So another year has gone and so it’s time to go over my top 10 films that were released this year. This year was more difficult than normal since, owing to me now having a Cineworld Unlimited card following my move to Cheltenham for my job, I have been to the cinema much more than I normally do. That, combined with the increasing number of films being made for, or distributed through, Netflix, means that I have seen well over 100 films this year so narrowing down my top 10 was a hard task. This has also been a good year for me personally, having got a job I love in Cheltenham, attended the Screenplay Film Festival and the London Film Festival, and generally I’ve just had a good time this year. With that said, here are my top 10 films of 2018.
10. Coco – Pixar has had more of a spotty track record in recent years than they were originally known for, but when Pixar gets it right, it gets it right and Coco is one of Pixar’s best. Whilst the animation and music are excellent, as is to be expected from Pixar, the true power of Coco comes through the characters and the growing relationship between Miguel and his family and the power that music has to heal family relations and how the same piece of music takes on new meanings depending on the audience, with the final performance of Remember Me being one of the biggest tearjerker moments of the year.
9. BlacKkKlansman – In the hands of any other filmmaker, the story of a black man successfully infiltrating the KKK would have been enough for a fairly solid film, but this is a Spike Lee film. Through the lens of this story, Lee shows how the cycles of racism all the way from the roots of America have never left, the way film itself was used as a tool of racism for a long part of its history (and is still true to this day) and how, under Donald Trump, the ideas that were laughed at and brushed off as nothing to take seriously are no laughing matter anymore, becoming mainstream politics, with this leading to the most powerful ending to a film this year. But Lee makes sure this is an entertaining film, with a lot of great comedic moments, with the performances from John David Washington, Adam Driver and Topher Grace helping to make the film entertaining, as well as powerful and angry.
8. The Miseducation of Cameron Post – This is another film where the overall idea of the film would have been solid, but the strength comes through adding additional layers. The story of a gay teenager being sent to a conversion camp is prime for dramatic potential (as can be seen through the upcoming release of the similarly themed Boy Erased), but Desiree Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele take a more interesting approach by keeping their focus on the teenagers. By seeing the sense of comradery that builds amongst those in the camp, we see both the small moments of escape that are offered, along with how people can be conditioned to hate what they are. This is all seen in a career best performance from Chloe Grace Moretz who shows the mental gymnastics that are forced into the minds of those in conversion camps and the way in which the tactics of the camps work to wear down those in them and teach people to hate themselves, whilst also showing the joy in the brief moments of escape.
7. Avengers: Infinity War – In terms of sheer ambition, no film this year has equalled Avengers: Infinity War. In bringing together 10 years of films in different genres and tones together in a way that makes narrative and tonal sense, just being coherent would have been enough. But Infinity War is so much more than just coherent, being an excellent showcase for the talents of the cast and crafting one of the most fascinating characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thanos. What Josh Brolin does with Thanos is create a character who is a complete monster, but one who is so committed to his ideals and is so convinced he is the hero that he becomes the main character. The genius of the film is not that Thanos is right, it’s that Thanos believes he’s right and he believes what he does, even if no-one else does and how every action of Thanos subverts what we expect from the MCU, even in terms of his actions giving other characters full arcs, only for them to mean nothing in the end, causing them nothing but pain. The film does all of this, whilst still being a celebration of the success of the MCU over the past 10 years, with some of the best executed action sequences in the MCU.
6. The Breadwinner – This is a film that really shows the power of animation as a medium to tell serious, powerful stories. The story of a young girl living in Taliban ruled Afghanistan and how she has to become the breadwinner for her family following her dad’s arrest creates a powerful story about the way women are treated by the Taliban, along with the way in which men can become indoctrinated into those ideals and help to reinforce them in the smallest ways. The film also shows the power of stories as a means of comfort and a way to ensure that culture and family is preserved through the generations. All of this is told in beautiful 2D animation, with a mix of a more realistic art style for the scenes set in 2001 and an art style more reminiscent of traditional Islamic art for the fantasy story segments, creating one of the most visually stunning films of the year, with so much of the story of the world being seen through the character animation and how it relates to the background animation.
