And here are the other 5 movies in my list – with other films good enough to be mentioned.
- “Sorry We Missed You”
Ken Loach’s latest film “Sorry We Missed You” is a bleak slice of hard working-class life you will not forget easily. Phlegmatically and unflinchingly observing how its main characters are driven into more despair and frustration along the story, the movie conveys to us its urgent social messages without any cheap sentimentality, and you may come to reflect on how individuals can be heartlessly exploited and crushed by our capitalistic system, which ultimately cares about more efficiency and profit as coldly disregarding those people toiling at the bottom. In short, this is another admirable work from Loach, who has been consistent and diligent during more than 50 years since he made his first feature film “Poor Cow” (1967).
- “Los Lobos”
Mexican film “Los Lobos”, directed by Samuel Kishi, is a modest but undeniably extraordinary film mainly revolving around the unadulterated viewpoint of two little boys of an emigrant worker in US. While never overlooking the harsh environment surrounding its two young heroes, the movie sometimes rolls along with their hope and imagination in its own distinctive way, and the overall result is quite poignant to say the least. Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” (2017) and Jeremiah Zagar’s “We the Animals” (2018), the movie understands and empathize well with its young main characters while deftly balancing itself between hard reality and tentative optimism, and it surely earns its hopeful finale thanks to the thoughtful and sensitive direction of Kishi, who previously made a feature film debut with “We Are Mari Pepa” (2013) after directing several short films.
As a coming-of-age comedy drama film revolving around a sick young heroine and her unlikely lover, Australian movie “Babyteeth” is much more matured than expected. While it will surely remind you of other similar films such as “The Fault in Our Stars” (2014) or “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (2015), the movie distinguishes itself well as balancing itself well between comedy and drama with considerable humor and sensitivity, and it is certainly a better alternative to the two aforementioned movies. Director Shannon Murphy, who previously made a few short films before making a feature film debut here. did a competent job of handling mood, story, and characters, and I admire how she skillfully and thoughtfully delivers the expected finale without any excess.
Andrew Ahn’s second feature film “Driveways” touches me a lot with its deceptively simple but ultimately sublime presentation of ordinary good people. At first, nothing much seems to happen on the surface as it slowly rolls its modest promise, but then it gradually pulls out genuine emotional moments as closely and tentatively observing more of its main characters, and we find ourselves getting to know them and their lives more than expected. After delving into his autobiographical areas in “Dol” (2012) and “Spa Night” (2016), Ahn reaches out to a different territory in “Driveways”, and its many precious moments surely confirm to me again that he is a humane filmmaker who can present story and characters with considerable sensitivity and thoughtfulness.
- “Sound of Metal”
“Sound of Metal”, which is directed by Darius Marder, is an extraordinary drama film full of empathy and understanding. As closely observing its musician hero’s sudden physical disability, the movie lets us immerse in his confused and frustrated state of mind, and it surely helps that the movie is firmly anchored by Riz Ahmed, who incidentally gives one of the best performances of this year here in this film. Although nothing is certain for his character even at the end of the story, his silent face speaks volumes to us without seemingly signifying anything, and you will come to reflect more on his character’s emotional journey.
Runner-up (Alphabetical order): “The Assistant”, “Better Days”, “Cuties”, “David Byrne’s Utophia”, “The 40-Year-Old Version”, “The Hater”, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”, “Invisible Life”, “Les Misérables”, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”, and “The Nest”
Special Mention (Alphabetical order): “Ammonite”, “And Then We Danced”, “Charm City Kings”, “Ema”, “Emma.”, “Farewell Amor”, “The Half of It”, “His House” “I’m No Longer Here”, “The Invisible Man”, “La Llorona”, “Mank”, “On the Rocks”, “Relic”, “Sputnik”, “Swallow”, “Tommaso”, “The Vast of Night”, “Vitalina Varela”, and “The Wild Goose Lake”
Yes, I belatedly watched them, and they are all good (In alphabetical order): “By the Grace of God”, “For Sama”, “A Hidden Life”, “Honey Boy”, “Honeyland”, “Little Women”, “Midnight Family”, “The Kingmaker”, “Pain and Glory”, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, “Uncut Gems”, and “Waves”
Animation film (Alphabetical order): “If Anything Happens I Love You”. “Marona’s Fantastic Tale”, “Soul”, “Wolfwalkers”, and “World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime”
Documentary film (Alphabetical order): “Athlete A”, “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets”, “Boys State”, “City Hall”, “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution”, “Dick Johnson Is Dead”, “The Fight”. “Feels Good Man”, “Time” and “Welcome to Chechnya”