My Top 10 Most Notable Films of 2018

Apologies folks. While I am a little late in posting my list of movies for 2018, that’s pretty much what comes about when this entire blogging thing is technically a hobby and doesn’t actually put food on the table!

Regardless of the financial funk I currently find myself in, when looking back through my silver screen memories, it somewhat feels like 2018 has ended up being rather similar to the cinematic landscape of 2017.

  • Yet another controversial Star Wars film was released (The Last Jedi / Solo)
  • The ultimate superhero team-up imagined by millions over the past few decades was finally seen on the big screen. (Justice League / Infinity War)
  • A belated sequel to a classic movie based on a children’s book is released and thought to be quite good by critics and the masses alike. (Jumanji 2 / Mary Poppins Returns)
  • A musical adaptation of a real life figure(s) grossly misrepresents the historical record, but no one gives a damn because the music is so good. (The Greatest Showman / Bohemian Rhapsody)
  • A director that most people had written off makes a massive return to form with a low-budget crowdpleaser (M. Night Shymalan’s Split / Peter Farrelly’s Green Book)
  • A heavily Chinese-influenced movie starring a white man who’s way over his head, but still manages to save the world from monsters (The Great Wall / The Meg)

Despite the déjà vu, 2018 still had some gems. So, as is tradition for those of us in the film loving community, what follows is a list of films that I have found especially notable in the preceding 12 months of cinema.

As always, when trying to come to a decision my only rule was that the film had to have been released in UK cinemas between 1st January 2018 and 31st December 2018. So tough luck to films like Mary Queen of Scots, The Favourite, Beautiful Boy, Vice, and all the other awards favourites.

Special mentions: The Shape of Water, Journeyman, Darkest Hour, American Animals, Overlord, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Mary Poppins Returns, The Mercy, The Final Year, Lady Bird, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Teen Titans Go To The Movies, A Star is Born, First Man, Bohemian Rhapsody.

Guilty Pleasures: Rampage, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Tag, Mama Mia: Here We Go Again, Venom, Truth or Dare.

1) Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

© 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved

From my original review:

(Director) McDonagh hits many of the same heights of his previous films. Dark and funny dialogue permeates almost every scene, with each actor managing to tread that fine line such a script would require. Without a doubt McDormand pulls this off best, with her character mostly earning the audience’s sympathy, even when her actions sometimes cross the line into more villainous territory.

2) Coco

© 2017 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

From my original review:

Said journey is essentially a tale of culture clash, the unmovable traditions of old fighting to contain the burgeoning excitement and dreams of the young. It’s a story, not just familiar to those cultures with strong family ties, but also to anyone that has tried to fight the desire within to choose personal fulfillment over family commitment. As such, Coco doesn’t come off as a film just for families, but also a film about families. The struggles, the pain, the tears; but also the laughs, the hugs and the moments you treasure for years to come.

3) The Post

© 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Storyteller Distribution Co. LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Despite Ready Player One making far more money, of the two Steven Spielberg films released this year, The Post stands as the superior piece of filmmaking. True, this is in part due to how resonant the topic of media outlets fighting against a dismissive government regime is in this day and age. But with sterling turns from both Hanks and Streep, The Post is a timely reminder how important it is to speak truth to power.

4) Avengers: Infinity War

© 2018 Marvel Studios. All Rights Reserved.

From my original review:

But do not fear, Marvel haven’t just made Schindler’s List. There are still jokes aplenty. Indeed one of the most joyful aspects of the movie is watching characters that have never met before interact with each other. As such seeing Iron-Man verbally spar with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch); Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) fighting back to back with Okoye (Danai Gurira); or even Thor (Chris Hemsworth) sharing a moment with Groot (Vin Diseal) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) make up some of the most thrilling moments of the movie.

5) Game Night

game night
© 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

On the surface Game Night looks like the usual piss-poor excuse to get a bunch of celebrities together in an inane attempt to try and pull off a comedy. Even the trailer (with the exception of one rib-tickling Rachel McAdams’ reaction) doesn’t really inspire much hope.

But when watching the movie, that low expectation gives way to what is actually a mad-cap adventure that brilliantly blends together a multitude of genres; all the while keeping the laughs at the forefront. Add in a heartfelt relationship within each of the three main couples, and you have one of the best comedies of the year.

6) A Quiet Place

a quiet place
© 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

From my original review:

But, of course, sound is the most notable aspect of this feature; and it’s here that supervising sound editors, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, have absolutely outdone anything released so far this year, and likely for the remainder of 2018. From the quietude of footsteps, breathing and panting, to the thunder of screams and monster roars; each sound has been appropriated to wring the maximum amount of tension. It is an absolute masterclass of sound editing and a guaranteed Oscar nomination come 2019.

7) Searching

© 2018 Sundance Institute. All Rights Reserved.

