So seeing as I’ve got loads of old-as-heck films here that didn’t officially come out in the UK until this year, I’m gonna leave out – for now! – Can You Ever Forgive Me, as it’s not out widely in the UK until February 1. I did make an exception for The Favourite, which comes out nationwide on January 1, because it released in London on Boxing Day. Nonsensical? MAYBE! But my blog my rules!!
Here’s my film blog from last year.
And here are my other year-end lists from 2018: singles, albums, TV shows and theatre.
25. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Y’know I did actually think this was a pretty enjoyable #romp in the end, despite the terrible scheduling and marketing. It’s also a shame that it was left so blatantly open-ended for a sequel, given how the box office receipts panned out; but it’s a really fun little caper that probably would have gone down better with a December release date. Watch trailer
24. Ocean’s 8
I swapped out Three Billboards from this list once I realised I forgot this, which – with a Serious Critical Hat on – was very up-and-down and sagged way too much in the middle. But also! It was just great fun! With such a great cast. Anne Hathaway in particular steals the show, and I’d welcome an abundance of sequels. But Lord! If James Cordon EVER has the AUDACITY to show up in a movie like this again… AND MAKE A FOOTBALL JOKE, NO LESS!!… I will walk out and demand a refund on the spot. Watch trailer
23. Mary Poppins Returns
A film that knows when to pay tribute to the original and when to do its own thing, Mary Poppins Returns is a lovely family musical with a big heart, in which more posh old-London kids get a lesson in fun and imagination. Emily Blunt is great as Poppins: she’s not trying to do Julie Andrews, she’s doing her own interpretation, and her withering looks and comic timing are spot on. I wasn’t so keen on Lin-Manuel Miranda??? But the Angela Lansbury cameo – quite blatantly written for Andrews, I think – is alone worth the ticket price. Watch trailer
22. Love, Simon
This is a flawed film, I know: “just an ordinary kid” Simon is coming from a place of huuuuge privilege, and he gets away a little too easily with treating his friends like crap. And what’s with him (understandably) making such a point of Not Being Ready to come out, and then putting that enormous pressure on Blue to do it in front of the whole school!??! But ANYWAY. I still really liked it. The cast are fab, Jennifer Garner’s monologue is devastating, and it’s so good to have a big studio teen movie about a gay kid. I just hope Hollywood bigwigs don’t think their work in furthering queer representation is done now they’ve told a story about a rich white cis guy. Watch trailer
This is so good for the soul – and funny! In some aspects it’s comforting in how formulaic it is, but it also surprises you and flips expectations in just the right places. Great cast and music, too. Watch trailer
20. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Or, as I have started calling it, To All The Memes I Memed Bememe. Y’all really thirsted hard over Noah Centineo, which is obviously highly justified, but lest we lose sight of the fact that Lana Condor is a fantastic lead and I hope this has propelled her to new Leading Lady Status. Watch trailer
19. A Star Is Born
L Gaga as an Oscars contender? OKAY that was not how I thought 2018 would go. Honestly I wish I hadn’t seen this while it was in the middle of All The Hype because I felt like I was… outside of myself? Waiting for myself to be bowled over? And in hindsight this is a great film and it’s anchored by two excellent leading performances. But I didn’t get lost in it as much as I think a lot of others did. Watch trailer
18. Incredibles 2
Was this every bit as good as the original? I think so!! Really funny, some excellent set-pieces, every bit as adrenaline-pumpin’ as a live action superhero film… I thought the big villain reveal at the end was a little odd, in terms of their motives and all that sort of thing – but for a sequel that could have been very disappointing, this was a small triumph. Watch trailer
A brilliant heist movie with a killer cast, Widows’ characters are all – in their own way – far from perfect, but it doesn’t diminish how watchable they all are. And SPOILER ALERT for anyone who hasn’t seen it: the dog doesn’t die! Watch trailer
16. I, Tonya
Margot Robbie really deserved her Oscar nomination for this; a movie that doesn’t necessarily make Tonya Harding a sweetheart again, but does force a reassessment of how poorly she was treated at the time of her downfall. And Allison Janney is of course a TREAT. Watch trailer
15. Avengers: Infinity War
Essentially the first part of the pay-off to ten years’ worth of superhero movie-making, Infinity War feels colossal: it’s got a soap-like feel in the way it weaves between different plot-lines and deals with various themes, and although it is maybe a little too long, it’s enormously satisfying – and shocking! – for anyone who’s paid any attention at all to the MCU over the last decade. The real MVP of the cast is Zoe Saldana, who does so well with her scenes that *that* Gamora twist is absolutely devastating. Watch trailer
14. Crazy Rich Asians
Really funny and epic-feeling, Crazy Rich Asians deserved all of its success – Constance Wu is a perfect fit for fish-out-of-water Rachel, while Awkwafina is genuinely funny as her best pal and Michelle Yeoh is gay-baitingly cold and withering in the role of the dreaded potential mother-in-law. Bring on the sequels. Watch trailer
What starts as your usual Judd Apatow-style comedy soon becomes something much more heartfelt; a broad lolfest with affecting themes of friendship, growing up, and – oh hello! – coming out. Watch trailer
12. The Shape of Water
The plot of The Shape of Water is much simpler than I think many people expect, but it’s told so beautifully by Guillermo del Toro that I’m more than happy with its Best Picture wins. Sally Hawkins is outstanding as the human lead, and there’s great support from Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins. Watch trailer
11. Game Night
There are few greater pleasures in this world than Rachel McAdams doing a comedy. Game Night is far better than your usual Jason Bateman movie – it has some genuinely unexpected twists, big laughs, and bonus Sharon Horgan. Watch trailer
10. Lady Bird
Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalfe are brilliant here as a mother and daughter who can’t seem to get themselves on the same page as one-another. Greta Gerwig should have been way more included in all of last year’s Best Director discussions.
