Michael Ward on Wednesday, January 02

"I love the performance of a craft, whether it is modest or mean-spirited, yet I walk away when discussions of it begin - as if one should ask a gravedigger what brand of shovel he uses or whether he prefers to work at noon or in moonlight. I am interested only in the care taken, and those secret rehearsals behind it. Even if I do not understand fully what is taking place." Michael Ondaatje

Another year in film, a great one at that, and here, as 2018 becomes 2019, I am again left to wonder what defines a great performance in the films I watch and review and discuss with friends, family, and colleagues.

Is it an actor who makes us express emotion? An actor who makes us laugh uproariously? Is it a persona or character we relate to? Is it a director, a screenwriter, a composer, and/or a technical crew who make the impossible possible, escapism a reality, possess the ability to place us in the lives of others and allow us to understand what it means to be different from ourselves?

I suppose the answer to all of those questions is; “Yes.” And that is what makes film, and art, such a powerful medium. We are able to project, internalize, and share our reflections and feelings and even, when reaching common ground, discover that those reactions remain singular and wholly our own.

No finished movie, screenplay, visual effect, image, shot, or performer can make us feel the exact same thing. And that's why, among all forms of art and expression, I love film so very, very much. Even when we agree, we agree differently. 

So, let’s hope we can once again agree differently. 

Without further adieu, these are 20 "performances" that left a resounding impression upon me in 2018, and will be moments and memories I carry forward for a long, long time. At one point, this list was nearly 50-60 items long. and painfully, I pared it down to a final 30.

The Top 20 (in alphabetical order) will be presented with the words of the the artists chosen, or those who had a hand in creating the stunning work they put out into the world. A slideshow will give you a glimpse at 10 more outstanding performances from 2018 that nearly made the cut.

Note: Hover over the image to see more information about this particular list.



A police officer, on temporary demotion to an emergency call center, takes a harrowing phone call at the end of his final shift.

”…Whenever you catch yourself being aware of what you’re doing…that’s a difficult thing. It’s kind of difficult to release that awareness and to just be. On the other hand, it was really nice because we shot it chronologically. We started in the beginning. We had like eight blocks. The shortest was like five minutes long and the longest was a 34-minute take. So it had a theater vibe about it with such long takes, you know? It was great. You hit a wave and just go with it and see what happens. That’s also really rare. So it was a lot of new things that you don’t get to do that often on a movie. But it works in this format. It was really fun.” - Anthem, October 22, 2018

(director Gustav Möller on creating the premise of The Guilty): “I was gripped at how you could be just listening to a phone call for 20 minutes. Later I started reflecting on how the images I had made in my mind would be different to anyone else listening to the same call. That fascination became the starting point for the film." - Screen Daily, January 26, 2018

(on Jakob Cedergren): “For Jakob, he was intrigued by the challenge to carry every frame of the film…For me, what really made Jakob right for the part is his eyes. It’s like he’s is keeping a secret from you, but at the same time you can read a lot from just looking at his eyes. Jakob enhances the whole idea of us bringing our own images [to the story], he’s like a portal to that.” - director Gustav Möller, Screen Daily, January 26, 2018


After a song they created gains popularity, a single father and his teenage daughter face some difficult decisions as each reaches a pivotal crossroads in their lives.

(Clemons, regarding her character being gay): "Normally, we see movies where the conflict is being gay, and I’m really happy that there’s finally a movie where that’s not the conflict in this person’s life. Although that is the case for some, there are people all over the world that are queer and their conflict isn’t their relationship or their sexuality. It was nice to step away from that typical storyline.” - Indiewire, June 13, 2018

(Clemons, regarding her character being biracial, and raised by a caucasian father): “What do you mean it’s trying too hard? Do you think when my mom had me, she tried to put on a front? What does that mean? We’re not trying. This is life, this is a reflection of the world that we live in. We need to see more of all of these things, because we don’t see these dynamics, and therefore people think they’re watching something bizarre, and it shouldn’t be bizarre.” - Indiewire, June 13, 2018

