Before I get down to looking at the very best and the very worst films of 2018 (Part 1 of this list can be found here) I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple more that weren’t necessarily my favourites but stood out from the pack.
The Miraculous One: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Marvel pulled off their 10 year gambit. All that setup, the knowing references, the leaving something for next time and the post credit stings that have hamstrung lesser studio imitators resulted in a thematically evocative and emotionally devastating epic. Surely they can’t do it again next year? They might, and don’t call me Shirley. Full review here.
The Beautifully Demented One: MANDY I never knew just how much I wanted to see Nicolas Cage downing a bottle of vodka and screaming in his tighty whiteys. It’s probably the most sedate scene in this sanguine-soaked fever dream full of prog-rock trappings, portentous monologues and borderline-fetishy violence. Review in Brief to follow.
The One That Matters Now: BLACKKKLANSMAN Whatever your opinion on Spike Lee, when he’s got the biggest, most relevant contemporary topic to get really and justifiably livid at, he shines. It’s ferocious, uncompromising and mischievous – the kick up the arse 2018 needed. John David Washington and Adam Driver need recognition come awards season. Full review here.
Best of 2018:
5. WIDOWS Never underestimate anybody, but know that relying on underestimation can only take you so far. The only Steve McQueen film likely to prompt voluntary repeat viewings is completely captivating, flawlessly performed and gearing up to shake up the status quo. Full review here.
4. THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD Get a copy into every museum and every school. Make sure these men and their stories are not forgotten in another 100 years. Peter Jackson has made something more than a documentary to mark an anniversary, but something remarkable and soulful, an artifact with an emphasis on the “art”. Full review here.
3. SHOPLIFTERS Family is family, and that’s the key theme of most of my favourite films this year. This is sedate and naturalistic and beautiful, leading with emotion but backing it up with some pretty cutting social commentary and great acting from veterans and newcomers alike. I challenge you to not feel a tear on your cheek in its final moments. Full review here.
2. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE What an absolute joy from start to finish. It just gets the character so completely and presents a new and ambitious story in dazzlingly animated fashion. It made my heart race, it overwhelmed my senses, it made me guffaw – it was the most fun I’ve had at the cinema this year. Full review here.
1. PRIVATE LIFE Some films just connect, even if you can’t directly relate to the experiences on screen. I’m not a parent, am unlikely to be any time soon but this funny, honest and unglamorous little film brought it all home to me, grabbed hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. The quietly beautiful humanity of the script and Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti’s tender performances made it truly special. Full review here.
Worst of 2018:
5. EXTINCTION Netflix have had a good year but a couple of stinkers as well to keep them humble. This sci-fi wastes good ideas and drains Michael Peña of any charisma. If you think the story’s going to some interesting places from the setup, you’re wrong: it’s taking a far duller path than you can imagine. Review in Brief here.
4. THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS Sometimes your enticing premise just doesn’t pay off. You can hire all the talented production designers and performers – both with and without felt characters to operate – that you like. Sometimes all your hard work is let down by a crude, first-draft script. Sometimes you should just watch MEET THE FEEBLES again. Full review here.
3. VENOM I can’t say I didn’t have some fun here, but it was all accidental. I’d suggest you just watch one of what I’m sure are many Tom Hardy supercuts on YouTube then use what remains of the two hours you could have wasted on this elsewhere. It’s tonally wonky, retrograde in its action and edited to near incomprehension. Full review here.
2. THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX Look again at number 5 and imagine you’ve just dropped something heavy on your foot as well. An interesting cast wasted, plot strands dropped at random and zero reason for this to be a CLOVERFIELD film except for cynical brand recognition. Review in Brief here.
1. FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD This could have just been overblown, messy (which it actually is) but harmless (which it actually isn’t). Instead we’ve ended up with JK Rowling and David Yates presenting us with a blockbuster that not only trips up over itself to throw in twist after twist but also proclaims Wizard Hitler is preferable to actual Hitler. Of course he is, because wizard Hitler isn’t real! Full review here.
Let me know your thoughts on my thoughts, how did our best and worst movie experiences of 2018 compare? Happy New Year, here’s hoping for a better one! SSP