5. Apostasy – This is a prime example of how small scale, low-key films can have ever bit as much power as the biggest, most high profile films. Focused on a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses living near Manchester, this is a powerful look into how a family is torn apart. With writer/director Daniel Kokotajlo being a former Jehovah’s Witness himself, there is a sense of reality to the film that you would be hard-pressed to find in other films about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Through the film, we see how the Church is more like a cult, and how the members of the Church are indoctrinated into their beliefs, to the extent that they are willing to forego live saving medical treatment to become martyrs with pride and are able to convince themselves that shunning their family members who are excommunicated in times when they need family is the right thing to do. Through the use of muted colours and internal monologues, we get a full understanding of the mindsets of these characters, aided by incredible performances from Molly Wright, Sacha Parkinson and Siobhan Finneran, creating a devastating look into how belief can tear a family apart.
4. The Shape of Water – It’s fair to say that there is no other director like Guillermo Del Toro working today. Del Toro has crafted so many of his films around finding the beauty in the monstrous and seeing the true monsters hidden away in society and this is the best example of this in one of Del Toro’s English language films. No other director would attempt to make a riff on Creature From the Black Lagoon where you want the woman and the fish person to fall in love together, but Del Toro manages it, with the performances from Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones helping to sell this romance, creating something beautiful from something bizarre. This love story alone would have made The Shape of Water a brilliant film, but Del Toro wants to go further, going into the nature of persecution and how it is a rot on society, both figuratively through a soulful performance from Richard Jenkins showing the difficulties of being a gay man in 1950s America, and literally through Michael Shannon, making him the image of the ideal man, but using this to show the dark, rotten undercurrents in society that allowed prejudice to take hold. All of these themes are powerfully executed, all drawn together with the typically excellent production design, make-up and music you come to expect from a Guillermo Del Toro film.
3. Black Panther – Whilst Infinity War was the celebration of the MCU, Black Panther shows the future of the MCU. Through the hiring of Ryan Coogler and his embracing the afro-futurist aesthetic, we get one of the most unique and realised worlds in a blockbuster in a long time in Wakanda, with this adding to the film through its politics. For a film that focuses on an African nation that was never colonised, politics was inevitable, but Coogler doesn’t shy away from it, embracing the political side of the character by making this film about the black experience. Now I can’t speak for its power fully as a white man, but from my perspective, this film makes you understand the issues faced by the black population, and doing so through the lens of a superhero film serves to help the ideas reach the largest possible audience. It also helps that this has probably the best villain of the year with Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger, who fully makes you understand his motives and the direct impact he has on the character of T’Challa, with his actions (along with those of Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia) changing his perspective. Everything relating to T’Challa and Killmonger, from the costume design to the performances from Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan, to the use of vision sequences creates an incredible character dynamic and helps to generate one of the most important superhero films that’s ever been made.
2. American Animals – This film is a prime example of what can be done through a mix of documentary and narrative styles. Whilst it would have been easy to make a traditional heist film, Bart Layton is more interested in making us understand the characters. By cutting between reconstructions and interviews with the real people, Layton is able to elevate the film from a simple heist film into an exploration of the nature of memory and lies, constantly making the audience question the events, whether or not they happened the way the people described, or even whether they happened at all and the people were just embellishing the events to make the story better both for the audience and for the other characters. These all come together to put you in the mindset of four idiotic students who thought their plan to steal rare books would somehow work, highlighting the comic ineptitude of the people, but also the tragedy in how much damage they did to the lives of themselves, their family and those they directly hurt whilst enacting the robbery, showing the brilliance of the heist film when taken to new levels.
1. Three Identical Strangers – This is a film that hit me on a personal level like no other film this year. The first half of the film, focused on the joy of the brothers finding each other, the media storm around them and the growing relationship of the brothers was excellent enough on its own, and then it got into the reason why the brothers were separated. This created a sense of horror and tragedy that no other film has been able to replicate and seeing the difficulties the brothers faced with mental health issues is heartbreaking. It’s the research side of the film that affected me know, both in terms of the anger I felt over the brothers being separated for research which no-one who commissioned the research or was directly impacted by it would fully read, but also the nature of the research. As I said in my review, I took part in twin studies when I was younger and the idea of doing those studies whilst being separated from a brother I would’t remember I had hit me in a way no other film even came close to.
And to carry on my tradition, below are the rankings of all the other films I’ve seen in 2018, with my brief thoughts on the films I haven’t reviewed before.
