How did you find 2018’s quality of films?
As always, there are people who will say it was an under-impressive year and others that it shone (and some people who maybe thought it was merely alright). For me, 2018 was a year packed with a great variety of films, and of varying quality: Some fantastic, some downright disappointing. There are some hugely impressive films didn’t even make it into my Top 20 this year, never mind my Top 10. And there are always the ones that I never managed to get around to see, even when they were really well received, but I can’t see everything! To make it harder to compile this year, I’ve managed to watch over 100 new (2018 UK cinema and VOD) release films, a much improved number on last years total.
Before I get to my list, the notable missing films that I haven’t seen yet, amongst others (and if you have any suggestions that aren’t here and should be, please let me know):
Loveless, A Cold War, A Star is Born, Beast, Isle of Dogs, First Man
And so, onto the countdown.
Numbers 20 – 11:
18. The Guilty
16. The Endless
13. 1987: When the Day Comes
12. A Quiet Place
11. Black Panther
The Top 10:
10. The Shape of Water
Seeming like an absolute age ago that I watched this it has managed to stick with me for nearly a year. Fantastic and grounded at the same time. Guillermo Del Toro has brought his fantasy elements squarely into the mainstream along with some superb performances from Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon (and Doug Jones as the creature from the Black Lagoon).
Next to no cinematic release didn’t dampen this extraordinary film from Coralie Fargeat. An extreme update of the rape-revenge storyline but told from the female perspective, it is as stunning as it is brutal. Worth every minute of your time.
8. Avengers: Infinity War
Films didn’t come much bigger this year than this bad boy. The Avengers, and Marvel in general, as the big screen’s biggest draw and this one, the first part of a culmination of years of chess move like movie developments, was everything that was waited for. The second and concluding part due out in 2019 is, hopefully, going to be even more epic.
Spike Lee brought the Klan right back into the limelight with his version of Ron Stallworth’s infiltration of the KKK. Excellent performances and chemistry from John David Washington and Adam Driver propelled this right up my list.
Horror can be hit or miss, especially at awards time. Ari Aster’s debut feature film did it all right for me. Slow burn, shocks and underlying creepiness all worked extremely well to build to the big finale, which even though it wasn’t fully to my taste, didn’t detract too much from this film as a whole.
A late break into the top 5 from this astounding animated feature film. You won’t believe the intricacy and effort that has gone into making this without seeing it on the big screen. Vivid, colourful and bonkers alongside wonderful writing and characterisation and a real comic book feel.
Another one that didn’t get as wide a release as it deserved. Logan Marshall Green is great but again it is the piece by piece plotting that eventually hits you hard when it is revealed. Sci-Fi cinema at some of its best. And *that* first camera movement during the first fight is a spectacle to behold.
3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Another one that has lived long near the top of my best of list. Martin McDonough’s tale of a mother’s determination to find those responsible for her daughters death is both harrowing and darkly funny. Superb supporting performances from Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson but there surely can’t be many better than Frances McDormand?
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme D’or winning film is a delight and was a completely unexpected resident in the top end of this list. Centring on the daily existence of a family as they steal and play the system to maintain their lives, it is both beautiful, intoxicating and simultaneously heartfelt and heartbreaking.
I first saw Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here way back in 2017 at the Cambridge Film Festival and what a film it is. Stark and efficient in its storytelling but compelling and framed around a mountainous performance from Joaquin Phoenix, this film bludgeoned its way to the top of my list and stayed there for the whole year. Brilliant!