Best Films of 2018
Writing this list I realised that being a new dad has really curbed my allocated film-watching time.
The overarching theme definitely seems to be bold storytelling. I’ve always admired film-makers who toy with bold concepts and then fully commit to a big ending instead of playing it safe. Many of the films here (notably, Avengers, Sorry To Bother You, Annihilation, Thoroughbreds, Beast & The Kindergarten Teacher) do this incredibly well, throwing you right in the deep end & leaving you there.
Here they are…
1. Avengers: Infinity War
While most people are getting tired of these big-budget superhero films, you can’t deny the epic scale of what Marvel and the Russo Brothers accomplished here. Ten years, 19 films and 28 superheroes; seamlessly coming together and culminating in a smart standalone narrative, centred around one of their most relatable villains yet.
2. Lean On Pete
Who would have thought my second-favourite film of the year would be about a young boy and his horse? While a little slow at times, this is for anyone who appreciated the dark tone of last year’s The Florida Project or the incredible cinematography of 2015’s The Fits. It also showcases the talent of both Steve Buscemi and Steve Zhan, who manage to do so much with so little.
3. Sorry to Bother You
This tops the list for originality, and took something weird to bat-shit crazy levels. As a big fan of Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) and Tessa Thompson (Creed) I’d been excited for this one prior to release, but now I’m way more excited for whatever director Boots Riley does next.
4. You Were Never Really Here
The less you know about this one the better. It’s dark and brutal but director Lynne Ramsay (We Need To Talk About Kevin) avoids the usual trap of glorifying violence, instead focusing on slow-burn psychological thrills.
5. Eighth Grade
I watched this while nursing my daughter to sleep so perhaps that’s why it hit me so hard. Much like 2016’s Edge Of Seventeen, I think this portrays modern teenage life much more accurately than award-winning Ladybird did, and frankly it scared the absolute shit out of me. Kids these days have it so much harder than we did, with the added pressure of being accepted and “liked” offline as well as online. Elsie Fisher is perfect among an ensemble of talented unknowns, most notably her dorky dad played by Josh Hamilton.
Again, maybe this one hit closer to home because we welcomed our first baby this year, but there’s something so uncomfortably real about everything that happens to Charlize Theron’s struggling mother. Sleep deprivation can definitely make anyone go crazy.
7. Leave No Trace
Similar to Lean On Pete, this shows a very ugly side of America and the occasional beauty that can shine through. It’s masterfully shot and newcomer Thomasin McKenzie has a huge career ahead of her.
8. Isle Of Dogs
As far as stop-motion animation goes this is as good as it gets. The form allows director Wes Anderson’s imagination to run completely rampant, while still feeling more artsy-fartsy than your typical Pixar/Dreamworks picture.
If Annihilation was made in the ‘80s it would be a cult classic, like Aliens or The Thing. Writer/director Alex Garland (who also directed Ex Machina and wrote the novel The Beach) takes his time to build tension and establish his world with great detail.
10. Black Panther
A similar world-building feat came in the form of Marvel’s other mega-blockbuster, directed by Ryan Coogler. This is only the director’s third film (after Fruitvale Station and Creed), and also his third collaboration with Michael B. Jordan; showing all the signs of a Scorsese/De Niro-type partnership.
What prompted me to watch this was the inclusion of Anton Yelchin, who tragically passed away last year, but the film itself caught me by surprise. The two leads, Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy, have huge careers ahead – and with this being his debut feature, so too does director Cory Finley.
Game Night, The Kindergarten Teacher, Deadpool 2, Coco, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Crazy Rich Asians, Ant-Man & The Wasp, BlacKKKlansman, A Quiet Place, Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot, Beast, Bad Times at the El Royale, Searching, Three Identical Strangers
Aquaman, Venom, Ready Player One, Ocean’s Eight
Haven’t Seen Yet:
Creed 2, Hereditary, Incredibles 2, First Reformed, A Prayer Before Dawn, Beirut, First Man, Bohemium Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, Vice, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Halloween, The Favourite, Bumblebee, Widows, Blindspotting, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Paddington 2, Minding The Gap, Madeline’s Madeline, Apostle, Hold The Dark, Overlord, 6 Balloons, Juliet Naked, The Tale, A Simple Favour, Unsane, The Night Comes For Us, Upgrade, Burning, The Mule
Best of the Small Screen:
Succession, Barry, Cobra Kai, Atlanta, Killing Eve, Ozark, Atypical, Who Is America?