From my original review:

Rather than the racial subversion in that Jordan Peele classic, Chaganty instead explores the more widely identifiable struggle of parental helplessness in the face of teenage rebellion. And much of the heavy lifting in portraying that struggle lies with who he has cast in the lead role. Without a doubt this is one of John Cho’s strongest performances to date; his role as a panicked father drawing us along with every painful minute he must suffer. Despite the film not technically being a one-man show, it’s hard not to compare what he does to similarly brilliant solo outings, such as Tom Hardy in Locke, or Ryan Reynolds in Buried.

8) A Simple Favour

A Simple Favour
© 2018 Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.

From my original review:

Of course such friendship is only so mesmerising due to the brilliant chemistry between its leading ladies. Though both do well, it’s Lively that comes out on top. Foul-mouthed and straight-up not giving a fuck, Lively dominates like no other, tearing through each of her scenes with reckless abandon. If anything she could easily give her real-life husband, Ryan Reynolds, a run for his Deadpool money.

9) Ralph Breaks The Internet

© 2018 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Despite my minor disappointment in the move away from videogaming, the sequel to 2015’s Wreck-It-Ralph makes up for said move by becoming a love letter to the internet and all its pop-culture relevance. Not only is the concept of the internet brilliantly brought to life, mainly through an assortment of Mii-lookalikes pottering around multiple real-life tech organisations. But the filmmakers take great pains to push forward and develop the core duo, thus avoiding the trap most sequels fall into by merely putting their characters in a new location, repeating the beats of the original, and then calling it a day.

10) One Cut of the Dead

one cut of the dead
CREDIT: Courtesy of Frightfest Film Festival 2018.

From my original review:

Though mostly an intense death spree, writer/director Shin’ichirô Ueda also injects a strong thread of comedy throughout, especially through Hamatsu’s onscreen director, whose rants and raves makes David O. Russell look sane. But it’s not just the zombie genre that the film pokes fun at. The overbearing director, the demanding movie star, the bored crew member. The film almost acts as a social commentary on the stresses and strains of movie-making.

Hope everyone has a good 2019!

Licenced under Creative Commons CC0 / Pixabay


Review: Doctor Strange (2016) – Mighty Mystical Magic Makes For A Winning Combination

Very mild spoilers follow.

Casting a spell over cinemas this weekend is Marvel’s Doctor Strange; a film that not only has the distinction of being their 14th theatrical release, but also the first to delve into the previously unexplored world of magic.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular Doctor, an egotistical world renowned surgeon with such magical hands that, if he was blonde, would most likely be running for President right now.

Alas, an unforeseen car accident (Don’t text and drive kids!) drastically changes Strange’s life path. Refusing to accept his predicament, he instead travels East to Nepal in the pursuit of a solution, but instead discovers something far more magical.

Cumberbatch is excellently cast, bringing shades of arrogance from his Sherlock portrayal, but also manages to believably show his gradual transformation into the far more sympathetic Sorcerer Supreme.

He’s ably supported by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton in the roles of Karl Monto and The Ancient One respectively. Essentially playing the straight man to Strange, Ejiofor helps being a sense of realism by grounding the film whenever it gets especially magical.

Swinton is also excellent as the long lived mentor of Strange, bringing plenty of pathos to certain scenes. Much as been made of the super white Swinton playing a role that was originally Asian, but the film is so multi-cultural that this aspect is not really noticeable.

It’s also through The Ancient One that the film achieves its best action sequences. It is these scenes that help elevate Doctor Strange above the usual superhero dross. Imagine watching Inception while on acid and that’s still not enough to describe how psychedelic these spectacles can get.

Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen are perfectly adequate in their roles as the love interest and the villain. (I’ll let you guess which is which.) To be fair, I wasn’t expecting much from either characters since Marvel have always had problems developing interesting characters in these aforementioned categories.

Amazingly the best character in this film isn’t even human! That honour goes to the Cloak of Levitation which perfectly evokes the same feelings of fun and joy I experienced when watching the character of “Carpet” in Disney’s Aladdin.

I did however, have a small problem with Benedict Wong’s character of Wong. It is glaring obvious that his character was added as an afterthought in an attempt to placate the numerous criticisms of white-washing. There is nothing his character does or says that couldn’t be done by Ejiofor’s character.

I also want to send out special get well vibes to Michael Giacchino! Doctor Strange’s soundtrack is incredibly similar to 2009’s Star Trek and it’s clear that Giacchino must have been under incredible pressures to deliver to soundtrack on time. Thus it seems he’s more or less copied his own work from 7 years ago. So wherever you are Michael… Take a break!

Regardless of the above mentioned flaws, Doctor Strange is still a decent addition to the Marvel pantheon and an enjoyable Friday night out. It may not hit the high standards set by previous Marvel films, but it never comes close to descending to the level of the recent DC movie universe.

Overall Score: