Just like my album post earlier in the month this is not a definitive ‘best’ of list, it is merely the films that have moved, enthralled, and entertained me during 2018 be they in the cinema or on Netflix.
5) A Quiet Place
The world has been ravaged by a horde of otherworldly creatures who are blind and communicate only through sound, Lee and Evelyn Abbot (James Krasinski and Emily Blunt) lead as silent a life as possible to try and save their family. Noise equals certain death, the premise may be simple but is executed marvellously and reminds me of Lights Out and Dont Breathe in its sensory based approach. Aside from the stupidly predictable opening 20 or so minutes (I suppose they had to set up the premise somehow) A Quiet Place is a tense, edge of your seat, thriller with an excellent performance by Ms Blunt and a brilliant directorial debut by John Krasinski. The wince inducing upturned nail bit, amongst many others, will live long in the memory.
4) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
A western anthology film directed by the Coen brothers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is made up of six short stories which vary in tone; from the comical and lighthearted titular segment and ‘Near Algodones’, to the dark Liam Neeson starring ‘The Mortal Remains’ and the harrowing ‘Meal Ticket’. Without a doubt my favourite segments are the joyful slice of hope ‘All Gold Canyon’ with Tom Waits, and the bittersweet drama of ‘The Gal Who Got Rattled’ with the gal in question played excellently by Zoe Kazan. What it lacks in an overarching storyline it makes up for with visceral entertainment, wonderful acting and beautiful cinematography. Click here to read more.
3) Ghost Stories
Written and directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, and based around their play of the same name, is Ghost Stories. Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) has built a career around explaining away the superstitious and debunking psychics and otherworldly tales, and after a meeting with his long thought dead idol Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne) he gets three paranormal mysteries to investigate. All three stories are nervy and terrifically tense with excellent acting throughout – the lonely and embittered nightwatchman Tony (Paul Whitehouse), scared and nervous teenager Simon Rifkind (Alex Lawther) and the big city businessman Mike Priddle (Martin Freeman). The tension and sense of unease is omnipresent in this terse supernatural horror, with all three parts flowing nicely and reaching a clever and very satisfying ending.
2) Mission Impossible: Fallout
Breaking with Mission tradition Christopher McQuarrie returned to the directors chair with the result being Mission Impossible: Fallout – the sixth in the long running series and, rather remarkably, the best one yet. Simply put worldwide crime syndicate Apostle managed to nab some plutonium cores from under Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) nose resulting in Hunt, the IMF and CIA tagalong August Walker (Henry Cavill) in a race against time to get the Nukes and thwart the bad guys. It is a visceral, adrenaline fueled two plus hours full of brutal fights, death defying car chases and awe inspiring aerial dog fights. Tom Cruise is his usual duracell bunny self and Henry Cavill’s muscle bound machismo act is delightful, plus you finally get to see the Justice League ruining moustache.
Directed by Scott Cooper and starring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi is Hostiles, a violent, harrowing and beautifully made Western. Bale is the battled tested, professional Indian antagoniser Captain Joseph J Blocker whose superior forces him, and a group of handpicked fellow soldiers, to escort Cheyenne chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family from their New Mexico imprisonment to their Montana Homelands. This is a sombre, slow paced and gritty Western demonstrating the stark realities of hatred and war. That no one has a monopoly on bigotry and barbarity and that redemption is open to anyone. Action packed and with an emotional punch, this is how a Western should be done.
Just missing out and occupying spots six to ten are Hereditary, I, Tonya – who knew a film based on a figure skater could be soo good, Apostle, Annihilation, Skyscraper – which taught me that duct tape can fix anything. As great as they were, Widows and Avengers: Infinity War were narrowly pipped to the post.