List compiled by Eddie on 21/12/2018
Well here we are, another year done and dusted!
As seems to be the case every year, 2018 came and went in stunningly quick fashion.
It was a big year for film, with a changing of the landscape and some big Hollywood shakeups, of which included the likes of Black Panther’s world domination, more female oriented ensembles and heroines than you can count on one hand and some surprise smash hits that included the likes of A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Quiet Place.
2018 provided a much better year overall when compared with the offerings of 2017, but in saying so there were also a large share of huge disappointments from tentpoles such as Mortal Engines, Robin Hood, Predator, A Wrinkle in Time, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Pacific Rim: Uprising and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, that does beg the question of whether a majority of blockbuster’s understand what audiences want and if the studios persistence with sequels, re-do’s and re-imaginings is the way to go.
One thing that is clear about the 2018 slate of cinematic offerings is that there’s been a number of film’s that are all vying to be remembered as the year’s best, as well as creating a field that makes for one of the most open of all-time when it comes to this year’s awards season.
Below is a collection of films that have made a mark on me for better or worse this year and while its always tough to create such lists, I believe these are some of the must-see and must-avoid offerings from the year, that hopefully inspire your movie intake one way or the other.
It’s also been a big year for this blog, with you and I saying farewell to Jordan and entering into a new phase of Jordan and Eddie and for the support you’ve offered the Movie Guys in this time, I thank all of you out there who read, comment and make this such a fun place to share our love for movies.
Happy reading and happy blogging
P.S – please make note that this article is based around Australian release dates, meaning “shock, horror” some of these films will have been released in 2017 in other territories.
Disclaimer – Due to Australian release dates and lack of showings some 2018 films such as The Green Book, Vice, Susperia, A Beautiful Boy, The Favourite, Shoplifters, The Mule, If Beale Street Could Talk, Free Solo and Can You Ever Forgive Me? have not been viewed.
Top 10 Films of 2018
10. Ready Player One
Having the most fun his had in year’s, Ready Player One offered master filmmaker Steven Spielberg a chance to go wild in his adaptation of Ernest Cline’s best-selling book of the same name. A nostalgic fever dream filled with an abundance of rich visuals and smile-inducing pop culture throwbacks, Ready Player One may be flawed but it’s the years most purely fun thrill ride.
9. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
A heartwarming documentary about beloved American TV personality Mr. Rogers, Morgan Neville’s lovingly crafted examination of the Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood TV show and its host Fred Rogers offers up one of the years most fulfilling movie experiences.
8. The Rider
Galloping in from out of the blue, Chinese born director Chloé Zhao knocked it out of the park with this realistic and heartbreaking examination of the modern American west. Featuring a cast of non-actors playing versions of their real life selves, The Rider is drama at its best and also a stunning calling card for its young director and leading man Brady Jandreau, whose skill with horses needs to be seen to be believed.
It’s a shame Annihilation never made it to cinemas here in Australia as I for one would’ve loved to have taken in Alex Garland’s visually rich and narratively mind-bending sci-fi on the biggest screen available to me. A deep, weird and totally unique feature film, Annihilation is further proof the Garland is one of the most interesting filmmakers working in the industry today.
6. Avengers: Infinity War
Despite all the hype, the lead-up and the expectations, Infinity War ended up being a film that was better than any of us could’ve imagined. Juggling a loaded cast, a complicated story and a villain that had previously felt a bit mediocre, directing duo the Russo Brothers deserve all the credit in the world for making such a memorable blockbuster. Taking on many a brave narrative decision and harnessing Josh Brolin’s fabulous turn as big bad Thanos, Infinity War is a benchmark for further Marvel ensembles.
Another stunning feat of filmmaking from the masterful mind of director Alfonso Cauron, Roma is a brilliant drama that is quite simply unforgettable. A genuine Best Picture contender at next year’s Oscar Ceremony.
