My 20 Favourite Films of 2018.

In my eyes 2018 has been a fantastic year for film. There’s been a wide range of exceptionally good films spanning across multiple genres. I throughly enjoyed so many films this year that I’ve decided to extended my list of favourites, from the usual top ten to a top twenty. As always there were a number of films I didn’t get round to watching, so some films you may have expected to see on this list, may not be present simply because I’m yet to see them.

20 – 11. (In alphabetical order)

A Quiet Place.

Without a doubt one of the most thrilling experiences I had in 2018 came courtesy of John Krazinski’s A Quiet Place. A surprisingly well executed thriller that had me in pure silence from beginning to end. Suspense is the key foundation for this one, and from the opening scene to the final one, it never gave me a moment to truly relax.

Avengers: Infinity War.

The highly anticipated culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (thus far), ended up being spectacular in it’s scope and ambitious with it’s ideas. Over twenty heroes and villains were brought together in this sprawling mega blockbuster and it truly felt like an event comic arc brought to life.

Deadpool 2.

This sequel upped the ante over it’s predecessor and managed to be an even better film, due to the consistent laugh out loud humour, surprisingly poignant story and great cast of characters.

The Incredibles 2.

Over a decade of waiting came to an end during the Summer of 2018 and The Incredibles 2 managed to deliver. Watching the family interact with one another proved to be the highlight, as well as witnessing Jack Jack use his powers. I was caught off guard with how funny I found it to be, and that certainly made up for the films shortcomings.

Love, Simon.

I’ve always felt Love, Simon never truly received the attention it deserves. It’s a wonderful and emotionally engaging coming of age story, that focuses on a young man as he comes to terms with his sexuality. It handles it’s subject matter with both nuance and humour, that creates a heart warming end product that certainly activated the tear ducts in my eyes.

Mandy.

In my review for Mandy I labelled it “A fever dream of visceral insanity” and I’ve still found no better way to describe this brutally violent and twisted film, in which Nicolas Cage gives one of his all time best performances. It’s psychedelic, trippy and outright crazy.

Sicario 2.

Knowing Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins wouldn’t be returning for this sequel allowed me to lower my expectations by a great margin. After all I was questioning why they bothered to make a sequel in the first place, when the first film had reached such a satisfying conclusion. I was then happy to discover that Sicario 2 was almost as engrossing as the original film, and certainly continued the narrative in an enthralling manner, that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

The Predator.

This is not a good film by any means, but it’s a damn entertaining one. I can understand why some Predator fans hate this film but as for me, I kinda loved it. I thought the ensemble cast were brilliant and their chemistry was the beating pulse of this entire film. It made me laugh a lot, sometimes intentionally and other times unintentionally, but either way I was having a great time watching it. The story does collapse in the third act, and the violence is excessive, but it’s all in the name of fun.

Unsane.

I wasn’t expecting much from Unsane but it ended up being one of the surprises of the year for me personally. I became completely wrapped up in Claire Foy’s performance, and I was mesmerised at how this film was shot using an iPhone 7 Plus. The execution of Steven Soderbergh’s direction successfully added to the claustrophobic feeling, and as the narrative moved forward it became more and more interesting.

Venom.

Like The Predator, Venom is a flawed film. But it’s another reminder that just because a film has a number of flaws, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a lot of enjoyment within it. Tom Hardy carries the entire film with his eccentric dual performance as Eddie Brock and Venom. I’m just glad that after his disappointing appearance in Spider-Man 3, Venom was finally brought to the screen correctly.

The Top 10.

10. –  BLACKKKLANSMAN.BLACKKKLANSMAN+film+banner.jpg

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I sat in my seat for BlackKklansman. I knew it was based around true events and I had heard it was pretty good. It’s a film that I liked a lot, but over time my thoughts on it have grown. John David Washington and Adam Driver’s performances and chemistry made them very entertaining leads to follow. As for director Spike Lee, he tackles some serious racial and political issues that are sadly still relevant today, despite the film being set during the early 70’s. He manages to juggle the severity of the subject matter with impeccably placed humour, that never ruins the dramatic impact of a scene, nor does it allow for the scenes to become too melancholic. That flawless balance makes this film as memorable as it is, and the hard hitting ending is the icing on the cake.