(Offerman, on his first starring role): “Brett Haley, the director of Hearts Beat Loud, and Mark Basch write these movies and this is their third together. The second was The Hero with Sam Elliott, in which I have a supporting role. Getting paid to sit and watch Sam Elliott talk. Forget about it. He’s chiseled from granite. You can have whoever your boy toys are. He’s 73 and just gorgeous. Thankfully, [Brett and Mark] took a shine to me and said, ‘We have an idea. We think we’re going to write you the next one.’ I loved Brett’s first two movies so much, I pretty much would have signed on without reading the script. I trusted them. Their movies aren't edgy, they’re not taking big swings, they’re really mature looks at people dealing with s**t in their lives. Ultimately, whatever questions are posed, love is usually the answer in some form. Once I read it, I just felt immense gratitude because no one’s written me a movie like that. I was so thrilled.” - Billboard, June 5, 2018


After a horrible tragedy, the matriarch of a family slowly starts to unravel emotionally through a series of strange encounters and curious circumstances.

"I’ll never have the ability to watch it without it being affected by my experience, but I did not want to do anything heavy and when I read it, I knew I had to do it. So I would say it was probably similarly as intense. When I read it, it felt — it was one of those situations that you hear actors talking about, it always sounds incredibly pretentious, where it feels like it has somehow, I haven’t chosen it, it’s chosen me. I really wasn’t looking to do anything like this, but it was just felt so honest, and for a film that kind of creeps into a genre element to have such brave honesty and a kind of poetic vibe was an incredible combination.”

…It’s not entirely a horror film. It is horrific, and it becomes what you would consider to be that genre, but I really related to the family dynamics and just the truth of the characters and what they’re going through. It is so intense and exciting to work on. Yeah, I mean I don’t know if I would want to do a film which is scary for scary sake. You know, it’s not that. All of the fear in it is an extension from something very real. It’s never gratuitous, so … When I read it, it felt like as beautiful as The Ice Storm. Like there is a poetic nature to it." - Collider, June 7, 2018

4. RYAN COOGLER | as Director and Co-Writer | BLACK PANTHER

The largest grossing superhero movie of all time, Black Panther serves as an origin story for T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, who must lead his country and his people into battle against a surprising nemesis.

"As I got older, I wanted to find a comic book character that looked like me and not just one that was on the sidelines,. And I walk in and ask the guy at the desk that day, and say, 'Hey man, you got any comic books here about black people, you know, like with a black superhero?' And he was like, 'Oh, yeah, as a matter of fact, we got this one.'

…There's a massive audience — not just of people of color but everybody — who wants to see different perspectives in this myth-making. They want to see something fresh, they want to see something new, but also feels very real. You walk around in this world, and you see people who look like me — all the time. I'm from the Bay Area, where we've got a very successful basketball team right now. The Golden State Warriors run out there, run up and down the court, [and] it's a bunch of black dudes. But everybody in the stadium — even though it's in Oakland — there's very few black people in that stadium. But everybody's wearing they jerseys and experiencing the emotions that they feel. You know, when Steph Curry hits a shot, it's a little white kid or a little Asian kid in there that feel like they just made the shot.

…I think intimacy can be achieved in a film on any budget. I feel, personally, like I have some of my most intimate scenes I've ever made in this movie. You know, I just want to make films that resonate with me, that are interesting to me, that deal with themes that I'm passionate about. (Black Panther) brought me closer to my roots. This movie took me to the continent of Africa, which is somewhere I wanted to go since my mom and dad sat me down and told me I was black, you know what I mean? So I hope to make movies that'll challenge me as an artist and as a person. That's really what I hope to do.”- NPR’s Morning Edition, February 15, 2018

5. ALFONSO CUARÓN | Director, Writer, Co-Producer, Co-Editor, Cinematographer | ROMA

Director Alfonso Cuarón documents a year-in-the-life of a live-in housekeeper, the family she works with, and a series of life-changing and altering events during a tumultuous 1970 in Mexico City.

