6. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
In 1984, young programmer Stefan is adapting a dark fantasy novel into a game. But as Stefan delves deeper into his work, he begins to question the truth of his reality. Soon he is plagued by paranoia, and the strange feeling that he is not in control of his decisions.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an interactive film in the science fiction dystopian anthology series Black Mirror. Written by series creator Charlie Brooker, the standalone film lets viewers make decisions for the main character Stefan.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch presented a unique situation for Netflix. Although Netflix currently had several interactive children’s projects underway, a project of this type had not been released on Netflix before. The difficulty in writing and producing a non-linear script led to the creation of a bespoke branch manager for Netflix and the required adaptation of platform’s use of cache memory.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch received mostly positive reviews from audiences and critics, however some criticisms were made about the gimmicky nature of the film with many saying that the film did support a proper Black Mirror narrative. However, the unique nature and appeal of the film meant that Black Mirror: Bandersnatch captured the imagination of many and its ambition and usability has been highly praised.
7. Private Life
Couple Paul and Rachel are in the midst of trying to maintain their marriage as they struggle with infertility. As they find themselves caught up in a world dominated by assisted reproduction and adoption, their lives begin to look up when a recent college dropout re-enters their life.
Written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, Private Life had its debut at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival before being released in the Autumn on Netflix. Private Life was inspired by Jenkins’ own battles with infertility with her husband, and how the couple had felt like their lives were completely caught up in the process of trying to have a baby, just as the characters Paul and Rachel are in the film. Jenkins put her idea for the film on the back burner for years before returning to it.
Private Life has been cited by many as one of the best films of 2018. This is largely in part to how Jenkins has taken her own personal experiences and shaped them into a well-acted and well directed film which draws on human nature and emotions in a touching and funny way.
8. The Other Side of the Wind
Focusing on the last days of a legendary filmmaker who is struggling to make his final masterpiece, after years of exile in Europe. The Other Side of the Wind is a satire of Hollywood.
The Other Side of the Wind had a long and troubled production history and spent more than forty years in development. Directed, co-produced, co-written and co-edited by Orson Welles, shooting began in 1970 on what Welles intended to be his big film comeback. Shooting continued on and off until 1976 and intermittently into the 1980s until eventually Welles was forced to leave the film incomplete after it became involved in financial, legal and political complications.
After Welles passed away in 1985, several attempts were made to complete the film. However, each attempt was met with difficulties. Eventually the rights to the film were bought by Royal Road in 2014 and the film was completed. It finally debuted at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on August 31st, 2018 before being released on Netflix in November.
The Other Side of the Wind was met with positive reviews, including from fellow directors such as Rian Johnson, Quentin Tarantino and Alexander Payne who were all “gobsmacked” by the footage that they saw prior to the wide release. The release of The Other Side of the Wind was accompanied by documentary film, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.
9. The Night Comes For Us
A former triad enforcer named Ito must protect a young girl, all whilst trying to avoid his former gang. He is soon caught between legions of thugs and gang members as he tries to complete his mission.
The Night Comes For Us was originally conceived as a screenplay and then adapted into a graphic novel before finally being made into a feature film. Written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto, The Night Comes For Us debuted at Fantastic Fest in September 2018 before being acquired by Netflix. It was then released worldwide in October.
The Night Comes For Us was met with positive reviews and heralded as a must see for action fans. In particular the action sequences were highly praised as were the performances by Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais and Julie Estelle.
Tjahjanto was inspired by video game Grand Theft Auto IV and was determined to transfer the games’ sandbox experience to the film medium. He said of his inspiration, “The very genesis of the film comes from the fact that I played Grand Theft Auto IV. I was thinking when I’m done playing it. Hey, you know what would be great? If we create a sandbox in the city. That’s something applicable to Jakarta. What if you make a sandbox filled with characters that meet each other, and it all leads to one night where things clash.”
10. Sunday’s Illness
Chiara was abandoned by her mother Anabel when she was just eight years old. Thirty-five years later, Chiara seeks out her mother with a strange request – spend ten days with her. Anabel sees the time as a way to reconnect with her daughter and get her back, but she doesn’t know that Chiara has a hidden agenda and that Anabel will have to make the most important decision of her life.
Written and directed by Ramon Salazar, Sunday’s Illness screened at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama section. Sunday’s Illness went slightly under the radar upon release but a steady drip of positive word of mouth reviews has seen it recognised as one of the best films of the year.
Salazar was initially motivated to make the film based purely on his desire to work with Susi Sanchez again after he had worked with her on his previous film, 10,000 noches en niguna parte. He wanted to give her a meatier main role, so together they worked on the story of Sunday’s Illness. They read a book together about women who had left their children and felt that that was an interesting topic to explore in a film.