-A list of the best films of 2018
In keeping with tradition, here are my top 25 films of the year alongside some honorable mentions. I’ve also listed some disclaimers about a few well-regarded films I wasn’t actually able to see in time for the making of this list.
Also, feel free to check out my list of movies that I enjoyed which did not end up making the cut for this final article here: You can add Aquaman, Cold War, Vox Lux, and Damsel to that list, as well (if you’re keeping track).
A FEW THAT I MISSED:
Beast is a British thriller which debuted at TIFF in 2017 and received only a very limited release in the United States despite universal acclaim and being one of the most nominated films this year at the British Independent Film Awards. It sat at the top of my watchlist for most of the year, and I just never was able to get to it.
Based upon the life of country musician Blaze Foley, Blaze is a directing effort from Ethan Hawke which premiered to a ton of acclaim at Sundance and only got a very limited stateside distribution this year. It also only came to VOD recently, but apparently is one of the most emotionally engrossing films of this year.
Nicole Kidman has remained on the periphery of the Best Actress conversation for this late-December limited release as a flawed and eventually insane former cop. Because this won’t make it out to New Jersey theaters in time, it’s one that will have to be excluded from this list, at least temporarily.
A Prayer Before Dawn
After a successful turn at 2017 Cannes, this boxing film features quite a literal overcoming of demons and a widely praised performance by Joe Cole in the lead role. It was distributed by A24, but never really caught on with a wider release, but this seems like a new take on the over-saturated boxing drama market.
We the Animals
We the Animals is the coming of age story which tore through Sundance and had a tiny release here in the States. It apparently fits in with the type of hyper-realism that has consistently made my lists over the years with almost a documentary feel but a fictional color palette. It also has had some success in the minor ceremonies during awards season.
THE HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Burning is South Korea’s proposed nomination for Best Foreign Language film and tells the story of a farmer’s son who has to come back to town to pick up the slack after an illness. There, he meets an ingenue girl who eventually disappears, and returns with this sophisticated, hateful new guy by her side. The slow burn and even-handed direction leads to shocking results. This is worth the grind to the finish.
After absolutely adoring the first Creed film, Creed II was certainly a step-down, but it captured -enough of what the original did right for it to make my year-end article. It didn’t have the same emotional weight or messages about legacy, yet, the actors from the previous film still inhabit these characters, such as Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson most notably. Also, the relation-back to the conflict in Rocky IV was done well enough to not seem too ridiculous. This is another movie with some plot-structure problems, but it fits comfortably in as a decent sequel to the first one.
The pubescent nightmare that is Eighth Grade definitely deserves a mention among the best films of the year, carried by unknown actress Elsie Fisher as she deals with the normal issues of self-confidence and finding a sense of belonging. It’s a movie that deals with maturation and teenage-hood in a successful way, and doesn’t ever feel like a movie written for teens by people who aren’t that age. It totally connects, and director Bo Burnham really put his finger on the pulse of something special and timeless with this movie.
The Old Man & The Gun
The return of Robert Redford really worked for me in an old-fashioned, feel-good kind of way. This movie doesn’t really say anything too profound, but rather is an exercise in spending two hours with this person who does what he loves, even if what he loves is committing robberies. It has an undeniable charm and Redford’s great leading-man chemistry to make something ordinary a bit more exciting and enjoyable.
A Quiet Place
One of the best horror films of the year in A Quiet Place was directed beautifully by John Krasinski, using the terror of silence to tell an intimate story about family. Emily Blunt is fabulous in this movie, and there’s obviously a real connection between her and John in telling this story due to their real-life marriage. The chemistry is one thing, but the creature design worked for me, and the suspense scenes were handled in a really fun, really interesting way. The lack of noise created a specific kind of helplessness, and it’s well-conveyed.
Revenge is about exactly that: revenge. It’s a movie hardly anyone saw, but its blood-shed and impossible dose of self-motivation really captured my interest. As an action film, Revenge tells the story of a woman who was left for dead after a brutal rape and murder attempt, and she gets back on her feet to fight those who have wronged her. Sure, it’s partially an internal struggle, but this movie scratches the itch of wanting to watch bad things happen to just despicable people. The action isn’t bad, either.