09. – OVERLORD.overlord-onesheet.jpg

Simply put, Overlord is the type of gnarly genre mash up that rarely makes it past the pitch meeting these days. It was an extremely fun time at the cinema, the film opens with a truly incredible sequence with war planes, that is certainly among the most enthralling scenes of the year. After that the story slowly settles into it’s WWII framework, before going batshit crazy towards the third act, in way that is a little reminiscent of the Zombies Call of Duty mode, if it had far fewer undead corpses. It pretty much ticks every single box of what it set out to achieve. Solid action, a great score, great visual effects, good drama and effective horror. I’m looking forward to seeing this one again.

08. – SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.shareImage.jpg

Back when this animated film was announced, who would’ve thought it would cause fans to have serious debates about whether it’s the greatest Spider-Man film of all time. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a stunningly unique feature film, that breathes new life into medium of animation through it’s off the wall and kinetic art style, that truly feels like a comic book just in animated form. As if that wasn’t enough the narrative serves up a great origin story for Miles Morales, that even rivals the origin story portrayed in Sam Raimi’s 2002 film. The whole cast of heroes and villains were great and the underlying message this story had to say, is an inspirational one that would make the late Stan Lee proud.

07. – ANNIHILATION.DS0lKq9WAAAuu1C.jpg

Alex Garland’s Annihilation cast a spell over me and had me entranced. It’s the type of thought provoking Science Fiction film that I tend to love, and I thought everything in this film was executed superbly. The whole cast was terrific and the way the mystery of the narrative begins to unfold is gripping to say the least. The visuals are wonderful, the elements of horror are rather disturbing, including a scene with a Bear which is one of the most unsettling scenes of the year. I can’t speak about this film without highlighting the stunning final act in which the musical score and visuals combine, to create a hypnotic and psychedelic assault of visual storytelling, that left my mouth agape by the time the credits rolled.

06. – THE SHAPE OF WATER.the-shape-of-water-banner.jpg

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water felt like a timeless classic. It’s a beautifully directed tale of romance that incorporated his passion for creatures in a mesmerising manner. This is del Toro’s magnum opus, a magical culmination of his previous work presented as a romantic period piece, with an element of fantasy.

 

05. – MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT.banner.jpg

M:I – Fallout is easily among the greatest action films of this decade. The story was interesting and kept hold of my attention, but where you truly get your money’s worth is with the incredible stunt work that is on display. Whether it’s Tom Cruise performing a halo jump, riding a motorcycle against oncoming traffic, or even flying a Helicopter at high speeds, the film remained exhilarating and never lost it’s momentum. Lorne Balfe’s musical score is very reminiscent of Hans Zimmer’s score for The Dark Knight which is very fitting, considering how I view both films to be at the peak of their respected genres. The IMAX photography was also breathtaking to behold and with all of that said, I still haven’t covered half of what makes this film so excellent.

 

04. – BLACK PANTHER.black-panther-banner-poster

I’ve pretty much said all there is to say about Black Panther countless times already. Ryan Coogler’s superhero film provided me with a one of a kind culturally impactful experience that I will never forget. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and I was completely thrilled. The ensemble cast were fantastic across the board, the narrative was far better than I had expected, and the entire production department delivered stellar work. The attention to detail with the costumes, hair and make up is very impressive. Ludwig Goransson’s score is a fusion of traditional African percussion and a more modern Hip Hop sound. It really assisted with making this film feel even more unique, amongst the long list of comic book films we’ve received over the past decade. The entire film exceeded my monumental expectations and for that reason, and all of the above, I consider it to be extraordinary.