"Ninety percent of the scenes that you see in the film come out of my memory. I’m not saying everything in this is linear, but what I did was compress around three years of memory into a narrative of 10 months. But almost every single scene is something I remember, complemented with the real-life Cleo [played in the film by Yalitza Aparicio]. I would talk to her about what she remembered.

And then there’s subtle elements of fiction because I wanted to include thematic elements that I found relevant both to character but also to this sort of broader story. What we tried to do is balance between character and a social context as well. Because we’re talking about personal scars. That is definitely a period that scarred me, probably for life. I can assume that it scarred the characters that play in the film. But also the social events that were portrayed are one of the most important and deep scars in the Mexican psyche. In the collective consciousness.

Nobody had the script, and I shot in absolute continuity. That meant that I had talked to each of the actors about their character, about who they are. I talked to them about what they know, that not necessarily other people know. They had to keep it like this; they could not share that information with the other cast. I also talked to them about secrets they shared with one another. But they didn’t know the story, so every day they were playing out the story and learning their circumstances. And in that way, it was like life and it was playing with their own expectations." - Deadline, August 31, 2018

6. DAVEED DIGGS, RAFAEL CASAL | as Collin (Diggs) and Miles (Casal) and as Screenwriters | BLINDSPOTTING

On the eve of his parole, a man sees a life-long friendship potentially changed after witnessing a white police officer’s killing of an unarmed African-American man in his hometown of Oakland, California.

Casal: "Collin and Miles essentially are siblings. They’ve always been around each other. They’ve helped each other survive for so long. They’re a little two-person gang, right? Even when they’re with a different group of people, it’s them two. And they’ve, to a certain degree, developed as adult men entirely together. Their context is changing—that’s the catalyst for the film. They don’t have an issue with each other. It’s the rest of the world that is treating them in these new and destructive ways, and they’re both trying to reconcile those internally and how that affects [their] relationship."

Diggs: "I think the stakes felt high when we started working on it. It unfortunately still feels very high, sort of differently, in that our capacity for apathy is so high these days…But for us as artists, it was just about telling the story and being honest about the space and circumstances. And then when we step back from that, when we get to hold a mirror up to the world as close to exactly as it is, all of a sudden you’re like, That’s f***ed. We should probably do something about that. "

(Diggs, on a much-discussed scene, near the end of the film): “…We both came up through Youth Speaks, a spoken-word youth program. You teach your kid poetry because nobody cares what they have to say unless they make it sound pretty. So we wanted to get to a point where Collin has to be heard. The stakes are life and death. What he needs is to be heard by the object of all of his trauma; this person is the nightmare that’s been haunting him. So he’s going to have to make it sound real and use all the lessons he's been learning from Miles over the course of the film about salesmanship to really sell this idea of understanding. That’s why we learned how to write poems in the first place was in order to be heard.” - The Atlantic, July 21, 2018

7. OLIVIA COLMAN, EMMA STONE, RACHEL WEISZ | Queen Anne (Colman), Abigail (Stone), Lady Sarah (Weisz) | THE FAVOURITE

Two women vie for the affections of a tempestuous Queen in 18th century England.

(Colman): “We hang out together and they come to my house for Sunday lunch. We also do a lot of WhatsApp, sending funny videos to each other. When we were at Venice Film Festival [for the film’s premiere], Rachel couldn’t attend because she’d just had her baby, so we all filmed a barbershop song and sent her a video. We all giggled a lot, we played trust games, held hands, roughed and tumbled. We were like a bunch of kids. But there was method in his (director Yorgos Lanthimos) madness — he knew we could then go and do anything on set.” - Screen Daily, December 21, 2018

(Stone): “Even though people might not be able to relate to Abigail in terms of where she decides to go with her elements of human nature, I at least got to explore a spectrum of human emotion in a very exciting way. To me, she is a survivor. She’s had a lot of horrible experiences. She fell from an aristocratic family. She’s gone through a lot. She arrives at the palace needing the very basics of safety and security, and maybe more. But that’s what I see her as at her core – someone who is fighting very hard to survive.”

