Selecting your top 10 films of the year is no easy feat. Out of all the films that have been released this year which ones can you hand on heart say are the best of the best. My list includes a varied array of titles from animations, blockbusters and independent films that convey my diverse film taste.
For this years list I have decided to select films that have been released in the UK during the year of 2018, so you will see titles that have been released in 2017 in other countries however they haven’t received a UK theatrical released until 2018. Also I’m going to start with number 10 and work my way to the best film that has been released this year:
10. Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson is a genre in himself; an auteur in his own right who is unashamedly himself when he makes films. I’ve seen Moonrise Kingdon (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) so I have an idea of his style yet I hadn’t seen his other animated work Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) so with his new animation I was intrigued and open minded about what I was about to see. Thankfully it did not disappoint and was one of the most refreshingly original films I had seen in a long time. The deadpan humour was razor sharp, I love how they continued the amazing art of stop motion and the film itself is charming and captivating because it is so uniquely Wes Anderson. If you have any hesitations please put them to one side and go in with an open mind and you won’t regret it.
Pixar are bold in their animations and never have once spoken down to an audience and always has something deeply profound to say. They go all in when dealing with themes of family and how important human connection is and how important it it is support and encourage each other. The scene towards the end when Miguel sings “Remember Me” to Coco towards the end floored me; so emotionally pure and moving and there so many touching moments throughout the film which show how bold Pixar are. There’s also the fact that this is a colourful and vibrant film that embraces the Mexican culture in a sincere and fun way.
8. Black Panther
I have a love/hate relationship with Marvel and superhero films in general. I still love the concept of a superhero film and there have been some incredible films that have moved the genre forward but the whole interconnecting aspect of these films feels tiresome to me. However with Black Panther, thankfully it has its own assured identity that yes is part of the MCU but it is so much more than that and is definitely one of the strongest jewels in the MCU crown. Ryan Coogler has made of the most exciting and important films of the year and its impact on the world and pop culture is indisputable. At the core of this film is a really cool superhero that fronts a film that is pure escapism and that’s great, but it’s so much more than that and that is why it has been a major success in every way.
A strong and solid film that effortlessly blends humour with the harsh realities of society. I’m criminally unfamiliar with Spike Lee’s work however that doesn’t prevent me from seeing the brilliance of what he brought to this film; a tonally flawless film with assured performances from the cast. I can’t believe this is a true story; Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) a police detective infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. Such an important film that I strongly recommend people to see as it is so enlightening and scarily relevant.
6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand. That is all. Two-time Oscar winning actress Frances gives a blistering performance that is full of conviction and boldness of a woman navigating grief and trying to bring justice to her daughter. This film takes you on a journey that makes you believe it will end in a certain destination (narrative wise) and then it will surprise you in the best that that actually makes the film more impactful as a whole. Oscar winner Sam Rockwell also gives a phenomenal performance, he manages to bring empathy to initially an off putting character however over the course of the film you see his true character which is interesting to see unfold. This film is bold, brilliant and hilarious.
5. I, Tonya
One of the most original narrative structures I’ve seen that is genius and allows the audience to truly think for themselves. Steven Rogers writes the screenplay from the perspective of both Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly of what really happened to Nancy Kerrigan. Margot Robbie gives one of the best performances of her career (resulting in an Oscar nomination) and allows us to see the whole picture of who Tonya was as a person. Allison Janney switches it up with a committed performance (resulting in an Oscar win) that is darkly funny. This film shows you the story you thought you knew but in a very different way; seeing how society and the media treated Tonya is shocking and tragic. Overall whilst this film is told from different perspectives and has many tonal shifts it still feels perfectly orchestrated.
Charlize Theron at her best. The sign of a brilliant film is when you manage to emotionally connect to a film that on paper you have no connection with; this is a film about motherhood and yet by the end of the film I was in tears. I’ve written a post about why the film was so impactful (so please check that out) but the ending was genius and gives the film a whole new meaning when you watch it back again. Jason Reitman is a brilliant director; he finds power in the normalcy of everyday lives and along with Diablo Cody’s script tells a story we rarely see on screen. There’s so much to admire about this film but Charlize is a standout and gives such a powerful performance that I was so happy to see her work recognised when she was nominated a Golden Globe. This is a refreshingly emotional honest film that also does manage to find humour in what life throws at us.
This was one of my surprise favourites of 2018. I remember seeing the trailer out of nowhere and instantly knew I had to watch it; thankfully I did because I saw one of the most original, bold and unflinching film of the year. Jessie Buckley shines in this film and plays a fully fleshed out character that evolves during this film in a fascinating way, and when she meets Johnny Flynn’s enigmatic character we are unsure of who we can trust and who is the true beast of the film. Michael Pearce (director/writer) flips the crime/thriller genre on its heads of what we expect from the characters and that’s what makes Beast one of the most fascinating watches of 2018.
2. Lady Bird
Subtlety profound. Greta Gerwig directs/writes one of the most sincere, intimate and original stories that again will allow people to connect no matter what your background. It’s a coming of age story done in an way that isn’t trying to hard and that’s down to Saoirse Ronan’s Golden Globe winning/Oscar nominated performance as Lady Bird. What I love about this film is there is no sense of judgement or expectations of the characters; Greta writes characters who navigate coming into their own at their own pace. You don’t need to have experienced everything that the characters do to connect with the film, there is power in empathy and trying to understand different walks of life. This is a gem of a film that will stand the test of time for its raw emotional authenticity.
1. Phantom Thread
Everything about this film is perfect. It surprised me in being of my favourite films that I have seen in a long time and definitely that it has remained my number one film of 2018 from when I saw it earlier this year in February. Daniel Day-Lewis of course brings it to this film and is committed as ever to the character of Reynolds Woodcock; someone who is very particular and talented who meets his match in the name of Alma (Vicky Krieps) who gives one of my favourite performances of the year. Phantom Thread allows you to believe it follows that familiar narrative of the younger woman being infatuated by an older and esteemed gentlemen but Paul Thomas Anderson flips that on its head and tells a story of a woman who is very clever in finding her place in the world of The House of Woodcock and her character will definitely surprise people as the film unfolds. Plus can we talk about how brilliant Lesley Manville is in this film as Woodcock’s sister, she’s cold in her exterior but does have a great sense of humour and is actually really a loyal person.
This film is so elegant and sophisticated in every way which makes it a dream to watch. The costume design is exquisite (resulting in a second Oscar win for Mark Bridges). being set in the 60’s in England gave the film its own character and sense of stature and the music was like a character in itself (resulting in an Oscar nomination for Johnny Greenwood), the music definitely had a presence in the film but not in an imposing way. Again, I love it when an original film is made and when it subverts certain film conventions and Phantom Thread does so brilliantly.
(Oscar nominated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson with Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis on the set of Phantom Thread)
There are some films I thoroughly enjoyed that didn’t officially make it onto my top 10 list; Oceans 8, The Incredibles 2, A Quite Place, Widows, The Breadwinner and so many other titles. That being said I’m really happy with my top 10 and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on my list or films you think should have made the cut. The beauty of film is that it is subjective and one film can mean so many different things to different people. I’m looking forward to what 2019 has to offer in film!