his characters, the women particularly, think through their reactions with an understated wonder that’s a response to life’s little peculiarities….”

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