Must Watch: John Waters’ Top 10 Films of 2018
Every year, Artforum publishes John Waters’ list of the Top 10 films of the year. John Waters is the indie auteur behind such iconic B-movies as Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Female Trouble. Whether you love or hate his films, there is no denying that Waters is passionate about film and has a unique perspective on the medium.
His list every year is so wonderfully different from most critics groups and personal reflections that it’s worth checking into. In recent years, he’s named films as diverse as Baby Driver, Krisha, and Helmet Berger, Actor as his top films of the year. 2018 is the first time in years I have seen none of his Top 10 and that is exciting. Even more exciting, eight of the 10 films on his list this year are available to watch now through digital rental or streaming services. That’s eight more films for your consideration in determining what you think the best of the year is.
Here’s a breakdown of his list and where to find them. You can also read his full write up for each film at Artforum.
#1: Jeannette. The Childhood of Joan of Arc (writer/director Bruno Dumont, France)
Jeannette. The Childhood of Joan of Arc is a historical musical adaptation of the story of Joan of Arc, set during her childhood to an original heavy metal musical score. In Waters’ words, “It’s the best movie of the year. You’ll hate it.”
Jeannette. can be rented or purchased on Amazon or iTunes.
#2: American Animals (writer/director Bart Layton, UK/USA)
American Animals is a hybrid documentary/narrative film inspired by a true crime story. Four college students decide to steal rare books from the special collections of their university in a get rich quick scheme gone wrong. In John Waters words, “Adolescent group madness is a beautiful thing to watch.”
American Animals is available to rent or purchase on most digital platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Playstation Network.
#3: Nico, 1988 (writer/director Susanna Nicchiarelli, Belgium/Italy)
Nico, 1988 is a biopic about the last year in the life of one of Andy Warhol’s superstars. Nico lives on her own in Manchester away from the spotlight, but is convinced to tour again to promote her latest album. In John Waters’ words, “A small, sad, fearless biopic that asks the question: “Is junkie dignity possible?” The answer is no.”
Nico, 1988 is available to rent or purchase on most digital platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Playstation Network.
#4: Mom and Dad (writer/director Brian Taylor, UK/USA)
Mom and Dad is a horror/comedy about a previously unknown pandemic that causes parents to murder their children. It is also the only film on the list I had actually heard of before, which should be no surprise as it’s the only traditional horror film on the list. In John Waters’s words, “A laff riot!”
Mom and Dad can be streamed on Hulu Plus or rented/purchased on most digital platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Playstation Network.
#5: Blindspotting (director Carlos Lopez Estrada, writers Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, USA)
Blindspotting is a comedy/drama about a parolee finishing out the last three days of his sentence. His best friend keeps making incredibly poor decisions that put both of their freedom at risk. In John Waters’ own words, “The smartest and funniest film about race and class in a long, long time.”
Blindspotting is available to rent or purchase on most digital platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Playstation Network.
#6: The Green Fog (directors Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson, and Guy Maddin, USA)
The Green Fog is a collage film, piecing together footage of films shot in San Francisco to retell Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo without dialogue. In John Waters’ words, “Abstractly clever, strangely compelling, and just about perfect.”
This is, sadly, the one title I cannot find availability for out of the entire list. It appears to have been only screened in an exclusive limited engagement in Los Angeles.
#7: Custody (writer/director Xavier Legrand, France)
Custody is a drama about a messy divorce and custody battle. The father moves back into town in a bid to get joint custody, but the mother and child fear him for how he behaved when they all lived together. In John Waters’ own words, “This feel-bad movie of the year is so beautifully acted that it made me feel happy, happy, happy!”
Custody can be streamed on Kanopy (a streaming service offered for free by many public libraries in the US) or rented/purchased on most digital platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Playstation Network.
#8: Sollers Point (writer/director Matthew Porterfield, from the story by Amy Belk and Matthew Porterfield, USA/France)
A young parolee attempts to reenter everyday life in his Baltimore neighborhood after serving time under house arrest for a drug conviction. In John Waters’ own words, “Can a heterosexual director worship his male lead on film just as much as Paul Morrissey obviously did Joe Dallesandro in Trash? Sure looks that way.”
Sollers Point can be streamed on Amazon Prime or rented/purchased on most digital platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Playstation Network.
#9: Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (writer/director John Ridley, USA)
Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 is a documentary about the 10 year period leading up to the L.A. Riots in the wake of the four police officers being acquitted for using excessive force in the beating and arrest of Rodney King; the brutal attack was filmed, aired regularly on the news, and showed the attack in clear detail. I can tell you that even as a young child, I remember being outraged by this verdict because you couldn’t avoid seeing the tape if you owned a TV. In John Waters’ words, “I cried.”
Let It Fall… can be streamed on Netflix or rented/purchased on most digital platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Playstation Network.
#10: Permanent Green Light (writers/directors Dennis Cooper, Zac Farley, France)
Permanent Green Light is the story of disconnected young people sharing a bond over their mutual desire to die. In John Waters’ words, “A slow, quiet, sexual cinematic poem….”
Permanent Green Light is in the early stages of release, doing specific theatrical screenings.
For me, I’m most excited to watch Jeannette… and Mom and Dad. John Waters’ year end lists are always a treat because he genuinely likes so many different styles of film. This year has everything from experimental cinema pushing the boundaries of IPR law to slapstick horror and epic musical. There’s something for every adventurous film fan here.
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