So with the credits rolled on another cinematic year it’s time to reflect on the past twelve months of movies! 2018 saw Thanos bring balance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with one simple click of the fingers, Michael Myers & Laurie Strode face off one “final” time and the release of a critically acclaimed ‘Transformers’ film! Here at HCMovieReviews we love celebrating everything good about film, so Hamish our editor-in-chief has put together a list of his favourite fifty films of the year based on U.K. releases. Have a read and let us know what you make of his choices – what’s missing from the list, what do you agree with and what just shouldn’t be in this top fifty!? First though, some honourable mentions that narrowly missed the cut!
Honorable Mentions: The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Journey’s End, The Hate U Give, Mom & Dad, The Shape of Water, All The Money in the World, Coco, Phantom Thread, 120 BPM & Climax.
#50. Mama Mia! Here We Go Again
Can you hear the drums? It must be ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ kicking off the countdown. Whilst arguably not a very good film in itself what this sequel does achieve is that it again captures that ABBA magic that was so well realised in the original film. In the process it unleashes all of our dancing queens once more. The sequel brings with it new additions to the cast, including the incredibly talented Lily James as a young Donna and the scene stealing Cher as Sophie’s grandmother. These new faces inject some much needed energy into the somewhat dull and depressing narrative which is thankfully counteracted by the musical numbers featuring ABBA’s biggest hits. Quite frankly though, Christine Baranski’s high kick during ‘Angel Eyes’ alone earns ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ its spot on the list!
#49. Christopher Robin
Not to be mistaken for ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’, Disney’s latest Winnie the Pooh adventure, ‘Christopher Robin’ is a straightforward yet sweet family film. Taking a grown up Christopher, portrayed by Ewan McGregor back to the Hundred Acre Wood it offers a similar journey of nostalgia and rediscovery for those older audience members and an exciting first trip for younger newcomers to A.A. Milne’s literary world. It’s surprisingly funny thanks to Pooh’s out of place innocent nature amidst the hustle and bustle of London town and its wholesome narrative makes for an effortlessly charming watch.
The unstoppable cinematic force that is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson delivered two over the top action adventures in 2018, in one he fought a giant gorilla and the other saw him square up to the worlds tallest building. It’s the latter, ‘Skyscraper’ which has made it onto this list. If you don’t cope well with The Rock and his style of action movies this won’t be the one to convert you. However, for those willing to embrace the fun of it all ‘Skyscraper’ is an exhilarating cinematic experience. If you don’t suffer from vertigo before watching, you will after! Much of the action is nauseating to the say the least but in the most entertaining way possible and Johnson continues to showcase just why he’s the worlds biggest blockbuster star! Plus nineties scream queen Neve Campbell, who plays Johnson’s wife makes us all ask ourselves, why isn’t she in more movies!?
#47. Hotel Artemis
Checking in next is Drew Pearce’s directorial debut ‘Hotel Artemis’. Presenting a huge ensemble cast of well known performers plus a collection of up and coming stars this cinematic establishment is full of intriguing guests for audiences to observe. It’s a breath of fresh air amongst a year of sequels and adaptations with its originality and ability to be content to exist purely within its own narrative, rather than set up a sequel or series, proving one of the films best qualities. It never overstays its welcome, often feeling like an episode from an anthology television series presenting a fun and well executed concept in standalone fashion. Be sure to make your reservation as soon as possible.
Netflix have had a pretty impressive year and Country & Western pageant drama ‘Dumplin” is just the first exhibit of evidence to appear on this list in support of this claim. Based on Julie Murphy’s young adult novel of the same name, this Netflix film brings rhinestones, drag queens and Dolly Parton right into your own front room. It’s a sweet and sentimental coming of age story brought to life by unlikely mother daughter duo Jennifer Aniston and Danielle MacDonald. Both are brilliant in their respective roles and with a whole host of tantrums and tiaras ‘Dumplin” offers an entertaining and endearing story told from within one of the craziest cultures around!