09. A Quiet Place
I do not do horror. I just don’t. But when I saw how much buzz and love this movie was getting, I knew I had to check it out at some point, and a long-haul flight was when I finally sucked it up and gave it a spin. And A Quiet Place is completely excellent – such a great premise, told with real care by John Krasinski. There are so many great little moments of supreme tension (stepping on a nail has never felt so end-of-the-world) and the small cast, from Blunt and Krasinski to the children, are all exceptional. FWIW I don’t think I would have survived watching it in a silent cinema.
08. 120 BPM
This was a huge awards magnet when it was released in France last year, and correctly so. Set in that country during the AIDS epidemic, it’s a story about the people involved in the advocacy group ACT UP, and I loved how it makes its point and moves its audience without resorting to melodrama. It should have a long-lasting effect on all who see it.
07. The Hate U Give
Amandla Stenberg should absolutely be part of the awards conversation for her incredible performance in this; a YA movie that proves the genre is capable of way more than high school romance and the supernatural. Honestly this is one of the most affecting films I saw all year – be prepared to CRY HARD TEARS.
06. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
I was definitely in the midst of superhero fatigue when the trailers first started rolling out for this, but when the reviews were all glowing, I had to see what all the fuss was about. And reader, the fuss was about a genuinely excellent film!! A comic book epic that actually feels like a comic book, Spider-Man: Look At All Those Damn Spider-Men is animated beautifully, has a really great (and not as complicated as it might look) story, and is both funny and thrilling. Like Incredibles 2, but… dare I say better?
This movie FINALLY got a UK release back in Q1 and I don’t think it left a single dry eye in the country. In years to come this should be right up there when people list their favourite Pixar movies – I mean who’d have thought the team behind Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. could take on something like death and make it into a great family movie? EVERYONE, THAT’S WHO.
04. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
In many ways, Mamma Mia 2 is business-as-usual compared to its predecessor: straight-faced moviegoers have to make a conscious decision to take the rod out of their arse and Just Go With It, and accept that some of the dialogue will be naff, some of the plot points will hardly make any sense, and lots of songs will be crowbarred in. In return, you get a really funny, irresistibly joyful movie soundtracked by some of the best pop songs of all time. But for this sequel, you also get an added level of emotional depth: that death looks like a needless twist on paper, but on screen, it’s really the only way this sequel could have worked as well as it does. And the unexpected emotional hammerblow of the finale? Genuinely devastating. The almost completely whitewashed cast is disappointing in 2k18 (granted, they shot themselves in the foot for that back in 2008), but this is the only release of the year that I have seen three (3) times.
03. Black Panther
Naysayers have said it’s Just Like Any Other Superhero Movie, and in very basic terms they’re not necessarily wrong – especially when it comes to the big bloodbath of a final showdown – but also this is just… better? The script is tight, the world it’s set in is so rich, the characters are drawn so well, there’s Danai Gurira stealing every scene she’s in… And the film’s blackness – the fact that this sort of representation has been so needlessly lacking in superhero movies up to this point – makes it all the more exciting.
02. A Simple Favour
Argggghh I SO NEARLY put this at Number 1. SO NEARLY. It’s such a fun movie to watch – so gleefully camp and ridiculous, like Gone Girl meets Mean Girls with added sideboob blazers. Anna Kendrick is excellent as the nerdy, ever-so-slightly intense Stephanie, but this is Blake Lively’s film: as Emily she gets the chance to show what she’s really capable of, and have a great time while she’s doing it. Can Paul Feig do anything wrong?? I don’t know if he can!!
01. The Favourite
I saw Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer and found it… not to my taste. But this? Oh THHHHIS? This is perfection. It’s exactly as funny and uproarious as it looks in the trailers but there’s also some real tragedy behind the characters, in particular Olivia Colman’s Queen Anne. I haven’t seen The Wife yet but as things stand, she is my easy pick for the Oscar, and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are also cast perfectly as the rivals fighting for her affection. And Joe Alwyn? Dishy, as it turns out! Lanthimos’ style of shooting is still a little inverted-commas ‘arty’, but accessibly so; and given how heightened the whole thing is, the way the film-maker presents it – in chapters, with the occasional fisheye-lens, etc – it’s all packaged exactly right. Don’t sleep on this!!!