What a year for film 2018 has been. There have been so many great films that even limiting this list down to 25 meant cutting off films I loved such as Suspiria, American Animals, and Annihilation. I have tried to avoid spoilers in my list, but there may be some minor one. You can find the full list of 130 films I saw this year here. And let me know what your favourite films from 2018 were in the comments.
25) Mandy – We start this list with a film that perfectly fits Nicolas Cage’s over the top manic energy. That’s right it’s Panos Cosmatos’ psychedelic action thriller Mandy. An acid and blood soaked revenge thriller Mandy is one of the most unique films of the year. A slow burn, Cosmatos’ film explodes in fits of rage, much like Cage himself and produces some of the most beautiful and disturbing imagery of the year. If you’d written Nic Cage off make sure to find Mandy on DVD.
24) I Kill Giants – I Kill Giants hasn’t been hugely talked about, but this fantasy drama based on Kelly and Kim Nimura’s graphic novel is an emotional look at depression and loss washed with giants and fantasy. The film is all held together by a brilliant performance by young teenager Madison Wolfe in the lead role, and the supporting cast with Imogen Poots and Zoe Saldana is great. I Kill Giants isn’t the easiest watch in the world, but the beautiful message and effects are worth the watch.
23) Black Panther – Black Panther was an incredible way to kick off the blockbusters of 2018. Gorgeous visuals, great well rounded characters, and a genuinely relatable antagonist made this one of the best the MCU has to offer. And whilst the entire cast is excellent, it is Michael B Jordan as the villainous Eric Killmonger who stole the show. Every scene he was a magnetic screen presence and delivered not only the performance of the film, but one of the best of the year.
22) Creed II – The first Creed was essentially a very good remake of Rocky. Creed II however is essentially “what if Rocky IV was good?” and lives up to the first fairly well. Creed II, whilst obviously a boxing film, is primarily about the many father and child relationships throughout the film. At its heart is the relationship between Adonis and his father figure Rocky, but also with his own father’s legacy. Steven Caple Jr. and the writers also did a brilliant job of fleshing out and making Ivan and Viktor Drago much more well rounded characters than Rocky IV ever did.
21) Outlaw King – Okay, this may be my Scottish bias coming through here, but I loved Outlaw King. The first part of the film isn’t great as it feels choppy and rushed, but once we get to the crowning of Robert the Bruce it really took off for me. Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Florence Pugh are all fantastic, and the final battle sequence at the battle of Loudoun Hill is superb and brutal.
20) Green Book – Peter Farrelly’s film chronicling the friendship the friendship of Don Shirley and his driver Tony Vallelonga during Shirley’s concert tour of the Deep South of America in 1960’s is a tough balancing act to balance the drama around the racism Shirley faces as an African American and a more comedic buddy road trip feeling. For the most part the film nails this balance, in no small part thanks to the brilliant acting talents of Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, both of whom are superb. Green Book gets a full UK release next year, and I highly recommend checking it out when it does.
19) The Hate U Give – Based upon Angie Thomas’ 2017 novel The Hate U Give is an incredibly powerful look at racism and the issue of police shootings of black people. Lead by an incredible performance from Amandla Stenberg as Starr who witnesses the shooting, and with an equally outstanding one from Russell Hornsby as her father there’s a lot of talent in the film,and it is on full display. The Hate U Give is an incredibly important and timely film, and one that absolutely needs to be seen.
18) Ready Player One – There was a lot of early hype around Ready Player One and then backlash, but all that talk seems to have died down. That doesn’t change the fact that despite it absolutely relying on a lot of nostalgia Ready Player One is a blast of a film and one of the most entertaining cinema trips I had this year. Steven Spielberg managed to bring the film to life, whilst losing some of the most troubling elements of the books. The effects and the world of the Oasis are incredible and it brings to life some of your favourite properties to life in new ways. This is just pure fun.
17) Mission Impossible: Fallout – The Mission Impossible franchise just keeps going from strength to strength. Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation were exceptional, with some incredible set pieces, but Fallout managed to step it up a level once again. The addition of Henry Cavill as August Walker to the film was fantastic, and it was worth his glorious moustache hurting Justice League as we got this. There are some staggering set pieces: the halo jump, the bathroom fight, the motorbike chase, and the helicopter fight to name just a few. This is one of the great modern action films, and worthy of a place on this list.
16) Thoroughbreds – There really was a huge range of great films this year, for instance if you wanted an incredibly dark yet comedic thriller then Thoroughbreds is the a great watch. Cory Finley’s debut film manages to be both tense and funny throughout with a great central friendship between two equally juxtaposed people. And the two actors who play them, Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke, have wonderful chemistry. This is also one of the final films to feature the wonderful Anton Yelchin. Thoroughbreds may well have slipped under your radar this year, but make sure to check it out.