11. Sorry to Bother You
12. Roma – A stunningly personal look at life in Mexico City in the early 1970s. From being involved in as many areas as he could, you can feel the passion from Alfonso Cuaron ooze out of every frame in this film, with Cuaron’s signature use of long takes making the environment of Mexico City feel real and lived in, just putting you right in the heart of the city. The character work though is what really sells this film, with Yalitza Aparicio giving an incredible performance filled which sells just how devastating the events of the film are to her and the difficulties she faces, with this even being seen in the use of two different subtitle formats to represent her character speaking in Spanish as a maid and Mixtec as a person, showing the separation between work and personal life in an incredibly subtle way. Cuaron also ensures that this is a tense, engaging film, with the recreation of the Corpus Christi massacre being one of the most intense filmmaking experiences of the year and the big scene at the end being an emotional sucker punch. This is a clear reminder of just how good a filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron is.
13. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
14. They Shall Not Grow Old – The technological achievement in restoring the footage from World War 1, including having it run at 24 frames per second, colourising it and having it in widescreen, is an astonishing achievement and puts you into the First World War in a way that no other film has been able to replicate, with the voices of the soldiers lending greater power to the film, especially the deadpan, dark humour a lot of the soldiers have.
15. Happy New Year, Colin Burstead
16. Cold War – A powerful romance that goes into areas such as the power of music, on a personal level; as a preservation of culture and as a propaganda tool, the damage done to people by the Cold War and how there are tensions that may never be resolved, but never forgets the power of the central romance, aided by excellent performances from Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot which highlight all the difficulties the characters face and beautiful black and white cinematography, bringing a haunting beauty to everything.
17. The Old Man and the Gun
18. Ready Player One
19. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
22. The Post
23. I, Tonya – Whilst I wasn’t familiar with the Tonya Harding story before this film, I found this to be an excellent look at someone who was the victim of abuse all her life, from her mother, husband and the media, making the audience fully complicit in the abuse she suffered, making a powerful, satirical point. It also does a great job at showing the classism that Harding faced throughout her career as a figure skater, further giving the film thematic weight and creating a compelling portrait of Harding, bolstered by excellent performances from Margot Robbie, Allison Janney and Sebastian Stan. It’s also an insanely funny film, incredibly dark in it’s humour, great, dark laughs had at the sheer incompetence of everyone directly involved in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.
24. Isle of Dogs
25. You Were Never Really Here
27. First Reformed
29. A Quiet Place
30. Molly’s Game
31. Lady Bird
32. Game Night
33. Leave No Trace – A powerful drama focusing on issues like the lingering effects of PTSD and how it impacts the families of those who suffer it, why people would voluntarily cut themselves off from the rest of the world and the need some people have for human interaction, all wrapped around an incredibly executed father/daughter relationship, buoyed by incredible performances from Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster.
34. Phantom Thread – The performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps are incredible in a film exploring the damage of a controlling personality in every conceivable way, going into some really messed up places in the third act, with excellent direction from Paul Thomas Anderson, along with strong costume design (telling the story through clothing, as is befitting of a film focused on a fashion designer) and outstanding sound design.
35. A Star is Born
36. The Hate U Give
37. Hold The Dark – Jeremy Saulnier once again shows why he is one of the great directors working today at building tension, crafting a powerful, dark (in every sense of the word) thriller that explores the relationship between man and nature, along with giving an insight into the way rural communities in Alaska are treated, anchored together by excellent performances from Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgard and Riley Keough.
38. Hereditary – This is a tense, terrifying film with brilliantly realised themes of mental illness, the damage done to families by grief and guilt, aided by the dollhouse aesthetic of the film, with an excellent central performance by Toni Collette, that goes completely off the rails in the last five minutes, with these last five minutes preventing the film from being a true horror classic.
40. Mary and the Witch’s Flower
41. Annihilation – There are some times where the ambition of the film works against it, but overall Annihilation is a powerful, thought provoking sci-fi film with gorgeous cinematography and production design, an engaging, suspenseful plot and excellent performances from Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Oscar Isaac.
42. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – This has some of the best visual work the Coens have done, making great use of the harsh landscape for horror and beauty, but the film is only as strong as the stories within. Easily, the highlights of the film are The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and The Gal Who Got Rattled, with the writing and the performances from Tim Blake Nelson and Zoe Kazan in their respective stories being excellent. The other stories are all solid, although some feel like they needed a bit more time, whilst the minimal dialogue in Meal Ticket and All Gold Canyon leads to solid acting from Liam Neeson and Tom Waits, even if the stories themselves could have done with a bit more time. There are also fascinating ideas in each story about death and the way people react and understand death, with this ranging from tragedy to dark comedy, with this having some of the best dark comedy the Coens have done.
