The 10 best films of 2018 | London Evening Standard – Evening Standard

This hugely entertaining horror took a simple, effective premise and ran with it — basically, make a sound and you die. Directed by The Office’s John Krasinski, the film focused on a family forced to live in silence, avoiding detection from swarms of monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. It featured a fantastic physical performance from Emily Blunt, who plays the heavily pregnant matriarch, which proves an incredibly effective plot device — babies make lots of noise. It proved a real crowd-pleaser, with a sequel greenlit for 2020, and with dour franchise fodder like The Nun and Halloween also released this year, A Quiet Place proved that modern horror can be great fun. It was the perfect movie to enjoy in the cinema with a big box of popcorn — so long as you didn’t eat it too loud.
BlacKkKlansman wasn’t just a return to form from Spike Lee, but marked one of his best movies yet. The dark comedy proved as funny as it was terrifying, and tackled the most uncomfortable of subject matters with real panache. The film tells the true story of detective Ron Stallworth — a black police officer in Colorado Springs who infiltrated the KKK in the 70s. For all the comedic chops of leads John David Washington and Adam Driver, as well as the whip smart script, the film is ultimately a hard hitting work. The overt racial hatred on display in the Klan is horrifying, but the ingrained racism Stallworth experiences in the police force is just as chilling. It’s a pertinent watch in 2018 too — the film is packed with fairly transparent references to Donald Trump throughout, and the movie even includes footage of supremacists in Charlottesville and Trump’s failure to condemn them. A powerful piece of filmmaking.
Universal Pictures
Joaquin Phoenix plays a troubled hitman, who tracks down trafficked women and their captors in this taut thriller from Lynne Ramsay — a director who established herself as one of the most important filmmakers of her generation with 2011’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. Here, Phoenix is an imposing screen presence, playing a character haunted by childhood abuse and experiencing suicidal tendencies. The performance marked one of the actor’s most complete turns to date. The film, released in the UK back in March, polarised some due to its visceral on-screen violence, but while it was a difficult watch at times, it proved one of the most compelling and rewarding viewing experiences of the year.
For all the cheap jump scares that proliferate modern horror, nothing over recent years has created a deep, foreboding sense of dread quite like Hereditary. Toni Collette leads an impressive cast, which features the fantastic Alex Wolff as corruptible son Peter and the superb Milly Shapiro as the deeply odd child Charlie in her first feature film. The movie includes some of the most disturbing and unforgettable moments in contemporary horror, and while some felt the film lost its way a little in the final act, it’s still a striking work that stays with the viewer long after the final credits roll.
Leave No Trace features one of the standout performances of the year from Thomasin McKenzie — compared to a young Jennifer Lawrence by the likes of Mark Kermode — as a daughter living with her father off grid in an Oregon forest. Together, she and the ex-army veteran, who suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder, struggle to adjust to life in society after years spent in isolation. Director Debra Granik contrasts the vast, expansive landscapes with the intimate central relationship between father and daughter, and delivers something beautiful in the process. A remarkable film, featuring a career-making turn from McKenzie.
2018 CTMG, Inc
This compelling drama from writer-director Martin McDonagh, known for In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, focuses on Mildred Hayes — a mother on the hunt for justice, spectacularly played by Frances McDormand. Hayes erects three billboards, calling for action seven months after her teenage daughter was raped and murdered, with no arrests made by the police department. The act leads to run-ins with morally ambiguous cop Dixon — played in explosive fashion by Sam Rockwell — and Woody Harrelson’s Chief Willoughby. Made for just $15m, the film is an impressive work, which features the blackest of comedy sensibilities.
After helming the best Harry Potter film, The Prisoner of Azkaban, and the hit blockbuster Gravity in 2013, director Alfonso Cuarón returned to Mexico for Roma — a stunning ode to the country of his birth. The film captures events of 1970 and 1971 in sleek black-and-white cinematography, following a young housekeeper and the middle-class family that employ her. It’s vast in scale, exploring both intimate relationships, family dynamics and expansive geo-political themes. There’s a timeless beauty to the film, and it’s deeply moving, even heartbreaking in parts. It’s available to watch on Netflix now, and it’s a work all film fans should seek out.
AP
The slick Widows marked something of a departure for Steve McQueen, after hard-hitting dramas Hunger, Shame and 12 Years A Slave. The film tells the story of four women forced to organise a heist after their crime boss husbands are killed following a botched job. Viola Davis gives a powerhouse performance as Veronica, who leads an unlikely group in the face of unimaginable adversity and challenging circumstances. “The best thing we have going for us is who we are… because no-one thinks we have the balls to pull this off,” she says at one point, delivering a rousing message to her crew members Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo, who put everything on the line to protect themselves and their families. It’s one of the most accomplished crime thrillers in years, and proof that McQueen can turn his hand to just about anything.
