Top Ten of 2018

The time has come again to pick the best films from last year and as much as it’s a pleasure throughout the year, it’s always a chore when finalising the end result. It’s quite a difficult task especially given the mixed released dates from across the globe (I’m basing the list on U.S. release dates and those in contention for awards) and the fact that 2018, in particular, was a very strong year. As always, this is by no means an exhaustive list as there’s a number of films that I didn’t catch in time – these were predominantly foreign cinema like Shoplifters, Cold War and Burning. There’s also number of films that could’ve made my list had the competition not been so strong and I’ll give a near-miss shout out to Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman in that respect but, in the end, the following are among the films that resonated with me most. So, without further ado, these are my favourite films from 2018…

10: Thunder Road

The sleeper film of the year that impressed me so much that it prevented some more mainstream films to be omitted from my list. This is a very well crafted story regarding the dissolution of a man’s psychological state and imminent nervous breakdown following a family death, a marriage breakup and an inability to control his emotions. Jim Cummings’ astute reflection on life and it’s foibles are beautifully realised in a hard hitting but darkly humorous tale – (short Letterboxd review here)

9: Green Book

This may be the Driving Miss Daisy for a contemporary audience but there’s no denying the delicate relationship that this film has its core. It does have it’s faults but the racial tone that flows throughout is an undeniably important issue and, despite this, it still manages to be overwhelmingly charming and heartfelt. It also possesses two of the very best performances of the year by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali which really bring the film home – (short Letterboxd review here).

8: Roma

Alfonso Cauron follows up his Oscar winning Gravity with a more personal story that focuses on his childhood memories and the Nanny that cared for him and his family. Admittedly, it took some time to grab me but by the end I was emotionally gobsmacked as Cauron brought the whole tale together with some stunningly shot sequences. (review pending).

7: Leave No Trace

Another quietly unassuming piece of work from Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik which explores the nature of one mans post traumatic stress disorder and his intentions to live off-grid with his teenage daughter. Potent and important storytelling that achieves a genuine authenticity. – (short Letterboxd review here)

6: First Reformed

It’s been a while since Paul Schrader delivered a film of note but this definitely struck a chord as we follow Ethan Hawke’s priest (in a shamefully overlooked performance) as he ponders his existence and place in the world. It’s profound and thought provoking material that might have reached a higher place on the list had the ending not been so jarring. That said, another viewing and further contemplation may change my mind on that. (short Letterboxd review here)

5: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Consisting on six, separate short stories, the Coen brothers latest is a hugely enjoyable film that explores life and death in the old west after the Civil War. As is always the case with anthologies, the tone changes throughout. However, the Coen’s are masters at tonal shifts and this delightful western gives you six for the price of one. (short Letterboxd review here).

4: The House That Jack Built

Lars von Trier is certainly a director that has his critics and many fail to stomach his controversial approach. However, I always find him intriguing and his latest sees him adopt full-on Lars mode once again. This is a dark, depraved and often difficult film to watch as von Trier follows the path of a serial-killer with obsessive compulsive disorder. A flawed but fascinating film that’s hard to shake afterwards. – (full review here).

3: You Were Never Really Here

Raw, brutal and uncompromising. This revenge tale is the Taxi Driver for a modern age with Joaquin Phoenix delivering yet another smouldering performance. Scottish director Lynne Ramsey takes a fairly formulaic script and delivers something artistic and unconventional in a film that defies expectations and becomes something entirely it’s own. – (full review here).

2: Annihilation

Director Alex Garland follows up his last sci-fi flick Ex Machina with another that’s even better. A haunting and genuinely nightmarish film that channels the work of John Carpenter and Andrei Tarkovsky and one that gets right under your skin. – (full review here).

1: The Favourite

The monarchy has rarely been depicted so darkly or farcically in this gorgeously shot 18th century period piece. Filled with black humour and twisted characters, director Yorgos Lanthimos crafts a Kubrickian meńage à trois with three superb performances from Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Every scene is stunningly crafted and shot, leaving The Favourite my favourite of the year. – (full review here).

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22 Responses to “Top Ten of 2018”

  1. Been waiting to see your list and it’s a good. That #1 pick aside (wink, wink), we have four movies in common in our Top 10 lists. Aside from that you have three others that I really like. You have two I haven’t seen. So I’m with you on the vast majority of these. Really good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your list! I don’t have any disagreements except for Annihilation. But hey, it’s your list. I remember your review for The House that Jack Built and it has me curious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent list Mark. I’ve seen most of the films you mentioned, and I’m pleased we agree on quite a few. I especially like seeing Buster Scruggs here; that movie didn’t get nearly enough attention that it should have.

