2018 was an unbelievably great year for movies. I’d go so far as to say that out of all the years that I’ve been alive, this is the best year for film yet. Therefore, I felt like I should expand the best of the year list to 30, as there are so many movies I want to acknowledge.
I think I should establish first that this is a mix of what I think are the best movies of the year, as well as my favourites of the year. Some movies were extremely well made but not necessarily rewatchable, other movies might not be award worthy but are just so endlessly enjoyable. Also, the ranking is not necessarily only based upon the score I gave in my initial reviews, there may be some movies that I gave 9/10 that are placed higher than 10/10 movies. Sometimes my thoughts on the movies got better or worse with time, leading to the ranking of the movies changing. If some movies that you personally love don’t appear on the list, either I’ve seen them but aren’t in my top 30 of the year, or I just haven’t seen it. I’ve watched 102 2018 movies so far and I think I’ve watched all the movies I think would end up on this list (with the exception of Vox Lux).
Also, I should also mention that I’m not doing a Worst Films of 2018 list, because I don’t do that type of thing anymore.
30. Thunder Road
Thunder Road just sort of creeped up on me, there wasn’t a whole lot of coverage for it and it’s quite the independent movie but the people who saw it highly praised it, and that’s all I knew going in. I’m glad I did end up seeing it however, because it’s a real hidden gem that’s well worth more attention.
Thunder Road was a movie that covers the impact that a tragedy has on a person in a funny yet genuine and heartfelt way. Jim Cummings was an absolute wonder as lead actor, screenwriter and director, he did a fantastic job with his directorial debut. Cummings’s performance particularly was a stand out from 2018, ranging from being hilarious to heartbreaking within seconds. Thunder Road isn’t particularly long, it’s short and sweet and really good, much better than I expected it to be. Honestly you don’t have to know much going into it, just check it out however you can, it deserves a lot more attention.
I really wasn’t expecting much from Upgrade other than a simple and generic revenge sci-fi movie, but it was quite the surprise. It was very entertaining, well directed and was way better than it had any right to be.
Upgrade’s story is very familiar, yet manages to do handle them in an interesting way and have some unpredictable twists throughout, especially with the ending, which remains one of the best endings of 2018. Logan Marshall-Green is so great here in the lead role, excellent at both the comedy and the drama, while also being very believable in the physical action scenes. Leigh Whannell’s direction was really great, made with such style and the action scenes being a highlight and filmed in such a unique and creative way that they are a real thrill to watch. If you haven’t already, check out Upgrade, it’s an overlooked film that deserves a lot more attention.
28. Black Panther
Black Panther was quite a significant movie, with it being the first comic book movie to be nominated for Best Picture, and the first comic book movie to have an almost completely African American cast (save for Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman). It really lived up to its potential and while it’s not my favourite comic book movie of the year, it’s at the very least one of the best in the MCU and is very well made and put together.
Director Ryan Coogler put together a really solid movie and not even some occasionally poor CGI in the third act can take away from that. He did a good job at making it stand apart from the other MCU movies, at the very least in a stylistic way. The story is definitely familiar to that of others and doesn’t necessarily break new ground but is still a great and personal story, especially when compared to those of some generic comic book movies. The cast with the likes of Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and the rest all give some really good performances in their roles. It’s Michael B. Jordan however who stands out the most as Erik Kilmonger, was one of the best and most complex MCU villains. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Black Panther (after he returns from Thanos’s snap of course).
27. Bad Times at the El Royale
Bad Times at the El Royale was a movie I wasn’t really aware of as it was approaching its release date, yet it ended up being such an entertaining watch. Suspenseful, intriguing, stylish and entertaining, I had a lot of fun with it and it really deserved a lot more praise than it has been receiving.
I like a good mystery movie and Bad Times at the El Royale certainly was that, a stylish thriller with different and interesting characters involved in interconnecting plotlines. I was entertained from start to finish and was interested in seeing where the story and characters would go next. The cast all did a great job, with the likes of Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson and Chris Hemsworth giving some really good performances. It might not have worked as well as writer/director Drew Goddard’s previous film The Cabin in the Woods and I do wish that some aspects worked a little better (I definitely would’ve liked to have seen more of Jon Hamm) but on the whole I had a lot of fun with it.