43. Funny Cow
44. The First Purge
45. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
46. Ocean’s 8
47. Journey’s End – Whilst it doesn’t fully escape its stage roots, this is still a powerful look at the lives of soldiers in the trenches in World War One and the psychological damage and sense of futility that it can create in people, aided by excellent performances, the highlight easily being Sam Claflin delivering career best work.
49. Thoroughbreds – A fascinating dark comedy looking into the nature of empathy and what it truly means for someone to be emotionally cold, with an interesting script and excellent lead performances from Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke, without whom the film could have fallen apart as they get the tone of the film perfectly, and it is bittersweet to see the final performance from Anton Yelchin.
51. Last Flag Flying – There’s a lot of heart in this film, looking at what it means to be a soldier after leaving the army and the cycle of war and how it affects families, but the real charm in the film comes from the brilliant interplay between Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne.
52. Early Man
53. Ant-Man and the Wasp
54. 22 July – The first half of the film has some of the most powerful, intense film-making of the year and it’s the reason why you hire Paul Greengrass to make a film. The way he puts you in the shoes of the children fleeing from Brevik is chilling stuff and easily one of the highlights of Greengrass’ career. The second half of the film doesn’t quite work as well though, mainly in terms of the character development and taking a fairly simplified look at Brevik’s trial. Still, the first half of the film needs to be seen.
55. 120 BPM (Beats per Minute) – This is a fascinating, touching look at the lives of people living with AIDS in the 1990s, giving a great insight into gay culture in Paris, with the personal relationships between the characters and the feeling of dread that any of the characters with AIDS could die at any moment giving the film real power. It is a bit too long though, with some of the montages and clubbing scenes going on a bit too long for me.
56. The House With a Clock in its Walls
57. The Wife
58. My Generation – A fascinating look at the actors, musicians and artists of the 1960s, with Michael Caine acting as a solid host for this tour of life at the time, with the focus on the class disparity providing a strong hook for the film. It also helps that this film has probably the best soundtrack of the year.
59. Nothing Like A Dame – This is a fairly light film, but so much fun to watch because of the acerbic wit of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright, whilst also conveying some interesting stories about their careers.
60. Love Simon – Whilst some of the character beats in the second half of the film don’t quite work and it falls into the tropes of typical high school movies, this is a touching comedy looking into the difficulties and realities of being a gay teenager, with a brilliant performance from Nick Robinson anchoring the film.
61. Journeyman – This is a powerful drama about the nature of identity and the difficulties of coping emotionally when someone you love is no longer themselves, with Paddy Considine and Jodie Whitacker giving excellent performances, with their being some powerful emotional weight to the film, making every action in the film understandable, even when they’re heartbreaking and brutal.
62. Crazy Rich Asians
63. Swimming With Men
64. Incredibles 2
65. New Town Utopia – Considering that I work as a town planner, the parts of the film that were focused on the planning elements and the design of Basildon and how it failed to live up to the expectations of the new town ideals were fascinating to me, but I personally found the stuff about artists in Basildon, whilst intriguing, to be less interesting overall than the planning side of things, although the film is still really interesting as a whole.
66. Solo: A Star Wars Story
67. Cam – This is an effective thriller looking into the issues facing cam girls and the nature of identity on the internet, anchored by an excellent lead performance from Madeline Brewer. However, it takes a bit too long to get going and it does fall apart at the ending which doesn’t give a satisfying explanation for what was going on. It either needed to be upfront with an explanation or play into surrealism right from the start. Plus, nothing against the film, but the same themes of Cam were done much better in Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue. However, I will say that it’s refreshing to see a film like this that doesn’t shame the main character for being a cam girl, which is probably due to the writer of the film being a former cam girl herself.
68. Assassination Nation
69. Mary Poppins Returns
70. Flavours of Youth – The animation in the film is excellent and it is fascinating to see how a Japanese film handles Chinese culture, but the stories are a bit of a mixed bag. The second story is probably the best one overall, with the first one having the best animation, but there isn’t really enough time given to the first and third stories to really let us understand and connect to the characters.
71. Unsane – Whilst some of the characters are fairly bland and the balancing act between the stalking element and the critique of the American health care system doesn’t fully work, this is still a well done thriller, Claire Foy giving an excellent performance and Steven Soderbergh taking advantage of the film being shot on an iPhone to create some really unsettling imagery, the fear of being stalked present in every shot of the film.
72. Christopher Robin
73. A Futile and Stupid Gesture – There are some great humourous moments in the film, aided by a game cast (highlights being Will Forte, Domhnall Gleeson and Joel McHale) and I really enjoyed how the film made fun of the idea of biopics, but it’s clear that a lot of important events and people (including John Hughes) were left out of the film or weren’t given enough development. This is something that probably would have worked better as a mini series rather than a film.
