For our annual review of stories, our writers and editors have put together lists of the stories they were proud of this year, or just had fun writing or reading. Here are Senior Editor Michelle Drown and her contributer’s picks.
In the age-old contretemps between TV and cinema, the battle and party lines used to be sharply and comfortingly drawn. But what do you do when film-TV distinctions continue to blur and incestuously party? For example, one of 2018’s best “films” — the Coen Bros. gritty-witty The Ballad of Buster Scruggs anthology project — made only a grazing, Oscar-qualifying appearance on the big screen before swiftly landing on Netflix. The answer is, you enjoy both.
On the tube, Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men, came back swinging with the year’s best TV series, The Romanoffs, which was essentially made up of eight separate feature length films, riffing loosely on a theme of legacy, lineage, and bloody ghosts.
Two of this year’s best reasons to hightail it away from ones’ home entertainment system and go to the movies, old school-style, also happened to be two notable directors’ finest work to date: Alfonso (Y Tu Mama Tambien) Cuaron’s glorious, artistically sublime and emotionally volatile Roma — his Amarcord, Federico Fellini’s 1973 semi-autobiographical Oscar-winning film — may qualify as a masterpiece; and Paul Schrader’s stunning First Redeemer finally crystallizes the long-lurking potential in Schrader’s career arc, going back to his virtuoso Taxi Driver script and his fascination with religious angst and French film director Robert Bresson (not necessarily in that order).
The following Top Ten list nods separately toward content made and intended for the big and the small screen, with some admitted fudging, as in the case of the Coen Bros./Netflix pact with the devil. Or is Netflix the new media Messiah? Confusion, and ongoing evolution, reign.
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)
First Reformer (Paul Schrader)
Of Body and Soul (Ildikó Enyedi, made in 2017, screened locally this year)
The Guilty (Gustav Möller)
First Man (Damien Chazelle)
Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson)
Maria by Callas (Tom Volf)
Annihilation (Alex Garland)
The 15:17 to Paris (Clint Eastwood)
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler)
The Late Show with Steven Colbert (CBS)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Netflix)
The Romanoffs (Netflix)
Sharp Objects (HBO)
The Tale (HBO)
Babylon Berlin (Netflix)
Atlanta, Season 2 (FX)
David Letterman: The Next Guest Needs no Introduction (Netflix)