The Rider: ‘It’s had such a lasting impact’

What does it mean to be a man? If everything that you use to define yourself is taken away, what’s left? No film this year hit me as hard or has had such a lasting impact, and thinking of certain scenes forms a lump in my throat. In a year where toxic masculinity has been at the forefront of western culture, The Rider deftly interrogates ‘manliness’, fathers and sons, and fraternal relationships between men. An astonishing piece of work. Jake Harvey, 35, Leicester

I’m sort of biased because I am myself a horse-rider who has had many serious injuries as a result, but regardless of all that this was still a beautiful, intimate exploration of how much we’re willing to risk to do what we love. It captured the old-time existence of the ‘cowboy’ life, but without being patronising or fetishising, and turned the most simple moments into gorgeous vignettes. Megan, 20, Northern Ireland

Roma: ‘An unfettered hymn about those closest to us’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Roma Photograph: PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

I don’t know where to begin. Should I start with the subtle acting? Or the gorgeous camera work? Roma’s beauty is almost overwhelming. But bathing in the black-and-white portrayal of 1970s Mexico is the most memorable film-viewing experience I had this year. This film is a wonder; I love so much about it. It’s an unfettered hymn about those closest to us. Alfonso Cuarón makes the private personal against a backdrop of a shaky public. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days after I saw it. Elliot Morris, 29, Salt Lake City, US

Shoplifters: ‘Sent my heart into a flutter of tiny explosions’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

A still from Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Shoplifters. Photograph: 2018 Fuji Television Network/Gaga Corporation/AOI Pro

Once in a long while, a film can come along, sneak up on you and send your heart into a flutter of tiny explosions. Coming out of the screening with six other friends, we had to dissect what we had just experienced. As it turned out, it wasn’t much of a deconstruction, but more of a discussion of the ideas of the family unit that Kore-eda paints with such delicate and painterly brushstrokes. If ever there is a film that can declare that sometimes, just sometimes, water can be thicker than blood, this is it. Daniel Chiam, 50, Singapore

Hereditary: ‘An air of menace pervades everything’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Toni Collette in Hereditary. Photograph: Allstar/Palmstar Media

It’s an incredibly measured picture. An air of menace pervades everything. A few early reviews likened Hereditary to The Exorcist but the careful, square framing of each scene – designed to mirror the dollshouse dioramas Annie (Toni Collette) is creating – put me more in mind of The Shining. Collette’s performance received a lot of praise and it was all justified. She has a face which looks ready to grieve and to scream and Hereditary afforded her the opportunity to do plenty of both. Asa Dilliway, 46

Mandy: ‘I’m glad I went on this ride with the filmmakers’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Nicolas Cage in Mandy. Photograph: Allstar/Xyz Films

Read more

The film begins calmly in reality and slowly and gradually descends into supernatural madness. It is wonderfully enjoyable, with beautiful red visuals, archetypal cult, pulpy film moments and perfect use of gore and comedy. Nicholas Cage is utilised perfectly. I truly felt the filmmakers were going to great lengths to try and entertain me, and I am glad I went on this ride with them. Emily, 24, Scotland

Visionary film making not seen since the likes of Russell, Roeg and Lynch in their hey-day – the director engages with the very texture of film. Nic Cage’s performance is a thing to behold. Also, the fact that the film’s title doesn’t come until two thirds of the way into the film … Mark Stephenson, 55, Kitchener, Canada

Leave No Trace: ‘Beautifully made’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Leave No Trace directed by Debra Granik and written by Granik and Anne Rosellini. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

A beautifully made film that set a father and daughter living a survivalist existence away from the everyday pressures of mainstream America. Ultimately they had to separate; the PTSD suffering military veteran father continuing to live off grid and the maturing daughter gradually settling into a remote settlement in the backwoods. The acting, script and cinematography were superb. Tony Morgan, 69, Switzerland

Capernaum: ‘Strikes at the heart of chaos in the Middle East’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Capernaum: a drama from Lebanese director Nadine Labaki about a boy who sues his parents. Photograph: Fares Sokhon

It strikes at the heart of the chaos in the Middle East through the eyes of an extraordinary young boy. We first see him in court where he wants to sue his parents for letting him be born. They never registered his birth and he hasn’t an idea of how old he is. His life has been chaotic: running, thieving, angry and desperate. Seeing the slums of Beirut close up is quite unsettling for the western viewer. His odyssey grows symbolic of the unbearable tension in his area of the world – and points to irresolution. The film would be almost unbearable without the tension breaking ending. Mary Jemail, 78, New York City, US

Bohemian Rhapsody: ‘Wonderful surprise’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee in Bohemian Rhapsody. Photograph: Allstar/New Regency Pictures

After reading some bad reviews I wasn’t expecting to love it the way I did. I was surprised and overwhelmed by the delicate and loving approach to the life of Freddie Mercury. It was a wonderful surprise and the perfect biography movie. The casting is amazing and Rami Malek is just out of this world perfect. I loved everything about the movie, even the chronological changes and fictional liberties. Claudia P, 55, Trondheim, Norway

I had a smile on my face from start to finish. I thought the actors playing Queen really inhabited the band members, to the extent that it was a shock to see the real Queen at the end as you believed you had been watching them on screen for over two hours. I loved the whole film but, as many people seem to think, the Live Aid scene was the best bit. As someone who was at Live Aid, Queen were absolutely the stand out act. Hats off to the cast and production team for their portrayal. Clare Harrington, 50, Surrey

The Wild Pear Tree: ‘Pastoral beauty combined with poignant consideration’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

A film still from The Wild Pear Tree, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Photograph: Cannes Film Festival

