Top 10 Films of 2018 – A Geeky Retrospective
So here we go, the round up of this years best movies according to little ‘ol me. There have been some amazing films this year and it has been a mix of stunning indie breakouts, social commentary films and of course the ever growing DCEU and MCU offerings.
There were so many great films out this year, some theatrical releases and other from streaming sites. This is just my opinion and clearly leans in certain directions (I will not apologise for my geeky cinema needs). Here’s to another year of great cinema in 2019!
I have already covered Horror/Genre films in another list which is why none of them will appear here (as much as I would have loved to double drop some of them). If you want to check that out then just click here 🙂
10. Venom (Sony digital release, 4K UHD Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray and DVD)
There have been some split opinions on Venom, and I’m sure this will be very low on some people’s lists, but to me this was just too damn fun to not include on my Top 10. Venom is the first standalone origin movie of a Spider-man villain and follows Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist who stumbles on a lab housing symbiote aliens that need hosts. Eddie becomes merged with Venom gaining him superhuman strength and abilities but also one hell of an appetite…mostly for people heads.
By no means is this a flawless film but I didn’t ask for one, I just wanted to some anti-hero shenanigans, which is what I did ask for. It may not have done anything particularly new but I thoroughly enjoyed Hardy’s performance and there was some clear fun to be had with the symbiotic relationship between Eddie and Venom. It’s worth a watch just for internal/external struggles between the two carried by Hardy’s exuberant and manic mannerisms. Personally I feel that I empathise with Venom…always HUNGRY!
9. A Star is Born (Due for Home Release 15/01/19)
The Streisand and Kristofferson version of A Star is Born has held a strong place in my heart for a long time. My mum introduced me to the film and we have spent many a night belting out the classics from the soundtrack together. The remake follows the same principal story, Jackson is a big time rockstar who falls in love with a struggling artist Ally. As one star sparks the other begins to burn out. Inner demons, fame and jealousy cause a void between the two lovers and brings turbulence to a passionate and fervent relationship between our two leads.
Cooper does an amazing job of directing and his beautiful vision is a heartfelt modern homage to the other films of its namesake. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform their roles with such passion and conviction throughout that it is impossible to not feel every single emotional blow. The songs didn’t quite hold up to those in the ‘76 version (I’m a sucker for ‘Queen Bee’ and ‘The Woman in the Moon’) but the last song was just beautiful. It had me thankful that the lights were off and that our screen was near a bathroom, well done Gaga.
8. Ready Player One (Available to buy/rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
Get your geekbrains ready, it’s time to play spot the reference. This Steven Spielberg treat is based on a novel of the same name and transports us to a bleak future with one saving grace, OASIS. This virtual reality world is up for grabs to the first person who finds the Golden Easter Egg (the thing this delightful movie is simply full of). Wade (Parzival) is just a kid from ‘The Stacks’ who teams up with Art3mis, Aech, Sho & Daito to stop IOI from taking over OASIS and using it for their own gain.
Ready Player One is a visual masterpiece that deals with Virtual Reality as a community for escapism. The beauty of OASIS only serves to intensify the dystopian depression of the real world, proving it’s appeal as a hyper-reality alternative. The film is retro kitsch nostalgia that keeps you smiling throughout. Play a game of 80’s bingo and see how many cultural references you spot. Go on, you can even make it into a drinking game…if you’ve got a high tolerance.My personal highlight has to be The Shining game level, if that is ever a VR possibility I am all over it!
7. Coco (Available to buy/rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
Pixar’s beautifully animated, brightly coloured and family orientated film Coco is original and heartfelt with some beautiful messages about family. Miguel dreams of being a musician just like his idol, the late great Ernesto de la Cruz. His family however are multi-generation shoemakers who have forbidden music from their lives. Determined to prove himself and play the talent show Miguel steals Ernesto’s guitar and, upon strumming it, is sent to the Land of the Dead. Miguel must find his way back to the Land of the Living before the end of Día de Los Muertos or be stuck there forever.
