Ben Cahlamer's Best of 2018

Ben Cahlamer 2018 Top 10


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I have to admit that 2018 was a much harder year in which to come up with my Top 10 of 2018. At the end of 2017, there were two clear films that stood the test of time. This year, and though I suspected that I knew what my top film was going to be, I was just floored by the amazing amount of cinema we got this year.

And yet, I came up with my Top 10. There were a lot of tears and I suspect that there might be some jeers. But that’s okay. Just like the movies I see, this list is just as subjective and that’s what makes going to the movies fun.

Without further ado, here are my Top 10 films of 2018.



10. “Roma” – With Alfonso Curaon’s latest masterwork, I was enthralled with how the 1970’s Mexico City environment carried the story of a live-in-maid (newcomer Yalitza Aparicio) and her journey towards personal salvation. The fact that Curaon used mostly unknown talent is what gives the gorgeous black and white film its flavor; it’s color if you will.

9. “Annihilation” – Alex Garland’s latest Sci-Fi film boggled minds with its ending and eight months later, we are still talking about it. The thing that struck me was how effective the flashbacks to Oscar Isaac’s character worked at defining the story. What really sells the story though is Natalie Portman’s bleary eyed scientist, who has given up hope.


8. “Hereditary” – I think I’ve mentioned a thousand times that I didn’t start out this career as a lover of horror films and yet, here I am with a horror film in my Top 10 of 2018. Ari Aster’s directorial debut is a master stroke held together by Toni Collette’s riveting performance and that of young Milly Shapiro.

7. “Cold War” – The second foreign language film to be released this year in black and white is a love story between a musical director (Tomasz Kot) and a young singer (Joanna Kulig) who he discovers set during the Cold War in the 1950’s. Pawel Pawlikowski’s film depicts the love struggle as well as the political challenges each character faces over the years.

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6. “Leave No Trace” – Debra Granik’s film carries many themes, but the omnipresent theme is that of survival. Ben Foster, who had three outstanding turns this year is a vet who suffering from PTSD. In order for him to survive and for him to be able to care for his daughter, they have to live “off the grid.” The story really is a reflection on our consumerist society and our lack of skills to survive off the land and without much money. What caught my attention though is throughout all of their adversities, how raising his daughter as he did, taught her how to care for him.

5. “Burning” – I went in to this film knowing absolutely nothing about it and that made for a much richer experience. I will tell you that I laughed. I cried. I emoted over the class warfare that Lee Chang-dong brought to the forefront of his film. The characters that inhabit the film are the best aspect of the film as Chang-dong explores what drives our hungers. It is a slow burn, but very worthy of your time.

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4. “If Beale Street Could Talk” – Barry Jenkins’s follow up to “Moonlight” is full of wonderful performances from KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Brian Tyree Henry, Colman Domingo and Regina King, who the PCC awarded its Best Supporting Actress award to. The cinematography is what captures your attention, bringing you into the film. It is now in theaters and is well worth your time.


3. “The Favourite” – I am a confessed fan of Yorgos Lanthimos. I also happen to like period pieces. The cast is the foundation for this amazingly wicked story of revenge and love as two cousins, one of status (Rachel Weisz) and another, not (Emma Stone), try to vie for court favorites of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). The dark humor that ensues is a hallmark of Lanthimos, but here the story written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara lends itself to the physicality of the humor.

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2. “First Reformed” – Though it screened at Venice in 2017, Paul Schrader’s film didn’t come to my attention until South by Southwest earlier this year as I stood in the press box for the cast and crew’s arrival on the red carpet. I missed the movie then, but caught it when it ran at the Phoenix Film Festival a month later. Ethan Hawke’s performance as Reverend Toller is perhaps one of the best lead actor performances I’ve seen this year. Schrader’s screenplay is as taught as his direction is.


1. “Blindspotting” – I knew next to nothing about Carlos Lopez Estrada’s debut film when I saw it at South by Southwest earlier this year, and it absolutely blew me away. Yes, there are other films that speak to the same themes of oppression, but the reason why “Blindspotting” is sitting at the very top of my Top 10 is simply down to Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs’s script and their acting. The last five minutes of the film is worthy of the price of admission alone. It’s got heart and it has soul. I got chastised for the title of my review back in March, but it really is the film we all need. Particularly now.