Top 25 Films of 2018


Happy New Year everyone!

 

With the New Year that means one thing….it’s that time again to do my traditional top 25 films of the year list for 2018. As always with the list, these choices are my own personal preference and obviously subjective to your own and there will be a number of films I just missed out on (e.g. Cold War) and there’s some films that didn’t get their cinematic release here at the local cinema in 2018 that will do during 2019 (e.g. Green Book). There will also be some choices on this list that would’ve come out in the US in 2017 but wasn’t released here till 2018 (e.g. Molly’s Game).

 

Here is the previous top 25 films of the year lists:

Top 25 Films of 2014

Top 25 Films of 2015

Top 25 Films of 2016

 

So with those explanations to save any confusion out of the way, as well as a list of the previous top 25’s, here’s my top 25 films of 2018!

 

25. Beast

Release Date: 27th April

Director: Michael Pearce

Starring: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James, Trystan Gravelle, Charley Palmer Rothwell, Olwen Fouéré, Oliver Maltman, Shannon Tarbet, Hattie Gotobed and Barry Aird

 

A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.

Michael Pearce brought us an impressive directorial feature debut that serves as an intimate, physiological thriller in how we witness Moll living almost as an outsider amongst her family and community until she meets the mysterious outsider Pascal, who provides calm and stability…until he’s accused of being behind several murders of young girls in the area. Pearce’s script feels bold and mature in its subject matter, Jim Williams score if often haunting as it complements Benjamin Kracun’s cinematography, capturing the landscape of Jersey. Johnny Flynn impresses with a charming yet volatile performance as Pascal, while Jessie Buckley is terrific as Moll, providing the fine balance of innocence and hardiness in her performance. Will be interesting how Pearce, Buckley and Flynn will do going forward after this film.

 

24. Journeyman

Release Date: 30th March

Director: Paddy Considine

Starring: Paddy Considine, Jodie Whittaker, Anthony Welsh, Paul Popplewell, Tony Pitts, Kell Brook, Steve Bunce and Brendan Ingle

 

Boxer Matty Burton suffers a serious head injury during a fight. It is about the impact this has on his marriage, his life and and his family.

Following up from his directorial debut Tyrannosaur, Paddy Considine brings an emotional drama that focuses on the characters with the sport serving as a backdrop. Portraying and handling disability in a feature film, especially with its lead, can sway the film overall for the viewer, but Considine brings a sensitivity with his performance in underplaying Matty’s disability, from the humming and tutting to other mannerisms and ticks he brings to the part. Jodie Whittaker more than holds her own as Emma, Matty’s wife who acts as his carer whilst also raising their only child and their chemistry makes the film for me. Well written and directed, Journeyman is an emotional journey that is well worth watching and for those in the UK/Ireland, you can find the film on Amazon Prime.

 

23. Leave No Trace

Release Date: 29th June

Director: Debra Granik

Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey, Dana Millican, Derek Dresher and Isaiah Stone

 

A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been graced with a Debra Granik directed feature film (Winter’s Bone was eight years for Christ’s sake, why were you sleeping on her film studios?) and returns with this really solid drama about the father-daughter relationship between Will and Tom. Once we witness the setup the two have in the forest and inevitably get caught and try to be put back into the rules of society, we go through this coming-of-age journey for Tom, as their Edenic way of living is threatened because of her searching to figure out her own identity amongst what Will has alienated her from out of his own fear and thoughts on society. The script from Granik and Anne Rosellini is great and the father-daughter relationship feels authentic and the cinematography from Michael McDonough is also terrific. Ben Foster is his ever reliable self as Will while Thomasin McKenzie gives a terrifically natural performance as Tom, making her one to keep an eye on in the future.

