Posted on December 21, 2018

They select the movies for the Calgary International Film Festival, and now our team of programmers share their Top 10 films of 2018. Still not sure what films you need to catch up on from the past year? Take it from our curators – these are films that you'll want to seek out as we say goodbye to the year that was 2018.


Note: This list includes some films that were released prior to 2018, but became available to Calgary audiences for the first time this year.



Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, streaming now on Netflix

ROMA reaches any audience with its sincerity, emotional clarity, and simplicity. As an ode to the women and cinema that raised him, ROMA explores the subject of family with empathy and astute socio-political observation. Cuarón successfully intersects narrative plot points with historical moments, often with characteristic long takes to poetically and accessibly create the best of movie magic.


Directed by Bi Gan

Stunning technical accomplishments aside, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT is a narrative feat in its replication of dream logic. The stream of conscious structure, while often ambiguous, fully realizes its emotional potential by creating an ambiance of loss and yearning. The film explores memory, dreams, and the importance of story (and cinema) with a satisfyingly cathartic conclusion in the final scene.

LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT was a 2018 Calgary Film selection


Directed by Masaaki Yuasa

Although this film was technically made in 2004, it was not available in North America until this year. Showcasing a wide array of animation styles, MINDGAME's absurd adventure clearly supports the belief that no person is beyond redemption. This zany, extreme, and darkly comedic film could've been a mess without the sure directed by-ection of Masaaki Yuasa. There are many moments when you really don't know what's going to come next, and Yuasa's assured vision keeps us on track for a thoroughly rewarding, explosive, experience.


Directed by Luca Guadagnino

A visually beautiful film that is unafraid to push boundaries. SUSPIRIA feels physical: every jump, breath, and spin has appreciable weight and creates a high-stakes environment. This is the most ambitious of Luca Guadagnino's work; I applaud his commitment to a vision, fully supported with expert technical execution, that was sure to polarize.


Directed by Lucretia Martel

Every scene in ZAMA feels like the work of a master. Bureaucratic blue balls as a period piece with top scene construction, cinematography, and absurd comedy.


Directed by Gaspar Noé

This film was meant for people like me who were raised on MuchMusic. CLIMAX is Noé's tightest and most immediate film and bears his trademark flairs for music and long takes. This film isn't meant to be philosophically deep or plot heavy: as an exercise to recreate the experience of super hot dancers getting freaky on LSD, CLIMAX succeeds. Also, the opening scene is the most exhilarating of the year.

CLIMAX was a 2018 Calgary Film selection


Directed by Arash Lahooti

A working-class story that effectively shows that small, even mundane problems, can lead to life-altering compromises. Featuring an excellent performance by Rooz-haye Narenji, ORANGE DAYS is perfectly suited to the current feminist movement's focus on female specificity in workplace conflict, and the perseverance of a minority in a corruptible and antagonistic system.

ORANGE DAYS was a 2018 Calgary Film selection


Directed by Nelson Carlos de Los Santos Arias

COCOTE’s violence and intensity of emotion were a challenge for me to view. Impressive first-time Directed byection that manages to both celebrate and criticize the culture from which it originates, The Dominican Republic's rural and highly religious communities.


Directed by Lars Von Trier

Thoroughly entertaining and self-consciously repugnant, The House That Jack Built is Von Trier at his most refined. While not one of his deepest or conceptual films, this is a provocative satire that feels like a pop morality tale. It's a combination that only Trier can pull off and there was nothing else like it in cinema this year.

THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT was a 2018 Calgary Film selection


Directed by Stéphane Demoustier

A short and sweet, simple and whimsical tale that is told almost entirely through the perspective of two four-year-old fraternal twins. This film captures the innocence of young childhood, and is unlike any other film this year.

CLÉO & PAUL was a 2018 Calgary Film selection


Directed by Wendy McColm


Read more of our yearly recap from our programming team! Here's the best of 2018 from Shorts Programmer, Brennan Tilley.

What’s next for Calgary Film? Check out our January 9 Doc Soup screening of THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET. Tickets on sale now! 

Back to blog listing