Monday, 31 December 2018

NUTS4R2's Best Movies Of 2018

The Year In Review 2018

NUTS4R2s Top Movies of 2018

Well this is interesting... I wouldn’t have necessarily thought it if I hadn’t had a count up but, of the 87 cinema movies I experienced this year, I’ve come up with 32 that I wouldn’t leave out of my ‘Top Ten’ list. That’s almost half so, yeah... maybe it’s not such a bad year for cinema after all. Although, looking at the previous list, not nearly as good as last year.

As usual, some of the films which should be on this year’s list are not here because they were already on last year’s list, in the case of those I saw early at Festival screenings. So if you’re wondering why films like Blade Of The Immortal didn’t make the cut here... they did but they were in last year’s list. Also, due largely to the rise of subscription streaming services which blackmail the potential audience into buying their product by making some of the films they show exclusive to their channel (not to mention encouraging piracy), there are probably a few films here that probably might have been on the list, had I had an opportunity to see them. For instance, due to extremely limited screenings, I never got to see the great David Bautista in his movie Final Score and, you know, it could have been a contender. Similar disappointment when I never got to find a rare screening close enough to me of an actual British movie, Anna And The Apocalypse. This was going to be my big, Christmas themed zombie musical of the year but... nope... still can’t find a way of seeing this one. So I missed out and, possibly, so did this list. My other big regret was not finding the time to see The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, so I hope to catch up on that one sometime next year.

As usual, this is a reverse listing taking you up to my number one choice for the year which, like last year, is puzzlingly a big budget Hollywood blockbuster. Maybe my standards are getting lower but I think, to keep all the plot threads in the air in such an entertaining manner, the film I’ve given my number one spot to truly deserves it.

So, without further ado and with much risk to my credibility, here’s my top 32 cinema movies of 2018.

32. Solo - A Star Wars Movie
Okay, so the least successful Star Wars movie was, in fact, not a bad movie... especially after the load of old tosh that was Star Wars Episode VIII - The Last Jedi. But perhaps, barely five months after the release of that movie, everyone was still reeling from that fiasco and so didn’t bother with one of the better Star Wars movies of the last five years. Also, I suspect this would have been a huge hit if Disney would have just moved their new Mary Poppins movie out of the December slot and released this at Christmas instead. My review of Solo - A Star Wars Movie is here.

31. Cam
This one made the list because it’s rare for a movie to not only have a positive take on sex workers but to treat it in such a blasé manner so that it became a plot device rather than something to be held under scrutiny. I think this one got nabbed by a channel rather than a proper cinema release (so I’m glad I managed to catch it at the Curzon Soho at this year’s London Film Festival) but it’s worth a look if you don’t mind a certain lack of closure at the end of the movie. My review of Cam is here.

30. Insidious - The Last Key

The fourth installment in the Insidious franchise once again gives us something that,  for the moment, a low budget horror film could only get away with... a 75 year old female action hero. Something you don’t often see in cinemas and it’s nice when the director of a horror movie also gets all the timing right to make the jump scares work. My review of this one here.

29. Attraction (aka Prityazhenie)
This Russian update of The Day The Earth Stood Still with enhanced action and humour had absolutely no fanfare here (I don’t think I saw one trailer, I just looked it up when it appeared in the listings) and only played at my cinema for a week, I think. It’s a bit US blockbuster in style but it’s a refreshing change of pace to see how the Russians handle this kind of thing. My review of Attraction is here.

28. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.
A charming animated feature film from Marvel bringing different comic book incarnations of Spider-Man together via interpenetrating universes. There’s a lot going on in this and the humour and ‘spot the reference’ components of the film make this one a nice change of pace for two hours. My review of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse can be found here.

27. Aquaman
Nowhere near the level of Wonder Woman but certainly a nice stab at updating one of their long standing characters by DC. This is not the Aquaman as I knew him from when I was a kid but I can overlook stuff like that when the quality of the movie is so good (if a little too long). My review of this one is here.

26. Lady Bird
Wonderful piece about a teenager and her relationship with friends and family. I can remember almost nothing about this other than the fact that I thought it was really cool. My review of Lady Bird is here.

25. Pacific Rim Uprising
I thought the original Pacific Rim was an okay film. I certainly wasn’t expecting to like the sequel as much as I did. Big on action and very clichéd but hugely entertaining. My review of this one is here.

24. The Post
Nice docudrama by Steven Spielberg of a true story. Lots of this seems to be authentic to what happened in real life, which is no surprise since I believe on of the characters portrayed here used to be a neighbour of Spielberg. Would probably make an excellent double bill with All The President’s Men, which it kinda runs into at the end of the movie. My review of The Post is here.

23. A Quiet Place
A not bad, post-apocalyptic horror movie which relies on silence as the main instigator of all the tension you feel while watching it... after cleverly setting up the stakes by showing the worst that could happen within the opening sequence. Basically a 1950s B-Movie in disguise, it’s no wonder that people were complaining about noisy customers in cinemas after this. My review of A Quiet Place is here.

22. Truth Or Dare
Very interesting take on the old ‘viral curse’ school of horror, started perhaps by M. R. James when he wrote the short story Casting The Runes, which this and a dozen other movies (and also a TV play) could be said to be modelled after. It does it well, though. My review of Truth Or Dare is here.

21. Videoman
A nice, humorous homage to VHS tape collectors everywhere... especially those who love both the horror and giallo genres. My understanding is that this will be getting a straight to DVD release later this year. my review of Videoman is here.

