Good job guys, we’ve made it halfway through 2018! Now there’s only six months left of this hellish year to go. But we’ll always have movies, and thank goodness this year’s movies have been more than up to the task of alternately letting us escape reality or tapping into our deepest intimate and sociopolitical anxieties.
Each day this week, a different member of Team /Film has been counting down his or her favorite films of the year so far. I’m the last to go this week and may have a few surprises on my list — which ranges from heartwarming family films, to pitch-black comedies, to meditations on life, love, and grief. So without further ado, here are my top 10 movies of 2018 so far.
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The nightmare that is 2018 is almost over! Current events may be terrifying, but movies have been pretty damn good this year. Each day this week, a different member of the /Film team will be counting down his or her favorite films of the year so far, and now it’s my turn. My favorite films this year run the gamut from indie curiosities to films of absolute horror. And just to keep things from being a complete dour-fest, there’s a very nice movie about a very nice bear as well. These are the top 10 movies of 2018 so far, according to Chris Evangelista.
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Paul Schrader began his career in the movies as a film critic, but it wasn’t long before his Calvinist upbringing and his love of contemplative films from the likes of Yasujirô Ozu, Robert Bresson, and Carl Theodor Dreyer brought him to begin working as a screenwriter, mostly telling stories, mostly about lonely men in spiritual or emotional crisis. He became one of the most important writers of the 1970s and 1980s, with such works as Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ; Brian DePalma’s Obsession, and Peter Weir’s The Mosquito Coast, as well as a string of films he directed himself, including Blue Collar, Hardcore, American Gigolo, Cat People, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, and Light of Day.
His string of compelling work as writer and/or director continues until today, with such works as Affliction, Auto Focus, Light Sleeper, and Bringing Out the Dead (again, directed by Scorsese). His latest film, First Reformed, is something of a return to form and subject matter for the writer/director, as he centers his story on Toller, a former military chaplain turned priest (Ethan Hawke, in one of the finest performances of his career), who is wracked by grief and guilt over many events in his past, to the point where it has taken on a physical ailment. At his most desperate moment, he meets a parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) whose husband, a radical environmentalist, commits suicide, setting in motion a series of events in Toller’s life that lead him to radicalism as well. In a fair and just world (and maybe if the film were being released later in the year), First Reformed would undoubtedly be part of awards discussions.
/Film spoke with Schrader recently when he accompanied the film to the Chicago Critics Film Festival. The onstage Q&A he did after the screening (co-moderated by this writer) can be viewed here; this interview took place the following day. First Reformed is now playing in New York and Los Angeles, and expands today.
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A24 has become one of those names that always has your attention. We sometimes don’t hear about their movies much until the trailers start rolling in, and then we’re totally on board. And that’s exactly how we feel about their forthcoming release from Paul Schrader, best known for writing Taxi Driver and directing a slew of dark and often deranged thrillers.
First Reformed follows Ethan Hawke as a priest who is becoming more and more disillusioned with humanity as his congregation dwindles and the world around him becomes more and more troubling. The clergyman suddenly finds himself taking matters into his own hands as he grows impatient waiting for God to do something. Read More »
We’ve quietly entered a renaissance of master American filmmakers tackling religious subjects with the gravity, dignity and seriousness they deserve. Add Paul Schrader’s latest movie First Reformed to a growing list of modern masterpieces on faith through hardship that includes Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man and James Gray’s The Immigrant.
Read our full First Reformed review from TIFF below. Read More »