If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Photo from The Stranger

If Beale Street Could Talk centers around Tish (Kiki Layne) as she must balance being a young mother and trying to prove that her fiancé Fonny (Stephen James) is innocent when he is wrongfully arrested.

At first, I wasn’t sure about Tish and Fonny as a couple, they were awkward for me at the beginning of the film, but that is expected from an innocent, young couple. But as you see this couple throughout the film, you fall in love with them. They are the heart of the film and what makes this movie pure.

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Bird Box (Netflix – 2018)

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Bird Box surrounds Malorie (Sandra Bullock) who is thrust into an chaotic world after a series of mass suicides. She must learn to survive in a world without seeing the creature that is causing all this mayhem and embarks on a journey blindfolded with two children.

Bird Box is a lot like A Quiet Place from earlier this year, though it’s more hardcore and mysterious. It’s an interesting film but it doesn’t have the same type edge of your seat nervousness of the latter film. I for one, wasn’t attached to the characters here as I was to the family in A Quiet Place.

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Roma (Netflix – 2018)

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Roma surrounds a maid named Cleo as she works for a rich family having marital problems and we journey with her on her day to day experiences.

The awards hype has been through the roof with this film and deservedly so. The film is shot beautifully in black and white by Alfonso Cuarón, who is also the director of the film. It’s a very intimate film and Yalitza Aparicio is outstanding as Cleo.

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Green Book (2018)

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Green Book surrounds Doctor Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a well educated pianist about to go on tour with his trio into the Deep South. He hires Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), an tough Italian bouncer, to be his driver and body guard. Together they encounter blatant racism from the South and form an unlikely friendship.

Firstly, Ali and Mortensen had great chemistry together. Their road tripping was filled with comedic moments that brought levity and felt like a real friendship, though Tony was hesitant about the job at first. This relationship is the crux of the film and what makes the film. The movie also does a great job with balancing the comedy and the drama.

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Beautiful Boy (2018)

Photo from Vulture

Beautiful Boy surrounds the struggle that Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) with drug addiction and how that affects not only himself, but his family, most noticeably his father (Steve Carell), who is determined to do all that he can to help him.

The performances from Chalamet and Carell were extraordinary. You felt what the characters felt, small moments of joy, but mostly anger and frustration. Chalamet really is a rising star, with his performance in Call Me By Your Name last year and this, there will undoubtedly be an Oscar on his mantle sometime soon. Really all of the cast were giving great performances. The film doesn’t gloss over the effects of drug use like many other films do and it takes time to teach the audience that drug addiction is a disease. The film didn’t hit as hard as it could’ve for me though on this subject.

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The Hate U Give (2018)

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The Hate U Give surrounds Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a young black girl struggling to fit in with her mostly white private school and black neighborhood. She later witnesses her friend getting shot by a police officer and as the only witness debates whether to speak up for him or to stat silent to protect herself and her family.

Wow. This movie is powerful. And took me by total surprise. The performances, especially by Stenberg were pretty great. And while there has been more and more movies centered around police brutality and racial injustice that are coming out, this is one that stands out from the rest.

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First Man (2018)

Photo from The Atlantic

First Man surrounds the life of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) as he joins NASA and his journey through the various missions that eventually lead him to land on the moon.

Damien Chazelle does it again. The cinematography is breathtaking, I have no idea how Chazelle was able to film some of this stuff. There’s also a lot of shaky cam for this film, and I personally hate shaky cam, but it totally works here and didn’t bother me because of the various POV shots, experiencing everything with Armstrong. The Moon sequence especially was beautiful and chilling.

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The Favourite (2018)

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The Favourite surrounds an ill and fragile Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) whose closest companion, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), is actually calling the shots. Once Sarah’s cousin, Abigail (Emma Stone), comes to the palace in need of a job, her and the Queen develop a close relationship. Both cousins suddenly find themselves in competition on who is Queen Anne’s “favorite.”

This film is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, and if you aren’t aware of his work, he makes weird yet thought provoking films like The Lobster (which I’m a huge fan of). This film is less thought provoking, and absurd in many ways (but a good type of absurd). I was taken by surprise on how hilarious this movie is. Olivia Colman does fantastic as Queen Anne, and even if the Queen is in a wheelchair and is not dressed properly, she must get what she wants. It’s also really fun to see Stone and Weisz’s characters go at it, both characters are cunning, so they manipulate each other as well as try to one up the other in order to get the Queen’s favor.

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A Star is Born (2018)

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A Star is Born surrounds Southern, rock star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) finding Ally (Lady Gaga) at a drag bar and being transfixed by her singing talent. They start to fall in love and Jackson helps Ally get footing in her singing career, but as she rises to pop stardom, he cannot stop spiraling downward.

This is Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut and what a feat this was. Kudos to him because every shot in this film was deliberate and the film was extremely well made. He also does a great job on the acting side of things and is believable as an aging rock star. Lady Gaga was also outstanding in her role and I was very impressed because even though I knew she acted before, this is her first leading role in a film and she delivered. They had really great chemistry together and I knew that they worked together a lot in pre-production to do this film right, which they succeeded in doing.

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