20. A Simple Favour
Interesting movie that scuppers any expectations that this is going to be a horrible, Hollywood romantic comedy by having a director and actress known for such things and then giving them a harder edge than you would expect. A Simple Favour is reviewed here.

19. The Greenaway Alphabet
Beautiful, documentary examining director Peter Greenaway and his relationship with his daughter, directed by his wife. This one deserves some kind of proper cinema release other than a festival screening and it’s certainly one of the most charming films I’ve seen all year.

18. Upgrade
What starts off as a blisteringly interesting, Cronenberg-like sci-fi movie takes a turn towards horror in this interesting film about what happens when you give a human being an onboard computer with a certain capacity for self preservation. A gory slice of action themed mayhem. My review of Upgrade is here.

17. L’Amant Double
What can one say about a film which starts off with a giant, close up shot of the lead character’s vagina? Well, keep it to yourself because this ‘DePalma does Hitchcock’ style French thriller has some nice moments and, though you will see some of the ‘surprises’ a lot earlier than you’re perhaps supposed to, it’s an entertaining movie, to be sure. My review of Double Lover is here.

16. Searching
This is what happens when you push the envelope on the new breed of ‘story takes place on one character’s hard disc’ movies. Far superior to other entries into this new sub-genre (most of which were horror movies), this gives us a police procedural movie with a difference and even, considering the possible limitations of the format, manages to hide a surprise or two up its sleeve.My review of Searching is here.

15.The Queen Of Fear
Like a few of the movies I saw at festivals last year, I doubt this one will get any kind of UK cinema release but I found this Argentinian film about a famous actress trying to put on a one woman show in the face of anxiety to be a marvellous movie. My review of this one is here.

14. Overlord
This World War Two set horror movie is so intense in the horrors of war parts that the monster stuff almost doesn’t hold its own with the intensity of that atmosphere. It’s so well done though, however you look at it, that this deserves to be better known, I think. My review of Overlord is here.

13. Assassination Nation
It’s so tempting to just dismiss this as a modern day Heathers but, even if I did, that’s not a bad label for this teen, social media age, bloody update on the ‘Salem witch trials.
I review this one here.

12. Rampage
A movie based on a video game I don’t even remember from the 1980s... but put The Rock in a movie with a giant ape, giant crocodile and giant wolf and it has to be at least watchable. Put in a prologue with a giant rat chasing people around in zero gravity in space and you have a perfect modern B-movie. My review of Rampage is here.

11. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
What impressed me the most about Three Billboards was the way that, once you got to know them a little better, the characters weren’t really who you thought they were. Complex people crafted by great actors in a quite intense drama. Whats not to like. My review of Three Billboards is here.

10. Mandy
I primarily liked Mandy because the atmosphere it created reminded me of the 1982 version of Conan The Barbarian. Add in some psychotic alien biker thugs and Nicolas Cage on a bloody rampage and they couldn’t really go wrong. My review of Mandy is here.

9. Revenge
Talk about undermining the ‘male gaze’. A rape revenge movie written and directed by a French lady, Revenge is bloody and has occasional touches of brilliance and a certain intensity in the direction that is a little reminiscent of Sergio Leone... at least that’s what I thought. I review Revenge here.

8. You Were Never Really Here
This is pretty much a Scottish remake of Taxi Driver, as far as I’m concerned. The beautifully gory and dreamlike ending push it over into the ‘very special’ category. I review this mini masterpiece here.

7. Molly’s Game
After the brilliance of Miss Sloane (reviewed here), Jessica Chastain takes on a true story about another powerful woman who gets punished, in some ways, for being too successful and trying to beat the odds. I review this slice of brilliance here.

6. The Unthinkable
This is a high octane invasion movie which feels like it’s been written and directed by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski. This is probably some of the best, slow burn character development I’ve seen in cinema in a very long time and I just hope this film gets some kind of UK or even US release next year. I reviewed this one here.

5. Hotel Artemis
This cross between 1940s film noir and post-modern science fiction about a medical, criminal safe house during a riot is an absolute gem and really deserved to be seen by more people. This is great film making that all fans of either of those genres should take a look at. I reviewed this one here.

4. Luciferina
This brilliant horror movie, the first of a proposed trilogy, has the central protagonist fight the demon at the heart of the movie using sexual intercourse as a battlefield. I don’t know why this hasn’t got a major release in this country (or any release at all, for that matter). I reviewed Luciferina here.

3. Isle Of Dogs
What can you say about Wes Anderson that hasn’t been said already. A quirky director who makes wonderful films which take you on unexpected journeys. This is the first animated film I’ve seen by him (yeah, I know, I’ll get to the other one at some point) but it’s easily as good as his live action masterpieces. I review Isle Of Dogs here.

2. The Shape Of Water
This is basically Revenge Of The Creature, the second of the original Creature From The Black Lagoon trilogy, with sex and a slight twist. Truly beautiful movie which I’m sure will be remembered in cinema history for decades to come. I reviewed this one here...

1. Avengers - Infinity War
Okay, I don’t usually put Hollywood blockbusters so high but when Marvel gets it right, they really do get things sorted. I’ve no idea where they’re going to go from here but, while juggling all the multiple story elements and making them all work, they managed to deliver us a really dark film which has so much humour it’s almost a mismatch... but it works so beautifully well. If you haven’t seen the ten years of character interplay that has lead up to this then you probably won’t get much out of it but... yeah... this is one of the best three Marvel movies of recent years, I think. I reviewed Infinity War here...

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