Stan & Ollie
Laurel and Hardy have a nostalgic place in my life, and this new biopic is really a heartwarming tribute to these two comedy icons. It contains really well-balanced performances by John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan, and also shows the kind of commitment and friendship that is required for such a decades-long pairing. We get a lot of biopics where the focus is on future icons that are underappreciated in their time, and it appears that this was kind of the case for them as well. It’s not going to jump off of the screen at you, but it has a good bit of casting and an affection for its subject-matter.
Support the Girls
A story that appears grounded and well-intentioned for the modern audience, partially a story about true commitment to a profession but also about how someone can have a profound impact on their community even if they do not come from a position of power. Regina Hall is really good here, and maybe turns in a career-best performance. It’s almost as if the bar that this takes place in is its own character, and that personification hovers over the film as the connective tissue that brings these people together.
This was a tough one to leave off of my Top 25, not just because it’s my favorite of this grouping, but because it’s a specific style of movie that I’ve come to really like. I love when films mix black comedy into psychological thrillers, resulting in the kind of mix where you aren’t quite sure whether you should be on the edge of your seat or slouching with a smirk on your face. There’s another movie like that higher on this list, but for Thoroughbreds, it was so well-handled as a movie literally about how two teens decide to dispose of an abusive step-dad, but figuratively about how growing up in the 21st century with constant contact with other people who are similarly desensitized shapes one’s persona.
Upgrade operates as the best pure science fiction film on this list, mainly because the other films with science-fiction elements in the remainder of this article also dabble in the satire, superhero, or horror genres as well. Instead, Upgrade really is the same tale as Venom, a tragic accident which leaves a chip placed in the lead character’s brain in order to allow him to walk ends up also giving him super-strength and a voice inside his head, as he realizes the chip is a form of artificial intelligence. There’re always movies like this that come out every year, warning of the dangers of making A.I. too human, but this one has an interesting, action-heavy, and often comedic side to it that I really, really liked.
THE TOP 25:
#25. ON THE BASIS OF SEX
Regardless of your political leanings, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an inspiring figure, breaking barriers through attending Harvard Law School and then fighting for gender equality through a myriad of well-publicized cases within the ACLU. Her story is picked up by actress Felicity Jones, known primarily for her Oscar-nominated turn as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything and also for her starring role in Star Wars: Rogue One. The version of RBG conveyed in the film is one of a few layers, working to balance family life (Armie Hammer stars wonderfully as Martin Ginsburg, her husband who is also an attorney) against her career, but also allowing this RBG character to grow into herself. Some criticism has come in Jones’s portrayal due to a fleeting accent and a slight lack of assertiveness, but I think this characterization of RBG, designed to show her growth from being a marginalized civil rights attorney to powerhouse Justice, is meant to be more symbolic and cinematic than it is completely on point as a factual exercise. It’s cheesy and crowd-pleasing, but I’d fully recommend this movie. I had a great time watching it, was inspired, and was surprised by how detailed they were in the casework the film talks about.
Jonah Hill was clearly a 90s kid, and the attention to detail on the skating paraphernalia and music which is showcased in this film are so directly on point, it would be as if he was telling a story about his own life. In a way, he is, as the comedic actor has gone behind the camera to direct this succinct and emotive little film about a kid who discovers the skating community and a new group of friends as he heads toward his high school years. Lead Sunny Suljic is fantastic as Stevie, who adopts a bit of a punk and rebel lifestyle throughout the course of this film. What he craves is a sense of belonging, free of his abusive brother (an intimidating Lucas Hedges of Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird, and Boy Erased fame) and absentee mother (Katherine Waterston from Inherent Vice and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). When he finds that group of friends, he starts doing a ton of his ‘firsts,’ like drinking, hooking up with girls, and having heart-to-hearts about the meaning of growing up. I was emotionally invested in this film, and felt like this was so much more than just the exquisite period detail.
