Tyler Christiansen ’21
There has been a lot of talk about how 2018 was a disappointing year for film. To those people, I say this: either you didn’t see enough films or you only saw Solo: A Star Wars Story. Despite these murmurings, 2018 has been not only an important year for American cinema with films like Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians and BlacKkKlansman, but it was a great year for foreign films as well, with Cold War and Roma getting a lot of attention. While Roma is not my personal favorite film of the year, it is still easily in my top five of 2018 for its technical and directoral prowess alone. It is a landmark achievement by director Alfonso Cuaron, helmer of Gravity and the best Harry Potter film, Prisoner of Azakban. Cuaron also acted as the producer, cinematographer, editor and writer for Roma, making this his most personal film to date and the love he has for these characters, especially Cleo, expertly acted by first time actress Yalitzia Aparicio, is so clearly shown.
To set the record straight, Roma is a black and white film with English subtitles and lacks a musical score. I know this doesn’t sound very convincing to the mainstream American audience. It didn’t really sound appealing to me at first, to be honest. However, after watching the film three times now (it’s a Netflix original, so check it out now), I can confidently say that this is not only the best film of 2018, but it is probably in the running for one of the best films of the decade. The lack of a score allows the sounds of the 1970s Mexican town come to life, making the audience totally immersed in the experience, almost like we’re a fly on the wall, observing this family through their tribulations. This is also shown through the cinematography, which Cuaron more than succeeds at being as objective as possible. The camera rarely goes in for the close up and the amount of long-takes is staggering. The slow constant movements of the camera lets us follow the action without being subjective. It’s a masterclass effort.
Expect Roma to make a splash at the Oscars on February 24. It has ten nominations, including Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Production Design and Foreign Language Film. If it wins Best Picture, which it mostly likely will, it will become the first foreign language film to ever claim the top prize. If I were a betting man, I would say that it is going to win Best Picture, Director, Cinematography and Foreign Language Film. The only films possibly in its way are BlacKkKlansman and Green Book, which are both fine films in their own right. With that said, Roma deserves the top prize and deserves to be watched again and again.