Prestigious Japanese cinema magazine Kinema Junpo has named its “best 10” movies released in 2018. This year’s list is tinged with sadness as it includes the final screen performances of two much loved Japanese actors – Koreeda stalwart Kirin Kiki and Ren Osugi who sadly passed away in February of last year.
1. Shoplifters (万引き家族)
Hirokazu Koreeda’s Palme d’Or winner picks up another award in being officially named the best movie of 2018 by the prestigious Kinema Junpo magazine. This hard hitting tale of modern lives on the margin may have irritated all the right people, but it also arrived at a pertinent moment in coinciding with a very real series of societal failures leading to the deaths of at risk children and contributing to a much needed debate as to society’s responsibility towards its most vulnerable citizens. Shoplifters also marks one of the last performances from the late Kirin Kiki who is also the recipient of the first Kinema Junpo special award. Review.
2. The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine (菊とギロチン)
The first of two films making the top 10 directed by Takahisa Zeze, The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine is a Taisho era tale of sumo and revolution in which a band of anarchists known as the Guillotine Society find themselves fascinated by an itinerant troupe of female sumo wrestlers shortly after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.
3. And Your Bird Can Sing (きみの鳥はうたえる)
Sho Miyake adapts the novel by Yasushi Sato but shifts the setting from 1982 to the present day and from Tokyo to the author’s native Hakodate (the setting for a series of his novels recently adapted for the screen which includes The Light Shines Only There, Over the Fence, and Sketches of Kaitan City). Recipient of the best actor award Tasuku Emoto stars alongside Shota Sometani and Shizuka Ishibashi as a trio of slackers become embroiled in an awkward ménage à trois.
4. Asako I & II (寝ても覚めても)
A conflicted young woman struggling to move on from lost love falls for a guy who looks just like her ex but can’t decide whether to embrace the fantasy of unresolved romance or the security of a steady relationship in Hamaguchi’s complex yet playful comedy drama adapted from the novel by Tomoka Shibasaki. Review.
5. The Blood of Wolves (孤狼の血)
Kazuya Shirashi, winner of this year’s best director award, pays tribute to the world of Battles Without Honour in an ’80-style neo-noir in which a straight-laced rookie is partnered with a veteran rogue cop who leads him straight into the heart of darkness. Review.
6. Lying To Mom (鈴木家の嘘)
Mrs. Suzuki attempts to save her reclusive son who has tried to hang himself but injures herself in the process. Unfortunately, her son didn’t make it but when Mrs. Suzuki wakes up in hospital she’s lost her memory of the traumatic incident which put her there. Her family not having the heart to tell her the truth, pretend that their son is alive and well and living in Argentina…
7. Killing (斬、)
The latest from Shinya Tsukamoto and his first foray into the jidaigeki, Killing follows a young samurai who prefers not to raise his sword but is swept into the violence of the Bakumatsu era anyway.
8. My Friend “A” (友罪)
A second entry for director Takahisa Zeze, My Friend “A” is a story of the legacy of guilt and (im)possibility of redemption as an embittered former journalist befriends a strange young man he believes may have been responsible for a brutal series of child killings 17 years previously. Review.
9. Every Day A Good Day (日日是好日)
Starring the legendary Kirin Kiki in one of her final performances, Every Day a Good Day is inspired by the writings of Noriko Morishita and revolves around the serene elegance of the traditional tea ceremony.
10. Kyoukaishi (教誨師)
Ren Osugi stars as a prison chaplain ministering to prisoners on death on row in what would be his final screen appearance before he sadly passed away in February 2018.
Best Actress: Sakura Ando (Shoplifters)
Best Actor: Tasuku Emoto (And Your Bird Can Sing, Dynamite Graffiti, Lovers on Borders)
Best Supporting Actress: Hana Kino (Come On Irene)
Best Supporting Actor: Tori Matsuzaka (The Blood of Wolves)
Best Newcomer (female): Mai Kiryu (The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine, Lying To Mom)
Best Newcomer (male): Kanichiro (The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine)
Best Director: Takahisa Zeze (The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine, My Friend “A”)
Best Screenplay: Toranosuke Aizawa & Takahisa Zeze (The Chrysanthemum and the Guillotine)
Reader’s Choice Award for Best Director (Japanese): Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters)
Reader’s Choice Award: Shiraku Tatekawa (Shiraku Tatekawa’s Cinema Tsurezuregusa)
Special Award: Kirin Kiki
Source: Kinema Junpo official website.