This list exclusively covers films released in the UK in 2018 (via streaming, cinemas or home video)…
There was a lot said about Netflix releasing ROMA on its service rather than in cinemas but I, for one, am just glad that Netflix is financing films like this one. If it’s a choice between seeing it in a cinema or not seeing it at all than I will always choose my living room – great art like this has to be seen. The picture’s black and white cinematography is second only to Cold War this year and it’s lack of score really is a gut-punch to your expectations. Yalitza Aparicio’s amazing performance is really what stands out and it’s mental that possibly the best performance of the year is someone Alfonso Cuarón found on the street.
I did not expect Steve McQueen to follow 12 Years A Slave, his heart-wrenching and unequalled masterpiece, with a crowd pleasing heist thriller. While it may not carry the significance of the former, it certainly has assured confidence and political heft. It features strong women who are determined and gaining independence – it really is medicine for the times we’re in (well, more like morphine). It’s one of the best big studio movies in years and McQueen’s fourth hit. I wait with bated breath to see what he does next.
8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Well, this came out of nowhere.
Quite simply one of the best animated films of all time, one of the best superhero movies ever and definitely the best Spider-Man movie ever. Sony have managed to avoid some of the problems that plagued their previous Spider-Man movies and create a singular artistic vision which manages to rival Pixar’s very best. They had 140 animators work on this, the most for any animation they have ever done, and the craftsmanship shines through. Not only from the technical side but plotting, pacing, characters and soundtrack all manage to shine. Some might dismiss or overlook this because it’s animated but you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice to miss this one.
7. The House That Jack Built
Lars Von Trier’s scathing takedown of Trump’s America (or an endorsement of it depending on who you ask), through the eyes of a serial killer called Jack, is simply the most grimly nihilistic, misanthropic movie of the year. You feel guilty about enjoying any part of it but the firmly tongue in cheek manor in which it presents itself only serves to endear if you’re willing to look past its grizzly exterior. It was much derided at Cannes and prompted many people to walk out of the premiere citing the movie’s violence against women, children and animals. It’s either saying a lot, or nothing at all, it’s hard to tell. All I know is that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since the moment I left the cinema.
6. Cold War
Cold War has some of the best cinematography of the year. It’s slightly cliche to say that films look like photographs but there’s no simpler way to put how Cold War’s black and white shots look and feel. The camera is given time to be still and breathe. It also helps that this is really unlike any other Polish cinema I’ve seen and its chapter based narrative showing star crossed lovers felt like a breath of fresh air.