4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Appearing on Australian cinema screens on the 1st of January, Martin McDonagh’s darkly humorous and emotionally powerful tale of Frances McDormand’s grieving mother Mildred Hayes is a deserved Oscar winner that was wonderfully scripted and directed by McDonagh and memorably played out by its main cast members McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. I for one would consider Three Billboards unlucky not to walk away with this year’s Best Picture Oscar that went to the overhyped The Shape of Water.
For some strange reason it took 12 months for Scott Cooper’s haunting western to make its way to our shores after a disappointing financial and critical awards run in the USA towards the end of last year. After a few “almost” films, Hostiles sees Cooper come into his own by leading Christian Bale and a loaded supporting cast through a touching narrative that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. A hugely underrated film, Hostiles is a new Western classic.
A mesmerizing debut film from director Ari Aster, Hereditary is horror at its best. Working as both a family drama and a skin crawling examination of dark forces both real and perceived, when backed in by some great performances including the Oscar worthy Toni Collette, Hereditary is easily one of 2018’s most memorable movie outings.
1. First Man
I know it’s not for everyone but I can’t quite fathom why so many felt a heated disdain towards Damien Chazelle’s spellbinding Neil Armstrong biopic, that managed to balance the grand with the intimate so well. While not so much a thorough examination of Armstrong, more so a breathtaking exploration of humanity’s determination and the power grief has over us, First Man is another knockout from Chazelle and the year’s most stunning big screen spectacle.
Top 10 Worst Films of 2018
A horror that’s as lifeless and pointless as they can get, Winchester is a schlocky feature from Australian directing duo the Spierig Brothers, who waste their leading lady Helen Mirren and potent material on a film entirely devoid of merit.
9. The House with the Clock in its Walls
It’s nice to see Eli Roth try something new by getting away from his usual violence filled and horror themed C.V, but sadly this children’s book adaptation is more scary than most of his horror’s, for all the wrong reasons. Featuring an over the top Jack Black and one of the year’s most bizarre finales, this is one of 2018’s biggest fails.
8. Death Wish
It’s safe to say 2018 wasn’t a great year for Eli Roth. His second entry into the Top 10 Worst Films of the Year, Death Wish is one of the most unnecessary and misguided remakes in sometime, that sees the barely even trying Bruce Willis go out for revenge after his wife was murdered by a bunch of thugs. A mean-spirited and totally unoriginal offering, Death Wish is exactly what you’ll be wishing for when watching this turkey.
7. The Cloverfield Paradox
It’s not hard to see why the big studios dumped this Cloverfield universe film at the last minute, with streaming behemoth Netflix unfortunately taking ownership of this epic fail. A terribly dull and hugely disappointing effort, this is the type of film that begs the question of whether or not the Cloverfield universe should now stay buried.
6. Ocean’s 8
Dull, lifeless, unfunny; Ocean’s 8 is offensively try-hard as director Gary Ross and his team of A-listers try and prove that whatever men can do woman can do to (better?) but fail in all their goals. Nothing in Ross’s film feels natural or well-delivered, as we are instead forced to endure two hours’ worth of so called entertainment that forgets to actually entertain.
5. The Happytime Murders
No one was surprised that this puppets gone bad film wasn’t good but I for one was surprised by just how terrible the end product was. Featuring Melissa McCarthy at her loud-mouthed worse, The Happytime Murders is a deeply unfunny gross out comedy that should never have seen the light of day.
4. The Nun
Taking the Conjuring 2’s most memorable evil entity and turning it into such a dire horror experience is a mighty shame but that’s exactly what director Corin Hardy did with his feature film. Despite making far too much money at the world wide box office, The Nun is a lazy and entirely pointless horror exercise that marks a low-point in the otherwise strong Conjuring universe.
3. The 15:17 to Paris
I wish we could just forget that Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood made this film, a dramatic re-telling of a terrorist attack on a French train that for some reason decided to cast the real life heroes in the lead roles despite no acting experience, as this is awful filmmaking no matter what way you look at it. An experiment that should never have happened, here’s hoping Eastwood’s next film is leagues above this.
