The year has come to an end and it’s time to reflect back on the best of 2018, with a wide range of films differing in style, concept and quality it turned out to be a great year for film. I was personally able to see over 85 films in the year, ranging from horror to musicals and cutting films from the list of ten was especially hard. From David Lowery’s The Oldman and The Gun (a lovable and perfect film) to Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here (starring the awards-worthy Joaquin Phoenix) 2018 proved to be an infectious year no matter your taste in film. Other mentions go to Steve McQueen’s unconventionally beautiful heist film Widows, Paweł Pawlikowski’s masterful Cold War, László Nemes’ intense Sunset, and Alfonso Cuarón’s heart-wrenching Roma, there is just too many films to fit into my top ten.
The year was especially strong for horror including Ari Aster’s Hereditary (the most horrifying film in years), Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria (a bone chilling homage), David Gordon Green’s Halloween (brought nostalgia and great frights) and A Quiet Place (the most tense film in decades).
Fans and critics raved for superhero films this year, including Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and Black Panther (of which I tend to differ) films to which people have claimed they are among some of the best in recent memory. Also lots of stabs in western side of film, including Jacques Audiard’s breathtaking Sisters Brothers and the Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (an anthology of stories linked by a nuanced thread). Ending off the year we had the utterly delightful Mary Poppins Returns, the musical is one of the most underrated genres in film to which in the last few years we’ve had Damien Chazelle’s sun-drenched masterpiece La La Land and last year’s surprise hit The Greatest Showman and the classic retelling of Beauty and The Beast – all proving the rise and return of the musical. Additionally, we saw Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (toe tappingly fun), Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born (a remake of the classic Judy Garland film among others) and Bohemian Rhapsody of which both were films about music but both caught an audience, although I strongly disliked one but really liked another (you guess).
But my favourite films of the year I feel incredibly strongly about.
The Top 10 best films of 2018
- Leave No Trace & Suspiria
I could not move either of Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace or Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria away from the top spot, they both showcase utterly masterful filmmaking. Granik’s film is a pitch perfect subtle study of the idea of forgotten America, a film that is able to capture innocence and loss in this moving masterpiece. Guadagnino’s film is bone-chilling, artful and the perfect example of how a film should be made, show-don’t-tell.
2. Mary Poppins Returns
A touching musical that is practically perfect in every way. With Emily Blunt forging her own Poppins with her more sharp and quirky personality.
3. The House That Jack Built
A truly testing film, Lars Von Trier delivers a testament in the relations between art, murder and religion that unconventionally tests traditional film in a beautiful-yet-rather-vile-way.
4. First Man
Damien Chazelle’s viscerally immersive take on the tale of the first man on the moon is the greatest cinema experience of the year. Mind bending-yet-subtle, Gosling and Foy stun in this greatly overlooked treasure.
5. A Quiet Place & Hereditary
The most tense film I’ve ever seen (over Jaws and Alien), A Quiet Place had me at the edge of my seat gasping for air with John Kransiski proving to be masterful at the crafting of a visceral psychological thriller for the ages. Ari Aster breaks through with his feature directorial debut, the single most horrifying film in decades. A smart, tightly woven film about a family’s descent into the arms of evil. Aster’s precise direction can be seen in all of his prior short films, including Basically and The Strange Thing About The Johnsons.
6. Bad Times at the El Royale
Drew Goddard presents us with a masterful stylised neo-noir, about seven strangers in an odd motel on the boarder of California and Nevada. Intricately made, suspenseful and rich are the words to describe this outstanding work.
7. The Favourite
One of my favourites this year happens to fall under the same name, Yorgos Lanthimos’s film is an absurd, hilarious and tragic study of three women, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail (Emma Stone) who all deliver powerhouse performance.
8. Fantastic Beasts 2 & Aquaman
Again, I simply could not decide – but as a self proclaimed Potterhead this film delivered on all fronts for me, in this new magical entry to the Harry Potter franchise. Also as a massive DC Comics fan, Aquaman not only delivered for us fans but as a simply riveting adventure film.
9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Nothing says Coen Brothers more than their new film, a western anthology that subtly connected through a nuanced thread present in each segment – death. A visual feast, scrumptious sound design, a beyond brilliantly clever script and the never more impressive ensemble, including Zoe Kazan, Tim Blake Nelson and the lovely-yet-mad performance from Tom Waits.
10. The Sisters Brothers
Winner of best director at Venice, Jacques Audiard’s vision is impeccable and immersive – a modern western destined to be a classic, a warped dream of the Western that successfully subverts and delivers a ravishingly beautiful spectacle.
It was a truly wonderfully brilliant year for film.
Written by Ben Rolph