Chloe Leeson’s Top 10 Films of 2018

2018 has been a weird year in film for me personally. While I’ve found that very few films have actually astonished me in a way I’ve experienced in previous years (2015 you were so, so good to me) the discussion surrounding so many films and the boundaries that they have pushed within the craft has been a joy to read and learn about. From blockbuster cultural phenomenon Black Panther to Mission Impossible: Fallout’s incredible stuntwork, the ‘Netflix film’ discussion surrounding Roma and films like Cam and Searching utilising the internet as a storytelling device, cinema feels like its headed in a very interesting direction. This cannot be said more strongly than for the horror genre- the love of my life. The level of artistry that horror has reached this last year has been unimaginably good for a person like me that spends probably half of their evenings watching bad horror films rated below 4.5 on iMDB, my top 10 of 2018 list definitely reflects the re-instilled faith I now have in my favourite genre.

10. Possum (dir. Matthew Holness)

I truly do not feel like we have had a British horror this downright bleak and unsettling in at least the last 10 years. Matthew Holness’ debut film Possum follows a disgraced puppeteer returning to his trauma-filled childhood home with his 10/10 HORRIFIC spider-mannequin hybrid puppet that taunts and teases him as he tries to get rid of it. Holness’ imagery is unforgettably disturbing and grotesque, well beyond the range of a first time director and Sean Harris is so utterly fantastic I need his voice and general creepy presence in every horror film from now on please.

9. Blackkklansman dir. Spike Lee

More recent criticisms of Spike Lee’s stylised biopic about the KKK infiltrating, first black police officer of Colorado Springs have certainly made me second-guess myself. ‘Spike Lee made a black movie for white people’ being the most common critique of my own enjoyment/admiration of the film and I definitely agree with that statement but this was still one of the most enjoyable cinema experiences I had this year. Playing to a sold-out screening at Tyneside Cinema, everyone was poised for a satellite Q&A (that didn’t actually run due to technical difficulties) but the atmosphere felt pretty electric. Blackkklansman took me through just about every emotion I could possibly feel: laugh out loud moments, romance, excitement and most importantly, anger. Add in the stylistic 70s cop show/blacksploitation elements and I’m totally sold. P.S Laura Harrier is probably the most beautiful woman on earth.

8. Ready Player One dir. Steven Spielberg 

Spielberg’s latest is definitely the most off-brand choice for my list. Ready Player One taps into a near-future advancement in the pursuit of technological pleasure as just about everyone in the world spends most of their time in a virtual reality world called The Oasis. I honestly can’t quite say why Ready Player One grabbed me like it did… maybe its because I love Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke so much or maybe its because I love seeing a blockbuster with world-building this vast and detailed, who knows? But I was along for that entire damn journey right till the last second, it made me feel so happy and exhilarated (literally look at the rest of this list and tell me I needed some cheering up after these trauma-filled picks) it sucked me in and I was focused- much like it was my own virtual reality game.

7. Annihilation dir. Alex Garland

I remember this time last year I was writing the Screen Queens Must Sees of 2018 list and this was right in the forefront of my mind. Being the unwavering The Beach stan that I am, I simply adore Alex Garlands work, there is something about the way he can mix isolation with horror and the beauty of nature that really appeals to me. Wonderful to see a successful Netflix film and a diverse female-led cast in a sci-fi feature. The design and detail of The Shimmer were simply stunning, the grotesque mixing in with these beautiful floral creations is something I want to revisit time and time again.

6.  Sorry To Bother You dir. Boots Riley

Sorry To Bother you claims its spot on my list purely for its originality. It has been a long while since I’ve seen a film this crazy and this original gather so much hype. It definitely seems like a film that might one day hit the midnight movie circuit and gain a cult following. Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson are simply a dream together and Tessa’s costumes are some aspirational looks. Obviously the underlying messages about social mobility, capitalism and the workforce are impressive with lots to dissect, but mainly Sorry To Bother You is just really weird and funny as hell.