Another Netflix released disaster, Mute was a long-gestating passion project for Moon director Duncan Jones but after all the trouble to get it made one wishes that Jones would’ve given up the chase long before he started rolling the camera. A near on incomprehensible narrative drives this bleak affair forward but despite a few neat visuals flourish’s, nothing in Mute works, making one wonder if Jones is a bit of a one-trick pony.
1. A Wrinkle in Time
A bizarre and unforgettable failure, this big budget Disney release that features a star-studded cast is a stunning example of storytelling gone wrong. In adapting Madeleine L’Engle’s much-loved book of the same name, esteemed director Ava DuVernay gets lost in an abundance of colour, visuals and A-listers to create a near unwatchable mess that is a true crime against cinema.
The Russo Brothers
Considering the amount of pressure and expectation places upon the shoulders of the directing duo, The Russo Brothers deserve all the credit they can get when it comes to Avengers: Infinity War. A blockbuster event that puts most of its counterparts to shame, the Russo’s film was a smart, thrilling and emotionally charged big screen event that has deservedly made the world giddy with excitement for what comes next.
After years of quality work as both a supporting player and leading man, it was great to see Sam Rockwell collect his just rewards for his turn as the racist/pig headed yet somehow likeable police officer Dixon in the Oscar winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It’s an extremely difficult task to create a character at once so detestable yet still tolerable so for this Rockwell is 2018’s man of the hour.
It would not be at all surprising to this time next year be calling Lady Gaga an Oscar winning actress, as her turn in the much-loved A Star is Born is likely to see the record smashing musician be one of the Awards seasons heavy hitters. Her turn as up and coming performer Ally in Bradley Cooper’s box office smash is one of 2018’s most memorable performances as Gaga harnessed all her life experiences to give Ally a heart and soul many actors would kill to get.
After the heartfelt Martin Luther King drama Selma and the well-regarded Netflix documentary The 13th it felt as though female director Ava DuVernay was on some sort of roll but with a Wrinkle in Time this momentum screeched to an abrupt halt. A jumbled mess of a film that features weak story-telling and terrible performances, for this effort alone DuVernay receives this unwanted yearly title.
It’s safe to say that Willis has officially entered into the phase of his career where he just doesn’t really care what he does or what we think. Death Wish is Willis on auto-pilot as his portrayal of grieving family man Paul Kersey is about as lifeless as performances come. What makes these type of Willis turns even worse is we know deep down there’s still an actor that can in fact act, it’s just Willis doesn’t want to try enough to make this a reality.
She may be getting awards buzz for her turn in the as-yet unreleased Can You Ever Forgive Me? But for her turn in the dire Happytime Murders, McCarthy cannot go unnoticed here in her turn as troubled detective Connie Edwards. Doing her usual comedic loud-mouthed and obnoxious shtick that wore out years ago, these type of performances from McCarthy are becoming increasingly intolerable and when she’s clearly capable of doing more, these turns become even more unfortunate.
3 Underrated Films
A touching Australian coming of age drama, Breath is a noteworthy debut feature from actor Simon Baker who in adapting Tim Winton’s beloved novel has crafted one of the best local films in some time and one that deserves to find an overseas audience.
2. First Man
This one time Oscar front runner has largely disappeared from public discussion now after its lacklustre cinematic run but one hopes that this stunning and original film finds it’s just rewards when more discover it on home release.
I was truly shocked at just how good Hostiles was when I was finally able to catch it recently. Reading so many middle of the line reviews from its release in America late last year didn’t give me much hope for the film but was wrong to feel this way as Scott Cooper’s unique western is an awards worthy feature that deserves to find a much bigger audience in the coming year’s.
3 Overrated Films
This box-office smash that brings back John Carpenters horrific creation Michael Myers was one of the year’s most surprisingly lauded and successful films but I found this to be a lacking re-imagination of a beloved property that as entirely unworthy of the praise it received.