    I did really dig You Were Never Really Here, though I do have one major issue with the film concerning the plot point involving the senator at the end. I found that a little contrived and out of place, but still it was a very good movie overall, and Joaquin Phoenix is tremendous.

    Also, I didn’t know you had a letterboxd account. Gonna follow you right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Scruggs isn’t the Coens’ finest but they rarely do any wrong. I really like it and look forward to going through it again. You Were Never Really Here was always good to make the cut for me. Marvellous film and it’s a shame it’s been overlooked at the Oscars – particularly for Phoenix.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only seen Green Book, so far, and it’s not one of my favorites. I found it to be problematic and overly cliched. That said, I will agree that those two performances are excellent. Looking forward to seeing the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I knew your picks would contain some really dark films Mark 😉 But thrilled to see Green Book and Leave No Trace on here! Real curious to see Thunder Road as the filmmaker is quite active on Twitter and I have actually talked to him a few times about filmmaking, nice guy and helpful to the indie community.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know me, Ruth. I do enjoy the darker side to storytelling. 😉

      Thunder Road is well worth a look. I notice that Jim Cummings is very active on Twitter and he even like a post from me recently. His film is great though. I loved it.

      Like

  6. Ahh, Annihilation! Hell yeah! I LOVED that movie, if and when I compile a Best Of list, its heading straight to the top. Alex Garland is such an interesting filmmaker.

    Shout-out to Ballad of Buster Scruggs, too. That might be my favorite Coen brothers film right now. (Don’t get me wrong — The Big Lebowski/No Country for Old Men are positively classics! Just seen ’em so many times its nice to call something else a favorite every now and then).

    Gotta see First Reformed and Leave No Trace. Haven’t read many reviews of either film but those reviews really piqued my curiosity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Annihilation was at the top spot for me right until the very end of the year when The Favourite arrived. That aside, it’s a great sci-fi. I really loved it and was surprised that it even surpassed Garland’s superb Ex-Machina.

      Scruggs was marvellous as well. Not quite up there with best of the Coens but sublime nonetheless. Cheers mate!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It is a pet peeve of mine that I have yet to see You Were Never Really Here on the big screen. A fantastic list Mark, always fun to read end of year posts. Quite s lot of good films on it and a few I need to see. I’m also impressed you keep it to Ten. I cheat with Honourable Mentions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought You Were Never Really Here was outstanding, Lloyd. Reminded me of a modern day Taxi Driver (which already is one of my top ten favourite films). A marvellous Joaquin Phoenix performance too.

      It wasn’t easy keeping the list to 10. That’s for sure. 2018 was a strong year.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Favourite!! Yes yes yes!!! I need to re-watch Annihilation…I think I was drunk when I saw it, so my memory of it is a bit foggy…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good to see, Mark. There are four here that I think will be in my top ten for 2018, if I ever get round to it: You Were Never Really Here, Roma, Leave No Trace and First Reformed. Roma’s my number one, but I’d still like to see a couple more before I publish anything.

    Anyway, those four are all excellent films to my mind, and to yours evidently. (The Favourite will be in my 2019 best of, I expect, and I really liked Annihilation and Buster Scruggs, too, but probably ‘top twenty’ films for me. I dunno. Annihilation held up really well on a rewatch; Netflix have done well getting hold of those two, but it’s a real shame not to have seen either on the big screen.) Haven’t yet seen the Von Trier or Thunder Road. That leaves us with Green Book. Oh man, I really didn’t care for that film much beyond Ali’s performance – but as Cindy says above… it’s your list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stu, my man. How are ye, sir? Great to see you stop by.

      Yeah, those four you mention are all solid films. Roma, in particular, was s strange one for me. I actually wasn’t connecting to it for the majority of the film and then Cauron hit out with three sublime sequences after the midway point and it blew me away. It was in serious danger of not making the list but I couldn’t ignore the impact it had in the end.

      Not a fan of Green Book? I totally understand. There were flaws aplenty but I just loved the vibe of it and loved Mortensen and Ali. If it wasn’t for them then it probably wouldn’t have made my list.

      Like

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