 

22. Black Panther

Release Date: 13th February

Director: Ryan Coogler

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita N’yongo, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Florence Kasumba, John Kani, Sterling K. Brown and Andy Serkis

 

T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

It may have come out earlier in the year, but it’s still something that I can still get such enjoyment putting this film on at the end of the year. I was a fan of Coogler’s work with Fruitvale Station and Creed and he more than shows here that he’s capable of not only handling a big superhero film, but he absolutely knocks it out of the park with Black Panther. The world created with Wakanda is vibrant and a place I can’t wait to revisit on the big screen for years to come, the ensemble was great across the board, with Chadwick Boseman being solid as T’Challa/Black Panther, while Michael B. Jordan was a great foil opposite him as the villain Killmonger, who is easily one of the most memorable villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The supporting cast are terrific too, particularly Lupita N’yongo, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright and Winston Duke as Nakia, Okoye, Shuri and M’Baku. The soundtrack for the film I often still play too and I’m sure Kendrick Lamar will get that Oscar nomination for ‘All The Stars’.

 

21. Hearts Beat Loud

Release Date: 2nd August

Director: Brett Haley

Starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner and Ted Danson

 

A father and daughter form an unlikely songwriting duo in the summer before she leaves for college.

One of the most pleasant escape films of the year, Hearts Beat Loud is a charming, heartwarming, film on the relationship between father Frank and daughter Sam, who have formed a closer bond after the death of their wife/mother by practising and making music, whilst reminiscing about life together. While Frank yearns for his daughter to follow in his yesteryear footsteps, Sam aims for medical college, getting as far away from the music side of things so she doesn’t follow down her fathers path. While the film follows the tropes of butting-heads to general acceptance letting someone make their own journey, the film also handles the relationship between Sam and Sasha Lane’s Rose tremendously, it feels authentic and never used as a plot-device which is refreshing in a feature film. Nick Offerman is good as Frank, but Kiersey Clemons absolutely shines as Sam with her acting performance as well as her singing. The score from Keegan DeWitt is criminally underrated.

 

20. Creed II

Release Date: 30th November

Director: Steven Caple Jr.

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Andre Ward and Russell Hornsby

 

Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago.

Following up from Coogler’s Creed whilst also making this film serve as a sequel (of sorts) for Rocky IV, Steven Caple Jr. done a hell of a job with Creed II, building on the relationships between Adonis and Bianca as their relationship evolves into something more, as well as the bond between Adonis and Rocky. There’s also the return of Ivan Drago with his son Viktor, who is on the rise in the boxing world and gunning for Creed’s title. It’s a familiar formula, but the franchise has always had this ability to keep you invested because you care for the characters and their journey. We’ve come to expect great things from Jordan, Stallone and Thompson, but the more that I think about it, it’s Dolph Lundgren and  Florian Munteanu that impress me the most here. With how the film concludes, I wouldn’t be too upset if this is how the franchise came to an end but never say never in Hollywood.

 

19. First Man

Release Date: 12th October

Director: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Shea Whigham, Christopher Abbott, Brain d’Arcy James, Pablo Schreiber, Patrick Fugit, Corey Michael Smith, Skyler Bible, Lukas Haas, J.D Evermore and Ciarán Hinds

 

A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

I heard the negativity surrounding the film, from the film being boring to the lack of a flag being shown on the moon, after viewing the film I’m surprised that it hasn’t been more raved about in the run up to awards season. Damien Chazelle showcases why he’s one of the best directors working today with this character study of Neil Armstrong, more important in showcasing an ordinary man that’s burying his own grief by being completely wrapped up in his work of the space-race era and isolating himself from his family as the further they get with their tests, the more tragedy strikes. There’s a constant sense of unpredictability, from the opening sequence of Armstrong flying the X-15 rocket plane, to Agena/Gemini 8 scene being quite possibly the most intense and nauseating scene I’ve seen all year. The score from Justin Hurwitz is absolutely fantastic and deserves a nomination come award season. Ryan Gosling has been getting some flack for being too stoic in his performance of Neil Armstrong but I thought it worked perfectly within the film and in a few particular scenes, one in which he talks to his children before he goes into space like he would a reporter, as if it’s a automatic switch that comes on in his head that drills these mundane answers as he’s been doing it for so long, stick long after the film finishes. Claire Foy provides the empathy with her performance as Neil’s wife Janet and the rest of the ensemble is solid as well.

