This year, I have watched 513 films (45 released this year and 282 for the first time). My most watched director was Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock and my most watched actors were Samuel L. Jackson and Domhnall Gleeson.
This list changes constantly so you can view a constantly updated list on my Letterboxd page. Please note, I’ve not seen many new releases over the past year so this is likely to change quite often over the next few months as I play catch up, as well.
And here are my top 10 films of 2018:
10. Bird Box
For obvious reasons, Bird Box is being compared to one of this year’s most successful horrors, A Quiet Place, which is probably the reason for a huge lack of appreciation for this film. Although I really want to watch A Quiet Place, I haven’t had the opportunity to watch it as of yet, so I have been able to experience Bird Box without being able to make any comparisons. For that reason (or maybe it won’t even be relevant in the end), I thought that the concept and delivery of Bird Box were both original and fresh.
Other comparisons of this film have been made to The Happening, but aside from the natural feel to this apocalyptic thriller, I don’t think that they are even close to being on the same level of quality. Not only is this an excellent horror, being equally terrifying and hauntingly mysterious (which is tough enough for horror films to achieve these days), but there’s also a lot of emotion behind it.
9. Crazy Rich Asians
I have and will never know money like this, but it’s amazing to see into the lives of the filthy rich and also of a contemporary Asia. With constantly beautiful locations and set pieces, Crazy Rich Asians is fun, funny, romantic, and also very emotional. I cried for the final 20 minutes of the film, but I was eager to watch it all over again straight afterwards.
8. Lady Bird
Lady Bird captures the transition from adolescence to adulthood perfectly in this deeply engaging coming-of-age story full of fantastic performances.
It’s a story that many viewers will easily relate to. For me, personally, I remember feeling a lot of what Saoirse Ronan’s character is going through in the years before I went to university 300 miles away from home. You feel so grown up at the time, but then you look back at this and realise that you were far from it. It’s such a brilliant age to explore the headspace of a female, on the cusp of so much, eager to move far away and prove yourself to others. But no matter how far you run, you’re home will always be your home, and you will always find yourself running back to your mum in times of comfort.
7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
There’s so much that I love about this film: the performances, the characters, the conflicts, the balance of tragedy and comedy, but most of all, I love how it evolved in ways that I wasn’t expecting it to. Frances McDormand gives a powerful performance and you can tell how much of a connection she had with her character, and the dedication that she wanted to give to make people aware of how relevant and culturally insightful this film is. She wanted you to stop in your tracks and pay attention, and that’s just what you’ll do.
However, knowing that there isn’t going to be a sequel makes me think that, on further viewings, my rating of this will eventually come down. Director Martin McDonagh has commented that “So many crimes are unsolved, and part of the story is what happens when a crime isn’t solved. What happens to the people left behind? What happens to their anger and rage and pain?” Which is great. I’m glad that they haven’t given a happy ending to the investigation just because it was made for a cinema screen. I can handle the reality of what the families in this story are left with, what they have to deal with every day, the heartbreak that won’t go away. That kind of ending is just as powerful in its own way.
6. A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place is a well-crafted horror with an original concept and genuine scares. As we watch this couple fight for survival after a supernatural force has invaded their isolated home, we follow them on a tense hunt that it is full of fear but also a brilliant exploration of the family dynamic.
Although there is very little dialogue, the family’s relationships with each other are still explored incredibly well. The performances are fantastic, too. You can feel every emotion they are feeling, especially from Millicent Simmonds who gives an exceptional performance, especially when you take into consideration that this is only her second feature-length role.
5. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Again directed by Christopher McQuarrie, following 2015’s Rogue Nation which was one of my favourite films of that year (better even than its James Bond competitor), Fallout continues on from the premise of its predecessor with a similar tone and style.
Fast and sleek, the beginning of the film gets straight to the point, opening up with a mission that quickly explains what has happened over the past two years and setting up what is to come. With as many twists as Cruise does hand brake turns, you can use every word that you would want to describe an action film with to describe this instalment. It is full-throttle, break-neck, high-octane, energetic, intensely thrilling, and it never gives up.
4. Avengers: Infinity War
There are superhero films that struggle to work with only four or five characters. There are superhero films that struggle to focus on just one. Somehow, Avengers: Infinity War manages to work incredibly well with over 20 of them. And it does this on various different planets and with the introduction of new characters, all without feeling like we are constantly being thrown new information that we don’t have time to take in or find difficult to place. Not once did I question what was going on or who somebody was, which is very rare for a film focusing on so many characters. For that, Infinity War cannot be faulted.
3. A Star Is Born
A Star Is Born is a beautifully told modern-day romance about a relationship that is equally touching and heartfelt but also tragic and fragile. The characters are developed with such delicacy and admiration that it’s no wonder their story has been told so many times and in so many different ways. It was wasn’t completely what I was expecting it to be, but it was also so much more.
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are both phenomenal and lead the film perfectly. Gaga has such a powerful voice and I’m so glad that Cooper gave her the opportunity to play this character and to give us the opportunity to get to know her better. I loved seeing her in American Horror Story but her performance here is something else, so I hope that this opens up many more feature-length roles for her.
Beautifully animated with vibrant colours and patterns, as it should be being inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, Coco is a beautiful story about life. But, most notably, it is also about death, because to be remembered in death, you need to have lived a good life. Mexico has a beautiful tradition of celebrating the dead with their Day of the Dead festival, allowing themes which are usually quite difficult to talk about to be explored in a beautiful and magical way. It is a story that has meaning and honesty, and that’s why it’s one that won’t easily be forgotten.
1. The Shape Of Water
Guillermo del Toro is the man to go to if you want to make a film equally terrifying, fantastical, and engaging. He has such amazing ideas, and this tribute to old Hollywood monster movies blends perfectly with del Toro’s love of dark fairytales.
Whilst I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to divulge in a film about a mute woman falling in love with an amphibious sea creature, the refreshingly told story, remarkable performances, and enchanting score pulled me deep under the water with them. The use of bluey-green tones throughout gives this illusion, as the film feels like an elegant dance underwater. The Shape of Water is simply mesmerising.