One of the years most talked about films was Tom Hardy lead comic book movie, ‘Venom’. Whether for good or for bad there’s been no escaping its presence and whilst for most it did not live up the the initial gargantuan hype it still provided ample multiplex entertainment. Tom Hardy fully commits to the insanity of his role as Eddie Brock/Venom contributing to the weirdly fascinating comic book adaptation it becomes. Definitely improving after the initial bemusement of it all wears off and with rewatches ‘Venom’ proves to be a B-movie style throwback to less polished and more rough around the edge comic book outings. It would be no surprise to see this on an end of year worst of list but its boisterous comic book fun is just undeniable.
#44. Oceans 8
With George Clooney’s Danny Ocean dead and buried, ‘Ocean’s 8’ sees his sister Debbie, played by the wonderful Sandra Bullock assemble her very own team of female felons to pull off one of the worlds biggest jewellery heists. Audiences weren’t hustled at all as this crime caper delivered a fun heist adventure fronted by an energetic group of actresses. Their chemistry sells the story, look out for hysterical turns from Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter in particular, but as you would expect the film peaks with its main heist sequence which is well edited and full of energy. Now with gaps of ‘9’ and ’10’ in the Ocean’s series hopefully this alludes to Debbie and the gang making a comeback, we’re taking bets now.
#43. In The Fade
2018 saw German director Fatih Akin’s crime drama ‘In The Fade’ finally released in the UK. Anchored by Diane Kruger’s stunning lead performance, wholly worthy of the praise she has received for it, she ensures that the film is a thrilling watch despite its underwhelming first act. Once this uninspiring opening act concludes the film becomes an irresistibly electric courtroom drama and captivating thriller. Demonstrating one of the biggest u-turns in cinema over the last twelve months ‘In The Fade’ goes from un-engaging and monotonous to utterly compelling edge of your seat viewing making it one of the very best foreign films to grace our screens in 2018. Honestly stick with it, you won’t be disappointed.
Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ tells the unbelievable true story of how police officer Ron Stallworth infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan. Lee’s adaptation of Stallworth’s memoir serves as a brilliant piece of entertainment but also as a powerful political and cultural message. He brilliantly merges both aspects of the film together, resulting in a dual tone that’s incredibly effective. One minute he has audiences in hysterics with his wonderfully dark humour and the next he makes it hard for them to watch, especially in the film’s closing moments. A film with something to say and one that’s worth listening to, a must-see for 2018.
#41. Solo: A Star Wars Story
For many ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ was an unnecessary and underwhelming Star Wars standalone. However, the break from the fate of the galaxy narratives we see so often in this series is a welcome change of pace. Alden Ehrenreich puts all fears to rest about an actor other than Harrison Ford portraying Han as his performance is excellent. He presents a thoroughly believable younger incarnation of the space smuggler, nailing his mannerisms and personality. The film gives us Han’s origin story in a fun and fast paced way as we learn about the characters beginnings on the go as he’s thrown straight into action. Add in Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian amongst many other casting delights & character favorites and ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ quickly becomes one of the years best sci-fi adventures.
#40. A Simple Favour
Probably the biggest hot mess of 2018 was Paul Feig’s ‘A Simple Favour’. Starting off by injecting his trademark comedy into the story he quickly steers it down a much darker path. As more and more of the plot is revealed it becomes this ridiculous and convoluted mystery thriller, at times feeling like a parody of the genre itself. It struggles to know what it’s trying to be in its mid section but a strong ending brings all the best elements of the film to centre stage. One constant throughout the film though are the performances. Feig always gets great performances from his cast, especially actresses and here is no exception. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are wonderful, demonstrating an awkward but incredibly effective chemistry constantly leaving audiences more intrigued. They sell the shit out of this crazy cinematic caper being as kooky as the screenplay around them. Oh and we definitely need the number of Blake’s tailor?
