Friday, 25 January 2019

Films Of The Year 2018

Funny story - figured I'd do this between Christmas and New Year as I had some downtime. Then I was a bit snoozy, so figured 'tomorrow' was fine.

Tomorrow gets away from you if you don't pay attention, doesn't it? Especially when there's cake...

Anyhoo, we're here now — and it's not like we've got memory issues or anything. Recalling all that we saw will be a breeze.

There was....

....erm.... was a bit of a duff year, wasn't it?

I mean, sure, Avengers blew our socks to pieces (well, a sock), and Ant-Man was back with an even better film than the first one, and we started the year well with Three Billboards and The Post, but there was some dross.

We're still not sure how The Spy Who Dumped Me got made, or how Finding Your Feet for that matter — a film so tedious we couldn't even be bothered to write about it.

Then there's the Jurassic franchise. They are getting worse with every outing and yet they still appear on the screen and people go and watch them.

At least The Meg knew how bad it was, which actually made it quite good.

Sadly the same couldn't be said for M:I Fallout. While many proclaimed it the best yet, and in one case "Tom Cruise's Swan Lake" we were left picking at the massive plot holes and wishing it was at least 40 minutes shorter.

There was time for one hidden gem, though. Dark River is a dark, tense little drama starring Sean Bean and Ruth Wilson and set in a Yorkshire farm house. Light on laughs, but proof that if supported British Cinema can pull a rabbit out of the hat.

Even if, in this case, it's then skinned and put in a pot....

Still, that's enough about that. Onwards!

10) A Star Is Born

Not a film we were particularly enamoured of upon leaving the cinema, Star has quietly crept up on us — helped in no small part by the soundtrack. Fine performances and well directed by Bradley Cooper, the ending might still irk but the film as a whole works really well and the songs are just brilliant.

9) Black Panther

Amazingly now up for an Oscar (which has, quite brilliantly, annoyed half the world), Panther is here ahead of Avengers because it was both an unexpected delight and just so much damn fun. "Oooooh, but it's all just CGI innit" oft went the cry, and yes there's a huge number of pixels at play (spoiler alert: battle rhinos are not a real thing), but it's a Marvel film. It's not a documentary. And most importantly, it was damn fun. Gags, car chases, fantastic female characters — it was Marvel at their most Marvelist.

8) Bohemian Rhapsody

A film that seemed to be creating a whole new story in just trying to get to the big screen, Bo Rhap (as all the cool kids are calling it) was a stupidly over-the-top overblown piece of nonsense with a massively inflated sense of it's own worth and importance. Basically, it was Queen. In a film. If you were expecting anything else you really haven't listened to many of their albums. But more importantly, it took you on a journey you knew, towards an ending you were already aware of, and made you grin like an idiot while bawling your eyes out for the final 20 minutes.

7) Sorry To Bother You

A recurring theme last year was the issue of race — hardly surprising given what seems to be happening around the world right now — and while Sorry To Bother You announced its intentions from the off in the trailer, they kind of lied. An off-beat, quirky comedy that at times is perhaps trying to say too much, it's 90 minutes of enjoyment. With the added bonus of being two films bolted together. If the first two-thirds aren't for you, all the horsing around in the final third might well float your boat.

6) A Quiet Place

Sorry, what? Yer man from the office has written and directed a sci-fi thriller? Well this won't be any goo...... oh. Yup, with the discovery that Emily Blunt is actually married to John Krasinski being just one of the shocks this film had in store for us, A Quiet Place managed to deliver tension, jumps, scares, tragedy and the odd smile in a near-perfect way. Yes, there were some plot issues (How do you give birth quietly? How do you conceive quietly? Actually, don't answer the second one), but overall A Quiet Place delivered more bang for its buck than many of its big budget rivals.

5) Widows

A film so good, Liam Neeson couldn't spoil it — what more do you want, eh? With stellar performances from all four of the female lady persons who were reduced to doing crime stuff to make up for the crap their dead other halves had led behind, Widows was a wonderfully dark, gritty nasty piece of work that did what it set out to do. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but it had some cracking little touches (the way the car journey is filmed for example) and Viola Davis delivered another wonderful performance.