74. The Little Stranger
75. The Cloverfield Paradox – Whilst it is fairly cliched and some of the plot elements don’t work as well as intended, I still found this to be a suspenseful, engaging sci-fi horror mainly due to the performances from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Elizabeth Debicki, David Oyelowo and Daniel Bruhl, along with some interesting moral questions and interesting plot elements regarding alternate dimensions.
76. A Simple Favour
77. Creed 2
78. The Mercy – The idea of doing a biopic of Donald Crowhurst was an excellent one and Colin Firth is brilliant as Crowhurst, the film coming alive whenever it’s on Crowhurst’s boat, but the film constantly jumping between the sea and land ends up removing a lot of the power from those storylines. It feels like it would have been better to separate each side of the film into different halves (i.e the first half focusing on Clare Crowhurst on land and the second half focusing on Donald).
79. Darkest Hour
80. First Man
81. The Resistance Banker – There are some good moments of tension, the performances in the film are engaging and the way it gives the details about how the main character was able to finance the Dutch Resistance is fascinating, but the characters just didn’t connect with me like they should have, it feeling a bit too overwrought at points.
82. Western – The ideas of the culture clash between German workers and Bulgarian locals are interesting, with a great performance from Meinhard Neumann, along with solid direction from Valeska Grisebach, particularly for themes regarding masculinity, adding to the tense atmosphere of the film, but I feel the culture clash elements should have been explored in more detail, with more focus given to the other workers and how they interact with the Bulgarian locals, whilst the ending just felt anticlimactic to me.
83. The Happy Prince
84. Ralph Breaks the Internet
85. Dark River – There are some interesting ideas explored regarding the nature of abuse and the relationship between siblings changing as a result of abuse, with these elements aided by a brilliant performance from Ruth Wilson, but the farming elements of the film aren’t as interesting and the ending of the film is too big and should have been something more intense.
86. The Square – A clear case of a film trying to do too much. There are so many threads in the story that the film ends up losing sight of what it’s actually about. What should have been a more focused character study ends up trying to say stuff about the art world and human nature, and it’s clear a better film would be seen if the scenes of the artists were cut out (even if it meant losing the brilliant scene with Terry Notary).
87. Teen Titans Go to the Movies
88. Tau – There are solid elements of production design, interesting ideas about abuse and good performances from Maika Monroe and Gary Oldman, but Ed Skrein is completely generic as the villain, the ideas of abuse aren’t explored in enough detail, the other two characters Skrein captured could have been cut out of the film entirely and there are some pretty severe story problems in the last act of the film.
89. Bird Box – There are some great moments of suspense in the film, mainly due to strong direction from Susanne Bier and the performance from Sandra Bullock, and having the monsters not be seen on screen is a fascinating idea, I just think the characters were not given the development they needed, particularly in the second half of the film and some of the twists happen way too quickly in the film.
90. Tomb Raider – Alicia Vikander gives some great life and personality to her version of Lara Croft and the first act of the film does some good work establishing Lara as a character, but as soon as the film leaves London it starts to fall apart. All of the substance and nuance of the story of the game is gone (mainly through removing the character of Sam), Walton Goggins plays an incredibly generic villain, Daniel Wu and Dominic West are completely wasted and the action scenes are so poorly lit that I could barely see what was happening. Plus, the inclusion of Trinity is such a forced attempt at sequel bait and should have been cut out of the film entirely.
91. The Children Act – Whilst Emma Thompson gives an incredible performance, which helps to anchor her character and the film, with all the best moments in the film revolving around her, the other characters aren’t developed as well, mainly the way the character of Adam, played by Fionn Whitehead acts throughout the film doesn’t quite work as we don’t really get an understanding of who he is, which means the scenes between him and Thompson don’t work as well as they should (which robs the film of a lot of its dramatic weight). Plus, I wished we got more of an insight into Adam’s beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness and how Thompson’s character was affected by them, and how she affected his beliefs, but we didn’t get those, if you want a better film looking at Jehovah’s Witnesses, just watch Apostasy.
92. My Friend Dahmer – Ross Lynch gives a solid performance as Jeffrey Dahmer and the whole idea of the film is solid, but after watching the film I feel like I needed to know more about Dahmer and the people he interacted with, it feeling like an extra 15 minutes was needed, especially in relation to Dahmer’s family.