#39. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
After injuries sustained by lead star Dylan O’Brien delayed production on the concluding chapter in Wes Ball’s young adult series ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ was eventually released early on in 2018. Overcoming these production issues this third film serves as an exhilarating climax to one of the best YA series we’ve seen to date and refreshingly this final entry into the series is not split into two separate films. The action, which has proved a high point throughout the whole series is at its best here resulting in some excellent sequences. The finale in particular is the perfect balance of action and emotion, all while providing audiences with the answers they’ve been wanting for three films. O’Brien continues to shine in the lead role and his performance along with the action packed narrative offer a highly satisfying conclusion for this young adult outing.
Luca Guadagnino’s horror remake ‘Suspiria’ divided audiences upon its release this year. There’s no denying that its extreme content is too much for certain viewers but for those able to cope with the shocking and gruesome horror a film of epic proportions awaits. Taking its time over the long running time ‘Suspiria’ develops its narrative excellently providing a tense and thrilling story alongside its darker and twisted horrors. The all female cast are tremendous with Tilda Swinton’s triple performance rightfully attracting most praise and attention. Truly one of the most intense film experiences of the year ‘Suspiria’ performs an enchanting and hypnotic cinematic dance impossible to resist.
#37. The Wife
Björn Runge’s ‘The Wife’ sees Glenn Close deliver one of the years finest performances as Joan Castleman, the better half of Nobel Prize winning Joe Castleman. The film itself isn’t without its issues encountering a troublesome first act, however this is overcome by the masterclass of dramatic tension achieved later in the proceedings. Close really is everything in this film demonstrating just what an actress she is with the best moment of her performance being a scene in which she doesn’t even utter a single sentence. The careful development of the narrative coupled with this career defining performance elevate a seemingly unexciting premise to completely captivating viewing.
#36. Game Night
This list wouldn’t be complete without 2018’s best comedy, ‘Game Night’. Jason Bateman & Rachel McAdams star as a highly competitive husband and wife in this high stakes comedy packed full of hilarious gags. It cleverly incorporates numerous pop culture references throughout, using their presence to enhance the film rather than simply relying on them. The film excels with its humour in several elongated sequences which consistently escalate in terms of comedy. The cast assembled for the film create a great ensemble of players but it’s Jesse Plemons who demands all the spotlight with his wonderfully deadpan turn as newly divorced cop, Gary. His performance alone warrants a recommendation!
#35. The Strangers: Prey at Night
Is Tamara home? ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’, a horror sequel ten years in the making trades in the slower paced terror from the original film for an action packed slasher slaughter. Baliee Madison refuses to become a victim of the poor acting stigma associated with the genre with her confident turn alongside her fellow cast members. Set to the soundtrack of a collection of retro pop songs and featuring some punchy visuals, that swimming pool scene in particular, this is one horror sequel not content with resting on its laurels. Nowhere near as scary as its predecessor but a hell of a lot more fun, ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’ is one of the most underrated films this year.
If thrillers are your thing, then last year has served you well. Already used before within horror films missing persons drama ‘Searching’ saw the thriller genre adopt the story telling technique of showing the entirety of its narrative from the point of view of screens such as phones, laptops and cameras. It’s put to great use here and the film manages to overcome the limitations of this technique to deliver a brilliant slow-burning thriller. Encompassing the everyday use of social media into its narrative ‘Searching’ is a thriller relevant for todays audience highlighting both the good and bad that it has to offer. The careful momentum created by the unfolding investigation propels the film forward to its thrilling finale delivering one of the most suspenseful stories of the year.
#33. A Star Is Born
The soundtrack to film in 2018 came courtesy of Bradley Cooper’s excellent directorial debut ‘A Star is Born’. Spawning the huge hit ‘Shallow’ there is no denying that the music from the film was a huge success. The film is so much more than just a collection of great songs though, putting the music industry and artists integrity under the spotlight. This is all before the more personal relationship of Jackson and Ally takes centre stage bringing with it so much of its own emotion. With powerhouse performances from both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga this musical lives up to its title.
#32. Crazy Rich Asians
Jon M. Chu’s ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ had an impressive impact on film fans upon its release and rightfully so. His adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel proved to be one of the best romantic-comedies in recent memory. The massive cast assembled to portray the multitude of characters present in this story bring with them an energy that fully lives up to the film’s title. Creating the perfect balance of romance to comedy ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ excels in both genres and also conveys such brilliant emotion through not just the main story but the supporting plot threads too. With two more books in Kwan’s series we could be set for a crazy rich film trilogy and if so we’ll be first in line!
