2018 has well and truly been a phenomenal year for film. We’ve seen returns for great directors like Lynne Ramsay and Spike Lee, fine films by many of the game’s other big names including Alfonso Cuarón, Steve McQueen and Damien Chazelle, comic book movies progress even further in terms of quality, and we’ve even seen somewhat of a renaissance for rom-coms.
From abroad, the likes of Roma, Shoplifters, Dogman and Cold War have proven to popular, while documentaries like Free Solo have earned larger audiences than in recent years on the back of overwhelmingly positive reviews. Even the streaming services are getting involved, with Netflix leading the way regarding high quality exclusives for the year and truly placing themselves in the conversation for the upcoming North American and Western European awards season.
For this article, I’ve collated my thoughts on all 63 feature-length releases I’ve seen in 2018 and decided upon a final Top 10 that I’ll be offering to you today.
Please note: I’m taking under consideration only the films that have been released in the UK in 2018 (whether that be in cinemas or via streaming services), so many of this year’s hotly anticipated Oscar contenders – Green Book, Beautiful Boy, etc. – will be absent from this list as they have yet to come out. As such, some 2017 North American releases will also be a part of this list despite being a part of last Oscar season.
Simply one of the most satisfying start-to-finish journeys in all of cinema in 2018, Ari Aster’s supernatural horror Hereditary was like a tidal wave of tension wrapped in layered, well informed metaphor.
On screen, Toni Collette offered one of the performances of the year, while visually the film was different and beautiful in equal measure, the tragic centre of the piece and presentations of misinformation working to leave us feeling unbalanced and on edge at all times. It made for a truly chilling experience filled with twists and turns that only become more rich with every watch.
The atmospheric savagery of American capitalism was the heart and soul of Steve McQueen’s latest gorgeously photographed piece of cinematic excellence, Widows.
A heist movie that had the same tension and never-subsiding pace of the likes of Heat and The Dark Knight, McQueen’s movie was like its most prominently used song “wild is the wind” come to life, the undertone of the entire story being one of desperation and tragedy. In tackling a more popular and less critically beloved genre such as the heist movie, the impact of Widows may have lessened in comparison to some of McQueen’s other releases, but it remains must watch cinema from one of the very best.
8. Leave No Trace
Debra Granik’s soft unravelling of contemporary capitalism in Leave No Trace delicately pointed the finger at us, the viewer, to get us to ask questions of our own greed and gluttony, to have us ponder over our own reliance upon excess for happiness and to ponder over our own nature to pursue the earth and all it gives.
Wrapped in the guise of a homeless father and daughter overcoming their own issues, Leave No Trace played out the reality of the modern version of the American’s pursuit of the wild west, openly aiming its barrel at the armed forces and their treatment of veterans along the way. This was a wholly American tale in almost every aspect, and one headlined by excellent performances from teenager Thomasin McKenzie and the always brilliant Ben Foster.
7. First Reformed
First Reformed seemed to come out of nowhere and grab every sinew of inspiration and thought it could get its hands on, providing us with a shockingly tense and violent experience that carefully walks the line between being utterly mesmerising and completely insane.
Ethan Hawke was a revelation and the construction of every frame so careful, calculated and particular. A truly beautiful visual journey bullet pointed by fantastic moments of artistic expression make for an unmissable release that offers way more than may seem the case from the trailer.
Like a quiet whisper in your ear, Disobedience heightens your senses and has you hanging on every word.
Directed by A Fantastic Woman (2017) director Sebastián Lelio, this all-female love affair between two Jewish Brits simply radiated affection, touching you on the shoulder as it questioned the widely accepted concepts of morality, hetero-normative lifestyles, acceptance and love in a surprisingly progressive and ultimately incredibly beautiful love story to remember. Though the screenplay may have at times relied too heavily upon cliche and melodrama, every element of the picture came together so beautifully in this picture that it was a truly moving experience and an undeniable entry to the Top 10 Films of 2018.