Sight & Sound Unveils Its Choices For Best Film Of 2018

Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma has taken the top spot in Sight & Sound’s Films of the Year 2018 poll which saw Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-winning Phantom Thread and Lee Chang-dong’ Burning take second and third place respectively.


Roma is not the only black and white film to be placed in the top five; BFI-backed Cold War was voted fourth. Paweł Pawlikowski’s tale of an ill-fated love affair also played well to festival audiences, including at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival where Pawlikowski won Best Director and the film was in competition for the Palme d’Or. Both films have been put forward by their respective countries for the upcoming Best Foreign Language Film at 2019’s Oscars®.

Another film supported by the BFI that is also in the top ten is Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, which received critical acclaim at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival with Ramsay winning Best Screenplay and lead actor Joaquin Phoenix receiving Best Actor Award. The film came joint seventh in the poll with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite – which first received development funding from the UK Film Council in 2003, making it the longest-ever National Lottery supported project. The Favourite is hotly tipped for the awards season and has already won a record high of 10 awards at this year’s BIFAs, including Best Independent Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay.

Ramsay’s psychological thriller, You Were Never Really Here, is one of the four films in the top ten with a female director; others are Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace in sixth and Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro and Lucrecia Martel’s Zama in joint ninth place. Another four female directors are acknowledged in the top 20, with Sandi Tan’s Shirkers in joint 14th (with Hirokazu Kore-eda’s hotly anticipated Shoplifters and Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind – a lost film, now found and available on Netflix). Chloe Zhao is joint 18th with The Rider, alongside Valeska Grisebach’s Western and Faces Places directed by Agnès Varda and J.R.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, set in the heart of London’s 1950s couture industry, was filmed on locations spanning the UK, from Fitzroy Square in London to the Cotswolds and coastal locations in Staithes. This is not the only film to be made on location in the UK; the majority of principle photography for The Favourite was filmed in Hertfordshire at Hatfield House.

Placed third, Lee Chang-dong’s critically acclaimed Burning was this year’s BFI London Film Festival’s Thrill Gala in association with Sight & Sound and is not the only BFI LFF Sight & Sound Gala film in this year’s poll – the magazine’s 2017 Gala, Lucrecia Martel’s Zama, placed ninth. Burning is one of three Asian films in the top 20; the others are Singapore’s first road movie, Shirkers, directed by Sandi Tan and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters.

Over 160 critics, programmers and academics from around the world voted for their top five film, TV and artists’ moving image releases from the year. The resulting poll has four of the top ten films directed by women, two of the top five films in black and white and three of the top ten films are UK productions or co-productions. The full results are available online today at and published with critics’ comments in Sight & Sound’s January/February 2019 special double issue available digitally today and in print on 13 December.

The top 20 films are as follows:

1. Roma Alfonso Cuarón

2. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)

3. Burning (Lee Chang-dong)

4. Cold War (Paweł Pawlikowski)

5. First Reformed (Paul Schrader)

6. Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)

7. The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos)

= You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)

9. Happy as Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher)

= Zama (Lucrecia Martel)

11. The Image Book (Jean-Luc Godard)

12. If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)

13. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee)

14. The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles)

= Shirkers (Sandi Tan)

= Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

17. Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley)

18. Faces Places (Agnès Varda, J.R.)

= The Rider (Chloe Zhao)

= Western (Valeska Grisebach)

21. La Flor (Mariano Llinás)

= Hereditary (Ari Aster)

= High Life (Claire Denis)

= Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson)

= Madeline’s Madeline (Josephine Decker)

= 120 BPM (Robin Campillo)

= Transit (Christian Petzold)

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