#31. I, Tonya
A constant presence in last years awards season was Craig Gillespie’s ‘I, Tonya’. With general audiences finally being able to enjoy it too upon its release in February it was quickly clear what all the awards chatter was about. Edited together masterfully, combining interview style segments with fourth wall breaking and more conventional sequences of biopic drama this figure skating film is a force to be reckoned with. Margot Robbie is fantastic as Tonya Harding, the unconventional star of Olympic figure skating and the supporting turns from Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney make sure that this in no one woman show. Brilliantly playful with the idea of there being no such thing as the truth but instead just different peoples versions of said truth ‘I, Tonya’ tells several stories at once instead of just one, an unorthodox biopic for an unorthodox individual.
#30. Creed II
‘Creed II’ marks the eighth round of the ‘Rocky’ film series, a pretty impressive number for a collection of films based solely on boxing. The real secret of this series though is that the films aren’t just about sport but instead family and relationships. ‘Creed II’ continues this idea by fully embracing and respecting what has come before it whilst also striding forward on its own two feet, paving the way for new stories to be told. It has a remarkable continuity as it acts as a prolonged sequel to the events of ‘Rocky IV’ and restores some credibility to this entry in the process. With excellent performances from all the main cast, a knockout score and soundtrack and the story to match it ‘Creed II’ is a title contender amongst the ‘Rocky’ back catalogue.
#29. Molly’s Game
Aaron Sorkin, already a leading name in the screenwriting business made his directorial debut in 2018 with high stakes poker drama ‘Molly’s Game’. With Jessica Chastain portraying the main character, American poker entrepreneur Molly Bloom the film already had two heavyweights of Hollywood at its helm. This combination, along with some help from Idris Elba’s supporting performance, creates a captivating drama that kicked off the cinematic year in style. Chastain conveys the perfect balance of power and vulnerability in her performance as Bloom presenting a compelling central character. With Sorkin rising to the challenge of writing and directing too ‘Molly’s Game’ easily becomes one 2018’s most entertaining dramas.
2018 saw James Wan make a splash with the first ever standalone ‘Aquaman’ film and like ‘Wonder Woman’ before it showed that all hope is not lost for the DC Extended Universe. Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry is a charismatic and likeable presence, not dissimilar to Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. The narrative for ‘Aquaman’ doesn’t seem too far from its Marvel counterpart either, introducing us to an exciting new civilization with clarity. The sound created by composer Rupert Gregson-Williams to accompany this mythical world is masterful and the most super thing about this comic book movie. With the added appeal of some especially memorable visuals and a range of well shot action sequences ‘Aquaman’ is one of DC’s best exports to wash up on our cinematic shores.
Whilst not the secret ‘Cloverfield’ film that so many had hoped it would be World War II horror action ‘Overlord’ far from disappointed. Thanks to a sinister mixture of practical and digital effects this horror delivers some truly nightmarish creations evoking a similar terror akin to John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. Starting off as a mysterious and tense horror ‘Overlord’ quickly develops into a action blood bath when all its narrative secrets are revealed. Both sections of the film work delivering exactly what they intend to. Its B-movie style will appeal to many as well but don’t mistake this for a bargain bucket budget movie, this is a bloody blockbuster deserved of its big screen treatment.
Travis Knight’s ‘Transformers’ prequel, ‘Bumblebee’ certainly brought back the buzz to this tired and rusty franchise. Hailee Steinfeld takes over from Shia LaBeouf and Mark Wahlberg in the leading role and in the process demonstrates probably the best chemistry we’ve ever seen between the human lead and the Autobot poster boy, Bumblebee. Serving retro vibes through its 80’s setting and original Transformers character designs ‘Bumblebee’ is more of a coming of age drama than a high octane action film, but this change of direction works so well. There’s still action though and it’s very well executed but it’s the endearing relationships and wholesome comedy that shine brightest here proving that there’s life yet in this critically panned franchise.