4) Bad Times At The El Royale

Now yes, we know this went a little south in the final third, but before that (and after, actually) Bad Times was a wonderfully nasty crime mystery that announced its intentions early doors when one of the main characters is done away with. From there you know all bets are off, and over the course of one night we get to find out how all the different characters got there. At times brutal, at times sweet, there's not a bad performance on screen and the whole thing is a wonderful reminder that sometimes the best thing to do is just tell the damn story.

3) The Shape Of Water

A film slightly ruined the minute you realise it's basically Abe Sapien up there with Sally Hawkins, Shape was a simply beautiful fairy story that stole everyone's hearts as well as the Oscar for Best Picture. Del Torro might not have been able to get Hellboy III funded, but at least he's finally managed to show the rest of the world what all the cool kids and film geeks knew already — that when it comes to magical fantasy films, no one does them as well as he does.

2) Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back)

Now, some of you will probably be wondering how a small British comedy can be this high up a top 10 list, especially when at least half of you still won't have managed to see it yet (Amazon seemingly only has a German language version available) — but this film was pretty much perfect. It's 90 minutes long. It's laugh-out-loud funny. The central couple are brilliant together. Tom Wilkinson is on top form. The soundtrack is great. And it's got something to say about mental health and suicide. To be honest with you, it was going to take something really special to keep this off top spot...

1) BlacKkKlansman

....something like, say, this. As mentioned earlier, we live in an age and a time where race has never been a bigger issue. And I say that not to trivialise events of the past, but because we should be way past all this, we should have dealt with all this crap — but humans be stupid, and a certain section of society (nasty old rich white men, mainly) has decided equality is a bad thing and should never have been allowed, so here we are. Thankfully, Spike Lee has never been someone to sit quietly on the sidelines, which is why we got the most important film of last year (and, arguably of recent years). Taking on the true story of a black guy who infiltrated the KKK in the 1970s, BlacKkKlansman is both a tense drama and a great comedy. It shines a burning torch on today's issues by showing us how much things haven't changed, and if that doesn't deliver the message strongly enough then the end-credit sequence will have you in tears.

Right, quick cuppa then it's on with the albums...


  1. >Amazingly now up for an Oscar (which has, quite brilliantly, annoyed half the world)

    Why is that brilliant? It's a poor film that has been artificially elevated because a certain section of the media - including you apparently - is incredibly racist and treats black people like babies. Do you have low expectations of black people, so this surprised you? Or do you think black people need special attention so you're giving them a participation award? Either way, you're a racist.

    >fantastic female characters


    >we live in an age and a time where race has never been a bigger issue.

    Really? Not during the 1800s? Or perhaps 1960s?

    Or do you mean, it's the biggest issue in your living memory. You can easily fix that by engaging with media from outside your filter bubble. Race really isn't that big an issue outside of the organisations who thrive on making it an issue.

    You need to open your eyes.

    1. "And I say that not to trivialise events of the past, but because we should be way past all this, we should have dealt with all this crap — but humans be stupid, and a certain section of society (nasty old rich white men, mainly) has decided equality is a bad thing and should never have been allowed, so here we are."

      Oh, and if you don't think race is an issue maybe you should speak to the people who think it is, because it's their lives that are being affected by this.

      And the fact people are annoyed by Black Panther's nomination is brilliant. It's The Oscars. There are bigger things to worry about (like the fact black people can't even have a barbecue in their own yard without a neighbour calling the cops, or the fact you've more chance of being shot by a cop if you are a person of colour).
      And I'm not treating anyone like a baby. I loved Black Panther.

    2. > a certain section of society (nasty old rich white men, mainly) has decided equality is a bad thing and should never have been allowed, so here we are

      Why are you like this?

      I struggle to understand how you can't seen how bigoted you are right now.

    3. It's called evidence. There's one in the White House, at least one on a prime time TV show, a whole channel of them over at Fox, a former MEP...

      What I don't understand is why you think this flippant remark is so wide of the mark. Yes, it's a sweeping generalisation for comedic effect, but it is based in a barely-hidden truth.

      Feel free to show me all the occasions people in that demographic have called for change, pushed for equality, championed LBGTQ rights. I mean, if you're so sure I'm wrong it must be out there, right?

  2. Snappy, entertaining review. I'd have put El Royale closer to the number 1 spot and Sorry to Bother You further away on account of nightmares (mares - geddit?) but that's just me. Thank you for posting :)

    1. Bad Times would have been higher, but Shape was just magical, Dead In A Week was fantastic and Blackkklansman was just so powerful.