#23. IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
If there was any director seemingly worthwhile to adapt a story written by author James Baldwin, it would probably be Barry Jenkins, fresh off of his Best Picture win for the fabulous film Moonlight in 2016. While the distinct color palette and close-ups on the actors’ faces remain, this film follows a slightly more straight-forward narrative. It follows two lifelong friends turned lovers Tish (Kiki Lange) and Fonny (Stephan James from ‘Homecoming,’ Selma, and Race as Jesse Owens), whose life of bliss and future child-rearing is disrupted forever when Fonny is falsely accused of rape. Facing a corrupt system in 1970s Harlem, Tish and Fonny’s families start trying to work toward his freedom (featuring Regina King as Tish’s mother in an acclaimed performance). It’s an interesting mix about how Fonny’s literal incarceration leads the families to not just hope for his liberation, but also root for the social liberation of their child in such a difficult era. Outside of a few scenes and plot-threads I thought were left unresolved in the shrinking of the novel down to a film-size portrayal, this movie ended up being fairly beautiful, and it’s grown on me consistently since seeing it.
#22. FIRST MAN
Fresh off of the success of Whiplash and La La Land, Damien Chazelle’s First Man seemed, at first, like a bit of a let down due to it not being as much of an instant classic as those films. However, upon further reflection, there’s a lot of good things about First Man, notably its subdued performances by Ryan Gosling (who has now made a career out of playing the silent leading man, see Drive, Only God Forgives, Blade Runner 2049, The Place Beyond the Pines) as Neil Armstrong and Claire Foy (“The Crown” and “Wolf Hall”) as his wife Janet. It employs a great score, done again by a Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz combo, and also has some of the best action scenes of the year when the movie puts Neil in those rickety cockpits. There are fleeting scenes of true intensity, a slight downtick in pacing in the middle of the film, and then a finale with both a visual and emotional resonance that was really special. We come for the moon landing scene, which was breathtaking, but I left with more positives than just that.
#21. LEAVE NO TRACE
Film-maker Debra Granik, who gave us the heart-wrenching Winter’s Bone back in 2009 has finally returned with a new film, this time about a father and daughter combo who live off the land in the Pacific Northwest. Dad is Will (Ben Foster of Hell or High Water, The Messenger, and 3:10 to Yuma), who has PTSD and desires to be as far removed from humanity as is feasible. Daughter is Tom (Thomasin McKenzie, a relative newcomer), a well-educated and dedicated child who has become sadly accustomed to the father’s episodes and eccentric way of living. It’s a movie which portrays the bonds of familial connection really effectively, and features two of the best performances of the whole year by Foster and McKenzie. I would venture to say that this is a movie which has been wrongly ignored in awards season, and I’m not sure what else it needed to do for more public recognition, as it got universal, and I literally mean universal, acclaim. The settings are beautiful, and the sadness of the film seeps from scene to scene due to great direction and capturing the environment.
A case could be made that Hereditary is the best horror film of the year, a film which dabbles in the passage of mental illness from generation to generation, but also the power structure and affect of families and belief. Ari Aster, the director, is a first-time film-maker, turning in a truly winning effort, and taking a ton of risks in the structure of this film. There are true surprises that shook me to the core, and the entire film builds steam toward this ending that completely delivers. It has subtext, and it has fabulous performances, especially Toni Collette in the lead mother role and Milly Shapiro as the disturbed daughter. It’s not necessarily haunted-house scary, but it’s impactful in different ways, and has a creeping scariness that slowly absorbs the film.
#19. GAME NIGHT
I would argue that Game Night is the best pure comedy of the year, where it’s hardly blended with different genres and just embraces being silly. There will be other funny movies on this list, but pure comedies rarely get attention on these lists because the awards usually go to dramas with comedic elements where the producers campaign it in the “comedy” categories. Inversely, Game Night is a pure comedy, designed around a silly concept of the realistic game night gone awry. Then, we get total fish-out-of-water scenarios as our mostly normal characters get plunged into crime and police-work in insane ways. I love the lead performances of Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams here, as well as the supporting work of Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris, Sharon Horgan, and especially Jessie Plemons. They work well together as a full ensemble. The other really cool aspects of this movie revolve around the production and editing, where the establishing shots are set to look like pieces on a game board, and the movie is edited frantically to convey a sense of energy that pervades the entire run-time. I love this movie, and hope it gets future television play and grows in influence over time.
This is a movie that never really got any traction as the year went on, but it consistently hung in with my favorite films of the year, primarily because of the way it so expertly handled its tone and sense of repression. The lead performances from Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz are both great for different reasons, McAdams for how understated and unsexed she is, Weisz for how showing how dark it is for her returning to this place of non-acceptance within a traditional, religiously oriented community. The other standout performance is that of McAdams’s husband in the film Alessandro Nivola, who is probably career-best in a role that showcases his acting talent more than just being a bit-part actor previously. It’s presented in a way that really nails the forbidden romance idea, and it’s rare that a movie can be this simultaneously endearing but also complicated.
