Leading up to 2019, here are the seven films I saw in 2018 that I loved the most. Some of them are already available to watch, while others will be released in the new year, so keep an eye out.

1. HIGH LIFE (Claire Denis)
Set in space but grounded in human relationships and biological time, HIGH LIFE is an utterly weird film, which is why I love it. It made its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival and will be released by A24 in 2019.

2. FIRST REFORMED (Paul Schrader)
Ethan Hawke is a lonely, tortured pastor whose relationship to others fundamentally shifts because of climate change. Free to stream on Amazon Prime.

3. THE PAIN OF OTHERS (Penny Lane)
Deftly composed of YouTube footage of people suffering from Morgellons disease, Penny Lane carefully presents each person on her own terms but without ceding a point of view in The Pain Of Others. I appreciate the way Lane avoids the extremes of bowing to scientific authority and embracing skepticism. Available to watch on Fandor.

4. TO DUST (Shawn Snyder)
Matthew Broderick is brilliant as a science teacher and Géza Röhrig similarly so in Shawn Snyder’s heartfelt, dark, funny, buddy film TO DUST. It will be released in February, and the Museum of the Moving Image will present an advance screening of it with a talk about the necrobiome on February 3 as part of Science On Screen.

5. GHOSTBOX COWBOY (John Maringouin)
John Maringouin’s bleak feature film GHOSTBOX COWBOY cuts to the heart of American hubris by focusing on a character who comes from Texas hoping to break into China’s tech market. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and is available on VUDU, iTunes, Google Play, and in select theaters.

6. THOSE WHO ARE FINE (Cyril Schäublin)
In a slowly unfolding and loosely connected narrative, with beautifully composed shots, THOSE WHO ARE FINE spins a compelling tale that exposes the perils of everyday surveillance. The film premiered at New Directors/New Films and is continuing to screen at festivals.

7. THE BURDEN (Niki Lindroth von Bahr)
THE BURDEN is a short, animated, musical featuring animals routinely used for scientific testing (beagles, mice, monkeys). Dressed in human clothes, Niki Lindroth von Bahr positions them on a floating island where they work monotonous and sing about the burden of existence. The film made its New York premiere at the Rooftop Film Festival and is continuing to screen.