With Mudbound, director Dee Rees has crafted a cinematic masterpiece that shows how powerful and alive filmmaking can be. It’s a gritty, historical portrait of racism and PTSD that is shot as if it is a moving painting thanks to the Malick-esque cinematography by Rachel Morrison. It also boasts one of the best ensembles of the year with actors like Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, Rob Morgan, and Jonathan Banks showcasing their respectively unique characterizations. While cinema is used as a form of escapism, films like Mudbound serve as a reminder that cinema should also be used to make us feel and be perceptive.
3. The Shape Of Water
The Shape Of Water is many things. It’s a love letter to classic cinema, a poetic demonstration of forbidden love, and an ode to the oppressed. In an era of tentpoles and tired reboots, director Guillermo Del Toro reminds us that the magic of creative, original storytelling is still out there with his latest venture. Romantic, funny, horrific, and heartbreaking all at once, The Shape Of Water is a transcendent masterpiece.
2. Lady Bird
I’ve never seen a film that I wanted to give a giant hug by the time it was over until I saw Lady Bird. We may have seen coming of age tales done before but writer/director Greta Gerwig crafts the film with such warmth and earnesty. The screenplay never feels scripted and none of the characters that she writes feel like movie characters. They all feel like real people and while Lady Bird may be a showcase for Saoirse Ronan (who’s never been better), the supporting actors get to have their moment in the sun as well. Lady Bird is a flawless, well-acted gem that proves that Greta Gerwig is already one of the most humanistic filmmaking voices in cinema today.