 

18. Widows

Release Date: 6th November

Director: Steve McQueen

Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Harney, Lukas Haas, Matt Walsh, Adepero Oduye, Ann Mitchell and Kevin J. O’Connor

 

Set in contemporary Chicago, amidst a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Steve McQueen’s most commercial film, yet this heist thriller also serves to take a look at political corruption and how it effects the community. McQueen’s direction is great here, with a few notable scenes being Jatemme attacking someone at a bowling lane, to the interaction between Farrell’s Mulligan and Kunz’s Siobhan being shot outside of the car they’re in. iola Davis gives a powerhouse performance, Elizabeth Debicki is impressive with her character arc and Daniel Kaluuya brings the menace and dread whenever he’s on screen. It’s a shame that the film hasn’t fared well at the box office and it feels like it won’t obtain much during awards season, but I can definitely see the film being looked more favourably on in five-ten years time.

 

17. Calibre

Release Date: 29th June

Director: Matt Palmer

Starring: Jack Lowden, Martin McCann, Tony Curran, Ian Pirie, Kate Bracken, Kitty Lovett, Cal MacAninch, Cameron Jack, Olivia Morgan and Donald McLeary

 

Two lifelong friends head up to an isolated Scottish Highlands village for a weekend hunting trip. Nothing could prepare them for what follows.

A Netflix original that snuck under almost everyone’s radars, Calibre is a directorial feature debut from Matt Palmer that could arguably be one of the most underrated films of the year. It’s a film that’s most effective when going in blind as you will then be immersed in the characters sense of paranoia as they not only have to deal with the urban/rural divide showcased here, but also how an incident changes their lives forever and what the outcome will be. Palmer toys with the audiences expectations by toying with horror tropes within this psychological thriller. The cinematography from Márk Györi is really good, particularly in capturing the Scottish landscape. he performances from the two leads are really good here. Jack Lowden is terrific as Vaughn, while Martin McCann provides an ever-reliable presence on-screen as the cunning Marcus. Tony Curran is also very good as Logan McClay and, even with his limited time on screen, Ian Pirie makes a menacing impression as Brian McClay.

 

16. Last Flag Flying

Release Date: 26th January

Director: Richard Linklater

Starring: Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, J. Quinton Johnson, Richard Robichaux, Lee Harrington, Cicely Tyson, Kate Easton, Deanna Reed-Foster, Yul Vazquez, Graham Wolfe and Ted Watts Jr.

 

Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, a former Navy Corpsman Larry ‘Doc’ Shepherd re-unites with his old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon and Reverend Richard Mueller, to bury his son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.

Last Flag Flying is a film that works primarily due to the chemistry of its three key players, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne, as the war veterans that are reunited in order to take Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in action, home. A road trip film that focuses on grief, patriotism and being present when needed by others, Linklater’s direction is really good here and the performances are terrific, particularly Steve Carell who with one look could make your heart break for his character Doc. Maybe it was the expectation of some because it’s Linklater that they expected something more which is why it didn’t fare as well as his usual efforts critically, but I thought Last Flag Flying was a really good film none the less.

 

15. A Prayer Before Dawn 

Release Date: 20th July

Director: Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire

Starring: Joe Cole, Vithaya Pansringarm, Panya Yimmumphai, Somluck Kamsing, Pornchanok Mabklang, Sura Sirmalai, Sakda Niamhom and Komsan Polsan

 

The true story of an English boxer incarcerated in one of Thailand’s most notorious prisons as he fights in Muay Thai tournaments to earn his freedom.

Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire does a solid job in directing this film, using a lot of close shots on Joe Cole’s face to show how isolated Billy feels in this claustrophobic environment, with the creative choice to use as little subtitles as possible amongst the rest of the cast to make you feel as alienated as Billy does about what’s going on around him. The violence shown here is extreme and difficult to watch, as violence could seemingly come from nowhere and happen at any given moment. It also happens to include a potential star-making performance from Joe Cole who is definitely one to keep an eye on in the future, being committed to the physicality needed for the role and balancing it with the untamed rage that lies within Billy. The score from Nicolas Becker complements the footage well and I also liked David Ungaro’s cinematography work here.

 

 

14. Roma

Release Date: 30th November

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Fernando Grediaga, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Nancy García, Verónica García and José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza

 

A story that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

Cuarón always had a great eye for directing and in this personal story for him that he’s committed himself fully into as the housekeeper character, Cleo, is based directly on the one that worked for his parents. The role is played by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio, who is gives such an authentic, kindly performance as Cleo that I can see why critics have been raving about her as well as the committees behind the votes this awards season. The one thing to take away from Roma is Alfonso Cuarón’s attention to detail in his directing and the cinematography on show. Cuarón takes long, panned shots of the neighbourhood and the city environment surrounding Cleo and the members of Sofia’s family, to the way he captures certain picturesque frames from Cleo sitting in a cinema where everyone seems perfectly in focus, to a protest turned into a full scale riot outside a store.

 

13. You Were Never Really Here

Release Date: 9th March

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alex Manette, John Doman, Judith Roberts, Dante Pereira-Olson, Alessandro Nivola, Frank Pando and Vinicius Damasceno

 

A traumatised veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

A brooding, dark tale of a veteran set to track down and rescue the daughter of a US Senator whilst also having to deal with his suicidal thoughts, You Were Never Really Here is a terrific character piece from Lynne Ramsay, with terrific cinematography work from Thomas Townend. Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic as Joe, a walking shell of a man whose more often than not absent in the present and trapped in his own head until it’s time to do some work in order to locate the Senator’s daughter Nina, which leads to some bloody (and creatively shot) results in a vein that hear but not show is more effective than showcasing everything.

 

12. The Endless

Release Date: 29th June

Directors: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Starring: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, Lew Temple, James Jordan, Shane Brady, Kira Powell, David Lawson Jr., Emily Montague, Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran and Glen Roberts

 

As kids, they escaped a UFO death cult. Now, two adult brothers seek answers after an old videotape surfaces and brings them back to where they began.

I was impressed with Benson and Moorhead’s previous film Spring and with The Endless finally available on Netflix, I was thoroughly impressed with their latest sci-fi effort, with the location and atmosphere in Camp Arcadia managing to creep under your skin as you the audience try to dissect what is going on. The film is complexed but never to the point that it leaves its audience in the dust, the directors provide the co-lead performances here and do a splendid effort, as we follow the relationship between the brothers coming to a head in this H.P Lovecraft-like setting. I cannot wait to see what the duo bring to the table next with Synchronic.

 

11. Molly’s Game

Release Date: 1st January

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d’Arcy James, Chris O’Dowd, J. C MacKenzie, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, Jeremy Strong, Matthew D. Matteo, Joe Keery, Natalie Krill, Claire Rankin, Madison McKinley, Angela Gots, Khalid Klein, Victor Serfaty and Jon Bass

 

The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.

Molly’s Game marks the directorial feature debut of Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Like his screenplays before, Molly’s Game is sharp, fast and takes us through the world of high-stakes poker with this true story of an Olympic-class skier becoming a key target for the FBI for running a Ponzi scheme. The film is fast-paced, well directed by Sorkin, with some great cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen and a solid score from Daniel Pemberton. Jessica Chastain is an absolute powerhouse as Molly Bloom, bringing such confidence with vulnerability to the role that she delivers Sorkin’s lines with such naturalism and credibility that you’d imagine that Sorkin will attach her to future projects. The supporting cast is great as well, such as Idris Elba, Kevin Costner and a career best performance so far for Michael Cera.

 

10. Shoplifters

Release Date: 23rd November

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Starring: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kairi Jō, Miyu Sasaki, Kirin Kiki, Naoto Ogata, Yoko Moriguchi, Yūki Yamada, Moemi Katayama, Kengo Kora, Chizuru Ikewaki and Akira Emoto

 

A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find on the street.

