(‘Tis the season for end of year lists and Hammer to Nail has you covered! Enjoy Matt Delman’s favorite films of 2018 below and stay tuned for Lead Critic Chris Reed and Editor Don R. Lewis’ next week! Like what you see here on Hammer to Nail? Why not pay just $1.00 per month to help keep us going?)
1) Cold War
Sitting atop my list is a film that can best be described as a work of art. Academy Award-winning Director Pawel Pawlikowski’s (Ida) decade-spanning, international love story is based loosely on the lives of his parents. The effortless cool of the film and filmmaker—the singing and music, the editing, and Lukasz Zal’s breathtaking cinematography, all highlights—is somewhat engulfed by the tragedies of life getting in the way of two fiery soulmates, Wiktor and Zula. In a brisk 88 minutes we are taken on a journey through multiple European countries, a stockpile of lovers, and a cascade of life events revealed in grand flourishes and subtle brushstrokes. By the end you may ask yourself whether or not you’d throw yourself in the Gulag to be closer to your one true love. Joanna Kulig proves here that she has the screen presence and tenacity to pull off a Red Sparrow or a Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, but it’s unlikely she’ll ever be given a gift as great as the role of Zula in Pawlikowski’s masterpiece, Cold War.
- Eighth Grade
- Green Book
- Ghostbox Cowboy – WILDCARD PICK*
Ghostbox Cowboy is one of those oddities that wows you with its weirdness. John Maringouin’s first narrative feature film (he’s known for his documentaries) plays out like one of those anxiety dreams you have before a big presentation at work. An idea that starts out promising slowly slips deeper and deeper into insanity. What is a nightmare for our protagonist, played by doe-eyed David Zellner, is a joyride for the viewer. We’re taken through China’s high-tech underground, as shady investors work their sleight-of-hand to con the American cowboy out of his hard-earned bitcoin. Taking advantage of built in production design, Maringouin shot guerrilla style in outlandish locations such as a deserted city of condominiums in the middle of the Mongolian desert. It’s a scrappy little mutt of a film, deserving of high praise and repeat viewings.
1) BISBEE ‘17
In another era, there was a quiet mining town that carried out a deportation. The sheriff rounded up the striking miners — mostly foreigners — and dropped them in the middle of the desert, leaving them to die. This happened in America, in the small town of Bisbee, Arizona. A century later, documentarian Robert Greene comes to Bisbee with a small film crew and stages a reenactment of that deportation, using the people living there today, some descendants of ancestors involved one hundred years prior.
The resulting docu-drama is astounding, unearthing repressed emotions and sentiments that have harbored in Bisbee like forgotten ghosts. Greene, who also works as an editor for Alex Ross Perry and others, weaves together a tale that is as universal as the fabric of our nation, while being rooted in the intimate details of a humanitarian crisis. In one storyline, a family must confront the fact that one of their ancestors betrayed another — his own brother — and then willingly relive that experience through performance. Cinematographer Jarred Alterman’s beautifully haunting imagery and Keegan DeWitt’s arresting score add cinematic verve to the corporal proceedings.
- Free Solo
- Won’t You Be My Neighbor
- Three Identical Strangers
- Farenheit 11/9
- Hale County This Morning This Evening
- The People’s Republic of Desire
- The Challenge
- Inventing Tomorrow
- Crime + Punishment
– Matthew Delman (@ItsTheRealDel)
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