93. Psychokinetic – There are some good moments of fun to be had when the film does get into the superhero side of things and the central focus on the father-daughter relationship was well handled, but the social satire and darker tone of the film doesn’t quite mesh with the superhero side of the film.
94. Blockers – There is some good comedy in the film, the ideas about parenthood and empty nest syndrome are well explored and the way the film presents female sexuality is great, aided by strong performances from Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Adlon, but there is way too much gross out humour in the film which kept interrupting the good comedy parts of the film.
95. All the Money in the World – Whilst it is admirable that Ridley Scott was able to successfully replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in such a short amount of time, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a fairly by the numbers thriller. There are interesting ideas at play regarding the price of family, but those aren’t explored that often and the ending of the film and being more focused on suspense, ends up killing any suspense that the film had generated beforehand.
96. Kodachrome – A completely generic, predictable dysfunctional family drama that doesn’t do anything that wasn’t already done better in films like Nebraska. The nostalgia for Kodachrome and physical media does give an interesting hook to the film and the performances from Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris and Elizabeth Olson are solid but the overall film is just okay.
97. Sicario 2: Soldado
98. The Polka King – Whilst the film isn’t as funny or biting as it thinks it is and treats the character of Jan Lewan too kindly, Jack Black gives one of his best performances as Lewan, showing the moral issues the character faces and why he keeps continuing his Ponzi scheme, it’s a shame this performance isn’t in service of a better film.
99. The Bookshop
100. The Spy Who Dumped Me
101. A Wrinkle in Time – Whilst there are some great visuals at moments, Storm Reid gives an excellent performance, Ava DuVernay’s direction is great and the message of the film is important and brilliantly executed, the film as a whole is a mess. The pacing in the first half of the film is way too fast, it feeling like important moments to develop the characters and the world were cut out, scenes that could have been used to build atmosphere are instead exposition dumps and the performances from Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Deric McCabe are profoundly annoying, McCabe being the worst offender, especially in the third act of the film, a large portion of which rests on his performance, which is awful and took me out of the emotion of the scene.
102. Deadpool 2/Once Upon a Deadpool
103. Redoubtable – Whilst the performances are fairly solid, I didn’t really feel much of a connection to the film, it wants to be an exploration of the life and politics of Jean Luc Godard, but it never really gives a reason why you should be invested in Godard as a character in this film, it feeling like it wants to emulate the style of Godard so much, it forgets to have a style of its own, meaning I had no real connection to the events of the film.
104. Bohemian Rhapsody
105. Rampage – There is some entertainment value to be had in the film when it gets to the action, and The Rock and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are a lot of fun in the film, but the pacing to the film felt off, going way too fast in the first half so we don’t get time to know the characters, before slowing to a crawl at the end. The whole thing just didn’t quite work for me.
106. Slaughterhouse Rulez
107. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle – Whilst it is better than the first film in this series in terms of having a bit more weight to it, this is still plagued with ugly animation, poor characterisation and doesn’t fully explore the plot elements that it introduces in relation to the survivors on Earth, once again doing nothing with the idea of an abandoned Earth, along with having forced and obvious sequel baiting.
108. Come Sunday – There are interesting ideas at play regarding the nature of faith with solid performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jason Segel, but I wish more was done looking at the exploitative nature of faith and really exploring the change in the main character’s religious perspective.
109. The Meg
110. Mary Shelley – Elle Fanning gives a solid performance as Mary Shelley, and most of the supporting cast is fine, but the film just doesn’t hold together, filled with way too many historical inaccuracies to give an insight into Shelley’s life, seemingly confused about how it wants to depict the relationship between Mary and Percy Shelley and the fact that Frankenstein features so little in the film, maybe 20 minutes in a 2 hour film, is shocking.
111. Red Sparrow – Whilst there are some good ideas behind the film and I admire the attempts to give more depth to the stereotypical sexy spy character, the film seems to revel in the violence it inflicts on its lead, the plot is fairly predictable, it is way too long and most of the performances are bland, most of the cast looking bored throughout the film.
113. Mowgli – Whilst the CG is impressive for the most part and there are some interesting ideas regarding the way Andy Serkis has interpreted the stories of Rudyard Kipling, ultimately the film doesn’t work because the tone veers wildly from dark and grim to more comedic with no real balance, the facial motion capture falls into the uncanny valley and the performances are hit and miss. Whilst Christian Bale is excellent as Bagheera, most of the other cast are just okay, whilst Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan is pretty terrible, going way too over the top, removing all menace from the character.