Shoplifters is a family drama unlike any I’ve seen in quite a while, showing us the scepticism of taking in young Yuri and how they inevitably embrace her, particularly Nobuyo and Shota. The way this story plays out is very well executed, as once they take Yuri in, it’s handled with the expectancy for it to all go wrong as the grandmother points out during probably the happiest sequence in the film ‘It won’t last for long’. The direction and script from Koreeda is great, as is the cinematography from Ryûto Kondô. The performances from the ensemble are great. Lily Franky is great as a shifty character with a cheeky grin, who teaches Shota that shoplifting is fine as it’s items that don’t belong to anyone yet. Sakura Ando is great as Nobuyo, whose closed off from Yuri at first but once she accepts her, we witness the vulnerability that she brings in the performance. Kirin Kiki is a scene stealer at times as grandmother Hatsue and it’s a shame that this would be her final performance as she passed away a few months ago. The children stars, Kairi Jō and Miyu Sasaki, are excellent here as Shota and Yuri.

 

09. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Release Date: 25th July

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan, Wes Bentley, Frederick Schmidt and Alec Baldwin

 

Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

Fallout is a rollercoaster ride of stunt work and action sequences that haven’t been this jaw-dropping since Mad Max: Fury Road. From HALO jumping, to a car-motorcycle chase along the streets of Paris (particularly driving round incoming traffic around the Arc De Triomphe), to the trademark Tom Cruise running on foot (this time around London), to the helicopter chase sequence in the final act, the action is clear and you feel completely immersed in these moments as Tom Cruise has placed himself in these stunts and I was completely blown away by how these scenes were done. The cinematography work from Rob Hardy is excellent, as is McQuarrie’s direction and Eddie Hamilton’s editing, I also liked the score from Lorne Balfe. The performances from the ensemble surrounding Cruise is probably the best in the franchise, Cavill is a great foil to Hunt as bruiser-brawler Walker, Pegg is ever-reliable as Benji, Ferguson is good as Ilsa, Kirby impresses as White Widow and Ving Rhames, who hasn’t had much to do in terms of scenes over the last few instalments (in my opinion) gets a lot more screentime. I’m glad Sean Harris returned as Solomon Lane, he has a menacing prescence whenever he’s on screen and is easily the best villain Ethan Hunt has come up against.

 

08. Burning

Release Date: 20th November (Foyle Film Festival Screening)

Director: Lee Chang-dong

Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun and Jeon Jong-seo

 

Jong-su, a part-time worker, bumps into Hae-mi while delivering, who used to live in the same neighbourhood. Hae-mi asks him to look after her cat while she’s on a trip to Africa. When Hae-mi comes back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met in Africa, to Jong-su.

I loved Chang-dong’s direction here, every shot feels deliberately placed, from one scene showing Jong-su looking at some art in the background, with Ben eating with his family in the foreground, to how the camera follows Hae-mi during a dreamlike contemporary dance with a jazz score lingering over it. The cinematography from Kyung-pyo Hong, particularly in capturing certain landscapes and how he captures the light in certain scenes. It’s an interesting study on three young characters, each that have their own ‘hunger’ to fulfil and each have their own significant moment on the subject of fire. Jeon Jong-seo is really good as Hae-mi, a somewhat free spirit young woman that’s secretly yearning for Jong-su’s love and acceptance. Steven Yeun really impresses as Ben. Ben is a blank canvas of emotion, every expression or line of dialogue feels calculated, he’s a character that when you look at you can’t help but this distinct cold feeling of being in his company. The mystery surrounding the character is the biggest draw for me and I thought Yeun was excellent in the role.v

 

07. BlacKkKlansman

Release Date: 24th August

Director: Spike Lee

Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Jasper Pääkkönen, Ryan Eggold, Paul Walter Hauser, Ashlie Atkinson, Corey Hawkins, Michael Buscemi, Ken Garito, Robert John Burke, Frederick Weller, Nicholas Turturro, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Damaris Lewis

 

Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader.