(Weisz, on working with director Yorgos Lanthimos): “There’s zero discussion. Zilch. Nothing. Not one word. Not like ‘I want you to do this, this is what I’m looking for, this is what the character should feel,’ nothing. There’s a wavelength that he has, and somehow or other by sheer force of his imagination, he tunes actors into his wavelength without using language. I do not know how he does it. He’ll just watch what you do, he doesn’t ignore you, but he doesn’t talk to you about the fiction you’re portraying. You have no sense of perspective on what you’re doing, it’s just happening in a very unconscious way.”

He doesn’t want to talk about character or motivation. He just wants you to discover it on your own, which I appreciate and really like because in life, we’re not sitting here thinking, ‘What’s your motivation? Why are you saying that to me?’” - SlashFilm, November 22, 2018

8. ELSIE FISHER, BO BURNHAM | as Kayla Day (Fisher) and Writer, Director (Burnham) | EIGHTH GRADE

A teenage girl struggles in transitioning from 8th grade to 9th grade, in the era of social media.

(Burnham, on working with Elsie Fisher): "Without her, it was dead. It was her or nothing. We shouldn’t have greenlit this movie before we found her, but we did. She was the first person on my list when I was looking at kids. Through the whole audition process, I was looking at kids to see if any other kid was even close, but that was never the case. She was one of the first kids that I auditioned. Every other kid played it like a confident kid pretending to be shy. She was the only person that felt like a shy kid pretending to be confident. She was the only person that felt like she had the vulnerability needed and yet could also carry a movie.” - Collider, July 10, 2018

(Fisher, on increased attention and sudden fame): “Part of how I don’t let it get to my head is because it might be true and it might not be true. But that doesn’t matter because that’s not how I see myself. I don’t see myself as an actress. Sometimes, I have so much doubt about what I can do. It’s very grounding how every kid at school gives zero s***s. I’m still borderline bullied at school. [laughs]

Not really, but it’s still like, cool, I’m in a movie and people are talking about it, now I have to go and do my math homework. That stuff doesn’t change. So what does all of this mean to me? I don’t know. I’m proud of the film. I’m very thankful people are saying these things about me. But none of that defines who I am. I have to figure that out." - MovieFreak.com, July 26, 2018


A father and daughter live off the grid in the Pacific Northwest, attempting to hide away from an outside world that is seemingly closing in on their peaceful existence.

(director Debra Granik): "The scenes that involve just the intensity of [Ben and Tom] relating, needing to negotiate something, team up or cleaving or separating, those scenes are very much worked out between them, and they are inflecting new things that come up for them. The skills trainer, for example, did work with them, but then they took those things and negotiated, ‘Where are the knives? Do they share a knife? Does she need to make more feather sticks for the fire?’ You know, on take ten, or take six, he would then have to say, really, ‘Tom, I need another feather stick,’ or, ‘Cut me up some,’ or something. And so that’s not in the script, but because they’re building a fire, they’ve got a real task.

So now the script needs some modifications sometimes because it needs to pertain to what they’re doing right now. They know the scene, but if she says something unexpected and he really answers her and they don’t break the scene, I may well use that. So the scenes have room for additions. In that sense, I shy away from the word ‘improv,’ because the scene is set. They’re not creating a new version of the scene, but gestures and moments and looks between them will be theirs to enact. I’m seeing things they’re doing, and then I might try to capture and get another variation on that." - The Playlist, July 20, 2018

10. HUGH GRANT | Phoenix Buchanan | PADDINGTON 2

The lovable bear, Paddington, hopes to purchase a one-of-a-kind gift for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, but a former A-list actor, reduced to local theater and dog food commercials, proves to be a complicating factor.