The frustrations and tribulations of growing up in suburban America are perfectly encapsulated in this beautiful film from director Greta Gerwig. The movie is carried by a flawless performance from Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird, who strives to her express her individuality at all costs, while believing those around her are out to suppress it. The relationship with her mother is the emotional heart of the film, with the pair flipping from tender to frenzied at the drop of a hat. One telling scene sees the pair go from tearfully listening to an audio book together to angrily arguing the next, leading to Lady Bird opening the car door mid-car journey and hurling herself onto the tarmac. Ronan’s incredible turn is complemented by memorable performances from Laurie Metcalf as mum Marion, Timothee Chalamet as dishy love interest Kyle and Beanie Feldstein as the long-suffering best friend Julie, who all help to create a beautiful and subtle movie.
On paper, A Star Is Born should have been a mess. It’s a remake of a well-trodden story, helmed by first-time director Bradley Cooper and featuring a female lead with no big-screen acting experience. Somehow though, Cooper and Lady Gaga managed to create the most impressive film of the year. Cooper raises his game as the immediately likeable, but jaded rock star Jackson Maine in the grips of alcohol and drug addiction. He discovers Lady Gaga’s aspiring singer Ally performing in a drag bar, who proves his salvation. Cooper and Gaga strike an immediate and convincing chemistry, with the viewer believing every affectionate look, every embrace and every performance. Lady Gaga in particular is remarkable, a true natural showcasing boundless talent throughout. It’s a moving story deftly told, mixing life-affirming beauty with gut-wrenching tragedy. A Star Is Born is an incredible directorial debut from Cooper, and the standout cinematic triumph of the year.
ith 2018 slowly drawing to a close, film fans are turning their gaze back across the last 12 months and reflecting on a strong year for film — and a particularly impressive one for horror.
The likes of A Quiet Place, Netflix’s Annihilation, Hereditary and the divisive Suspiria remake provided some of the most enduring viewing experiences of the year, evoking some of the strongest reactions.
Dark comedies reigned supreme too, with BlacKkKlansman, Sorry To Bother You and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri making a big impact. There were also plenty of successful feel-good films on offer, with the likes of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Crazy Rich Asians faring well at the box office.
In fact, it’s been such a strong year that there’s no room for one of the most significant films of the last 12 months, Black Panther, in our top ten list. The work is certainly deserving of special mention, having defied genre convention to deliver one of Marvel’s most compelling films of recent years — becoming the highest grossing movie made by a black director and featuring a predominantly black cast in the process.
The year isn’t over just yet either — December is set to be a big month for film, with Mary Poppins Returns and DC’s Aquaman amongst the major releases.
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These are our film highlights of 2018 so far.
This hugely entertaining horror took a simple, effective premise and ran with it — basically, make a sound and you die. Directed by The Office’s John Krasinski, the film focused on a family forced to live in silence, avoiding detection from swarms of monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. It featured a fantastic physical performance from Emily Blunt, who plays the heavily pregnant matriarch, which proves an incredibly effective plot device — babies make lots of noise. It proved a real crowd-pleaser, with a sequel greenlit for 2020, and with dour franchise fodder like The Nun and Halloween also released this year, A Quiet Place proved that modern horror can be great fun. It was the perfect movie to enjoy in the cinema with a big box of popcorn — so long as you didn’t eat it too loud.
Read the Evening Standard review here
BlacKkKlansman wasn’t just a return to form from Spike Lee, but marked one of his best movies yet. The dark comedy proved as funny as it was terrifying, and tackled the most uncomfortable of subject matters with real panache. The film tells the true story of detective Ron Stallworth — a black police officer in Colorado Springs who infiltrated the KKK in the 70s. For all the comedic chops of leads John David Washington and Adam Driver, as well as the whip smart script, the film is ultimately a hard hitting work. The overt racial hatred on display in the Klan is horrifying, but the ingrained racism Stallworth experiences in the police force is just as chilling. It’s a pertinent watch in 2018 too — the film is packed with fairly transparent references to Donald Trump throughout, and the movie even includes footage of supremacists in Charlottesville and Trump’s failure to condemn them. A powerful piece of filmmaking.
Read the Evening Standard review here
Joaquin Phoenix plays a troubled hitman, who tracks down trafficked women and their captors in this taut thriller from Lynne Ramsay — a director who established herself as one of the most important filmmakers of her generation with 2011’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. Here, Phoenix is an imposing screen presence, playing a character haunted by childhood abuse and experiencing suicidal tendencies. The performance marked one of the actor’s most complete turns to date. The film, released in the UK back in March, polarised some due to its visceral on-screen violence, but while it was a difficult watch at times, it proved one of the most compelling and rewarding viewing experiences of the year.
