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2018: A Year in Film

What a year it’s been for film.


The year Netflix became a serious awards contender through its acquisition of auteur-penned films such as ‘Buster Scruggs’, ‘Annihilation’ and ‘Roma’.

 

Whilst there were sequels, remakes, re-boots and big-budget studio blockbusters, this year was a standout due to the quality and range of independent films, art house flicks and documentaries.

 

There were also some big budget misses and some unexpected gems, but this is why we all love films, whether we viewed them at our local multiplex or on our couches, we witnessed the transformative power of film as an art form.

 

Long live cinema!

 

Here are FoodnFilm's top 20 films of 2018.

 

20. Ready Player One

 

A joyous audio-visual feast. An Amblin cinematic romp. It may not carry the weight of his best work, but Steven Spielberg still elicits child-like joy in a way that few others can.


Read our full review here
.

 

 

19. The Shape of Water

 

The mythical meets the mundane in this quirky, twisted fairytale. A moving examination of man’s innate fear of the other. Or is it just fish porn? Either way, the Academy approved.

 

18. Hostiles

 

Scott Cooper’s brooding, bloodthirsty Western follows a U.S cavalry officer on his last assignment: escorting his dying enemy across the feral landscape of America’s Wild West to his home in Montana. It’s slow and hard-hitting but it’s also full of beauty and depth.

The performances are really strong. Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi, especially. They carry the weight of the film’s brutal themes with grace.

It’s one of Bale’s best performances in recent years and easily Cooper’s most powerful film to date.

 

17. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 

Martin McDonagh’s black comedy-drama is a difficult but rewarding film about pain, grief and the coexistence of broken people in a broken world.

 

Read our full review here.

 

16. Peterloo

 

A powerful, realist drama and a story that should have been told a long time ago.

Read our full review here.

 

15. Lady Bird

 

Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut is a lovely coming of age story, with a strong cast led with absolute authenticity by young Irish actress Saiorse Ronan. The mother daughter dynamic is wonderful, as is the use of music, colour and cinematography.

 

14. Leave No Trace

 

A thought-provoking and moving film that explores the themes of isolation, separation & family in a simple way. With two quiet, graceful central performances, Leave No Trace always feels real. It’s quietly mesmerising and deeply affecting in its storytelling. The dialogue is sparse and the audience is left to read between the lines. There’s very little exposition, but the story is told through the characters and their experiences. Writer & director Debra Granik has a real gift for this kind of patient storytelling. It also features the best animal performance this year!

 

13. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

 

The Coen Brothers return to the Wild West with a 6-part anthology film, wading in the quintessence of their cinematic journey as a beloved writer/director duo; from the sheer love of the Old West to the offbeat comedy, twisted irony and nihilistic view in some chapters.

This is the first time in over 30 years of filmmaking that they’ve opted for shooting on digital, rather than film. The resulting cinematography brings a vibrancy that works surprisingly well. Just as each chapter is an exaggeration of real life stories, so the look and feel is also.

 

12. You Were Never Really Here

 

Intense, dark and gripping yet full of moments of beauty. With echoes of Taxi Driver and Drive, Joaquin Phoenix channels his inner rage-fuelled introvert with a mission to rescue a young girl from a desperately dark situation. He manages to convey so much beneath the surface with very little outward expression. Johnny Greenwood’s peculiar score is unlike any other this year.

 

11. First Reformed

 

A provocative exploration of the Christian faith. Disturbing, dark and thought-provoking. Paul Schrader laces his script with brutal honesty, dark humour and existential angst, with a brilliant central performance from Ethan Hawke, who looks as though he aged 10 years during the filming. It’d make for a good double bill with Mother!

 

10. First Man
 

Chazelle and Gosling trade the glitz and glamour of La La Land for this gritty, grounded character study of a man grappling with grief.

Read our full review here.

 

9. A Star Is Born

 

The fourth iteration of this classic story is an absolute knockout and one of the standout films of 2018. The live music scenes in A Star Is Born are absolutely electric. Cooper and Gaga display their characters’ journeys with authenticity, as a falling and rising star meet. Cooper channels his inner Jeff Bridges and Sam Elliott is phenomenal. If ‘Shallows’ doesn’t win ‘Best Original Song’ at the Oscars, then popcorn is on me at the next FoodnFilm!

 

8. Annihilation

 

Alex Garland’s dream-like sci-fi drama/horror is a film that stayed with me for a long time. It’s enigmatic, atmospheric and visually stunning and it will leave you pondering and processing for a while. Not only does it ask big questions, it gives few answers. Not for the faint hearted, it was deemed ‘too intellectual’ for mainstream audiences, prompting Netflix to snap up the international distribution rights.

 

7. Burning
 

 

I saw this at the Leeds Film Festival and was knocked out by this sizzling thriller. A slow building, gestating thriller that will grip you more and more as it unravels. Cinematographer Hong Kyung-Pyo captures the bare landscape of South Korea, as the loneliness of Jongsu (Yoo Ah-In) sets in. A true slow burn of a film that will get under your skin and into your head.

 

6. Mirai

 

The latest Anime wonder from director/writer Mamoru Hosoda, Mirai follows the story of a 4 year old boy who struggles to cope with the arrival of his new baby sister, until his garden becomes a magical gateway for him to meet with family members of the past, teaching him valuable lessons. This film is full of imagination and beautiful visual detail. Not only that, it deals with complex issues in a simple, relatable way.

 

5. They Shall Not Grow Old

 

Peter Jackson’s WW1 documentary is a technical marvel. Mixing never-before-seen footage with modern technology and colourisation, we see the war through the eyes of those who fought on the front line, in a way that we’ve never been able to before.

They Shall Not Grow Old captures the essence of cinema, taking us to a place we could not otherwise go. It is powerful, visceral, sobering and real.

What a way to mark the centenary of Armistice day.

 

4. Mission: Impossible Fallout
 

 

In an age of CGI-fuelled ‘blockbusters’ filled with either A) Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or B) one of the Avengers, it’s refreshing to see a film full of brilliant set pieces pulled off with practical effects, ingenious camera work, editing and ballsy stunts in the midst of interesting real life locations.


As far as non-stop, tension-filled, character driven action films go, Mission Impossible: Fallout is up there with the best.

 

3. Shoplifters

 

 

Martin Scorsese once said, ‘cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.’ Now I’ve seen Shoplifters, I understand this statement in a whole new way.

 

Hirokazu Koreeda’s heart-breaking drama about love and theft displays authenticity and mystery as it unravels. Along with nuanced performances, this is a beautiful work or art, full of pathos and humanity. You may not get to choose your family, but being part of a family is a choice that you have to make.

 

2. Phantom Thread
 

 

Phantom Thread is such a wonderfully intricate film. Every frame carefully stitched and every scene woven with finesse. Not to mention the performances and the score. A film that gets better with each watch.

 

Read our full review here.

 

1. Roma
 

 

Undoubtedly Alfonso Cuarón’s most personal film, Roma is a retrospective view of his upbringing in a neorealist style reminiscent of Fellini. It is a view of the past, through the eyes of the present; a lyrical ode to the women that shaped him.

 

Read our full review here.

 

 

by Dave Howarth




 

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