#17. THE HATE U GIVE
While I slowly lowered my opinion of The Hate U Give as the year went on due to a final act that I felt really undersold and pulled back from a message and a film I found really impactful, I do think that it is one of the best issue-oriented dramas of the whole year. It’s a career making performance for Amandla Stenberg in the lead role, after she previously has been mostly in teenage fodder, but also carries with it some good supporting performances like the charming Algee Smith as her friend who is murdered, Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall as the parents, and Anthony Mackie as a local drug dealer. It was emotionally affecting and I think that this is the exact type of young adult movie that studios should be making. It’s eye-opening and shows young people who may have been familiar with the book what good dramatic film-making feels like. For adults, it’s just very emotionally effective.
#16. MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN
It’s a tough time for comedy, and many of our best films focus on politics, the state of the world, and issues such as LGBT rights or racism. This list is littered with really good films that tackle important issues, but once in a while, a breezy musical comedy with fun characters and a sparkly script is enough to shatter the mold and just be so irresistible that you can’t ignore it. There’s one or two movies like this on my year-end articles every year, and this year, it’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, a sing-along, breezy, easy, and adorable 90 minutes at the movies where there are no stakes, no real conflict, and characters developed just enough that we care. It helps to bring in Lily James, who I think makes this superior to the first one. I have to reserve a couple of spots for movies I just subjectively enjoyed so much I can’t bump them off the list.
#15. GREEN BOOK
This is my “controversy aside” pick, because despite all of the backlash swirling around this movie currently, it does still contain two really good central performances and a decently funny script. Both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are great here, and they have impeccable chemistry. Sure, it’s problematic as the type of movie where it discounts the struggle against racism and shows it instead through the “white people can change” lens, which is a bit dated in both style and substance. However, the committed performances and good chemistry between the leads makes this an enjoyable road movie with scene-eating acting by two great performers. I left Green Book really having enjoyed it and thinking it was easily one of the best films of the year, so despite souring on it slightly after further reflection due to some serious emptiness in its creation, I can’t fully discount it. Just because I don’t think it should be represented at the Oscars doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a good movie.
#14. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
The culmination of ten years of build-up occurs in Infinity War, where our group of superheroes must fend off Thanos and his quartet of alien soldiers as they pursue the infinity stones scattered throughout the galaxy. Sure, much of this is dependent on the films leading up, such as understanding the characters’ positions in their lives and also the location and nature of the various stones. But, I’ve seen the other films and it’s such a huge achievement to bring this all together into not just a competent, but an excellently plotted and extremely exciting film. The journey, told mostly through Thanos, was a unique way to approach the hero film, and the entire thing was really tense with great action. This is a crowning achievement in superhero film making, and is one of the five to ten best of all time in that subgenre.
This may be one of the more divisive picks on the list, but in terms of horror remakes, this has to be one of the best ones. As an obsessive dancing movie, it works as a spiritual sequel to something like Black Swan, but once witchcraft enters the equation, the movie gets increasingly disturbing. It opts to remain pretty low-key however, and our characters’ growth of understanding only makes the movie more and more unsettling. It’s as if we’re always about two seconds away from everything completely going insane, and we learn that the reason the plot proceeds so thoroughly is actually because of a really nice twist. Dakota Johnson, again showing that she is so much more than just “the girl from Fifty Shades,” is incredible in the lead, and Tilda Swinton (playing three roles) is also great. There’s some baggage in terms of some excess political subtext that’s unneeded and a bit dry, but overall, this is one of the best horror films of the last few years.
Paul Dano makes his directing debut by intricately adapting a Richard Ford novel about family strife and self-worth that often cuts extremely deep. While the best aspect of this film is probably the way it uses visual cues to tell its story and sharpen its subtext, it does also really contain a zany Carey Mulligan performance and an always reliable Jake Gyllenhaal as the parents of a kid who has just been put through the ringer. The story concerns a teenage boy who works his way through his parents’ separation as his Dad loses his job and decides to go fight fires away from the home and the Mom takes matters into her own hands, using everything, including her new bachelorette status, as a weapon. I think this will go down as one of the tragedies of awards season, where this may have just been a little too small to get attention. I just loved the atmosphere and beautiful visual palette.
