The guy from The Office made people shush, a purple alien snapped his fingers, and Joaquin Phoenix swung a hammer.
It’s been a very good year for cinema. This list could have easily been a top 20 or 30, but we’ve decided to stick to our yearly number and collate 10 of what we believe to be among the best films 2018 had to offer. Below you’ll find titles, trailers, and excerpts from what we had to say in our reviews.
By the way, all the films below were released in Australian cinemas or hit Netflix in 2018 (The Shape of Water, for example, hit US cinemas in December 2017 but arrived in Australian cinemas in January 2018, making it eligible for this list).
Without further ado, in no particular order…
A Quiet Place
This is lean filmmaking, all excess and needless cinematic fat trimmed to provide audiences with a muscular, tightly structured piece of cinema. You’ll be drawn in by the very welcome level of heart, just also prepare to have your heart in your throat, particularly as the film heads into its eventful, sweat-inducing final third. This, ladies and gentlemen, is brilliant filmmaking.
Absorbing, authentic and thoroughly engrossing piece of cinema. Throw in a fantastic soundtrack, archival footage and authentic costume design, and we have a very special film indeed.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
This is a precisely crafted crowd-pleaser, a highly kinetic, uproarious, emotional ride that wears its love of the Marvel webslinger on its proverbial sleeve. With a ton of well-timed and non-smug meta jokes, the film carries a self-awareness of the Spidey brand’s business, its place in time, and what the character means to so many, resulting in a joyous film that serves as a true celebration of all things Spider-Man.
Director Hirokazu Koreeda once again crafts an engaging story where the theme of family—what constitutes one and whether we really get to choose our own—is at the forefront. A master of emotions, he expertly draws viewers in to feel one thing, only to push them in another direction moments later. Bittersweet at times, but never melodramatic, Shoplifters is another wonderful addition to the Japanese director’s oeuvre.
A Star is Born
A Star is Born is driven by an undeniable level of heart and two fantastic leads with chemistry in spades, ensuring you are well and truly moved by the time that final stirring track is delivered. If this is any indication, Cooper has a promising directing career ahead indeed, and for Gaga, acting award recognition beckons.
It’s a feral, snarling revenge picture presented with stunning visual originality, and so much for the senses to take in that repeat viewings will be mandatory. Monstrous acts saturated with glowing, meditative colour and Nicolas Cage: a savage, human apocalypse.
You Were Never Really Here
You Were Never Really Here is both darkly violent and sadly reflective. Ramsay, in collaboration with Phoenix’s magnificent performance, has constructed a brutal, sparse noir that gets straight to the point and delivers a tough, uncompromising crime movie that’s one of 2018’s best.
No Date, No Signature
No Date, No Signature is a universal story that transcends cultural boundaries. It is a human story about love, loss and guilt. It is directed thoughtfully and performed superbly. It is subtly rebellious in its depiction of women and proves to be an absorbing drama that will resonate – wherever it is seen.
Avengers: Infinity War
This is big, big, big stuff, and it’s easy to see the care that the Russos and their team have put into every element, from the motion capture, to the sound design, to the crisp editing; it appears every department has clearly been given the time and resources to deliver the goods. Yes, Avengers: Infinity War truly is a grand chapter in the MCU.
The Shape of Water
What on paper may read almost ridiculous in conception is brought to the screen with confidence and a determination to make the audience feel. There’s a certain black and white sequence that should feel laughable and downright silly, but ends up being one of the film’s most touching. And that speaks to the sincerity, gusto and craftsmanship that Guillermo del Toro and his team have brought to this heartfelt adult fairy tale. Take a breath, dive in, and enjoy some very fine cinema.