#25. The Meg
There’s always room for another shark tale in the cinematic sea and 2018 gave us one hungry for a bite of the box office. ‘The Meg’ saw Jason Statham face off against a 75ft prehistoric shark with an attitude. Delivering creative action sequences and impressive visuals this creature feature means business. A B-Movie with a budget allows ‘The Meg’ to elevate itself to a superior level than exports from the likes of The Asylum (‘Sharknado’ etc) whilst still having the fun maybe absent from the more serious shark thrillers of recent years. Statham is pivotal in making the film a success as his presence keeps things afloat when his fishy friend isn’t about but when it comes to man versus megalodon this is one fight you need to see!
#24. The Post
Steven Spielberg directed twice in 2018 but it’s his Best Picture nominated ‘The Post’ which earns its place on this list. Giving most of its attention to publisher Kathrine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, and her decision on whether or not to publish leaked and confidential documents regarding the Vietnam War it steers clear of the more obvious cinematic narrative. Instead Spielberg really hones in on the different arguments and implications for and against publishing. Few directors could make this film as gripping as it is and thanks to the A-list cast it’s a thrilling watch.
#23. Unfriended: Dark Web
The sequel to 2014’s trashy techno horror ‘Unfriended’ sees it keep the same story telling technique of its predecessor but take its story in a completely new direction. ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ excellently exploits what is now everyday technology to evoke pure fear amongst its characters and audience. This horror film is genuinely scary because the way in which it uses technology is so realistic and the terror it evokes consistently escalates until its hellish climax. The progression that has been achieved since the original is really impressive and creates endless possibilities for this unique horror series. Watch it on your laptop, we dare you.
#22. Bohemian Rhapsody
Legendary rock band Queen promised they’d rock us and that’s certainly what biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ achieved. Telling the stylised story of Queen and Freddie Mercury an entertaining tone is presented mixing drama, humour and emotion creating a well paced jaunt down musical memory lane. Of course all set to the beat of Queen’s impressive back catalogue of hits there is rarely a dull moment. The final sequence which recreates Queen’s Live Aid performance is in itself one of the highlights of the cinematic year. Rami Malek struts his stuff as he becomes Freddie Mercury in one of the years most impressive and entertaining performances. This biopic isn’t without its issues but with Malek at the helm it’s impossible not to enter into the spirit of celebration it exudes for one of the worlds greatest ever bands.
Paddy Considine’s boxing drama ‘Journeyman’ proved to be one of the most emotional films of 2018. This film is only his second time in the directing chair yet the finished product is an extremely accomplished cinematic expression. Taking a closer look into the more dangerous side of the sport and the effect it can have on family life ‘Journeyman’ is often a heartbreaking watch. Considine excels himself in front of the camera as well as behind it, delivering a transformative and hugely physical performance, surely one of his career bests. In addition to this Jodie Whittaker is his on screen equal conveying a whole range of emotions that come with her characters challenging situation. Offering an important and original narrative among a crowded sub-genre ‘Journeyman’ is hard hitting, powerful stuff and one of the most touching films of 2018.
#20. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Just when we thought anthology television series ‘Black Mirror’ couldn’t get any better Charlie Brooker and co. dropped an interactive film event on Netflix in the fleeting days of the year. ‘Bandersnatch’ is a unique film experience in which viewers become fully involved in the narrative as they decide from a number of options what path main character Stefan ultimately takes through this story. This brings audiences into the narrative in a way most will never have experienced before resulting in a tense, thrilling and utterly immersive story with countless different possibilities. It’s not without its limitations but this truly mind melting interactive experiment coupled with the glorious meta nature of the story make ‘Bandersnatch’ essential viewing and participating for film and television fans alike.