15) Mary Poppins Returns – I don’t think there has been a more joyous movie experience this year for me that Mary Poppins Returns. It is an absolutely delightful film that had me beaming from ear to ear for the entire watch. Emily Blunt is practically perfect in every way for the role of Poppins, and Lin-Manuel Miranda is brilliant as lamplighter Jack. The songs, the effects, the adventures, everything about this Mary Poppins sequel is just a delightful experience. I honestly didn’t think that Mary Poppins Returns was going to be my kind of film, but it is so charming that it completely won me over. This is one that’s still in cinemas, so go watch it, you won’t regret it.
14) Sorry To Bother You – Boots Riley’s debut film Sorry To Bother You is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Even in my review I didn’t want to spend too much time talking about where it was going because I don’t want to spoil the experience for those who haven’t yet seen it. Because this is a film that demands to be seen. It tackles issues such as class oppression and race, but does so in an absurdist and funny way, with a ton of great performance. It’s a shame that Sorry To Bother You didn’t get a wider release, but this is one that has to sought out once it arrives on DVD.
13) Shoplifters – Hirokazu Kore-eda’s thoughtful meditation on family is a simple and understated drama, but one that is deeply moving. Following a family that must shoplift in order to survive Shoplifters is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. Much it follows their day to day struggle to survive and we see the love and care for one another that bonds the family together. Kore-eda’s light touch as the director is perfect for such an understated film. The performances are powerful, and as the film comes to a close it hits you with a powerfully emotional finale.
12) Bad Times At The El Royale – Bad Times At The El Royale was a great ride. Featuring a stacked cast of acting talent including John Hamm and Jeff Bridges, and some incredibly performances from up and coming actors Cynthia Erivo and Lewis Pullman. The interconnected storylines that twist across one another as we jump back and forward through time all build to one electric finale. Once we reach there enter Chris Hemsworth’s charismatic and terrifying cult leader Billy Lee to steal the entire film. Bad Times may not quite be the film you’re expecting going in, but it’s gripping right to the end.
11) BlacKkKlansman – The new Spike Lee joint is a comedic look at Ron Stallworth’s infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan, with the assistance of his white colleague Flip Zimmerman. The film is mostly a hilarious ride, with wonderful performances from John David Washington and Adam Driver as Ron and Flip, and a surprising turn from Topher Grace as Grand Wizard David Duke. And then just to close out BlacKkKlansman reveals to us how little has changed between the and now. A masterpiece.
10) You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsey crime thriller starring Joaquin Phoenix might well be the outside bet for awards this year, but in reality it should be one of the front runners. You Were Never Really Here is stark and exceptional insight into Joe, Phoenix’s fun for hire who is living with past traumas. Ramsey’s direction, alongside the brilliant cinematography of Thomas Townend really draw us into Joe’s headspace as he tries to deal with the horrors of both his past and present. Phoenix’s performance is simply incredible. His portrayal of a damaged man deserves award recognition (as do many aspects of the film). Young actress Ekaterina Samsonov alongside him is also excellent. This is also the second year in a row in which Jonny Greenwood may well have delivered the best musical score, as it only adds to the distressing atmosphere of the film. Ramsey is one of the strongest voices working in film right now, and I would hate for You Were Never Really Here to be ignored come awards season.
9) A Quiet Place – John Krasinski’s post apocalyptic horror film if without a doubt one of the breakout hits of the year. Focusing on a family in a world where blind creatures with hypersensitive hearing hunt people, requiring them to be as close to silent as possible. Krasinski shows great skill for a first time director, and alongside Emily Blunt play the parents of the family fighting for survival. Both give incredible performances, particularly Blunt during the spectacularly tense birth scene. What really stands out about Krasinski’s direction is the performances he is able to get out young Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actress who plays their deaf daughter, and Noah Jupe who plays their son. The performances both give are fantastic, and it shows what a wonderful ability Krasinski has for putting these young actors at ease. The film itself is right up their with Hereditary for brilliant and gripping horror this year.
8) Hereditary – Hereditary has completely divided people. As a horror film it is easy to see why, because the film is closer to a family drama than a horror, with only small moments, and Colin Stetson’s score to really signify the horror nature of the film. Then it takes a turn, and builds into an insane finale. If you haven’t seen Hereditary I encourage you to go watch it now. And then give it a day or so and watch it again. There is so much to be gained from Hereditary when you know where it’s going, and you’ll pick up on so many small details that are laying out what happened. I genuinely believe that Hereditary will go down as one of the greats of the horror films, and it is certainly one of my favourites of the year.