BlacKkKlansman represents Spike Lee at his most venerable, but also his most accessible, telling the story about a racist town who hires a motivated African-American cop. When he (John David Washington) starts going after the local chapter of the KKK alongside a white partner (Adam Driver), things get wacky and seriously entertaining, culminating in a use of Topher Grace as a David Duke. Despite the fast pace, kinetic and comedic energy, and keen sense of direction from Spike Lee, the film’s social messages are not outweighed by the style. This is a movie that matters for a modern audience regardless of the specific time period it’s set in, and I was just fully absorbed in the excellent style of film-making on display. It also helps that it’s completely hysterical.
#10. YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE
As Lynne Ramsay’s potential breakthrough into something slightly more mainstream, You Were Never Really Here hits a few nerves along the way. Starring a committed and burly Joaquin Phoenix in the central role, she paints the story of a horrifically damaged hit man worn thin from PTSD dating back to his war days. As he embarks on a bloody rescue mission, he’s constantly reminded of his past, and we spend half the movie in a brutal and unsettling fog which pervades every scene. It’s a movie so dark and so relentlessly thrilling that I audibly gasped multiple times. This is the best type of psychological thriller, and is tastefully written and directed such that we don’t become comfortable with genre tropes or anything close to mainstream rhythm. Yet, those beats are somewhat there, and by the time I walked out of the theater I simultaneously thought that I had consumed a piece of true art but also really took part in a violent thriller that scratches the itch of horror cinema.
#9. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
This genre-less collection of ideas from first-time director Boots Riley is far from perfect, yet, as the year went on, this crept higher and higher on my list. There’s such great commentary about racism and class warfare, as well as pointed satire of capitalism at its finest. It also tackles cultural appropriation in a clever and bombastic way. On the surface, it’s just a movie about a guy who uses a “white voice” to attract business as a telemarketer. Beneath the surface is the ugly picture of low wages, modern slavery, racism, and the death of progressive ideology. Lakeith Stanfield (known slightly from the guy who should “Get Out!” in Get Out), from his slouch to interesting mannerisms, steals the show until a cocaine-induced Armie Hammer shows up toward the end of the film. By the time this movie resolves, you won’t know what hit you, it’s fun, smart, and terrific.
#8. THE FAVOURITE
If you didn’t know Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and his cynical style after the excellent film The Lobster a few years back, you certainly should know him now, as The Favourite has become one of the most beloved and consistently nominated films of the year. It embraces party politics, as opposing sides in historical England beg for the ditsy Queen’s (a fantastic Olivia Colman) ear. One side feeds information to the Queen’s favorite (and lesbian lover) Ms. Churchill (a seductive an evil Rachel Weisz), while the other contracts with Churchill’s cousin and rising star of court Abigail (Emma Stone, great as always). The three fight and backstab for power an attention in a precarious situation until it all goes awfully wrong. This movie is darkly funny and written very dryly about politics and influence in such a way that reminds us how easy corruption begins.
#7. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-FALLOUT
After every one of these, I always think that there’s no way Christopher McQuarrie and stunt-crazy Tom Cruise could ever top what they’ve done previously. In MI6, they do much more than that. This movie, in terms of action and stuntwork, surpasses just about every action movie I’ve ever seen from a technical standpoint. Whether it’s a skydiving scene, a motorcycle chase, a beautifully choreographed bathroom fight scene, or Tom Cruise literally flying a helicopter, this movie is over two hours of constant excitement and pace. Any thinness in the plot is immediately made up for by watching yet another set piece that will make your jaw drop. Watch this on a big screen and loudly. You won’t regret it.
Annihilation is experimental scifi-horror that isn’t afraid to do intense body imagery or maddening transformations. It focuses on a team of female scientists who head into a section of Florida which has been taken over by this odd plastic-looking seal. They deem it “the Shimmer,” and as the characters get deeper to the center of what they’re looking for, they notice massive mutations in the lifeforms. It tells us often about how our relationships are like a living and breathing thing themselves, how they breakdown and re-start as something new. It also deals very much with the natural tendency of humans to self-destruct. It has large aspirations, good performances, great imagery, and above-all-else: a purpose. I really felt like this movie was telling a story that the writers and director (Alex Garland of Ex Machina fame) thought was important. By the end, where the infamous piece of the score used in marketing kicks in, you’ll be blown away.
