I don’t get to watch movies as much as I would like to these days. When I first really got into film and the power of cinema, I was 15 and had oodles of time on my hands. Get home from school and as soon as I finished my homework, I had the rest of that afternoon/evening to watch whatever I liked. Those were the days. Well, fast forward 15+ years and while my time isn’t nearly as bountiful as it once was, I still did get to see some quality films this year. Here were my top 3 in no particular order.
This film, which was directed by academy award winner Alfonso Cuarón, tells the story of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) and her relationship to the family with whom she works for as maid during 1970s Mexico. We see the world through not only her work, but her relationships with the individual children within the family, the matriarch Sra. Sofia, and her own strained relationship with her boyfriend. The cinematography in this film is probably the best I’ve seen all year and I like how multiple narratives are woven together. Not everything is as it seems with the family Cleo works for and in the midst of all this, we see glances of a revolution taking place in the streets. Roma is currently streaming on Netflix.
Spike Lee did an amazing job with this film. Based off the true story of Ron Stallworth who in the 1970s became the first black police officer in Colorado Springs, BlacKKKlansman tells the story of how Ron and his white partner took down a local Ku Klux Klan chapter. The film which stars Adam Driver as Ron’s partner Flip, delves into the relationship of these two men within the confines of a police force, while simultaneously trying to take down the Klan. Oh, and it should be noted, Ron really did trick David Duke and the KKK into believing he was a white man via his on the phone demeanor and his partner Flip was his white stand in. Spike did a good job of not making this seem like a hackneyed black-white buddy cop picture. The ending really did have me invested and Spike had some well placed cameos in the film as well.
The city of Oakland really had its day in the cinematic sunshine in 2018. Between Black Panther, Sorry to Bother You, and now Blindspotting, all three films prominently featured Oakland in their story lines.
In Blindspotting we see Colin (Daveed Diggs), a man who has 3 days left on probation and is trying to stay out of trouble. His best friend Miles (Rafael Casal), however can’t seem to keep his cool or keep from running his mouth. Colin also witnesses an incident that leaves him haunted about what choice to make since he’s so close to getting off probation. This film is Oakland to the core and I liked the visuals that were on display of a changing city. It reminded me of another area that has seen rapid change recently due to gentrification and other forces (Hello Brooklyn). Blindspotting is humorous, heartfelt, and a reflection of the times we’re living in.