Tag Archives: Lynne Ramsay

Top 10 Female-Directed Movies 2018

10. The Land of Steady Habits: Nicole Holofcener directs some layered, complex performances, especially from Ben Mendelsohn, who plays a man flexing his cringe-worthy mid-life crisis. The film ends up achingly authentic and deeply bittersweet.

9. Blockers: Kay Cannon is the woman behind one of the few comedies I laughed at in 2018, and its box office makes clear I wasn’t the only one. It’s both a teen comedy and an empty-nest one, and manages to be funny, irreverent, and modern about both. Cannon’s cast is loose, and the jokes land handily, the script smart and quick.


8. Outside In: Lynn Shelton gets some moving and tender performances out of Jay Duplass, who plays a man just released from prison, and Edie Falco, who plays his high school teacher who hastened his release. Their story is absorbing and empathetic, and Shelton teases some naked tension out of it, keeping us in her grip.

7. Private Life: Tamara Jenkins sneaks us behind closed doors to see witness adulthood and marriage as they are rarely seen. In the throes of fertility struggles, Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti give truly fine, heartbreaking performances.

6. What They Had: Elizabeth Chomko delivers a film that’s hard to look away from. Blythe Danner plays a woman with Alzheimer’s while her family (Robert Forster, Michael Shannon, Hilary Swank), swell and melt around her. It’s a real family drama that’s familiar and necessary.

5. The Kindergarten Teacher: Sara Colangelo justifies her American remake by packing a real punch and eliciting a wonderful performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal. This is one film that kept unfolding itself even after it was over, as it stayed in my thoughts for days.

4. A Wrinkle In Time: Ava DuVernay bravely adapted a beloved children’s book and ended up modernizing it, giving it relevance, and making an enduring, beautiful film that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.


3.You Were Never Really Here: Lynne Ramsay deals us a real swift punch with her gutsy, bold film, and proves she has a bracingly unique cinematic eye. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is riveting.

2. Leave No Trace: Debra Granik dares to mold this dramatic story into a quiet, low-key film that demands little yet accomplishes much – everything. Leads Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie have terrific chemistry that sprinkles the film in authenticity.

1.  Can You Ever Forgive Me: Marielle Heller promises a lot with her premise, but manages to deliver even more. This movie worked for me on so many levels. The story is compelling. Melissa McCarthy is at her very best. It’s frequently laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a platonic LGBTQ love story with the unlikeliest, unlikable heroine, yet she’s always treated with dignity and empathy, and we can’t help but adore her, even in her crankiness.



We Need To Talk About Kevin

Actually, we need to talk about Lynne Ramsay.

When a twisted movie comes out of the mind of Quentin Tarantino, we look at him and think – yeah, that makes sense. But Lynne Ramsay? You wouldn’t see it coming. But she does make these amazingly dark, fucked up films. And more often than not, she sticks kids into these movies, which makes them feel even bleaker, even blacker. She likes to make a film that is completely hers, and if she’s not happy, she walks (as she did with The Lovely Bones, and Jane Got A Gun) . She’s fantastically outspoken and she’s not afraid to leave a project if she doesn’t feel comfortable signing her name to it.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is adapted from the shocking novel by Lionel Shriver. we-need-to-talk-about-kevin-image-2Tilda Swinton plays Kevin’s mom, Eva. Eva always struggled to bond with Kevin, who cried incessantly around her but was rather sweet with others. Can a baby deliberately antagonize his own mother? As a child, Kevin finds ways to blackmail his mother into getting his way. When Eva and husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) have a second child, accidents escalate and Eva becomes fearful of Kevin while his father can always excuse his behaviour. This fundamental disagreement puts a strain on their marriage. As a teenager, Kevin (Ezra Miller) commits a massacre at his high school, murdering many students. Eva transforms her life to support him in prison.

This story is the most fantastic, uncomfortable episode of nature vs nurture that we’ve ever seen. Was Kevin born “bad”? How early can we detect evidence of psychopathy? How early can a baby pick up on his mother’s ambivalence?

As his mother, Tilda Swinton steals the show. Of course, the events are her own recollections, offered in retrospect, so she’s the mother of all unreliable narrators. But is she wrong? Despite its title, this isn’t really about Kevin, it’s about his mother. She’s never been perfect, sometimes openly hostile, and we experience the film through her broken mind. Swinton is volcanic – so much bubbling underneath, perhaps ready to blow. It is criminal that she didn’t get an Oscar nomination. That she didn’t get the win.

But the most interesting and surprising thing about the film is that Ramsay takes our darkest society impulse – a child slaughtering other children, and ultimately marries it with themes of redemption. Just whose redemption is perhaps unclear as nothing is overtly stated. Kevin is failed by the system and possibly by his parents. Eva knew what was coming and failed to do anything about it. The film is so troubling it veers into straight-up horror at times, and Ramsay is always there, confrontational, unblinking. Her close-ups dare you to look away.