My review of Bad Times at the El Royale
26. Game Night
Game Night looked like it was going to be just another fun but forgettable comedy and I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from it. However, it ended up being one of the most entertaining movies in all of 2018, with a great script, an entertaining cast and was just hilarious from start to finish. After rewatching it and finding it just as funny as when I first saw it, I’m thinking that it might be one of my personal favourite comedies in a while.
The script was so smart and hilarious, with plenty of twists that you didn’t necessarily see coming, and was just entertaining throughout. On my rewatch, I picked up on jokes that I didn’t get the first time I watched it, and the jokes I found funny on the first watch, I found just as funny the second time. The cast were all around great and hilarious, however the 2 standouts were Rachel McAdams and Jesse Plemons, the two of them just stole every scene they were in and are definitely up there in terms of most underrated performances of the year. Even the direction was quite good, it is just full of so much energy and done with such style, even the few action scenes here worked quite well. Had it not been for another movie much higher up on this list, I would’ve declared Game Night by far the best comedy of 2018. If you haven’t seen it yet, I implore you to watch it as soon as possible, it’s an incredibly hilarious movie, and even better upon repeat viewings.
25. A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place was quite a surprise, a horror movie that has a gimmick but is not just reduced to just being a gimmick movie. It’s much better and more personal than I thought it would be and was actually one of the freshest and most unique horror movies of the year.
A Quiet Place was quite an effective horror movie, especially in the cinema. At its core though, it’s an intimate drama focussed on a family of 4 that happens to have a lot of horror in it, and as that it really succeeds greatly. The characters all felt like real people with genuine story arcs and relationships, which just strengthened this movie so much more than just being another ‘scary’ horror movie. The acting by everyone was great, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt and even the child actors were good. Krasinski’s direction was really good, really utilising the ‘quiet’ aspect in the best way possible, with every loud sound adding even more tension to the overall movie. Watching the movie in the theatre with everyone being absolutely silent was an experience. It’s now getting a sequel and while I’m not really sure it really needs one, as a movie by itself, A Quiet Place is really good.
24. American Animals
Not many people are talking about American Animals, which is a shame really, because it was one of the most surprising movies of 2018. It was well directed, greatly acted and was quite a unique movie, especially with its method of storytelling. American Animals really is worth checking out if you haven’t seen it already.
American Animals starts off an entertaining movie about a group of amateurs trying to pull off a heist. What sealed the deal for me with this movie however was the second half, when reality just kicks in hard for the main characters, who have to deal with the fact that they aren’t capable of carrying out their task. All in all its riveting, fun to watch and is very well put together. The acting was also great, with Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner and Jared Abrahamson playing their roles really well, especially in the second half of the film. The documentary-like filmmaking style with the inclusion of the real life people being interviewed and sometimes appearing with the actors on screen at the same time was unique, making it truly one of the most stand out ‘based on a true story’ movies I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen it already, I encourage you to check it out, it is well worth the watch and is much more than just another fun heist movie.
23. Creed 2
Creed 2 was a movie I didn’t even think I would end up anywhere among my favourites of the year. Creed was such a fantastic film and seemed to be a perfect way to end the whole Rocky series, and given the setup of a sequel, it seemed like it would be an utter disaster trying to milk more movies out of the series when it didn’t need to. However, it was actually one of the biggest surprises of the year, providing such an emotionally exhilarating film that I was invested in from start to finish.
Despite the premise sounding absurd (an previous antagonist having a son who will pose a threat to the protagonist), it actually works very well. Like the previous Creed, it’s a grounded movie that’s character focussed and not relying heavily on just a bunch of boxing scenes, even though those are pretty great as well. I was really invested in these characters and this story and I was more than satisfied with where it went. Performances were across the board great, with Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson once again giving fantastic performances in their respective roles. Surprising though was how good the antagonists Ivan and Victor Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu, as they were also given quite a bit of screentime as well, fleshed out to be human beings and not just one dimensional killing machines. Really the only part of the movie that wasn’t at the level of the first movie was the lack of Ryan Coogler, and even then Creed 2 was overall directed pretty well by Steven Caple Jr. With a third act which is unbelievably tense and emotionally satisfying, it ends on such a high note that I firmly believe that the Rocky/Creed series should end here, I can’t think of a better ending for the Rocky and Adonis characters.
