“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white masterpiece about his childhood in Mexico, is a stunning achievement by a director in his finest form – and it’s decidedly the best film of 2018.
Relatively few moviegoers have seen “Roma” on a theater screen because Netflix released the film only briefly in select theaters. “Roma” is now streaming it on its Netflix site.
The Myrna Loy has hesitated to book “Roma” because it’s available online, but Helena’s moviegoers deserve to see “Roma” on a bigger screen – preferably on Myrna’s main auditorium screen. I saw it in Seattle on the gorgeous Cinerama screen and was overwhelmed by its beauty and power.
This intimate portrait drawn from Cuaron’s childhood in Mexico is exquisitely photographed by Cuaron himself, with a painter’s eye for composition and detail. Only pure artists would dare shoot in black and white, and that decision deepens its visual power.
Great artists know the power of black and white. The best landscapes of Ansel Adams were shot in black and white. John Ford’s masterpieces “Stagecoach” and “My Darling Clementine” also preferred shades of gray. And let’s not forget symphony musicians who wear black and white so that the music can provide the color.
My favorites of the year include three documentaries and two family films.
“RBG” was a powerful and intimate portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” captured the warmth and integrity of Mr. Rogers. And “Free Solo” was a heart-pounding account of rock climbing that will have moviegoers digging their fingers into the theater armrests to keep from falling.
All three of these films attest to the power of nonfiction filmmaking, especially when the director resists the urge to editorialize and just lets the images do the talking. All three films would make Robert Flaherty, the father of the documentary art, proud – even though Flaherty sometimes slipped across the line from neutral recorder of history to docudrama in classics like “Nanook of the North.”
“Loving Vincent” is an honorary member in this collection of documentaries because of its use of paintings to celebrate the life of Vincent van Gogh -- such a spellbinding work of art.
Perhaps my love of “Mary Poppins Returns” is too personal, but I was enchanted by this sequel. Putting this in my top 10 is my way of thumbing my critic’s nose at the Academy for snubbing Emily Blunt as Best Actress and for not nominating the film for Best Picture. I do appreciate that the song “Where the Lost Things Go” was nominated for Best Song – so there’s some justice.
“Poppins” was the best family film of 2018, a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious triumph.
“Paddington 2” deserves applause, too. The father of Paddington, British writer Michael Bond, died on the last day of filming, making this film poignant in so many ways.
We must never forget that films that reach into the hearts and minds of children are co-parenting our kids, and we need to be grateful for the helping hand.
My list also includes Marvel’s powerful “Black Panther” which shatters so many glass ceilings of race, class and gender. “Spider Verse” also lifts comic book storytelling to the level of art.
The other film on the list is “The Rider,” a feminine Western. We follow an injured cowboy as he struggles with “manning up” and getting on that bucking bronc again, or setting aside his dreams to care for those he loves.
Let’s move onto the lists, which includes Helena’s Empty Popcorn Bag of significant films we have yet to see in the Queen City.
Are you listening Myrna?
To borrow a line from “Hawaii 5-0:” Book ’em, Benji – and cue the 5-0 soundtrack.