“(I) took the role because I needed a job and thought it might be fun…” - Variety, October 13, 2018

“I have had trouble with children since the film came out. Most nights, my house is staked out by children carrying flares. But I’m quite well armed and have dealt with the situation. No, on the whole, children quite like it. Actually, the only child I’ve met who hasn’t loved the film, and me, frankly, is my son. I took him to see a preview of the film with about a hundred of his friends, and they all adored it. But he sat there, stony-faced, throughout the whole thing, saying, ‘Why are you in it so much?’ So that was very sad for me.

(on inspiration for Phoenix Buchanan): “…There’s a bit of me. But my earliest jobs were in provincial theater in England, and there were wonderful old boys who were like that, wearing greasepaint makeup, doing voice exercises before the show, taking an enormous interest in the younger actors in their underwear.” - The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville.com, January 5, 2018


As Lisa, the manager of a Hooters-style restaurant called Double Whammies, Hall plays a woman juggling conflict in both her personal and professional life, while serving as a mentor, friend, and motherly figure to all around her.

"I actually read the script while I was in New Orleans shooting ‘Girls Trip.‘ And every day on ‘Girls Trip,’ you know, we're having a ball. We're, like, ziplining across Bourbon Street.

And I just got this little script that came, you know? And it as kind of interesting to watch just a day play out, you know, life where people are just really working hard every day, trying to make a living.

I mean, I've seen that my whole life, you know? - my mom, my family. And I don't know. It was an interesting thing to play, like, all the subtleties of what life is emotionally every day. And that - it was very specific because, most of the times, we really aren't - in movies, we see people play what they feel, you know? You feel something. But in real life, we really don't, you know? Many of us go to work. And we have someone home sick. Or we don't know how we're going to pay this bill or that. But, you know, we don't wear that - just kind of all simmering in the midst of a million other thoughts - just stuff. And, you know, I loved that it wasn't about that. And yet all of that is in what life is and in Lisa.” - NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, August 26, 2018

12. ETHAN HAWKE | Rev. Ernst Toller | FIRST REFORMED

A priest in upstate New York begins to see his private life and parochial life blur together after he counsels a young couple in the days leading up to his church’s 250th anniversary.

"I had never played a priest but when I was born, my great-grandmother felt certain that I was going to be a priest. She used to tell me I had to listen for the calling. I was petrified because I didn’t want the calling to be a priest; I wanted to be in the arts.

I think that most people who are cognizant, it’s not much work for them to feel a sense of despair. That is not far from us at any given moment. Self-loathing is sadly something that comes pretty easily to human beings. We disappoint ourselves so much about what we feel we are capable of and the person we want to be. We’re not sure whether it’s [because of] our own shortcomings or society’s shortcomings that we can’t be the person we want to be. All that is Reverend Toller’s experience.

This movie gave me an opportunity to [use] what I’ve learned and what I’ve been thinking about, what my parents have been talking about, my brothers and sisters, for my whole life. All of that vibrated in the walls of this movie.” - Independent, July 10, 2018

(director Paul Schrader): “He was just coming to a very interesting place in his physical life. By that, I just mean [the] physical quality of his face that I thought ‘You know? I think he's the right guy right now for this.’ You can see a number of lessons in his face that he doesn't have to act. Life has put them there.” - NPR’s Fresh Air, June 12, 2018

(L-R): Brian Tyree Henry, Regina King, Colman Domingo, KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Teyonah Paris
Also pictured: Writer/director Barry Jenkins
Not pictured: Aunjanue Ellis, Michael Beach

Adapted from James Baldwin’s 1973 novel, a young African-American couple face an uncertain future, expecting their first child, while the father is incarcerated for a crime he never committed.

(writer/director Barry Jenkins): "This movie was definitely harder than Moonlight. For 8,000 different reasons, but the narrative is slippery, there are way more characters. If there are five words spoken in Moonlight, there are 500 words spoken in Beale Street. There are all these different muscles that I haven’t had to work out in the past that I had to work out in this film.