I’m fully aware of how divisive the DCEU has been, despite being largely a big fan of most of the movies they have been producing thus far. I admit I was a bit nervous about it, not because of the talent involved or the task that they would have to make an Aquaman movie work, but more so that it was following the Frankenstein of a movie Justice League. Despite all the odds, Aquaman more than lived up to the hype and was one of the most visually enthralling and entertaining cinema experiences I have had.
Aquaman stands apart from most comic book movies, in fact that if you removed all the DC logos from it and didn’t know what Aquaman was, you could mistake this for a deep seas action adventure fantasy movie and not think that this was a comic book movie at all. This is a large scale epic fantasy movie that I was on board with every step of the way. James Wan’s ambitious vision absolutely delivered, with this being one of the most visually stunning movies of the year (the VFX people working on this movie really got robbed of credits) as well as with all comic book movies. Performances from everyone were good especially from Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Patrick Wilson as the villainous Orm, the latter of whom I’d consider one of the best live action DC villains. Really the issues I had more was that Aquaman might’ve combined too many storylines into one and had a little too much going on in its plot (Black Manta for instance being very much a set up character in this movie), and even then it didn’t take away from the experience too much. Even the cheesiness didn’t bother me, it wasn’t so embarrassed that it tried to hide it, nor did it try to pass it off by making fun of it. It embraced it completely, which is honestly refreshing to see, and as a result it really works well. Now I’ll admit that my opinion on Aquaman (like with Wonder Woman) could change over time and further rewatches. Nonetheless, after seeing it once, I really liked it. If the DCEU keeps giving us films like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman and now Aquaman, movies that are different from other comic book cinematic universe movies and are director driven, it can really make its mark as a franchise, even if not everyone loves them. I think that despite what some detracters of the DCEU may think, with Aquaman (I want to emphasise that this isn’t a film focussed on Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman) being the highest grossing DC movie since The Dark Knight 10 years ago, there is still a considerable amount of interest in this universe and it’s not getting cancelled or rebooted any time soon.
21. Avengers: Infinity War
There was so much hype behind Infinity War, so much so that it didn’t feel like there would be any plausible way that it would live up to even half of the anticipation. Even I, who likes the MCU quite a bit, didn’t think it could happen, but the Russo Brothers and co. absolutely delivered, and for what it is and especially considering what it had to achieve, it was astoundingly great at it.
Infinity War successfully manages to juggle multiple characters and storylines and not feeling messy or overstuffed, which is really impressive. You feel the stakes throughout and the scale was incredibly huge. The action scenes are great, with great visuals and some characters getting show off their powers like they hadn’t before. Most of the characters already established in previous movies were handled well, with all the performances being great. There were of course a few standouts among them, Chris Hemsworth as the best representation of Thor of all his MCU appearances, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange who reaches a level of greatness and power that even his solo movie wasn’t able to showcase and Robert Downey Jr. as usual brought his A game as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Then there’s of course Josh Brolin as Thanos, and the Russo Brothers’ weren’t exaggerating when they said that it was his movie. They really made him a powerful and dangerous antagonist, really feeling like a threat. Even with that, he could’ve easily ended up being a one dimensional all powerful villain, but Josh Brolin and the others all manged to make him feel like a 3 dimensional character. Then there’s the ending, which felt like the only logical way to end the movie but somehow given the MCU’s past movies (not slandering them in any way), it didn’t feel like they would’ve actually done it. Now there’s probably going to be some retconning done in the follow up, but the fact that we even got to see something like this in a live action comic book movie is just incredible. Now I will admit that my perception of Infinity War may change depending on how Avengers Endgame turns out. If it does change, I’m hoping it changes for the better. As of this moment however, I’d say that Infinity War ranks among the best of the MCU and on its own is a spectacular achievement.
My review of Avengers: Infinity War
20. You Were Never Really Here
You Were Never Really Here is a very different movie from what many people were expecting, it wasn’t really what I was initially expecting at least. Not for everyone, it is slow paced and it is quite an artsy movie but for what it was, it really worked and I thought it was great.
