Ben is Back is a family drama, but more than that, it’s the scarcely seen mother-son relationship movie. Ben (Lucas Hedges) is a drug addict. His mother, Holly (Julia Roberts), loves him unconditionally and will do everything in her power to end Ben’s addiction to the substances that drive the two apart.
“Top heavy” may end up being the best descriptor for cinema in 2018. It was a better year than average at the movies, but the crème de la crème made it truly memorable. A black-and-white foreign film about the women who raise us, a documentary about skateboarding and more, and a live-action, animated bear elevated 2018.
With the 91st annual Academy Awards ceremony mere days away, you may be rushing to squeeze one or two more 2018 flicks into your weekend schedule. Marveling at stardom and celebrity is great, but what’s the point of watching an award ceremony if you don’t recognize any of the nominees? (Meanwhile, I’m starting to piece together why I haven’t watched the Grammys in a decade.)
Whenever the superhero genre begins to lose its luster, a movie like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings into theaters to recapture the feeling we had watching Tobey Maguire web his way across New York City for the first time. Like Guardians of the Galaxy before it, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came at the right time to combat superhero fatigue.
Based on a memoir titled Black Klansman by retired police officer Ron Stallworth, BlacKkKlansman, the a 2018 film from auteur director Spike Lee, will leave you feeling comforted, impassioned, and enraged, by both our country and its characters. Above all else, though, BlacKkKlansman may leave you frustrated by Lee’s unconventional methods and murky politics.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos’s third movie in four years, The Favourite, was released at the end of 2018. A period piece about the reign and relationships of England’s Queen Anne, The Favourite isn’t afraid of having fun at the expense of its subjects’. Movies like The Favourite rarely allow the audience the lavish pleasure of believing that its characters were living, breathing, fallible human beings at one time or another. The Favourite is different. Its characters are cutthroat, duplicitous, and petty, and the result is worth witnessing.
As in the last 30 minutes of The Wolf of Wall Street or Goodfellas, Vice is the unusual extravagance that will have you watching through your fingers. Equally maddening and nauseating, writer-director Adam McKay’s messy Dick Cheney biopic is a must-see for historians and the politically interested alike.
Created in 1966 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Black Panther was the first black superhero published by Marvel Comics and the first notable black comic character published in the United States. Black Panther’s unique characterization as the genius king of a hidden, technologically-advanced African nation made him an obvious target for an adaptation in an era of the superhero-dominated box office. Comic book fans had been clamoring for a Black Panther movie for years, and writer-director Ryan Coogler, alongside the powers that be at Disney, did not disappoint.
Roma is the intimate story of a live-in housekeeper and the family that surrounds her in Mexico City. In spite of the film’s narrow purview, writer-director Alfonso Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical story teems with life.
In unorthodox fashion, Steve McQueen followed a dramatic period piece about slavery with a heist movie centered around a cast of mostly women. That heist movie, Widows, is based on a British crime show of the same name that ran from 1983 to 1985. McQueen, the director and co-writer of Widows (alongside all-star crime-thriller novelist Gillian Flynn) has created an all-time heist movie. While the pair created a timeless thriller, they may have juggled one too many plot points for a two-hour film.