Netflix film Roma tops Sight & Sound poll

The prestigious end of year list puts Alfonso Cuarón’s Mexican drama in poll position, but it's a shame it won’t be seen by many on the big screen

Article by Jamie Dunn | 11 Dec 2018
  • Roma

A black-and-white drama from Mexico has topped Sight & Sound’s annual film of the year poll. No news there. But Roma, the new film from Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men), is a different beast from past Sight & Sound winners: its cinema release will only be a cursory one. Roma is heading to streaming service Netflix on 14 December, which is a real shame, as it’s one of the most gorgeous films of the year.

The Skinny’s reviewer, Philip Concannon, wasn’t exactly taken with it: Roma is more impressive as a feat of crowd control than as a piece of visual storytelling or as a character study,” he wrote. “It's a film that’s easier to admire than to fall in love with.”

The Skinny have been in the minority, though. Most critics have fallen head over heels with this drama centred on a young maid working for a large middle-class family in Mexico City, which is inspired by the housekeeper who cared for Cuarón and his family when he was growing up. The film also won the Golden Lion when it premiered at the 2018 Venice Film Festival, and has been named the best film of the year by the members of the New York and Los Angeles film critics circles.

What almost all agree on is that Roma’s visuals, shot by Cuarón himself, are breathtaking and bursting with detail. It’s regrettable, then, that opportunities to see the film on the big screen will be scarce, but if you live in Scotland, the film is having brief theatrical runs at Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse from Friday 14 December. We’d urge you to get along to one of these screenings if you can.

Sight & Sound’s runner-up was Paul Thomas Anderson’s twisted romantic comedy Phantom Thread, which was The Skinny’s own film of the year. Other Skinny favourites featuring in Sight & Sound’s poll were Paul Schrader’s powerful First Reformed, Debra Granik’s delicate father-daughter drama Leave No Trace, Lucrecia Martel’s Beckettian black comedy Zama and Lynne Ramsay’s blistering hitman thriller You Were Never Really Here, as well as another knockout black and white feature, Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War.

Take a look at Sight & Sound’s full Best Films of the Year list here, and check out The Skinny’s own list here.