Right out of the gate, Joaquin Phoenix’s performance here is one of his best, and considering his long list of acclaimed performances, that’s saying a lot. Had the movie been released around awards season, Phoenix definitely would’ve been considered for Best Actor for his work here. This movie is also one of the best directed films of the year, this is the first film I’ve seen by Lynne Ramsey and now I really want to see the rest of her work because what she’s done here is nothing short of fantastic. Despite it being a violent and dark movie, it subverts the preconceived notions of it being a standard and even self indulgent revenge/vigilante movie by choosing not to show certain acts of violence. Yet you still feel the impact of violence and throughout it feels very grounded in reality. It also doesn’t rely on exposition to explain things like backstory, with it being very heavy with its visual storytelling, making it a bit of a challenging movie to watch sometimes as you try to piece everything together. While it’s not a movie for everyone, You Were Never Really Here really stuck with me ever since I first watched it and is well deserving of all the praise.
My review of You Were Never Really Here
Vice was quite the divisive movie, given that it was a political movie that’s to be expected. However I didn’t expect the response to be this split. If it wasn’t the politics that polarised people, it was the unorthodox way that director Adam McKay decided to tell this real life story. I was in the group that really liked it and thought that it was one of the most stand out films of the year.
Adam McKay’s blistering take on politics was very niche it seems but I was on board with it. If The Big Short was a dark comedy, Vice was McKay’s dive into political satire. McKay’s direction was able to grab your attention to tell the behind the scenes story that on paper sounds mundane and hard to swallow and makes it genuinely entertaining. The performances by Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell are good and all, but of course its Christian Bale who’s most impressive, giving quite possibly his best performance since American Psycho. His transformation enhanced his performance and he completely embodies Dick Cheney almost perfectly, truly one of the best performances of the whole year. There are aspects that weren’t done as well as I think they could’ve been, the pacing especially in the first two thirds at times could be a little too slow, and bits like the mid credits scene and the reveal of Jesse Plemons’s narrator character didn’t add to much, but I think the pros more than outweighed the cons. I’m not quite sure how it’ll be upon a rewatch but seeing as how McKay’s The Big Short improved with a rewatch, I have a feeling that Vice will be the same.
Mandy was really one of the more surprising movies of the year, beautiful, bloody, well acted, excellently directed and so unique despite the premise not being too different from other films. Maybe it’s because I was able to gauge what kind of movie it was before going in, but it was pretty much everything I wanted it to be.
The big problem that some people had with Mandy was the pacing, particularly in the first half. I was personally fine with the slower pacing, it really helps build everything (including the world the movie occupies and the main two characters) up, to make the second half of the movie stand out even more. The first half builds up the movie, and then the second half turns into a blood soaked revenge film with Cage going full Rage Mode. I really didn’t have much problems with the movie. Nicolas Cage gives his best performance in a while, I can’t see anyone else playing his role, it’s like it was tailor made for him. This isn’t just another role for him to freak out in (even though he does that quite a bit in the last half), it actually served the character and movie really well. Panos Cosmatos’s direction of Mandy was absolutely incredible, giving a trippy feeling throughout, which was appropriate given how heavily drugs play a part in the movie. It’s a beautiful looking movie too, the use of colour was stunning (even though they used a little too much red sometimes), there were times it looked like a heavy metal album cover in the best kind of way. Adding on top of that is the final score by masterful composer Johann Johannsson, which was nothing short of haunting and beautiful, it really added to the movie. I’m glad I got a chance to experience this movie in a cinema, because otherwise I don’t think I would’ve loved the movie as much if I didn’t. I’m not necessarily sure yet how this movie will hold up on a second viewing or not, with the pacing being slow and whatnot. As of right now though, Mandy is a great movie and one of the best cinema experiences I had in 2018.
Thoroughbreds already had my attention with the cast involved but I didn’t expect the rest of the movie to be as great as them. It is a unique dark comedy, with both the script and direction working exceedingly well. It’s a pretty great first film by writer/director Cory Finley and deserves a lot more attention than it’s been receiving.
Thoroughbreds has a very play like feel to it (which is a given since it was first written to be a play) and it’s unique writing and direction really helped with it. It’s very well written, darkly hilarious at points and the dialogue is on point and sharp, probably one of the more underrated screenplays of 2018. The performances are among the highlights with Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke giving some fantastic performances and playing off each other very well, and the late Anton Yelchin giving a very scene stealing performance. Thoroughbreds is well worth the watch if you haven’t seen it already.
Hereditary is a very unique horror movie that not many of us were really expecting. It’s effectively creepy and unnerving from start to finish and from the way that it was written and directed, it’s no surprise that it is being hailed by many to be one of the best horror movies in a long time, if not the best.