Read the Evening Standard review here
For all the cheap jump scares that proliferate modern horror, nothing over recent years has created a deep, foreboding sense of dread quite like Hereditary. Toni Collette leads an impressive cast, which features the fantastic Alex Wolff as corruptible son Peter and the superb Milly Shapiro as the deeply odd child Charlie in her first feature film. The movie includes some of the most disturbing and unforgettable moments in contemporary horror, and while some felt the film lost its way a little in the final act, it’s still a striking work that stays with the viewer long after the final credits roll.
Read the Evening Standard review here
Leave No Trace features one of the standout performances of the year from Thomasin McKenzie — compared to a young Jennifer Lawrence by the likes of Mark Kermode — as a daughter living with her father off grid in an Oregon forest. Together, she and the ex-army veteran, who suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder, struggle to adjust to life in society after years spent in isolation. Director Debra Granik contrasts the vast, expansive landscapes with the intimate central relationship between father and daughter, and delivers something beautiful in the process. A remarkable film, featuring a career-making turn from McKenzie.
Read the Evening Standard review here
This compelling drama from writer-director Martin McDonagh, known for In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, focuses on Mildred Hayes — a mother on the hunt for justice, spectacularly played by Frances McDormand. Hayes erects three billboards, calling for action seven months after her teenage daughter was raped and murdered, with no arrests made by the police department. The act leads to run-ins with morally ambiguous cop Dixon — played in explosive fashion by Sam Rockwell — and Woody Harrelson’s Chief Willoughby. Made for just $15m, the film is an impressive work, which features the blackest of comedy sensibilities.
Read the Evening Standard review here
After helming the best Harry Potter film, The Prisoner of Azkaban, and the hit blockbuster Gravity in 2013, director Alfonso Cuarón returned to Mexico for Roma — a stunning ode to the country of his birth. The film captures events of 1970 and 1971 in sleek black-and-white cinematography, following a young housekeeper and the middle-class family that employ her. It’s vast in scale, exploring both intimate relationships, family dynamics and expansive geo-political themes. There’s a timeless beauty to the film, and it’s deeply moving, even heartbreaking in parts. It’s available to watch on Netflix now, and it’s a work all film fans should seek out.
Read the Evening Standard review here
The slick Widows marked something of a departure for Steve McQueen, after hard-hitting dramas Hunger, Shame and 12 Years A Slave. The film tells the story of four women forced to organise a heist after their crime boss husbands are killed following a botched job. Viola Davis gives a powerhouse performance as Veronica, who leads an unlikely group in the face of unimaginable adversity and challenging circumstances.
“The best thing we have going for us is who we are… because no-one thinks we have the balls to pull this off,” she says at one point, delivering a rousing message to her crew members Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo, who put everything on the line to protect themselves and their families. It’s one of the most accomplished crime thrillers in years, and proof that McQueen can turn his hand to just about anything.
Read the Evening Standard review here
The frustrations and tribulations of growing up in suburban America are perfectly encapsulated in this beautiful film from director Greta Gerwig. The movie is carried by a flawless performance from Saoirse Ronan as Lady Bird, who strives to her express her individuality at all costs, while believing those around her are out to suppress it. The relationship with her mother is the emotional heart of the film, with the pair flipping from tender to frenzied at the drop of a hat — just like so many real-life parent-child relationships do. One telling scene sees the pair go from tearfully listening to an audio book together to angrily arguing the next, leading to Lady Bird opening the car door mid-car journey and hurling herself onto the tarmac. Ronan’s incredible turn is complemented by memorable performances from Laurie Metcalf as mum Marion, Timothee Chalamet as dishy love interest Kyle and Beanie Feldstein as the long-suffering best friend Julie, who all help to create a beautiful and subtle movie that was unlucky to miss out on Oscar success earlier this year.
Read the Evening Standard review here
On paper, A Star Is Born should have been a mess. It’s a remake of a well-trodden story, famously done before in 1937 and 1954, 1976. It’s helmed by first-time director Bradley Cooper and features a female lead with no big-screen acting experience. Somehow though, Cooper and Lady Gaga managed to create the most impressive film of the year.
Cooper raises his game as the immediately likeable, but jaded rock star Jackson Maine in the grips of alcohol and drug addiction. He discovers Lady Gaga’s aspiring singer Ally performing in a drag bar, who proves his salvation.
It’s so well put together, it’s hard to believe it was in development hell for years, with Clint Eastwood originally intending to direct the project and Beyonce set to star in 2011. Cooper and Gaga, who actually became attached to the project at a relatively late stage, strike an immediate and convincing chemistry, with the viewer believing every affectionate look, every embrace and every performance. Lady Gaga in particular is remarkable, a true natural showcasing boundless talent throughout. The soundtrack is stunning too, and surely the favourite for the Academy Award next year.
It’s a moving story deftly told, mixing life-affirming beauty with gut-wrenching tragedy. A Star Is Born is an incredible directorial debut from Cooper, and the standout cinematic triumph of the year.
Read the Evening Standard review here
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