The intimacy between the two young persons, and for me that all came down to two actors who would connect in a certain way. I think when you think of chemistry, you think, ‘Oh, those two actors just want to tear each other’s clothes off.’ And that’s not what I’m speaking of when I speak of chemistry. I’m talking about two people who feel legitimately connected, whose viewpoints and thoughts dovetail, and I thought that about KiKi Layne (“Tish”) and Stephan James (“Fonny”).

If it’s all anger, all the time, then to me that’s dehumanizing in a certain way. There is a child at the end of this journey, and I did not want to have the circumstances of what befalls Fonny to completely consume him. When Regina [King’s character, Sharon, Tish’s mother] goes to Puerto Rico [to confront Victoria about her accusation against Fonny], if I were making this movie from a place of anger, the scene between the two of them would be very problematic. Because if she went to confront that woman out of anger or bitterness … it frightens me to think of how that scene could have played out.

There’s a scene very early in the film where there’s an act of domestic violence. Right in the moment, you hear Joseph, Colman Domingo’s character [and Tish’s father], say, ‘Don’t hit your woman’ [to Fonny’s father]. Then Sharon says, ‘Go on, we don’t need you here,’ and sends the men out. The very first thing she does is go right to the door and turn the deadbolt so the men can’t come back in. The men are out there; the women are in here. Now [the women in Tish and Fonny’s families] still have it out, but just as a common denominator, woman to woman, [the message is] I’m going to protect you.” - The Atlantic, December 8, 2018

14. LADY GAGA, BRADLEY COOPER | Ally (Gaga), Jackson Maine (Cooper), the duo as co-composers, and Cooper as writer, director, co-producer, and co-screenwriter | A STAR IS BORN

The whirlwind romance of a country-rock star and a female protégé changes their lives forever as fame, success, and issues of trust and loyalty, arrive all at the same time.

(Gaga on landing the role): "…When I heard that Bradley was attached to A Star Is Born and that he would not only be starring in it but that he would be directing it, I was so excited because I was already such a huge fan of him as a brilliant actor. I just knew that whatever he was gonna do was gonna be an explosion of his talent. I couldn’t believe that he wanted me to be the girl.”

(Cooper on their immediate chemistry): “She didn’t have to show me. We made this sort of decision that first time at her house that we wanted to do the movie together. And we shook hands on it, and then it was just about ‘Okay, here we go,’ and started a long journey. She knows everything about me — everything. There is not one thing she doesn’t know, and I believe the same for me.”

(Gaga on creating the character of Ally): “First. it was a makeup wipe handed to me by Bradley, to take all the makeup off my face. So we did that. To dye my hair back to my original color, which is this sort of mousy brown that Ally has in the film. To be honest, I really felt afraid to take the stage with Jackson Maine because I was also going on with Bradley Cooper. At the time, I was always very aware that I was in the midst of a tremendously talented human being. I was able to play off of not only memories of what it felt like to be nervous to go on stage, but I also just had it right there. I was standing on the side of the stage during that moment in “Shallow.” I was watching him rip, roar on the guitar and sing. I really felt nervous. I really felt afraid. It really just took me back to that place. It was just so real the way that it was all set up that it was easy.

(Cooper, on Jackson’s arc in the film): “I mean, ultimately, it would be wonderful if it could impart some understanding of the human plight. I know that’s why I wanted to tell this story, so I could even help understand it myself. Also, to recognize that trauma is real, and traumatic events that occur especially early in life, if they’re not dealt with and aided, will have ramifications that go on and on and on and on and on.” - Entertainment Weekly, August 31, 2018

15. BING LIU | Director, Cinematographer, Co-Editor | MINDING THE GAP

Comprised of more than 12 years of footage, Bing Liu’s debut film shifts from a story of three best friends growing up together as skate kids into a story of hidden truths and uncomfortable discoveries.