Hereditary is an exceedingly well crafted horror movie. It starts off slow and harmless enough before over time just keeps getting more freaky, with disturbing scenes followed by another more disturbing scenes, with the tension and terror never faltering and always increasing. Ari Aster has written and directed such an effective horror movie. I don’t get easily disturbed by movies but Hereditary actually did get under my skin a couple of times, with some images and scenes forever burned into my memory. Aster is definitely someone that people should be keeping an eye on for the years to come. Add on top of that fantastic performances by Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne but especially Toni Collette and you have yourself a really great film. The only thing I was not quite on board with was the ending, which while great might’ve been better had it gone in a more ambiguous direction like the rest of the movie instead of choosing whether to end on the events being fantasy or psychological. Outside of that minor nit-pick of mine, Hereditary was very impressive and one of the most stand out horror movies in recent years.
15. Sorry to Bother You
Sorry to Bother You was well worth all the hype around it, an absurdist and satirical dark comedy that won’t work for everyone because of how downright strange it is. On the whole however, it really worked for me and was one of the most unique experiences I had watching a movie in the cinema.
Sorry to Bother You is such an original movie and nothing like I’ve seen before, I can’t compare it to any other movie I’ve seen before. Writer and director Boot Reilly’s script was hilarious, entertaining, at times scary, and thematically had a lot to say about things. I guess some aspects and the use of just so many ideas was a little messy and don’t completely work (and I will need to watch it again to see if it still holds up) but the pros more than outweigh the cons and I loved watching it. However you feel about the first two acts, whether Sorry to Bother You will work for you depends on how you feel about the third act. It goes in such a bonkers direction and I can completely understand how it just doesn’t work for some people, I was on board with it though. Performances from everyone were great, from Lakeith Stanfield being as the lead, to Tessa Thompson’s stand out performance, all the way to Armie Hammer’s coked up CEO character, who despite his small screentime steals every scene he’s in. Director Boots Reilly has really made a great debut with Sorry to Bother You and I’m looking forward to seeing his future work.
My review of Sorry to Bother You
14. First Man
I noticed a bit of an odd reaction when it came to First Man, and I’m not referring to the flag controversy. Although it was generally was well received, there was a bit of a split reaction to it and I don’t really understand it. I personally thought it was great and I found it utterly disappointing that it was shut out of the awards outside of the technical aspects.
First Man at its core was about Neil Armstrong and showed him in both his family life and him preparing to go to the moon, and as that it succeeds incredibly well. Acting is also great, with Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy particularly giving typically great performances. Gosling especially manages to give such an emotionally layered performance that just really works for the movie. Where the film particularly shines however is the space scenes, very immersive and intense, it really made you feel like you were right there with Armstrong throughout the things that he was going through, whether it be him training or doing the real thing. Damian Chazelle’s previous two movies, Whiplash and La La Land, couldn’t be more different from this, and what he did here was nothing short of ambitious and fantastic. First Man might be Chazelle’s weakest movie, but I’d say that you’ve got a pretty great filmmaking career if that is your worst film.
13. A Star is Born
I wasn’t really expecting much of A Star is Born going in despite the talent of people like Bradley Cooper involved but it really surprised me. While I don’t hold it in such a high regard as I did when I first watched it, I still think it’s really good.
Despite the familiar story, Cooper made the story feel timeless and work today. Any plotline in the movie that was familiar (and there was quite a lot of them) were done in a way that made it feel more than just a cliched plot point, and it was even emotional towards the third act. Making it better were Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga and Sam Elliott, giving some fantastic performances, Cooper in particularly gives one of the most stand out performances of the year, a career best from him. The music was good as well, even though some songs stood out and were more memorable than others. Now at one point it was at my number 1 and as you can see, it’s clearly moved down the list, and that’s largely because it hasn’t held up that well in my mind. It had such an impact on me when I first saw it and over time it wore away, and it ended up getting pushed down the list as more and more movies came out. With that said, A Star is Born is still great and was much better than I expected it to be. Definitely deserving of all the praise it’s been receiving upon its release.