7) The Miseducation of Cameron Post – For me The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of the most underrated films of the year. There have been plenty of smaller indie films talked about, but Cameron Post just seems to have floated beneath the radar. And that’s a real shame. Desiree Akhavan took a very heavy and upsetting subject matter, gay conversion camps, and managed to make a film imbued with heart. Chloë Grace Moretz is sensational in the role of Cameron Post, and is supported by some excellent performances from Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck. The film doesn’t shy away from the more awful aspects of these camps with some really harrowing moments near the end, but it is also a film that ends on a positive and uplifting note.
6) The Shape of Water – The Best Picture winning film at the last Oscars absolutely deserves its’ place in the illustrious list of Oscar winners. Guillermo del Toro’s beautiful modern fairytale about acceptance and love is a wonderful and enriching tale. Pretty much every aspect of the film is stunning, from the costume designs, to Alexandre Desplat’s score, to the set design, to the performances of Hawkins, Jenkins, and Shannon. For who wrote The Shape of Water off as the fish sex film missed how much more del Toro’s wonderful fairytale has to offer. The central relationship between Elisa and the Amphibian Man is beautiful, and conducted almost entirely through sign language. Michael Shannon’s Richard Strickland is a perfect example of how intolerance and hatred are the true monsters in this world.
5) Love, Simon – Greg Berlanti embodied all the best aspects of John Hughes’ classic coming of age films, but with a modern sensibility. Following a high school boy who is hesitant about coming out to his friends and family, but enters into conversation with another anonymous gay student online. Nick Robinson is simply brilliant in the titular role, he makes Simon such a hugely relatable figure. The film is packed with brilliant comedy, Natasha Rothwell in particular stealing most of the scenes she’s in and Simon’s drama teacher. The film also has a great warmth and message to it, with the core takeaway being to embrace who you are and find acceptance and love in yourself. Mention also has to be made of Jennifer Garner, who has one of the scenes of the year, her “you can breathe now” speech to Simon is so beautiful, and is enough to have anyone in tears.
4) First Man – Damien Chazelle’s intimate yet epic portrait of Neil Armstrong’s life may well be the best film released this year. If you’re interested in the space race, then you will obviously First Man. It has all the great space race moments that you would hope for. But what made First Man special was the time and love that Chazelle poured in to looking at Neil Armstrong. Ryan Gosling’s performance as the man is restrained and understated, but with so much happening underneath the surface. I went into the film not knowing anything about Armstrong’s life, and came out with so much more understanding about what drove him because of the tragedy he experienced. Chazelle is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today, and First Man proved he can make another completely different kind of film to what we’d seen before. It was truly exceptional, and I’m sad more people didn’t go to see it in the cinema.
3) Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – When we saw the first stills and then the trailer for Into The Spider-Verse I hoped it could be something special because the art style was so striking and original. The final product ended up being even better than I had hoped. This is comfortably the best Spider-Man film ever put to screen, and one of the best superhero films. It is clear to see why Spider-Man was a character that touched so many people who read comic books in this film, because it truly captures what the character is all about. He is everyone, and by using the Spider-Verse to show us all these different iterations of Spider-Man it has never been better demonstrated. That alone would put it high on my list, but coupled with some incredible action sequences, and some of the most spectacular visuals I’ve ever seen on the big screen, Into The Spider-Verse was something truly special.
2) Lady Bird – I was heartbroken that Lady Bird ended up walking away with nothing at the Oscars because it was easily my favourite of all the Oscar contenders from last year. Greta Gerwig’s debut film is a delightful coming of age tale packed with heart, emotion, and humour. The relationship between Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird and her mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, is what is really at the heart of the film. The two powerhouse performances show the tumultuous relationship these characters have, and their incredible chemistry made this one of the absolute best films of the year. And that’s before you throw in the remarkable young talents like Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet who also appear. I genuinely believe it should have taken home at least one of the Oscars that it was nominated for, and I cannot wait to see what Greta Gerwig does next as a director.
1) Avengers: Infinity War – What else was it ever going to be? I saw Infinity War 5 times in the cinema because this was one of the greatest cinematic events of my life. There was so much pressure on Infinity War to deliver after 10 years of build up, pressure on Thanos to be a worthy villain. But boy did it deliver. In terms of scale this is epic, encompassing so many heroes across so many different worlds. Right from the off the Russo Brothers let us know that they mean business with an opening scene that kills off several of our heroes. Everyone gets their moments, and the supporting villains are awesome. And despite the epic scale of the film it has these wonderful smaller scale moments, particularly between Thanos and Gamora, and that’s what elevates the film beyond a simple blockbuster, and makes it the best in the MCU. And then the Russos only went and did it with the finally, for those who somehow don’t know how Infinity War ends I won’t spoil what the Russos did. But they only went and did it.