114. The Predator
115. The Girl in the Spider’s Web
116. The Darkest Minds
117. Robin Hood
118. How to Talk to Girls at Parties – You can feel the ambition of the film and the idea of John Cameron Mitchell doing an adaptation of Neil Gaiman sounds great on paper, but the whole film is just too tonally confused, it’s clear Gaiman’s story did not have enough plot to sustain a feature length film and it doesn’t give a real insight into the punk lifestyle and doesn’t give enough focus on the system of the aliens which makes the final third of the film just feel confused. When it’s focused on Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp though, the film works because of how well their characters and their performances bounce off each other.
119. King of Thieves
120. Hotel Artemis
121. The Commuter – Whilst there are some decent thrills and Liam Neeson gives a solid performance, this is just a dull film overall, the plot being fairly predictable, the action direction being very generic and an incredibly talented cast, including Florence Pugh, Andy Nyman, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Neil and Letitia Wright being completely wasted. It’s just a forgetable experience overall.
122. Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter – Whilst there are decent performances from Josh Brolin and Danny McBride, the emotional connections between the characters are not as strong as intended, meaning that the whole crux of the film doesn’t work, and ends up making the characters unlikable and annoying.
123. Pacific Rim: Uprising – Whilst the action scenes are fine, the cinematography is fun and John Boyega’s charisma helps carry the film (especially in scenes he shares with Cailee Spaeney), Scott Eastwood is a plank of wood, we don’t get enough character development for the new cast (there needed to be more scenes between John Boyega and Rinko Kikuchi) and the strong world building and the details of the Jaegers that made the first film work so well are gone, showing just how much the first film owed its success to Guillermo Del Toro and Travis Beacham. The best way I can describe how the Jaegers don’t work in this film compared to the first one is weight. In the first film, there was a clear weight to the Jaegers and how the cast moved when in the Jaeger cockpit. In this film, just through using treadmills to give the cast a greater degree of movement, the weight of the Jaegers is gone as there is no strain in the faces of the actors in controlling them, which is made even more of an issue when the cast don’t touch the ground and are jumping around the cockpit, the power of the Jaegers is removed in favour of making the film flashier. It’s just a massive disappointment.
124. Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters – There is some solid action, animation and the overall idea of taking place on Earth thousands of years after Godzilla has conquered it is an interesting one, but the characters are fairly forgettable, the design of Godzilla is ugly and the ending is one of the most blatant examples of sequel bait I’ve seen. Plus, it falls into the same trap as After Earth as nothing is really done with the fact that it takes place on Earth over any other generic alien planet.
125. Peter Rabbit – Whilst not as bad as I feared it would be, mainly due to the comedic talents of Domhnall Gleeson, and one great scene that captured the tone of the book, this is just an insult to Beatrix Potter. James Corden is profoundly annoying as Peter Rabbit, the film doesn’t trust the audience to follow along, literally explaining the character arcs and plot developments to the audience. The whole thing feels like it was originally written to be a Bugs Bunny v. Elmer Fudd film but changed since it wasn’t made by Warner Bros., the whole film feeling too American for an adaptation of Beatrix Potter. Plus, the whole plot element regarding Peter Rabbit and Rose Byrne’s character (who is clearly meant to be Beatrix Potter and should have been the narrator of the film instead of Margot Robbie) just felt weird and uncomfortable to me.
126. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
127. Lek and the Dogs – Whilst there are some interesting ideas and the central premise is interesting, the film gets bogged down in pretentious imagery and waxings on the nature of the universe that just took me away from what should have been a low key, personal story. The whole film just feels so pretentious that any power it could have had is stripped away, a prime case of style over substance, but where the style is dull and lifeless, preventing me from having any real sort of connection with the film.
128. Downsizing – What should have been a unique, interesting Twilight Zone-esque sci-fi film is instead a completely generic mid-life crisis film with a heaping dose of racial caricatures until we get to an ending that goes so far left field and is so nihilistic that it sinks any sense of good will that had been built up beforehand.
129. The 15:17 to Paris – Whilst there are good intentions behind the film, the film is just a boring mess. The decision to cast for the leads to play themselves doesn’t work because none of them can act, just feeling really flat with their delivery and it not looking like they have good chemistry with each other (screen chemistry is different to real life chemistry), there is not enough plot to sustain a 90 minute film (it probably wasn’t enough to sustain a 45 minute TV episode) and there are frankly amateurish editing choices (mainly at the end to hide the actor Clint Eastwood got to play Francois Holland looks nothing like him).