With the right material Spike Lee can make a film that can better your favourite director’s and with BlacKkKlansman this film marks his best feature easily since at least Inside Man, and just as powerful and timely as his earlier films Malcolm X and Do The Right Thing. The true story of Ron Stallworth infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan is at times comedic here but it’s more do to with how extraordinary this whole story is that not only did this undercover cop convince that he was a a white, racist anti-semite, but the fact that it worked (hence the use of some real-life images here and there to confirm the stories credibility). John David Washington gives a nuance and charismatic performance as Ron Stallworth and deserves all the praise he’s getting and I hope gets rewarded for it come award season, whilst Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman bounces perfectly off Washington’s Stallworth, bringing depth as the ‘public half’ of the Stallworth character during the Ku Klux Klan meetings. In terms of supporting performances, Topher Grace as the grand wizard David Duke will be the most memorable as it’s Eric Forman as the head of the KKK, but it was Jasper Pääkkönen that impressed me out of the supporting cast as Felix Kendrickson.

 

06. Annihilation

Release Date: 12th March

Director: Alex Garland

Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac, Benedict Wong and David Gyasi

 

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.

Alex Garland’s Annihilation is a striking film once we enter the shimmer, the landscape is covered in a psychedelic coating making it beautiful to look at and that’s thanks to Rob Hardy’s cinematography work and the visual effects team behind the look of the world within the shimmer. The film is heavy on the atmosphere, symbolism and it brings almost palpable sense of dread as the characters learn, along with the audience, that everything they’re discovering, everything they’re trying to accomplish feels like it’s for nowt as the horrors that are contained within the shimmer make it feel like it’s the end of times. The score becomes increasingly effective as the film goes on and is at its peak once we get to the final act. The performance from the cast is solid, from Natalie Portman’s determined Lena trying to find out the mysteries of the shimmer as well as learn what happened to her husband, to Jennifer Jason Leigh being the reserved and distant leader of the expedition that wants to find out what’s at the source, no matter the cost, Gina Rodriguez is good as Anya, who is slowly getting more paranoid as the days go on within the shimmer the more they learn about what is going on and what it’s doing to them and Tessa Thompson is fine as Josie. Also, fuck that bear!

 

05. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Release Date: 9th November

Director: Morgan Neville

Starring: Fred Rogers, Joanne Rogers, John Rogers, Jim Rogers, Elaine Rogers, François Scarborough Clemmons, Tom Junod, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Negri and David Newell

 

An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children’s television host, Fred Rogers. 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a fascinating documentary about not only how Fred Rogers got to become a household name amongst a nation, but also on how a man with so-much self-doubt, especially as violence on television aimed at children began to progress and become the norm as time went on, continued to sing, offer advice and educate children on a daily basis from 1968 to 2001. From the subjects that Fred talked about (be it death, divorce, war), he never belittled any child, from the archive footage you can tell how he had time for each one he visited. Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a great insight into a man that was willing to battle through his self-doubt in order to educate children over the course of a few decades, making an impact that has left quite a void right now, especially in children programming. How we could all use someone like Fred Rogers now at a time like this and the standard he’s set that we should all achieve in what it means to be a good human being.

 

04. A Quiet Place

Release Date: 5th April

Director: John Krasinski

Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe

 

A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

The first ten minutes are impactful and thankfully the film carries on strongly from there as we see the family communicate with each other through sign language and how even with little dialogue, we still care about the outcome of the Abbott family. The sound design in this film is incredible, as is the score from Marco Beltrami. Also worth highlighting is the cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen is really good here. The family dynamic is interesting to watch, as the family is still dealing with overcoming tragedy not just amongst the parents, but the children as well. Having to deal with the minimal amount of dialogue, the cast is terrific here, with Krasinski conveying a lot of emotion with his body performance and Blunt being just as great, particularly in one scene during the middle of the film. Noah Jupe is really good too as Marcus, while Millicent Simmonds, a young deaf actress, is definitely one to look for as I thought she was terrific here.