5. Suspiria dir. Luca Guadagnino

Femininity! Torture! Women! Dancing! Blood! Broken Bones! Eastern Europe! Tilda Swinton as 3 different characters! These are all fantastic elements to make one of the most artistic horrors of the year, and a remake at that. Luca Guadagnino trades in the primary colours and disturbing Goblin score for a bleak Eastern European style and a Thom Yorke score with an even crazier level of violence and bloodshed than Argento’s original. The gore may be heightened but so is the feminist and witchcraft subtext. Guadagnino delves way deeper into the films central themes than the original did and I would like to read and write lots and lots of essays about Suspiria right now.

4. Revenge dir. Coralie Fargeat

More femininity! More torture! More Blood! The resilience and power of women after a traumatic event!! Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge essentially ticks every single box I need from a film. I saw it as the first film in the Birds Eye View Reclaim the Frame screenings and it was basically the best cinema experience I had all year. After watching the film there was a post-film discussion with film critics, a rape survivor and a psychologist all discussing Revenge’s central rape/revenge theme and the female gaze through which it was viewed. Never in my life have I been in a room where people actually use the terminology we use on SQ and all over twitter in real life. It was an incredibly comforting experience, despite the topic. Fargeat’s debut is a ferocious one at that, told entirely through the eyes of bubblegum pop barbie Jen, it turns a complete 180 after she is left for dead after she is raped, and then pursues her abusers with the intention to kill. The film is LOADED with style and symbolism for days. I discussed it at length with fellow Screen Queens Kelsie and Millicent, here.

3. The Miseducation of Cameron Post dir. Desiree Akhavan

I had the absolute honour of seeing Desiree Akhavan and author of the book, Emily M. Danforth, do a Q&A screening of Cameron Post at Tyneside Cinema. What amazing ladies!! They are so confident in themselves and so deeply unapologetic it was so refreshing. Also refreshing to see a room full of young women expressing their love of a book that has changed their lives and helped them with their own coming out experience. I’ve always been a Chloe Moretz fan and I’m glad she’s heading back in the indie direction and realigning herself with Good Content. The Miseducation of Cameron Post feels not only essential in divulging the realities of conversion therapy and giving a voice to LGBT youth but it also feels like a comforting film, and an important addition to the back catalogue of coming of age stories, particularly viewed through a queer lens. The supporting cast of Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck and my personal one-to-watch, Owen Campbell is like a group of friends you always wish you had. The relationships formed and the humour within them feels so familiar when the scenario at hand couldn’t be further from my lived experiences. The ‘What’s Up’ scene will go down as an absolute favourite in teen cinema for me.

2. Searching dir. Aneesh Chaganty

Sometimes films come to you at the right time in your life and that is why they end up being so special. That doesn’t mean Searching is at all a bad, or even average film, but I watched it during a period of very limited concentration and limited passion for the movies. After seeing our Socials Editor Millicent rave on about the John Cho led internet-based thriller, I had to make time to see it. I honestly don’t think I moved my eyes from that screen once, didn’t think about the time, didn’t think about getting up to go to the toilet, didn’t think about my phone vibrating in my pocket or about literally anything else but one man’s desperate search to find his missing daughter, Margot. For a film set entirely on various computer/device screens to grab my attention like that is so impressive to me. Director Aneesh Chaganty has pushed narrative storytelling into the future, and way past anything that was achieved with Unfriended and other similar horrors. It has characters you are genuinely rooting for and enough twists and shockers right up until the very end. The audience was gasping and figuring things out audibly which was a highly enjoyable experience.

1. Hereditary dir. Ari Aster

Horror. Perfection. I have thought about Hereditary every single day since I seen it back in June. A perfect blend of homage to classic horror merging with new horrific sights, with enough emotional weight to pack a seriously uncomfortable punch. Toni Collette and Alex Wolff are nothing short of revelations and I cannot wait to see what Ari Aster does next. I reviewed the film in full earlier in the year here-  definitely my proudest piece of the year.

 

by Chloe Leeson

Chloe Leeson is the founder of Screen Queens. She hails from the north of England (the proper north that people think is actually Scotland but isn’t). Her lifesource is Harmony Korine’s 90s Letterman interviews and Ezra Miller’s jawline. She is a costume designer for hire who spends way too much time watching bad horror movies. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, Lords of Dogtown, Stand by Me and Pan’s Labyrinth. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff and logs them on letterboxd here

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