"As rough cuts and assemblies kept getting made and I kept showing them to test audiences, sometimes people were like, ‘Would you consider putting yourself in the film?’ I’d usually say no, and that was that. When I kept seeing personal docs, they were narrating their lives, they were doing this backstory explanation stuff. So, that was my take on what it meant to put yourself in the film. I didn’t want that. Not to knock on personal docs, but it’s hard to do it in a way where it doesn’t seem self-indulgent or naval-gazing, where you can set up a reason for the audience to care beyond liking the filmmaker.

Basically, the movie we came up with was, let’s just get Zack and Keire’s story up and going first, and I’ll figure out my story later. So back when Josh (Altman, co-editor) was consulting, he was watching cuts. He had me do a cut of Keire’s story, just on its own, to make sure it works; do a cut of Zack’s story, make sure it works. It was like, OK, we have a film.

So we wove those stories together and got them working. I think that was around the time where I watched Sherman’s March. I was really taken with how you can embrace the fourth wall, not be on one or the other side of it. You have to open yourself up completely, just to do it. That was also around the time I dug back into the archival footage. It was like, if we’re gonna do that technique, I should just show my relationship with these guys but also with the camera. That’s when I pored through hours and hours, looking for Zack, Keire and myself.” - Filmmaker, August 15, 2018

16. MELISSA MCCARTHY, RICHARD E. GRANT | Lee Israel (McCarthy), Jack Hock (Grant) | CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

A biographer, reaching rock bottom in her career and personal life, turns to creating celebrity forgeries, with her best friend as accomplice, in Marielle Heller’s adaptation of novelist Lee Israel’s true story.

(McCarthy on playing Lee Israel): “What would any of us do? I mean, this was her survival. This wasn't like, she saw a great grift and like wanted a new car. It was like, what would any of us do? I thought about if I couldn't take care of my children, what would any of us do? And it's not that unreasonable to think you are pushed into circumstances that you, you know, you would think you would never find yourself. And that would be the great human equalizer, it's like no one can look at her story and say, well I would never do that. Because she was on welfare, it's like, what else would you do?” - Forbes, October 26, 2018

(Grant): “I didn’t know her story, but I had her biography of Tallulah Bankhead, which I’d read, and which is really good. I had her name on my bookshelf but this story, I didn’t know. I thought, ‘How is it possible that I didn’t know about this story?’ It’s such an extraordinary, grand feat of literary ventriloquism that she pulled off, passing off these letters of really great writers of such disparate talents and styles in the 20th century. I thought that was an amazing thing. Now her story’s out there. I just wish that she was alive to see how celebrated it is for her crimes. Crimes of passion really.

It’s a buddy heist. It’s like a buddy road movie to me, one that happens to go through the highways of Manhattan, from bar to bookshelf to bar to bookshelf to seedy apartment and then back again. Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the Wild West of Manhattan and downtown in the 1990s, without the guns and the pistols. There’s no dead bodies.” - Vox, October 18, 2018


A teenage boy, obsessed with Spider-Man, soon develops similar powers and abilities, only to meet other individuals and creatures possessing the same abilities across multiple universes.

(Persichetti): “We really tried to make this movie’s look and tone feel like a comic book come to life. Broadly, there's a realism in 3D animation influencing the feel and movement, and we wanted to lean away from that stylistically while still being able to land subtlety and scope in character performances like a comic can do so well.”

(Rothman): “The way we approached it was to draw from the comics. The character on the page is very distinctive, very sweet, with a warm, loving, complicated family – a mom and dad, which many comic book characters do not have. He's very three-dimensional on the page, and that was our guiding star throughout.”

(Ramsey): “I've been a Marvel fan most of my life, since my pre-teen years. Even before then I liked the cartoons. When I got into comics I became a huge Spider-Man fan because he's so relatable, funny, tragic – he embodies everything people love about superheroes. The soap opera, the action, the strong moral lessons and mythic themes that resonate with everyone.

By definition, our movie is about the idea of Spider-Man and how strong it is, how it transcends the idea of just a person wearing a mask. Once you start talking about a whole universe of different versions, you have to ask – if anyone can be Spider-Man, what is it that makes YOU Spider-Man? It's not just the powers. It's the person underneath.” - Den Of Geek!, December 7, 2018


An African-American teenager, balancing the worlds of a posh, private school she attends and a lower-income community where she resides, sees her worlds begin to crumble when her childhood best friend is killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop.