I’m no expert in it but I’ve been enthralled with Mexican culture on screen since studying a module at A-Level. The day of the dead visuals are stunning in Coco with bright, popping colours, lavish costuming and a sensitive approach to the culture that explores the celebration of life over the mourning of the dead. The touching story of always remembering those we love and dealing with mortality is something that shines throughout this film, managing to be both heartwarming and potent. The songs are exciting and the emotional story behind ‘Remember Me’ definitely gave me the ‘lump in the throat’ single tear feeling.
6. BlacKkKlansman (Available to buy/rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
Spike Lee is a man who knows how to put political messages and representational issues across on screens, both of which are the backbone of this biographical black comedy film. Ron is the first African-American detective to serve in Colorado Springs. Whilst reading a newspaper Ron comes across an advertisement to join the Klu Klux Klan and sets out on a mission to infiltrate and expose the organisation for the extremist hate group that it is. He teams up with Flip, a Jewish colleague, to be the face to his voice at the meetings.
WIth standout performances from both John David Washington and Adam Driver BlacKkKlansman manages to expertly weave between dark humour, suspense and heartbreak. Lee is back on perfect form with this film bringing his trademark auteur features with him. From fellow police officers calling Ron ‘boy’ all the way to the retelling of the true story of Jesse Washington’s lynching each harrowing exploration of racism cuts deep. Yet, somehow it is balance perfectly with a comic irony throughout. As the final scenes elapsed the cinema was silent, none of us had been prepared for what we had just witnessed.It may be set in the 70’s but It is poignant and timely with a hard-hitting message for the future.
5. Ant-Man & The Wasp (Available to buy/rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
Paul Rudd is hilarious and I am completely in love with him…that’s it review over.
In the follow up to 2015’s Ant-Man, Scott is dealing with the consequences of his actions in Germany and his responsibilities as a parent. When Hope and Dr. Pym needs his help Scott must put on the suit again, ankle monitor and all! The mission this time is to gain access to the Quantum Realm and try to rescue Janet, Hope’s mother and Pym’s wife. There biggest challenge? Getting past the unstable and quantum shifting Ghost.
Ant-man and the Wasp is playful throughout and features another amazing story told by the riffing chatterbox Louis, this time with a little bit of help from a dose of truth serum. The lighter side of Marvel shines through here, which is exactly what was needed after A:IW (We’ll get to that later). The threat simply wants survival, not world domination/extinction, and we are taken back to smaller ensemble casts to allow for a more personal touch. Of course the end links us back to the MCU and, until the End Game trailer, had us wondering at the fate of Scott. I never knew that I wanted to see a giant ant playing drums until I got it, thanks guys.
4. Avengers: Infinity War (Available to buy/rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
So many memes! This was the gasp heard all across the MCU. Thanos is on a mission to complete the One Gauntlet to Rule them All (Sorry, wrong fandom) his collection of Infinity Stones and inflict his ‘righteous’ agenda on the world. Of course this follows on from Captain America: Civil War so everyone is still dealing with their own ‘personal beef’ while the doomsday clock is inching closer and closer to midnight.
It is no small feat to tackle such a large ensemble cast of, especially when they are all the main characters in their own stories, but Marvel pulls it off. We leap from planet to planet, group to group but in each scene there is someone to root for, someone to care about. This is one the more serious MCU films but it hasn’t forgotten to have a few laughs along the way. Between Quill’s hurt ego, Groot’s petulant puberty stage, Thor’s trip down memory lane and the inevitable pissing contest between the goatee brother Strange and Stark there are still some hilarious moments. Yet, there is also tragedy. Peter Parker you broke my heart. Groot you broke my entire being (Dad?). Fuck you Russos.
3. The Shape of Water (Available to buy/rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
Guillermo del Toro always works best with thoughtful, fairytale stories that focus on an isolated character’s plight set against a harsh backdrop. He is back to his artistic best with The Shape of Water. Elisa is a mute cleaner working in a high-security government laboratory at the height of the Cold War. When a mysterious creature is captured and brought to the facility to be studied, Elisa begins to visit him in secret, forming a bond with the amphibian. Elisa helps to free the Amphibian man from the laboratory after his life is put in danger and takes him back to live with her, taking their relationship from friendship into romance.