#19. L’Amant Double
One of the most striking foreign films of the year was without a doubt François Ozon’s erotic thriller ‘L’Amant Double’. Combining steamy erotica with tense drama and the occasional foray into horror this French film is engrossing on so many levels. With irresistible performances from Marine Vacth & Jérémie Renier they expertly keep up with the constantly evolving tone of the film. Ozon presents the film with clean, crisp and appealing visuals which act as a drastic contrast between the unwholesome, dark and sinister story he’s also telling. A fascinating film not interested in censoring itself for audiences ‘L’Amant Double’ is the most entertaining film 2018 world cinema had to offer.
#18. Bird Box
Netflix’s latest post-apocalyptic film ‘Bird Box’ scored the biggest first week viewership of any of the streaming platform’s films to date and you’d have had to been living under an online rock to have missed the meme parade that has followed. Clearly a hit with audiences ‘Bird Box’ sees Sandra Bullock leading a thoroughly versatile and entertaining cast. The film’s intriguing premise, having to avoid looking at a deadly unknown threat, is executed well throughout resulting in plenty of nerve shredding moments. However, it’s equally or if not more heartfelt than it is horrifying. Its non-linear approach to its storytelling keeps the narrative moving along nicely and it this pace alongside its well balanced tone which has had us film fans chirping away about it all over Christmas!
The biggest horror of this year will be if Toni Collette isn’t nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars for her amazing leading performance in ‘Hereditary’. Arguably the best horror film to grace our screens over the last twelve months, A24’s nightmarish tale of family trauma held with it a constant sense of dread and a collection of deeply unsettling sequences to make even the most hardened horror veteran’s skin crawl. Given time to develop over a healthy running time ‘Hereditary’ like many of the best horror films excelled not only within this genre but as a devastating family drama too. The fantastic performances from the entire cast, but especially Collette and the brilliant marketing before its release elevate this hellish narrative to become a modern classic of the horror genre.
#16. Last Flag Flying
Released in February, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston & Laurence Fishburne starred as three estranged war veterans in Richard Linklater’s road trip movie ‘Last Flag Flying’. Adapted from Darryl Poniscan’s novel this story is hysterical and heartfelt all at the same time. The hilirious and endearing chemistry that the three main actors bring to the screen is a delight to witness. The characters in depth discussions about serious issues give the screenplay real weight even before the emotional core reaches it full potential and being consistently complimented by the organic comedy that these characters create. It’s somewhat flown under the cinematic radar the past year which is a real shame as few films truly demonstrate the best of humanity as well as it does.
#15. Mary Poppins Returns
Everyone’s said it but there’s no better way to describe ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ than practically perfect in every way. Emily Blunt gives the performance of a lifetime as the cinematic super nanny owning every single second of screen time she has. The musical numbers are joyous thanks to Rob Marshall’s direction and Mark Shaiman’s score and soundtrack, resulting in countless future classics and several big contenders for the Best Original Song Oscar! A whimsical and eccentric treat for the entire family, ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is a cinematic experience capable of lifting your spirits from down and out to the highest of heights.
#14. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Making the impossible possible Tom Cruise made his comeback as secret agent Ethan Hunt after sustaining injuries during production on ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’. This sixth installment of his hugely popular action franchise is the most impressive yet consistently taking the stunts to the next level. There are countless sequences in the film which demonstrate Cruise’s passion for the project and cement this film series as a leading name in the action genre. Cruise is a brilliant leading man and otherwise Rebecca Ferguson and Henry Cavill shine in a great cast of performers. Culminating in a true action extravaganza Cruise and co. have a mission on their hands out doing themselves with this one.
Forty years after John Carpenter’s original horror classic Michael Myers returns to terrorise Haddenfield and Laurie Strode one last time. ‘Halloween’ cleverly retcons the existing sequels in the series making it a direct follow up to the 1978 original. The narrative here is fairly straightforward but brings with it some excellent fan service and provides the horror rematch to end them all. Laurie’s character has evolved with the passing of time and Jamie Lee Curtis excels in her most iconic role once more. Director David Gordon Green doesn’t hold back with the violence making ‘Halloween’ one of the most brutal slashers for some time and the updated score that accompanies this terror is both nostalgic and new. Creating the perfect sound for this sequel, the film boasts some of the most tense sequences of the year and the best ‘Halloween’ since Carpenter’s classic.