2. Black Panther
Before your jaw drops any further on the floor, hear me out. I think Black Panther is a fine film, a well-made blockbuster that’s fresh flavour is exciting but when so many are calling for Ryan Coogler’s box office smash to be a Best Picture contender, you know things have gone way too far. Unfortunately many have made Black Panther into something more than it is, which is an above average comic-book movie, nothing more and nothing less.
1. The Shape of Water
I’m calling it now; The Shape of Water is one of the most forgettable and undeserving Best Picture winners of all time. Guillermo Del Toro’s visually captivating tale isn’t a terrible film but I am still trying to come to terms with how this rather generic tale managed to win so many plaudits upon release. A strange and rather cold affair, The Shape of Water can count itself lucky it now sits in the same league as many of its fellow Best Picture winners.
Australian Film of the Year
One of the most assured and effective documentaries I remember seeing from our home country, Ben Lawrence’s Ghosthunter is a moving and unforgettable documentary feature that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster as we follow Sydney paranormal investigator/security guard Jason King on a journey that lasts 7 year’s. A must-watch.
Bad Times at the El Royale
There was a lot of potential in Drew Goddard’s film but sadly it wasn’t fully met in the end product, of which ended up being far too long and self-indulgent to fully work. There’s moments of brilliance to be found here, but overall you can’t help but feel like this was a big missed opportunity to create something truly special.
Dishonourable mentions – The Predator, Mute and The Cloverfield Paradox
A Star is Born
What initially seemed like nothing more than an unwanted re-doing of an oft-told tale/vanity project for its leading man/director Bradley Cooper instead became one of the year’s most likeable and adored films. Showcasing a quality as a director as well as performer, Cooper struck it gold with this likely Oscar winning treat.
Capturing the visual beauty of Del Toro’s film, this is an eye-capturing and beautiful piece of poster art.
A poster that screams lazy and generic, this does not make one want to rush out and give more money to a franchise that should be put to bed for a long nap.
The film may’ve been rather disappointing all things considered but this trailer is one of Netflix’s best yet, sucking us in with a shocking and twisted snippet of a crazy cult island.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
I just can’t put into words how much this trailer doesn’t make me want to ever lay eyes on the finished product. From a phoning it in Morgan Freeman, terrible looking CGI fight scenes and Keira Knightly putting on the year’s worst movie accent, The Four Realms trailer screams avoid me at all costs.
Top 3 Scenes of 2018
3. Ready Player One – Opening Chase Sequence
Now that’s how you film a money shot sequence! After a breathtaking look into the virtual world of the Oasis, Steven Spielberg throws us headfirst into a white knuckle race through New York City filled with a T-Rex, King Kong and more classic cars than you can count. A masterpiece of CGI and imagination, this is the most thrilling scene of 2018.
2. Hereditary – Charlie Gets Some Air
MILD SPOILERS – After a party goes wrong, Nat Wolff’s teenager Peter and his younger sister Charlie (played memorably by Milly Shapiro) rush back home, creating one of the most shocking and unexpected scenes in years.
1. First Man – The Moon Landing
Proving once more his the current king of last acts, after two hours of tense build-up, director Damien Chazelle, his composer Justin Hurwitz, D.O.P Linus Sandgren and leading man Ryan Gosling combine to deliver a standout finale as NASA reaches the moon. Seeing this sequence on the big screen (especially in its incredible IMAX format) was a genuine cinematic delight that had you leaving the cinema in a state of pure artistic ecstasy.
Honourable Mention –
Mandy – Nicolas Cage unleashes his inner rage
Mandy was a fairly mind-melting experience that just so happened to feature one of the oddest and most unforgettable moments of the year.
It needs no further explanation, for a snippet of what I mean, watch the short clip below.
What films made a mark on your 2018? I’d love to hear what you loved and hated about the year gone by in film in the comments below!
With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close, I will be taking a break from blogging for some time over the holiday period. Thanks to all readers of the blog who make this such a fun hobby to do and I look forward to sharing more movie themed goodness with you all in 2019!