Read more

It’s an intelligent and complex scenario; visually exciting and beautiful and portrays a vivid and complicated relationship between the characters. There are some sharp observations and deep discussions done in a rather ‘casual’ but filmic way. I liked the use of dreams in some of the sequences. Zoran Djuric, 61, Oxford

Pastoral beauty combined with poignant consideration on the subjects of familial identity, ambition and also – something, to my knowledge, not really touched upon by the critics – suicide. The last 10 minutes of the film deliver a level of emotional depth yet restraint, far greater than any other film this year. It neatly concludes the wide ranging subject matter with a deeply chilling yet somehow comforting final sequence. Jon, 26 London

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: ‘Hands down the best superhero movie to date’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse. Photograph: Allstar/Marvel Entertainment

We went into the cinema with different expectations but came out with the same reaction – whoa! The animation was jaw dropping, seeming to pop out of the screen as if it was a live comic book. The story was funny, poignant and most of all fresh which is even more impressive as it’s Spider-Man. The characters were great and memorable. All in all, we both found this the film of the year. Ryan and Blake, 32 and 6, Belfast, Northern Ireland

A perfect blend of the best old and new elements of Spider-Man and his worlds, woven seamlessly into an engrossing and highly entertaining story, told through the best animation I have ever seen, which somehow managed to look like a comic, cartoon and live action film all at the same time. Hands down the best superhero movie to date, it opens a world of new and exciting possibilities for future sequels. Jon Thorne, 51, Isle Of Wight

Mission: Impossible – Fallout: ‘Tom Cruise’s stunt effort is exceptional’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Photograph: Allstar/Paramount Pictures

Although the plot is complete baloney, Tom Cruse’s stunt effort is exceptional and deserves to be praised big time. These days way too many movies are made with CGI. Tom is one of the few remaining actors who actually does his own stunts. I loved the scene where he jumped from a roof and fractured his ankle. Alexander Rykhlinski, 43, Mississauga, Canada

Love, Simon: ‘Gave me the confidence to come out of the closet’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

A film still from Love, Simon. Photograph: Allstar/Fox 2000 Pictures

It changed my life. I’ve never identified so strongly with a character in a movie as I did with Simon. The movie gave me the inspiration and confidence to come out of the closet. Despite having a wonderful family and amazing friends and colleagues, I was still afraid what would change if they knew I was gay. By the end of the film I was desperate to join Simon on that voyage of self discovery, and had come out to everyone I knew within three days. At last we have a film featuring a gay protagonist that doesn’t end in death or tragedy. Joy of joy! Keith Blomerley, 50, Bedfordshire

Columbus: ‘Terrific portrayal of how difficult relationships can be’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Columbus. Photograph: Superlative films

It is just a brilliant film. So well shot, showing the unique architecture that is in Columbus. It is a really terrific portrayal of different relationships, and how difficult these can be. However, it also shows the resolve of humans to battle through difficult situations. It is simply a very heartfelt film, that had a big impact on me. The ending is pretty amazing. Charlie Fairley, 40, Glasgow

The Favourite: ‘Full of surprises’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite. Photograph: Yorgos Lanthimos/Allstar/FILM4

This is a film that’s full of surprises. It takes a well thumbed genre and flips it. It is uniquely driven by the director’s vision, and though boasting three exceptional female roles, carried by three excellent actresses, it also shines as a superlative ensemble piece. Lanthimos’s signature use of natural light is powerfully exploited here with nothing more than candlelight on occasion, accompanied by beautifully detailed art and costume design. It is a feast for all the senses, and more than worthy of scooping up numerous awards. John Pirkis, 58, New York, US

First Man: ‘Makes me think everything is achievable’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

First Man takes a look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon. Photograph: LMK Media

It dares to crush common stereotypes by showing a ‘hero’ who is not showy, very quiet and introvert. It is also a film that when I see it gives me motivation to improve myself and think that everything is achievable. From the technical side, the film excels by giving the raw vibe look of the 60s without looking old fashioned. Everything looks so organic and real. The sound design is earth pounding and the music score is pure magic. Yorgos, 28, Glasgow

Fantastic story telling combining emotion with realism. It’s a cinematographic masterpiece, fantastically edited with superb acting. An interesting and immersive story of loneliness, struggling with the past and adventure. Truly impactful in the way the story was told and beautifully directed to the utmost precision and artistic quality. Constantin 18, Bath

You Were Never Really Here: ‘Joaquin Phoenix imbues his performance with such sympathy’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here. Photograph: StudioCanal

There is no way of sugar-coating the visceral content of this film, but Joaquin Phoenix imbues his performance with such sympathy that his actions, though brutal, are absolutely necessary. His determination to salvage the last remnants of innocence from the most appallingly inhuman situation raises Joe to the status of a modern hero. Ramsay’s use of editing, tight camera shots and the most fleeting of flashbacks, coupled with Jonny Greenwood’s incredible score combine to make a film that will become a slow classic to be celebrated in years to come. Pat Mc, 49, Cork, Ireland

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: ‘Frances McDormand is a wonderfully gritty’

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Sam Rockwell and Frances Mcdormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Photograph: Allstar/Fox Searchlight Pictures

It’s an inspirational film of a tough woman fighting on her own for justice for the death of her daughter, and her dogged refusal to give up or take crap from male law enforcers. Frances McDormand is a wonderful gritty actress who does not need to be beautiful or sexy to hold you spellbound. It’s also another great Coen brothers movie. Ali RC, 60, south-west England

I love the acting the feeling of the community and her fight for justice and to be heard. This resonates so much right now with people. I especially loved the part where she is outside the police station after fire bombing it. No remorse and cool as a cucumber. Joanne O’Flanagan, 52, Buckinghamshire

  • Thank you for all your contributions and comments on our critics’ list – you can continue the conversation below

Sourse: theguardian.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

3 × 2 =