#12. Bad Times at the El Royale
Drew Goddard’s ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ offered audiences a new and original story worthy of its long running time. This neo-noir mystery thriller presents a fascinating range of characters portrayed by one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory. Despite all the big names though, it’s emerging star Cynthia Erivo who’s maybe most impressive. Putting her theatre background to good use as she portrays struggling singer, Darlene Sweet she ensures that she doesn’t get lost amongst the acting alumni she shares the screen with. Cast and characters aside, Goddard crafts a well constructed narrative that refuses to rush, delivering an absorbing plot which carefully unfolds with perfect timing.
#11. Avengers: Infinity War
One of the biggest film events in history saw the Russo Brothers put Thanos front and centre in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. A product of a decades worth of careful, planned out and highly entertaining film-making this nineteenth installment in the MCU saw these years of story-telling finally come to fruition. The Russo brothers somehow manage to find the perfect tone, balancing the highest stakes the MCU has ever seen with its trademark humour and powerful emotion. With the addition of the most superheroes ever together in one movie they still manage to give everyone their moment to shine whilst never making their film feel overcrowded. Delivering an action packed superhero spectacle, one of the best MCU villains ever and a narrative full of heart ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is an undeniable milestone of cross over cinema.
#10. Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, coming of age story ‘Lady Bird’ was another awards favourite at the start of the year. Gerwig’s screenplay for the film is written with so much charm that it’s impossible not to enjoy the unfolding drama around Saoirse Ronan’s titular character. She leads a fantastic cast, predominantly made up of young performers. Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet both contribute well but other than Ronan it’s her on screen mother, Laurie Metcalf who stands out the most. Many believe that she was robbed of the Supporting Actress Oscar back in February and there is no denying that she would have been a more than worthy winner. Regardless of awards won or lost though, ‘Lady Bird’ is a fantastic debut for Gerwig immediately becoming a modern classic for audiences everywhere.
#9. Black Panther
With ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler had a task on his hands telling the story of one of the most unique superheros the MCU has ever seen, but when has he ever disappointed us before? Coogler excels in bringing this story rich in its own special culture to the big screen in spectacular fashion. He uses Black Panther’s first solo screen outing as a chance to introduce us to T’Challa’s origin and the country of Wakanada, whilst also telling one of the most grounded and mature stories seen in the MCU yet. The cast’s passion for this project is so evident in their fantastic ensemble performance, with Letitia Wright and Michael B. Jordan especially standing out. Proving a huge hit with audiences and critics the MCU has rarely been better than ‘Black Panther’.
Leigh Whannell’s high octane sci-fi action horror ‘Upgrade’ gave the cinematic year a welcome reboot when it was finally released in the UK in September. This seemingly realistic portrayal of a near future offers a ‘Deadpool’ meets ‘Ex Machina’ kind of narrative with a fantastic leading performance from Logan Marshall-Green. What standouts most about this film, both penned and directed by Whannell is the impressive action that features as a constant throughout. He combines fast paced combat choreography, creative camerawork, shocking violence and effective humour creating countless sequences of exhilarating action that consistently compliment his writing. This is one upgrade you need to take.
Shot entirely on an iPhone 7, Steven Soderbergh’s small budget thriller ‘Unsane’ presents a truly terrifying concept brought to life so vividly by Claire Foy’s brilliant lead performance. With a retro look to the cinematography the film feels like a throwback to 90s thrillers and would be perfectly at home in this decade of film-making. Thomas Newman composes the score for the film, contributing one of his most unique pieces of work in years, proving a sinister companion to the thrilling screenplay. With Soderbergh’s directing experience he seamlessly combines these individual components to create this hugely engrossing and satisfying thriller which you’d be insane to pass up on.
