2018 films you might've missed crome yellow

Fact: there are so many films out there, it’s impossible to keep up. Here are some films that you might have missed in 2018. They all hit me pretty hard, but had a hard time finding an audience. These are all worth clearing your schedule for, though, and I think cover a wide range of moods and tastes. Pick at ‘em off one by one and thank me later!

Destroyer Nicole Kidman

Destroyer: Karyn Kusama’s follow-up to The Invitation goes into noir territory, but still shares a lot with its predecessor. Again, Kusama and writing duo Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi are mining psychological angst, this time submerging us into the headspace of a tortured LA cop as she searches for closure. Nicole Kidman’s performance is one of the best she’s ever done, working with a character that’s refreshingly difficult to “like.” Of course, a likable lead refreshingly isn’t the point here. Kusama subtly builds things to a twisty point of no return, and that ending jolts like none other. MY FULL REVIEW

Assassination Nation Odessa Young Hari Nef ABRA Suki Waterhouse

Assassination Nation: A retelling of the Salem witch trials for the social media generation, director Sam Levinson’s film is an unabashed kick in the teeth. Overflowing with kinetic style and liberal Godard influence, this is exactly the kind of film we need knock us out of complacency. Most will be split on whether the film actually says anything coherent or sticks to its own standards, but then again, it’s asking the right questions and forcing us to engage. MY FULL REVIEW

The Guilty review Jakob Cedergren

The Guilty: One of the most intense morality plays of the year. Locked into a single room with just one man’s conscience and a seemingly unwindable solution, this Danish import runs at breakneck speed and never looks back. Totally minimalist, but packing such a big punch, director Gustav Moller wastes nothing and every single second is bursting with texture and weight. Jake Gyllenhaal is attached to star in the remake, but you definitely shouldn’t miss this version. MY FULL REVIEW

Support the Girls Regina Hall Haley Lu Richardson

Support the Girls: One of the most woefully low-key films of the year, Regina Hall packs in one of the year’s best performances in this biting feminist comedy. She plays the manager of an ailing Hooters-type joint, and we follow her over the course of a day as she navigates new hires and outside pressures. The script and direction by Andrew Bujalski are sharp and understated, letting the performances and natural farce of it all take center stage.

What Keeps You Alive Brittany Allen Hannah

What Keeps You Alive: This latest collaboration between director Colin Minihan and star Brittany Allen is another subversive winner. It’s a survival story set between two women (who play a couple) and the hidden dark side that one of them holds within. The first thirty minutes constitute what would normally be a full film, and from there, the film goes off the rails and towards a place we’d never expect. MY FULL REVIEW

Lowlife review Nicki Micheaux Ricardo Adam Zarate

Lowlife: It’s true, this film wears its influences on its sleeve, but to simply reduce Ryan Prows’ film to a mere Tarantino riff wouldn’t be giving it enough credit. Prows paints a very ugly picture of Los Angeles that’s unflinching but somehow cathartic. The story sets loose rogue ICE agents, a skin trade, a luchador, addict and ex-con. How all of these characters and elements collide and clash is unbelievable, resulting in an unhinged farce with unexpected weight. MY FULL REVIEW

The Cured review Sam Keeley

The Cured: This film is the next step in the zombie genre. Like 28 Days Later or Girl With All the Gifts, David Freyne’s film literally takes us one step beyond the genre template. This film happens after the zombie apocalypse has ended. Now, former undead are able to be cured. Of course, this opens up another set of problems, mainly with remorse, guilt and shame for those previously effected, and the newfound prejudice that they find while attempting to reintegrate. This is deep, emotional stuff that’s frightening on another level. MY FULL REVIEW

Ritual review Netflix

The Ritual: This is the proper, unofficial sequel to Blair Witch. While it may not have anything to do with the iconic film, it’s an example of how to expand on an idea within the genre and take it further. David Bruckner’s film is an amazing creature feature that leans heavily on the psychological and has a truly emotional core. The pacing is tight, the visuals and atmosphere incredible and the film rocks us to our core. I can’t say enough good things about the overlooked gem. MY FULL REVIEW

Upgrade movie review Logan Marshall-Green

Upgrade: Leigh Whannell is a madman. This is top-tier, transgressive sci-fi in the vein of Robocop or Terminator, but with a voice and style of its own. Whannell transforms a silly premise into something utterly addicting, smart and economical. I frankly couldn’t get enough of this film and wanted to see it again as soon as it finished. Tons of gore, a bit of cheeky humor and inventive action. This was a daring, original R-rated film that no one saw, and if you didn’t, but complain that there aren’t enough of these, then you’re the problem. MY FULL REVIEW

Terrified Aterrados

Terrified: Pound-for-pound, minute-to-minute the most comprehensive thrill ride of the year. This is nerve-shattering jump scares done in a way that we can’t get enough of. Director Demian Rugna knows exactly how to get us riled up, offering up a fascinating mythology and funhouse haunts that never let up. Guillermo del Toro has already snatched the rights to this, and is having Rugna remake his own film, but you shouldn’t by any means sleep on this one. Hit up Shudder for the exclusive streaming fix. MY FULL REVIEW

Shirkers Sandi Tan

Shirkers: Sandi Tan returns to her childhood to piece together a decades old puzzle. The results are unavoidably dark, but she presents them with an unabashed hope and whimsy. Colorful and beautiful no matter how you look at it, this is deep stuff that makes us contemplate the relationships we have in our lives and the power that art has to live on in many forms. 

The World Is Yours Vincent Cassel Isabelle Adjani

The World Is Yours: Imagine what you love about Guy Ritchie films but a zillion times smarter and with more energy. That’s Romain Gavras’ latest heist romp. You can never guess what’s going to happen from scene to scene, and the stacked cast is bursting with tangible charm. Unabashedly irreverent, Gavras’ film is pulsing with a vibrancy that we can’t get enough of. The twists come fast and furiously, while Karim Leklou, Isabelle Adjani, Vincent Cassel and Oulaya Amamra burn up the screen. 

Searching review John Cho

Searching: A nice entry in the “screen life” genre that breaks the rules and lets John Cho shine. Taking place completely on laptop screens, director Aneesh Chaganty plots a fierce thriller in which nothing or no-one is who they seem. There’s a tender relationship at the center of it all, and the film earns its conclusion in the best way. Seriously tho, please put John Cho in everything! MY FULL REVIEW

Never Steady, Never Still Shirley Henderson

Never Steady, Never Still: Quiet and reserved but deafening all the same. Kathleen Hepburn’s portrait of Parkinson’s and the mother who struggles to be there for those around her is utterly devastating but also empowering. Hepburn never gets sentimental or sugarcoats, but instead lets the situation speak for itself. Shirley Henderson of Breaking Bad is phenomenal, lending the film its humanity and heart with real complexity. MY FULL REVIEW

Beast Jessie Buckley

Beast: This is one of those dark offbeat thrillers that never bows to our expectations or becomes what we think it will be. The film positions itself as a twisted coming-of-age story as a starting point, but turns into something much more satisfying. Stars Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn are poised for big things, and Michael Pearce’s direction marks the arrival of a unique cinematic voice. MY FULL REVIEW

luz little woods

Runners up: I’m gonna cheat a little here and include Little Woods and Luz, which both played film fests but didn’t get the buzz they deserve. Hit those links for my full reviews, and keep an eye out for them when they get proper releases in 2019.