 

03. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Release Date: 12th December

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman

Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Liev Schreiber, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Hailee Steinfeld, Luna Lauren Vélez and Lily Tomlin

 

Teen Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man of his reality, crossing his path with five counterparts from another dimensions to stop a threat for all realities.

Not a hope at the start of the year did I expect Sony’s animated Spider-Man film to be near the top of my end of year list, but Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is absolutely one of the best films of the year, let alone one of the best animated films I’ve seen in recent years. To somehow bring to the audience the ultimate love letter to Spider-Man, whilst also creating a narrative about the multi-dimensions, and make them work is a testament to the creative team, from the script to the directors to the animators involved. Beautiful animation aside, the film has stakes and genuine heart that provide some powerful scenes that at least match the live-action counterparts, if not better them. The voice cast is terrific also, with Shameik Moore perfect as Miles Morales, while a seasoned Peter Parker voiced by Jake Johnson works unbelievably well and Hailee Steinfeld is great as Gwen Stacy. There’s so many memorable moments in the film, from Miles travelling to school, to also anything involving Nic Cage as Spider-Man Noir, it’s the ‘leap of faith’ scene that’ll last long in the memory. The after credits scene is also one of the most meta-amusing bits I’ve seen in quite some time and a must see for Spider-Man fans out there. I can’t wait to explore this Spider-Verse in the future.

 

02. The Guilty

Release Date: 26th October

Director: Gustav Möller

Starring: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi, Johan Olsen, Katinka Evers-Jahnsen and Jacob Lohmann

 

A police officer assigned alarm dispatch duty enters a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman.

It’s the little attentions to detail that make The Guilty a thrilling cinematic experience. We’ve seen single location features before, but what works so well to the films benefit is how it builds to the ultimate call that carries us through to the end credits. The sound design for the film is terrific, with the cinematography also solid as it mostly works on close shots, adding to the tension within Asger’s confined work space. The film also highlights how easily we can make assumptions from the limited amount of information we receive and fill the rest of the gaps along the way as we mentally believed it to be the only logical conclusion. Jakob Cedergren is captivating as Asger Holm, he had me completely immersed in his characters journey and the voice cast are solid as well, especially Jessica Dinnage. An absolutely terrific directorial feature debut from Gustav Möller and I’m intrigued as to how Jake Gyllenhaal and his production team develop the English-language remake.

 

01. Blindspotting

Release Date: 5th October

Director: Carlos López Estrada

Starring: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Ethan Embry, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Wayne Knight, Kevin Carroll and Lance Cameron Holloway

 

While on probation, a man begins to re-evaluate his relationship with his volatile best friend.

Blindspotting has a tight script from Diggs and Casal that is comedic whilst also being profound. Carlos López Estrada does a great job helming the film, with great editing by Gabriel Fleming and one of the most effective things in the film is its sound design/mixing. It’s so effective in how it portrays Collin’s torment as he suffers post traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the police shooting, whilst Miles is suffering from identity crisis due to the gentrification of the community around him in Oakland. The friendship of the two is the heart of the story and their social and personal issues with each other reach a head in a scene that for some can hit home. Daveed Diggs is absolutely fantastic as Collin, balancing out keeping his cool amongst those around him whilst behind the scenes he’s tortured by the incident, whilst Rafael Casal is also terrific as Miles, providing a performance that’s charming, cheeky and menacing, just a boiling pot of unpredictability. Blindspotting is my favourite film of the year and one of the most underrated films of the year as the fact it’s not even discussed for awards consideration in the main circles is just absolutely criminal (might be an exaggeration but you’ll know what I mean when you watch it).

 

So that’s my list for the Top 25 Films of 2018. Which one was your favourite of 2018? If you’re film is on the poll, click on it and if you’re favourite film isn’t mentioned here, leave a comment of what your favourite film of the year was and why.

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