#6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ was one of the first films to come out in 2018 immediately impressing audiences and critics alike and Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy drama is still one of the best films come the end of the year. Earning both Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell acting Oscars for their respective roles the performances really speak for themselves, with a cast as good as this though that is to be expected. However, it’s McDonagh’s juggling of his complex tone that he presents in his screenplay that’s intrinsic for the film’s success, offering softer moments of emotion amongst the dramatic chaos of his small town crime narrative. Making audiences laugh the whole way through this dark, emotional and at times troublesome story showcases the wonderful ability of his writing and ensures that this will be a memorable film for years to come. We still aren’t forgiving you for the deer though.
Alex Garland’s ‘Annihilation’ found its home on Netflix early in 2018 and whilst it was devastatingly disappointing for UK audiences not to experience this sci-fi epic on the big screen we quickly became grateful to see the film regardless of its platform. After his directorial debut ‘Ex Machina’ it was vividly apparent that Garland has an eye for directing sci-fi and ‘Annihilation’ is further proof of this. The film is a female led well developed mystery that mesmerises at every turn. Creating beautiful visuals, striking action sequences and a screenplay as smart as it is entertaining Garland shows that sci-fi doesn’t need dumbed down for audiences to connect with or to enjoy it. His stunning sci-fi vision becomes fully realised in the films finale and as a result is the best new release you could stream on home media in 2018.
#4. American Animals
Telling the story of the Transylvania University heist, ‘American Animals’ blends a unique mix of real life interviews with scripted drama portrayed by its young cast. The film presents itself not in a dissimilar way to sports biopic ‘I, Tonya’ except the interviews here aren’t re-enactments but instead conversations with the actual men and women who carried out this robbery and that have been affected by it. It begins as a punchy fun heist film but instead of settling for the norm it completely reinvents the genre by developing into this powerful drama focusing on aspects of the narrative that other heist movies wouldn’t give a second thought to. The main heist sequence is one of the tensest film sequences all year and the subsequent aftermath one of the most intriguing and fascinating finales a heist film has ever produced.
#3. Love, Simon
As important as it is entertaining ‘Love, Simon’ is one of the best coming of age films in recent years. Nick Robinson who previously stated he was done with high-school roles recognised just what a special opportunity this role and film was and he brings so much to it delivering his career best performance. Having a closeted gay teenager as a main character and furthermore actually telling his story in a mainstream movie like this is so progressive and when executed as well as it is here ‘Love, Simon’ refuses to go unnoticed. It’s a hilrious comedy, a touching drama but most importantly it gives a voice to a marginalised group in modern society and provides them with the confidence to be themselves.
#2. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
To completely steal the thunder from the likes of ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Infinity War’ is no small task but ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ did just that and in spectacular fashion too. Conveying the coolest of comic book creativity this animation is a work of art but one that goes so much deeper than just its aesthetic. Telling the story of the Spidey we know and the many other stories of Spideys we don’t this superhero animation celebrates everything about the famous web slinger capturing the special sense of adventure that this character brings with him. The hugely versatile and talented voice cast are a pure delight and suit this comic book style perfectly. In a similar vein the contemporary soundtrack and epic score from Daniel Pemberton give the film its unmistakably fresh sound and serve as a fitting companion to the hilarity and the heartbreak that this screenplay so brilliantly demonstrates.
#1. A Quiet Place
‘A Quiet Place’ saw real life husband and wife duo John Krasinski & Emily Blunt starring as survivors of a worldwide invasion where if you make a sound you don’t make it out alive. Boasting a wonderfully original concept the screenplay for this monster movie is so creative showing idea after idea of how the characters have been forced to adapt. As well as starring in the film it’s Krasinski who directs and he does so expertly. He evokes a similar tension to what Steven Spielberg achieved in his classic ‘Jaws’, perfectly teasing this unknown threat. This suspense created one of the most memorable and effective cinematic experiences of the year, where if watching with the right audience you could hear a pin drop throughout. The performances of the cast making up the central family are all excellent and coupled with the sentimental plot threads which give so much more weight to the horror make ‘A Quiet Place’ one of the most powerfully emotive films of all time whilst hardly uttering a word.
Written by Hamish Calvert
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Happy New Year and here’s to the next twelve months of movies!