Well, with just a couple of days left in the year, let’s close things out on a high note, shall we? We’re taking a look at our favourite films of 2018 – from blockbusters to foreign classic to indie flicks, I want to get into the films that made me happy and low-key ruined my life over the last twelve months. You can catch up on our worst of the year lists here and here, if you want a little snark with your optimism.
And obviously, there are loads of films that I loved but that didn’t quite make the cut for one reason or another, so I’d like to stick in a few honourable mentions here for A Quiet Place, Bandersnatch, and Black Panther, all of which killed it in their own ways. To the list!
Avengers: Infinity War
Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are that I’m actually putting a superhero movie on this list, but Marvel had a good first half to the year – and Infinity War was their crowning achievement. This movie earns this spot on the list thanks to its pure ambition and the fact that it convincingly managed to pull it out of the bag, and for the pure, simple promise that it actually might mark a change -at long last – in the way blockbuster superhero cinema operates.
A Simple Favor
Yes, I always have to squeeze a dumb one on this list (See also: last year and Geostorm), but A Simple Favor was honestly one of the most purely fun experiences I’ve had in the cinema in ages. A wildly entertaining blend of thriller, horror, satire, and comedy, Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick lead one of the most startling odd but utterly watchable Paul Feig flicks in recent memory. Gorgeously and lovingly made, and packed with plenty of Blake Lively wearing fitted suits, I honestly can’t see what’s not to like about this utter, delightful mess of a movie.
As I wrote when it came out, Lady Bird was one of the first movies I’ve seen in a long time that made me feel reflected as a person onscreen, and for that, I have to put it on this list. I could tell you how wonderfully this film is made, how great the performances are, how brilliant and incisive the script is, or I could just admit that I love this movie because it feels like it has a little piece of me in it, and I can’t resist that.
Hostiles was the very first film I saw in 2018, and it says a lot that nearly twelve full months later I still think about it all the time. I see why it wasn’t universally adored by audiences, because it is deeply disturbing and pessimistic, but it’s also just one of the best pieces of revisionist Western filmmaking I’ve ever seen. Exploring gender roles, mental illness, and toxic masculinity via an epic, lavishly beautiful journey through the American west. Devastating and memorable, I don’t think I’ll ever get this one out of my head.
On Chesil Beach
When I first heard that there was an adaptation of this book, my favourite of Ian McEwan’s back catalogue, on the way, I really couldn’t see how it would work. So much of the book is utterly internal, the meat of the story taking place in one encounter in a hotel room between a newly-married couple in the sixties, and translating that to screen was always going to be hard – but damn, if they didn’t pull it off. Featuring a career-making performance from Billy Howe alongside a devastatingly tender turn by Saoirse Roman, the movie teases out truths about sexuality and societal expectation through McEwan’s delicate storytelling and gorgeous direction from first-time director Dominic Cooke.
A lot of people – including my own co-No-But-Listener – will argue that Zama is ultimately a giant great film where nothing happens, a boring historical so-called epic where people just wander around getting sweaty for nearly three hours, and honestly, I would agree with them. For some reason, though, I just fucking loved Zama regardless of that. I would honestly struggle to tell you what made me fall in love with this film the way I did, but I adore it, in all its evasive, plodding, thoughtful glory.
Sorry to Bother You
It’s not often that we see a truly singular movie hit our screens, but Sorry to Bother You, the debut feature from Boots Riley, just turned up at the back end of this year and shook every out of its place. Bold, bleak, blackly comic, and just supremely original, Sorry to Bother You is the kind of movie you have to see to believe, and I can only urge you to go and get it watched already.
You Were Never Really Here
This movie was probably the one I had the toughest time writing about this year, because I felt that nothing I could say would come close to truly capturing the sheer artistic mastery on display in Lynne Ramsay’s devastating psychological thriller. Joaquin Phoenix ruins all his previous performances with an astonishingly tender central turn, and the thrumming cinematography and soundtrack just elevate this into brain-searingly memorable territory.
The Little Stranger
In terms of horror, I don’t think 2018 turned out anything better than The Little Stranger. I know that, for some people, it was just a little too slow and a little too evasive for its own good, but it’s the kind of movie that really rewards a slow re-pacing of all the elements on display just so you can fully grasp the depth of the tale it weaves, and I’m a sucker for that kind of storytelling. Domnhall Gleeson, Ruth Jones, and Will Poulter shine in this delicate, unsettling, and simmering horror, based on the brilliant Sarah Waters book of the same name,
Just once in a while, I walk out of the cinema and feel as though the earth has moved beneath me – it happened last year with Silence, and it happened again in 2018 with Loveless. The Russian entry to the Academy Awards, Loveless follows the story of a disintegrating family unit after their son goes missing under mysterious circumstances. It’s a proper tragedy, with no redeeming glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, and an instant classic from acclaimed director Andrey Zyaginstev. Utterly brutal and completely compelling, I left this movie feeling like my life wouldn’t be the same again, and for that, it has to be on my number one spot.
By Louise MacGregor
(header image via The Times)