The top 50 films of 2018 - Part II, with trailers
By Mark Liversidge
Here's the second part of our film critic Mark Liversidge's guide to the top 50 movies of 2018, counting down to the No 1.
25. Deadpool 2
Like the eccentric relative we don’t talk about at parties, Deadpool is the oddball of the Marvel universe, but as long as it’s willing to keep making the jokes others dare not make, then there will be a place for it in my heart. Takes longer to get going than the original, but worth the ride.
24. The Breadwinner
This beautiful animation from Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon (who also brought us The Secret of Kells and Song of The Sea) gives us an insight into the life of a girl in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, forced to impersonate a boy to raise money for her family.
23. Sorry to Bother You
Boots Riley’s in-your-face satire is a bundle of life with a solid core of anger about the continued race divide in American society. As often just plain silly as it is socially relevant, it succeeds commendably on both fronts.
22. Love, Simon
A warm and affectionate teenage rom-com that deals with the challenges of coming out and peer pressure without judgement. Comparisons to John Hughes’ movies are entirely fair, it’s a tender, funny crowd-pleaser that kept me guessing to the end.
21. You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay succeeds in subverting expectations with a hitman film that’s far more interested in the psychology of its protagonist than the nuts and bolts of killing. Joaquin Phoenix plays the killer for hire in a film that’s stripped down, taut and riveting.
20. BPM (Beats Per Minute)
At the height of the AIDS epidemic, a group of French activists desperately demand action from a seemingly uncaring society in Robin Campillo’s drama that shows the complex struggle patients faced, while also being a paean to the diversity and strength of the human condition.
19. The Wound
South Africa’s entry to last year’s Foreign Language Oscar looks at the Xhosa initiation rituals and the tensions that arise within a group of men, especially as one factory
worker’s sexuality becomes apparent. A powerful insight into the pressures of society that still exist in a modern world.
One of those rare remakes that can stand toe-to-toe with the classic that it’s based on, while remaining distinctly separate. Dario Argento’s lesser-known original is a brightly coloured horror icon; this reimagining has a compelling dual performance from Tilda Swinton among its many delights.
Leigh Whannell, writer of the Saw and Insidious films (well, the good ones), crafts a tale of a man upgraded with a chip that restores movement to his paralysed body, but then gives him extra powers on top, in an action movie with satisfying shades of Robocop and John Carpenter films.
16. Await Further Instructions
Each year, I spend five days in London’s West End watching horror films at FrightFest, and the pick of this year’s bunch has already made it to Amazon Prime.
A family becomes barricaded into their house at Christmas and when the TV starts issuing instructions. they turn on each other.
15. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson are all varying types of brilliant in the latest from Irish playwright and In Bruges writer Martin McDonagh. The humour is jet black, the moral ambiguity rife and the billboards of the title appeared in a thousand memes.
14. A Fantastic Woman
The other film from Sebastian Lelio (Disobedience), he also co-wrote the story of a transgender woman whose lover dies suddenly, leaving her at the mercy of his disrespectful family. Daniela Vega owns the title role, while the film has subtle, Dennis Potter-esque flecks of fantasy.
13. A Star is Born
This year’s major revelations: Bradley Cooper can act, and Lady Gaga can sing. (Or is it the other way around?) Either way, it’s another storming soundtrack and a film that equals, if not betters, the three previous versions committed to celluloid.
12. Black Panther
Marvel does James Bond, but with an all-star black cast and set in in a fictional African country with one of the very best entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. It clearly struck a chord, taking $1.3 billion worldwide, making it the ninth biggest film of all time.
There are returns to form, and then there’s whatever Spike Lee has accomplished with this unlikely true story of the black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington, son of Denzel, is great in the lead, but there’s plenty of Lee’s unbridled rage to be had in the second half.
10. A Quiet Place
John Krasinski, best known for the US version of The Office, teams up with real-life wife Emily Blunt as the father and mother of a family scraping a living in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by blind creatures with incredible hearing. You might just find yourself holding your breath every time the monsters attack.
9. Leave No Trace
Winter’s Bone launched Jennifer Lawrence’s career in 2010, and eight years on its director Deborah Granik might just be doing the same for Thomasin McKenzie as she plays the daughter of a soldier with PTSD (Ben Foster) living wild in the Oregon woods. One of the year’s most subtle, quietly moving films.
The winner of best film at the 2017 London Film Festival made it to the rest of the country’s cinemas at the start of the year, and this coldly riveting portrayal of Russian society could chill your soul. A 12-year-old boy goes missing while his parents are separating, but does either of them want him back?
7. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Somehow this film series keeps getting better with age, which is ironic when you consider that Tom Cruise looks like he’s become frozen in time. The sixth film in the franchise uses a number of well-placed call-backs to previous films, and then Tom Cruise jumps out of a plane and flies a helicopter for real. Madness.
6. The Shape of Water
Guillermo Del Toro clearly felt that there weren’t enough modern-day fairy tales, so he’s contributed his own, with an incredible performance from Sally Hawkins as the mute cleaner at a top secret facility who falls in love with a merman. It might have its roots in fairy tales, but cinematically it’s a throwback to the golden age of Hollywood too.
One of the most genuinely unsettling films I’ve seen in years – I was on the verge of screaming at the screen at one particularly tense moment – Toni Collette gives one of the best performances of the year as a woman burying her mother before the discovery of well-hidden family secrets causes her own family to unravel.
I’ve long been a fan of Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, and his latest – where a family of petty criminals take in the daughter of another local family when it looks as if she’s being abused – is right up there with his best work. A film for the current age of austerity that reflects our times but that’s still bursting with bittersweet humanity.
When the lights went up at the end of Coco, neither my girlfriend or I wanted to look at each other, given that we had both been full-on sobbing for around 15 minutes at the end. It seems that Pixar aren’t happy until they’ve left you staggering from the cinema, almost completely broken, but with this tale set around the Mexican Day Of The Dead holiday, they’ve once again succeeded.
2. Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig has long been a star of indie cinema, but who knew she’d be this good at writing and directing as well? Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are equally strong as the daughter and mother, as Ronan’s character (Gerwig claims her own adolescence was merely an inspiration) attempts to navigate the pitfalls of her final year at college.
1. Phantom Thread
In one of the year’s least surprising moves, a director and an actor who are meticulous in their attention to detail make a film about a fashion designer who’s meticulous in his attention to detail, and it’s as rich and rewarding as you’d expect. Director Paul Thomas Anderson is now on an incredible run of films, including There Will Be Blood, The Master and Inherent Vice, that I hope never ends. Daniel Day Lewis is claiming he’ll retire after this, but hopefully we’ll see a lot more of Vicky Krieps, also brilliant as the designer’s muse.