12. First Reformed
First Reformed is not for everyone, its slow moving, bleak, different and at times bizarre. However, I thought that it was an incredibly powerful and surprising movie, with great writing and direction and fantastic acting, mainly from Ethan Hawke. Haunting, impactful, First Reformed is one of the best films of 2018 and despite the lack of awards recognition for it, deserves way more attention than it’s been receiving.
Paul Schrader’s has done his best piece of writing since Taxi Driver, in fact First Reformed could be seen as a mirror image of Taxi Driver, with them both being character studies of a very troubled protagonist. The movie covers a lot of topics and really does have a lot of things to say, in fact one of the only problems I have with the movie is that it tries to cover too many topics all at once. Schrader’s writing is fantastic, and it’s no surprise that it just got him an Oscar nomination. Ethan Hawke’s performance in the lead role of Reverend Ernst Toller is a career’s best performance for him, definitely one of the best of 2018, so incredibly nuanced and subtle. In a perfect world he would be one of the clear cut frontrunners for Best Actor this year alongside Christian Bale (and unfortunately Rami Malek). Even the direction with the 4:3 framing is very effective, very enclosed and intimate. While I’m aware this movie won’t be for everyone, First Reformed is worth a watch at the very least.
11. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I will maintain that 2018 is the best year for comic book movies yet. Even the worst of all of the comic book films that year (Venom) was at least entertaining in some way. I did not predict that in a year with comic book movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Aquaman, that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse would be the best one out of all of them. I expected it to be good, but I didn’t expect to be this great.
Into the Spider-Verse is essentially an origin story, and did tend to follow similar beats to other superhero origin stories. With that said, they manage to make it feel incredibly fresh. Much of that was because they took advantage of the fact that this is an animated movie and are able to do so much as well as put in so much, whether it be a bunch of references, quick but sufficient backstories to characters, jokes, all of that. The animation of the movie was incredible, I can’t compare it to any other animated movie I’ve seen before, I so hope that it gets an award for best animated film of 2018 because it really deserves it. I’m glad that the movie seemed to be doing well and there are more movies in this world being developed. I can’t wait to see more from these universes and characters.
My review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spike Lee’s BlacKKKlansman was one of the most impactful movies of the year and really took me by surprise. It balances both humour and drama very effectively and excels at both aspects, delivering one of the most unforgettable movies of 2018.
Probably Spike Lee’s most accessible movie (alongside Inside Man), BlacKKKlansman gets a lot right. Despite the entertainment factor (mostly due to the fact some of these insane events really happened), you feel the seriousness as to what’s going on. It has a lot of things it wanted to say and it’s not trying to be subtle about it. It’s very in your face and direct about it, not really caring how uncomfortable it may make you, and I loved that (even though it’s probably the reason why a certain other movie ‘about racism’ that has a very light take on the issue is getting more awards attention). All the performances, especially from John David Washington, Adam Driver and Topher Grace were really great. It also has one of the most impactful endings of the year. I know that some people had some mixed feeling about the ending, generally because its hammering in a point that’s already pretty clear and I can understand feeling that way. However, I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t still have an immense impact on me. Looking back at it, there are maybe some aspects that aren’t done quite as well, like the way that cops are portrayed are a little too favourable. However, on the whole I think BlacKKKlansman was really great and worked.
Roma is widely praised as being one of the best films of the year, and it is definitely well deserved, excelling at every aspect, from the direction, to the acting and the writing. Alfonso Cuaron has crafted such a beautiful and real film and one of the year’s best.
I’ll admit that it took a little while for me to get on board with Roma. The first half was pretty good, albeit seemingly unfocussed, but the second half is where it really started to deliver some heavy emotional hits. By the end I felt like I had experienced something big and impactful despite the scale being quite small. Something I love is that Roma is never showy or melodramatic, it’s an intimate movie but it still feels large scale. Even Cuaron, who’s direction is fantastic in every film, made sure that his work (while it’s still great) whether that be long tracking shots or whatnot, wouldn’t overshadow the movie and the story that he’s telling. Praise should also be going towards the lead performance by Yalitza Aparicio, who deserved more acclaim than she’s been receiving (and thankfully received an Oscar nomination not too long ago). I probably wouldn’t call it one of my favourite movies of 2018 and I’m not sure if I’ll love it as much on a second viewing but it is probably the best directed film of the year. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really need to, whether that be in a cinema or on Netflix, get on it ASAP.