#5. A SIMPLE FAVOR
Sure, this movie isn’t going to be looked back on with any sort of legacy like some of the others on this list, but I had some of the most fun I had at the theater last year with A Simple Favor. It has some nice plot twists and turns that weren’t predictable immediately at the outset of the plot, and it also completely basks in the glamour of it all. It’s a movie that is completely fine being a little silly, a little violent, a little contrived, and also extremely unrealistic. It nails the black comedy element and carries the extremely fictionalized tone throughout. With Paul Feig at the helm, he gets the most out of both Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, and while things like costume design don’t usually stand out to me when reviewing a film, I found the costumes and set designs to be really memorable. As the year went on and I saw more and more Oscar films, I just kept coming back to this as one of my favorites.
#4. FIRST REFORMED
First Reformed tackles the intersection of politics and faith in a really special way, as a pastor’s existential crisis is internalized as a struggle with making the belief systems of climate change skepticism and religious prosperity work hand-in-hand. Ethan Hawke is fabulous as Pastor Ernst Toller, one of the most self aware and deep characters portrayed in film this year. He shares a particularly protective relationship with local widower Mary (Amanda Seyfried), as well. The lack of focus on Hawke’s performance throughout awards season is perhaps the principle travesty of the 2018-19 campaigns, and between the performances, the wonderful screenplay, and also experienced directing that builds suspense in a script primarily about internal conflict, I would say that First Reformed is clearly one of the best films of the year.
A lot of the divisiveness regarding this film seems to be due just to politicization of the topics, but there’s also some backlash about factual accuracy that seems to be mostly unfair due to the fact that Director Adam McKay became an expert on Cheney through books and tons of interviews, as well as the fact that this is a fictionalized movie that is loosely based on the truth. I feel like there’s been unnecessary backlash for a film that is edited and filmed so uniquely. There’s an instant classic vibe to Vice in that it unapologetically both humanizes and tears into the central figure, and it also features one of the absolute best performances of the year with Christian Bale as Dick Cheney. The transformation he made for this role has a possibility of being truly legendary, and when you combine these great performances (including Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, etc.) with the technical marvels behind this movie, it ends up being one of my absolute favorites of the year.
The best part of Roma is actually that it became so accessible, with Netflix deciding to distribute Alfonso Cuaron’s meticulous and personal period drama on their online platform for everyone to see. It ended up being a great idea, as Roma has remained consistently in the best-of conversation, and deservedly so. The movie is so brilliantly shot, making art of out the work done by impoverished housekeepers like our main character Cleo (Yalitza Aparacio) as they serve the upper middle class family in Mexico City. The women of the film, Cleo and mom Sofia (Maria de Tavira) deal with loneliness and loss in different ways, and while the scene-to-scene composition of this film seems like just following Cleo through a few months of work and a few months of her personal life, larger questions about the role of government in Mexico during that time also comes up. It’s a movie about gender and class, about suffering and personal growth. It probably is the only “flawless” film of the year in that it’s the most competently made and does the best on paper. The next film just has that personal attachment that brings it slightly past how good Roma is.
#1. A STAR IS BORN
Yes, A Star is Born is the best film of the year. It will have the most cultural impact long-term, and is the most discussed film of the year that doesn’t have the Marvel title in the credits. It’s an inspirational movie of old-time Hollywood aspirations. It’s shot beautifully, using specific color palettes to represent specific characters and moods, and the production crew managed to perfectly mix and prepare the sound to have the small moments stay small but the concert moments seem real and special. Bradley Cooper as a director is like a sponge in that he has soaked in wonderful influences, but his main achievement here is in his performance as Jackson Maine, completely changing his voice and his look to really embody someone new, but also learning to sing and play the guitar to make the live scenes as real as possible. He then manages to use Lady Gaga to her full potential as an actress, making it believable that she is a nobody in the beginning. All of these praises, including Sam Elliot as a supporting performance, pale in comparison to how transcendent the songs all are. This is a true event movie, the kind of film that only comes along occasionally and must be consumed by everyone.