Del Toro’s tale of unconventional love and magical fairytale romance is a piece of cinematic beauty. There is a stunning beauty to his visuals that include his signature colour design and unique creature visions. Doug Jones as the Amphibian Man and Sally Hawkins as Elisa are magnificent in their roles, trading spoken word for dancers grace and the physical interpretation of human emotion. With an ambiguous ending, similar to that of Pan’s Labyrinth, we can chose to believe that our ‘Princess without a Voice’ got her happily ever after.
2. Black Panther (Available to buy/rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
Shuri is my idol! Welcome to the new phase of the MCU and a whole new selection of incredible characters. T’Challa (introduced in CA:WS) returns to his home of Wakanda to take his rightful place as King after the death of his father. His first royal duty is to locate and bring back Klaue, an arms dealer responsible for the deaths of multiple Wakandan’s. However, he is not our main threat. A Black Ops soldier nicknamed Killmonger has set his sight on the throne and is challenging T’Challa for his title.
The exploration of African culture in this film leads to beautiful set design, costuming and issues of race and identity being explored with depth and respect. There is something so telling about the Wakanda being able to hide from the world as we are so willing to believe it is simply a third-world African country, like we are so used to being shown. I must say this film has some of the best women the MCU has ever brought to the screen, Shuri, Nakia, Okoye and Ramonda are the women I have always wanted to see in comic book movies. We have two villains and both play their parts perfectly. Is it wrong to have a little bit of a crush on Serkis…don’t answer that.
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Still in cinema!!)
Big kids like animation too! Proven by the incredible creation that is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Stop me if you’ve heard this one already. Miles Morales is just a normal New York kid, until he is bitten by a glitching radioactive spider that transforms him into the superhero Spider-Man. Sound familiar right? That’s because this story has been told many time in many different universes with many different spider people. With a team of Spidey’s behind him Miles must take down Kingpin and get his friends back to their own universes.
I cannot convey just how stunning the visuals of this film are, it is something that simply needs to be witnessed by the viewer. A multi-verse of spider people explode onto the screen with their own quirks and backstories and I loved every single one of them. Spider-\Man Noir is possibly one of Cage’s best performances of the year (just topped by Mandy), Gwen Stacy is a veritable bad-ass and Peter Porker has the power to fly when he smells pie… love it! The soundtrack is at the heart of this film and creates a world of beats, graphics and heroes. The Stan Lee cameo was bittersweet and the post-credit sequence had me rolling on the floor and so thankful that I kept my booty in that seat.
Now I know it’s seen as cheating but here are a few of my honourable mentions that just didn’t quite make it onto the list.
Welcome to the world of beauty pageants, drag queens and Dolly Parton fandom. Dumplin’ is a Netflix original film based on the YA novel of the same name. This is a coming of age film with a modern message of body confidence. It gets a little bit cheesy at points but you can’t expect anything less from a country-fried comedy with such a premise. THe performances are incredible from Danielle Macdonald and Jennifer Aniston who truly bring their a-games to the screen. Time for a sing-a-long y’all.
So, this is exactly what you would expect from a Deadpool sequel. I really enjoyed watching this film, I doubt I’m ever going to be unhappy with Reynolds’ Merc with a Mouth, and it delivered the quips, the action and the moral grey zone that I want from Deadpool. The script still had all the fourth-wall breaking and intertextuality the geeky heart could desire. However, it did feel formulaic at points and didn’t quite stand up to the original. I still love it but I may not watch it every other night like I did the original. Poor Peter, he was too precious for this world.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
You getting the theme with these honourable mentions? Sometimes you just need a good dose of action and humour without anything too challenging. The follow up to Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom bring the genetically altered dinosaurs out of the park and into your bedroom. I was hoping for a bit more of this horror element, but I was not disappointed with the new take, there’s only so many times I can convince myself that they should open the theme park again. Not genius but definitely fun. Oh, and the scene with the Brachiosaurus had me in pieces…not even ashamed.
Hope you enjoyed! Let me know if there are any films I’ve missed out on in 2018.