 

03. – CREED 2.main.jpg

Whilst I was anticipating Creed 2 to a large degree I never once thought about the prospect of it being better than the original film. The reason for that is because the first film is my favourite sports film of all time, or should I say “was” my favourite sports film of all time. This sequel took it’s characters and their already complex relationships, and developed them even further by challenging the characters in new ways, that all felt grounded and very real. It was an emotional experience witnessing the drama unfold in this story, but the execution of the narrative allowed for it to be, just as powerfully inspiring as the first instalment was. It really did put me through a wide range of different emotions as I was watching it, and that has to be credited to Steven Caple Jr.’s direction, the casts incredible performances and the emotionally rich script.

02. – SUSPIRIA.suspiria-banner.jpg

It’s no secret that Dario Argento’s 1977 classic Suspiria is one of my all time favourite Horror films. I was very skeptical when I heard there were plans to remake it, but the cast announcement as well as the trailers very quickly turned my scepticism into a huge amount of confidence. The marketing had me convinced that this would be an excellent film, I literally had zero doubt in my mind as to whether I’d love it or not. That is usually a very dangerous level of anticipation to watch a film with, because you are essentially feeding yourself an Alley-oop for disappointment. Well to be completely honest Suspiria could’ve ended up in the number one position. I fell in love with this film after my first viewing, and my love for this reimagining has grown larger and larger each time I’ve seen it. Director Luca Guadagnino didn’t take the simple approach when making this film, the predictable thing to do would be to remake this film beat for beat and replicate the original. Thankfully Guadagnino was so heavily impacted and inspired by the original classic, that he wanted to use it as template to build his own unique vision, surrounding the feeling that 1977 film gave him. I refer to this version as a reincarnation of the original. It takes the basic premise and expands upon it to make a much more politically and melancholically dense story. This is an alluring and extravagant masterpiece that isn’t afraid to be bold and unique. It’s wickedly visceral and thematically rich. It’s an artistic master stroke of horror that features at least three sequences, which instantly sat among my top tier of favourite horror sequences.

 

01. – HEREDITARY.Hereditary-2018_HD_Poster.jpg

As I previously mentioned, Suspiria was very close to being my favourite film of the year, I was constantly going back and forth in my mind trying to decide which film would occupy that top spot. Ultimately I had to award that victory to Hereditary, the most impactful and emotionally distressing film I have ever witnessed. This film starts off as a family drama that explores themes that each person experiences through out life, such as trauma, pain and grief. Around twenty minutes in, the narrative begins to take a very unconventional turn that flipped my expectations upside down, as the film took a sharp descent into raw horror. What I mean by that is palpable horror, real life horrors that can occur which are fuelled by the themes that I mentioned above. From there you essentially see how dealing with those tragic emotions could completely tear down a family. As if that wasn’t enough there’s also the supernatural element of the story on top of that to up the dread. There are five, maybe even more sequences in this one film that like Suspiria rank among some of the greatest Horror sequences of all time. They are expertly directed moments of suspense that are amplified by the phenomenal performances from the cast. Toni Collette and Alex Wolff in particular are outstanding. It’s quite remarkable how they managed to push their performances to the limit in the manner in which they do. They ought to be extremely proud of their work, everyone who worked on this film should be. In my opinion it is flawless. It’s a modern Horror that has an old school aesthetic due to how well everything is executed. When watching it for the first time, it felt like I was witnessing a classic unfold before me, and that’s because I was. I’ve always wondered what it must’ve been like when audiences were introduced to classics like The Exorcist or The Shining, and witnessed them for the first film in cinemas back in the 70’s and 80’s. Well Hereditary is the latest generational Horror classic. I will never forget how upon my first viewing, this film made my anxiety rise up to uncomfortable levels. So much so that during the third act, as much as I was loving the film I also wanted it to end so that my anxiety would start to die down. Hereditary is an absolute must see in every sense of that phrase and it is my favourite film of 2018.

Thank you very much for reading through my list of favourite films from 2018. I hope 2019 can provide us with just as many exceptional experiences.

-T. Graham.

 

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