Blindspotting has been called one of the best films of the year by anyone who has seen it (which wasn’t many people) and really all the praise was well deserved. A dramedy so excellently acted, directed and performed, it’s a shame that it’s not getting nearly enough attention.
For a directorial debut, Blindspotting is incredibly made, full with such style and such understanding of its setting. It’s effective at being a funny and entertaining movie, while also being very tense, hard hitting and important, especially considering the subject matter that it’s tackling. Also, the lead performances by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal are amongst some of the best of 2018. Top that off with an incredibly powerful ending, and you have one of the best films of 2018. Definitely recommend this movie to everyone, it’s personally the most underrated film of the year.
7. Mission Impossible Fallout
We knew that Mission Impossible Fallout was going to be pretty good, I generally like the Mission Impossible movie series and with Christopher McQuarrie returning from Rogue Nation to direct, and Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill being added to the cast, it looked to be an entertaining time. I did not know however that it would end up being one of the best action movies of the decade, people weren’t exaggerating that much when they were comparing it to Mad Max Fury Road, which in itself was a big comparison to make. It turns out that comparison was more than justified.
The plot isn’t anything that we’ve seen before but McQuarrie, Cruise and co. make the best of this plot and made the movie the best it could be. It’s one of the most engrossing and overwhelming cinema experiences I’ve had, from start to finish there is this heightened level of the stakes. Even watching it on home video again it holds up incredibly well. All the action sequences are absolutely fantastic, the HALO jump, the bathroom fight, the motorcycle chase, the car chase, the helicopter chase, the final fight, all fantastic. You could take any of these action scenes and put it in any other decent action movie and it would definitely be the best action scene of that whole film. The movie also has such an effective tone and tension throughout that had me on board every step of the way. Once again, Tom Cruise gives a dedicated and physical performance, alongside a talented cast including returning actors Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames, as well as the addition of the scene stealing and juggernaut Henry Cavill. I’m certainly hyped for the next Mission Impossible movies coming in 2021 and 2022 but I don’t see how they’d be able to top what they did with Fallout.
My review of Mission Impossible: Fallout
Alex Garland established himself as a director to really pay attention to with Dredd (ghost directing it) and Ex Machina, and now with Annihilation he really cemented this. Intriguing, effectively creepy and full of ideas, it’s one of the best of the year and honestly is one of the more overlooked movies that came out last year. Had it been given a wide cinema release, I’m sure that a lot more people would be talking about it.
I really had no idea where the story was going throughout and I only liked it the more the movie progressed. It was thoroughly unsettling from beginning to end, whether it be that freaky camera scene with Oscar Isaac or of course that one particular scene involving a mutated bear. The scares aren’t cheap scares seen in the average horror movie, it really gets under your skin and makes you incredibly uneasy, and it had my interest from start to finish. The talented cast led by Natalie Portman were great, with her particularly giving a standout performance. Garland’s work on Annihilation was nothing short of fantastic, the visuals were phenomenal and some of the best of the year and even the score was effectively haunting. The third act was trippy and really one that needs to be seen to be believed, one of the best of the year. The only thing I didn’t like about Annihilation was the fact that it wasn’t shown at a cinema anywhere near me, because I can only imagine how phenomenal it would’ve been to experience on the big screen. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s out on Netflix and I promise you that it’s well worth the watch.
Widows was my most anticipated film of 2018, and with director Steve McQueen, writer Gillian Flynn and an absurdly talented cast, everyone delivered incredibly well at their A-game to give us an excellently made crime thriller that’s one of the best films of the year.
Widows at its core is a crime story, and it’s a great and riveting one at that. However, it also makes sure that it has other things going on behind the scenes and thematically which elevates it above just being yet another heist film, which is to be expected of by Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen. The cast all did a fantastic job, with no one being a weak link, stand outs were Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki and Daniel Kaluuya, all of whom are more than worthy of awards attention. Every performance was perfect for their role, it even had Liam Neeson giving his best performance in years. Really the only part that was out of place that didn’t quite work was one rather bizarre scene featuring Michelle Rodriguez, and even then it’s not movie breaking as much as some people have made it out to be. Widows is a fantastic film and I wish that it was getting a lot more attention at the awards than it’s been receiving.