“As a kid, it was nearly impossible for me to find roles that felt empowered, that were not victim roles, that were fully dimensional, that didn’t serve any white male plotline. So I worked less because I had no interest in doing something that would force me to compromise my own power or just make myself subservient to something I didn’t necessarily mesh with. (The Hate U Give) portray(s) a really rich and deep black contemporary experience.

I would go to sessions with Audrey (Wells, the late screenwriter who died on the eve of the film’s opening) in order to provide my experience as a black girl because Audrey is white. Anything that struck me as inauthentic or not accurate to me and Starr’s experience, I would communicate it. From early on, the nature of the project was collaborative. I didn’t feel like I was just fulfilling the role of an actor. I felt like I was doing a lot more.

I went through a period of disillusionment where I felt powerless and I didn’t understand how I could continue to use my platform under this current administration. Now, I’m realizing that the most powerful thing you can do is be yourself and express joy and incite joy in others, so I feel more compelled than ever to do that.” - Variety, August 28, 2018

(L-R): Robert Duvall, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Brian Tyree Henry, Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Kaluuya

After a heist attempt turns deadly for four bank robbers, three widowed wives and a new accomplice must complete the failed heist, with personal and political lives and futures hanging in the balance.

(director Steve McQueen): “To (several characters) of course it’s about money and power. But unfortunately we are the people stuck in the middle of that environment—that cesspool, as I would call it—and we have to navigate our way through that. But what this film is about is making people aware of that power and where it comes from. In a way it’s a metaphor that these four women can actually do anything about it.

What’s beautiful about it is that these four women represent America. It’s a country that’s based on genocide and based on slavery, but on [top of] that there are these women who come from different parts of the world to create America. This is how the fabric of America developed: People from all different parts of the world come together to create the union, and these women know that they can’t do without each other. So they come together to do something, to achieve their goal, and they know they can only do this by being together. That is America, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not suggesting we should go out there and just rob people. What I’m suggesting is that people should sort of think about one another in order to take power. This is what these women from different social and ethnic backgrounds are doing.

(On why he chose to adapt a British mini-series from 1983): “All those years later, it never got better. In fact, you know, now maybe because of #MeToo, the public is just becoming aware of certain things, certain aspects of that dialogue that was happening 35 years ago on a TV show. It stayed with me because nothing had changed.” - Slate, November 20, 2018


A young man begins to fall for a girl he doesn’t remember from an old neighborhood, only to have her return from a trip with a mysterious new boyfriend, who shares an alarming fascination and hobby.

“I approached the role as being as present as possible. Ben is maybe the most present person in that whole film. He’s living in the reality of each moment, watching them, but maybe he’s observing that nobody else is living in the present with him.” - Indiewire, October 24, 2018

“After reading the script, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m really going to get to play, to feel what it’s like to live in this person’s skin, be present in his present.’ I realized in hindsight that nothing I had done prior gave me that feeling.

I wasn’t supposed to be in this role. If you’re packaging this in Korea, they’re not thinking about me. [Lee Chang-dong, the film’s director] was like, ‘Here’s an American Korean person, and if I can help him get to a full Korean embodiment of his character, his inherent American-ness will create that dissonance that makes you feel like he’s ‘other’ [in Korean society].’

People can draw their own conclusions about who Ben is. He’s meant to be enigmatic and ambiguous. But for me, the experience that I had there felt rich and full because there wasn’t an otherness that I felt.

Really the human layer is the thing that binds it all together. I mean the feeling of unrequited loneliness. The feeling that we’re all alone. We can try to put labels on ourselves and try to separate each other, but really, we’re all fucking alone and that’s what it is. And it’s scary, and it sounds terrible, but really, it’s OK.” - Slate, October 25, 2018