130. The Outsider – Whilst there is an interesting idea here which could have worked well in the hands of a better director (Takashi Miike was considered to direct and I’m sure he would have made a better film), this is ultimately an incredibly boring film, generically directed, saying little about the place of Americans in Japanese culture and with a stunningly boring performance from Jared Leto in the lead, which renders the film inert.
131. Gotti – This is a shockingly inept film, not working on any level, performances, writing, directing, it’s all bad and the way the story of John Gotti is told is confusing, not deciding whether or not we should like Gotti throughout the film. However, there is entertainment value in watching it because of how inept the film is.
132. Ibiza – What should have been something like a female version of The Inbetweeners Movie ends up being a painful experience. None of the jokes work and the three leads don’t have any chemistry with each other, the comedic talents of Gillian Jacobs are completely wasted and it just runs in place, not doing anything unique, every joke being predictable and lazy.
133. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald
135. The Festival
136. Mute – One of the biggest disappointments I’ve had with a film in a long time. I am a fan of Duncan Jones’ films, I loved Moon and Source Code and I’m one of the people that will defend Warcraft but this is a disaster. Jones’ direction is solid, as is to be expected, but the characters are boring at best and reprehensible at worst with the talents of Alexander Skargard, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux being wasted with bad writing. The connections to Moon meanwhile are in the background, given little focus, making me think a more interesting film could take place in the world created by both this and Moon, but focusing on these characters was the wrong call. The treatment of women though is what makes this a disgusting film with this being one of the most prominent cases of ‘fridging’ I’ve seen in a film.
137. Game Over, Man – I thought it would be difficult to find a film worse than Mute but Game Over, Man easily beats it. The plot is a complete rip-off of Die Hard with absolutely nothing new to add, the characters are annoying and hateful, it is incredibly sexist, racist and homophobic, it is way too gory and it commits the biggest sin of a comedy and just isn’t funny, it’s so bad that not even Sam Richardson (who is probably the funniest cast member on Veep) can make his material funny, it’s just a complete disaster from start to finish.
138. The Package – A complete disaster from start to finish. The plot is driven by an idiot accidentally cutting his penis off and the other idiots he’s friends with trying to get the penis to him in the hospital. None of the characters are likeable, none of the jokes are funny, it’s too reliant on gross out humour and, even at 90 minutes, it’s still too long, feeling padded out to fit the paper thin premise into a feature length film. This is a thoroughly unpleasant experience and, combined with films like Mute, Game Over Man, Ibiza and The Outsider shows that Netflix has just become a dumping ground for bad films.
And finally, here are my lists for the year (with the performance lists limited to one performance per film):
Top 20 Male Performances
20. Shameik Moore – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
19. John Cho – Searching
18. Jim Cummings – Christopher Robin
17. John David Washington – BlacKkKlansman
16. Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
15. Sam Claflin – Journey’s End
14. Neil Maskell – Happy New Year, Colin Burstead
13. Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
12. LaKeith Stanfield – Sorry to Bother You
11. Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
10. Robert Redford – The Old Man and the Gun
9. Josh Brolin – Avengers: Infinity War
8. Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
7. Ben Foster – Leave No Trace
6. Rupert Everett – The Happy Prince
5. Tomasz Kot – Cold War
4. Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
3. Michael B Jordan – Black Panther
2. Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
1. Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here
Top 20 Female Performances:
20. Ruth Wilson – Dark River
19. Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place
18. Danai Gurira – Black Panther
17. Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
16. Amandla Stenberg – The Hate U Give
15. Jessica Chastain – Molly’s Game
14. Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
13. Toni Colette – Hereditary
12. Glenn Close – The Wife
11. Maxine Peake – Funny Cow
10. Thomasin McKenzie – Leave No Trace
9. Viola Davis – Widows
8. Saara Chaudry – The Breadwinner
7. Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
6. Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5. Joanna Kulig – Cold War
4. Siobhan Finneran – Apostasy
3. Chloe Grace Moretz – The Miseducation of Cameron Post
2. Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
1. Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Top 20 Most Anticipated Films of 2019:
20. Toy Story 4
19. Captive State
18. Missing Link
17. The Lion King
14. Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis Film (Which I think is going to be called Love is All You Need)
13. Downton Abbey
12. It: Chapter 2
11. How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
10. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
9. Godzilla: King of the Monsters
8. Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon
7. The Hustle
6. John Wick: Chapter 3
4. Star Wars: Episode 9
3. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
2. Captain Marvel
1. Avengers; Endgame