4. The House that Jack Built
Prior to watching The House that Jack Built, I watched Lars von Trier’s Depression Trilogy (Antichrist, Melancholia and Nymphomaniac) and while I liked them, it seemed like I appreciated them more rather than actually loving them. They were well made and interesting, I just didn’t really connect with them on a deeper level. So I really wasn’t expecting to love The House that Jack Built, and no one is more surprised than me that it ended up being one of my all time favourite films of the year.
There is so much to unpack with this movie. Despite the whole film being about a serial killer, it’s rather entertaining, with the dark comedy helping with that. Lars von Trier did actually seem like he was having fun with this movie, which I think was the key difference compared to this from his other movies. He’s rather self aware this time, and the movie really did seem like an introspective look on Lars and his work, which will either turn off people or really work for them, I happen to fall into the latter category. Matt Dillon gives one of the year’s best performances, jumping between being awkward, hilarious, creepy, fascinating and scary. I’d go so far as to say that it’s my favourite lead actor performance of 2018. Now there was a lot of ideas presented in the movie, so I need to see it again at some point to see if it still holds up. The epilogue (which can only be described as a descent into hell) was one of, if not the best final act/ending of 2018 and was truly spectacular. The House that Jack Built isn’t for everyone but it shockingly really worked for me.
My review of The House that Jack Built
3. The Favourite
The Favourite is one of the most entertaining movies of the year and also the best comedy of the year. All around when it came to writing, the direction and the performances, every aspect of the film just worked so excellently to deliver a darkly, wonderfully entertaining and strange film that I loved every step of the way.
Yorgos Lanthimos brought his unique take on a period piece, you’ve not watched a period piece quite like this and his direction really made it all stand out. The highlights of the movie were definitely the fantastic performances by Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult, with all of them giving at the very least some of the best performances of their careers. The killer script is an essential part of why the movie works so well, easily one of the best written movies of the year and tied with The House that Jack Built and Game Night for most quotable movie of the year. It is just so sharp, dark and well written, it truly is well deserving of best original screenplay, without it, I don’t think that The Favourite would’ve worked as well as it did. The Favourite is well deserving of all the attention and acclaim, definitely worth a watch.
2. If Beale Street Could Talk
If Beale Street Could Talk was one of the last 2018 movies I caught up on, and I’m glad that I waited to see it before making this list. It was so well written, directed and acted, with every aspect of this film being truly excellent. I can’t believe it didn’t get more attention at the film awards (especially at the Oscars), it’s at the very least one of the best films of the year.
If Beale Street Could Talk was such a beautiful movie that feels so real and human. You really connect with the story and characters throughout its entire runtime. Barry Jenkins’s writing and direction was so heartfelt, you can definitely feel that this is the man behind Moonlight and he’s done it again. Everyone in its large and extensive cast board were fantastic, even the actors who only appeared in one scene added to the movie quite a lot. If you haven’t seen If Beale Street Could Talk yet, definitely check it out, it was incredible. It’s very difficult to describe why this movie was so fantastic, you just need to see it for yourself.
My review of If Beale Street Could Talk
Although I wasn’t hugely anticipating it beforehand, I had a feeling going into Suspiria that it was going to be something special and yet it somehow blew me away. It was such an overwhelming experience that I hadn’t experienced in a cinema up to that point and has left a considerable impact on me ever since I watched it for the first time.
2018’s Suspiria is a reimagining of the original Suspiria, doing so many different things that it can stand apart as its own movie. Whereas the original Suspiria was a classic horror slasher flick, Luca’s film explores some of the story elements, giving it so much more, way too much to process in a single viewing (and yes I understood it even more on a second viewing). Dakota Johnson was really good here, giving her best performance to date but Tilda Swinton (in 3 roles) and Mia Goth were absolutely fantastic and were the real standouts. The whole film was also such an overwhelming experience, and Luca Guagagnino directed everything so incredibly well. The dancing sequences were amazing, with the Volk dance sequence particularly being a feast for the eyes. The film could also be absolutely brutal, capped off with an absolute bloodbath of a final act. While its not one of the scariest movies I’ve seen, I would go so far as to say that it’s the best horror film of the 2010s thus far, and there have been some phenomenal horror movies released in recent years. Whereas my favourite film of the year throughout would change as I would see more movies, Suspiria was my favourite movie of 2018 from the moment that I first saw it on Halloween day, and nothing else released since then was able to top it.
What were your favourite films of 2018?