2018 was undoubtedly another very good year for film, different genres offering a variety of visual treats that have either shocked, scared, humoured or downright brought us to tears. As always, I have whittled down my yearly viewings (UK releases) down to a prestige list of twenty films that stood out from the rest and, of course, there are some honourable mentions that just missed out on making the list...

Sorry to Bother You
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Outlaw King
Molly's Game
The Post
Bohemian Rhapsody
Game Night
Bad Times at the El Royale
Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams

With those out of the way, time for the main event.

20) You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay's haunting character study packs quite a powerful punch in its short runtime, making exceptional use of Joaquin Phoenix in the process. It's tightly written and Phoenix showcases why he is considered one of the best actors working today.

19) Phantom Thread

Daniel Day-Lewis stars in his last film and he couldn't have picked a better director than Paul Thomas Anderson, who he previously worked with on There Will Be Blood. If this is to be the end of such an illustrious and decorated career, Phantom Thread is a near-perfect swansong for one of the greatest actors of all time.

18) A Prayer Before Dawn

Isolation is a key theme in Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire's A Prayer Before Dawn and he manages to accentuate this quite brilliantly through intense close-ups and lack of subtitles to stick the audience in Billy Moore's shoes. Joe Cole is superb in the lead role and the fight scenes are utterly visceral, making this quite a hard-hitter.

17) Searching

Searching was the biggest surprise of 2018 for me. The frantic nature of the film builds and builds, John Cho leading the film with an utterly fantastic performance. The decision to present this through the lens of a webcam and social media accounts was a genius decision and I was on the edge of my seat throughout, which is quite a rarity these days.

16) Ready Player One

There's much more to Ready Player One than just the vast pop culture references it jams into its runtime and I think a lot of people failed to see that. Steven Spielberg showed again why he is the king of blockbuster filmmaking with stunning visual effects and a heartfelt narrative combined to create one hell of a ride for the audience. It could be higher on the list for The Shining homage alone. 

15) Creed II

Not as good as its predecessor, largely down to the loss of Ryan Coogler as director but this film does another great job in ushering the franchise into a new generation. The cast are all great, the training montage is one of the best of the franchise and that final fight is everything you'd want from a fight in one of these films.

14) The Incredibles 2

The long-awaited sequel to one of Pixar's most adored films was so worth the wait. The Incredibles 2 put Elastigirl centre-stage and featured the stunningly animated action and emotive narrative you'd expect from the best in the animated business.

13) Hereditary

God damn this film got right under my skin! What a debut from Ari Aster this was and I'm sure he'll freak us all out again this year with Midsommar. Gabriel Byrne, Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff are all pretty good however, they all play in the shadow of Toni Collette, who is simply superb as the matriarchal figure.

12) Coco

Pixar have a knack for hitting their audience hard when it comes to emotions, whether it be films about toys, robots or the emotions themselves. With Coco, they created what I would arguably call their greatest achievement to date. It's a wonderful film for all the family full of heart, humour and glorious animation, turning on the waterworks towards the end with a scene that reduces me to tears every single time.

 11) Black Panther

The MCU celebrated culture and tradition like never before with Black Panther, a film that went on to become a box-office smash and the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Chadwick Boseman personifies the honour of the hero and Michael B. Jordan proves a more than worthy adversary as Erik Killmonger, one of the MCU's best villains to date.

10) Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson yet again proved his quirkiness is the way into our hearts with Isle of Dogs, a film about much more than just a boy searching for his lost dog. It's moving and, with a top cast on the vocals, it's so incredibly watchable.

9) A Quiet Place

John Krasinski showed off his filmmaking chops with A Quiet Place, which was one of the most intense cinema trips I had of 2018. Starring alongside his wife, Emily Blunt, and two rising stars in Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, Krasinski delivered thrills and spills aplenty before closing with one of my favourite shots of the year.

8) Mission: Impossible - Fallout

A white-knuckle ride of pure adrenaline from start to finish, full of insane stunts and Tom Cruise trying his best to nearly kill himself via jumping across rooftops or hanging from helicopters in flight. Mission: Impossible - Fallout took the franchise to insane new heights by combining incredible action with a pulsating narrative that left my palms sweating by the time it reached its conclusion.

7) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Into the Spider-Verse opened up the world to a vast array of animated possibilities with a Spider-Man adventure full of eye-popping animation, laugh out loud moments and energetic action sequences. The vastly different characters on show provide non-stop entertainment and the vocal performances are aptly wonderful. The "Leap of Faith" sequence is quite simply one of the best Spider-Man moments from one of the best Spider-Man films.

6) Avengers: Infinity War

The Avengers finally met their match in Thanos, who's been teased since they first assembled in 2012. Infinity War was the perfect appetiser for the record-breaking Endgame that followed this year, juggling multiple characters and plot strands in such a way that the entertainment factor wasn't sacrificed. There were dream team-ups, plenty of laughs and action big enough to live up to such unfathomable hype, plus an ending that proved as shocking as they come in a world where the heroes pretty much always win. I mean, Thanos literally has the ability to throw a moon at Iron Man in this one. Yikes!

5) BlacKkKlansman

John David Washington and Adam Driver are brilliant together in BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee's latest film based on an amazingly incredible true story. It's funnier than I thought it'd be but has those moments that hit hard to ensure you don't forget the topic of the film, the writing proving a major strong point for this film to work so well. I won't forget that ending in a while either.

4) The Shape of Water

I think Guillermo del Toro is just about the only director who could get away with making a film focusing on the romance between a mute woman and an amphibious creature, and it end up being one of the most beautifully crafted films in years. Sally Hawkins is a sheer delight, as is the supporting cast of Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and a dastardly Michael Shannon. 

3) A Star Is Born 

Bradley Cooper took a stab at remaking A Star Is Born last year with quite stunning results. It's a well known love story yet, thanks to the powerful lead performances from both Cooper and Lady Gaga, and Cooper's confidence behind the camera in his directorial debut, it became a worldwide phenomenon, the soundtrack being another major player in the film's success. For me, this should have been the Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards.

2) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

It's darkly funny and downright moving in places, led brilliantly by a fantastic trio in Frances McDormand's grieving mother, Woody Harrelson's ailing police chief and Sam Rockwell's un-PC police officer. All the components combine beautifully and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is easily one of the best films of the decade.

1) First Man 

Damien Chazelle's third masterpiece in a row, First Man works as both an insight into the legendary 1969 Moon landing and a study of grief suffered by Neil Armstrong while on the journey to the Moon. Everything building up to the landing sequence is great but then it starts to soar as Armstrong and the crew make history. Ryan Gosling is arguably at his best in the lead role with a nuanced performance of pain and determination. In an ideal world, this would have swept up all the Oscars.


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