Best Films of 2018

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Wow, what a year for film!! 2018 has been one of the strongest years for film this decade. This is largely due to the hard work and incredible vision of many working in the industry from directors (both veterans and newcomers) to actors, cinematographers, and composers. We’ve seen the superhero franchise further brush of any accusations of stagnation with the success and critical applauding of Black Panther, Infinity War, and Into the Spider-Verse. While horror never died, 2018 was the year it reigned supreme with numerous fantastic entries to the genre.

While we usually do an annual top 10 list we decided that there were too many films we needed to mention, so the list has been expanded to 20 of 2018’s best films. I, Tony, have taken responsibility for compiling this list so the order is to my preference but it has been a collaborative effort from the Reel Time team picking the entries. Full disclosure, we are limited by time and commitments so we have missed films like First Reformed, Blind Spotting, and Leave No Trace. Also, as we are situated in Ireland the release schedule means some films that may have been released in 2017 were released for us this year and the same goes for films like The Favourite and Vice getting a 2019 release here.

Creed II

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While never reaching the heights of its predecessor, Creed II retains most of the elements that made Creed I a hit. The fight scenes are incredible but the characters remain at the forefront at all times. It’s an emotional and rewarding film despite it being a direct continuation of perhaps the most ridiculous Rocky film in the series.

Read the full review here.

The Endless

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The Endless is about two brothers who escaped a doomsday cult finding themselves drawn back just for a sense of closure. Benson and Moorhead play the two main characters and prove their acting chops are just as refined as their directing. It’s an intriguing film with a central mystery that skewers what is reality and fiction. It’s superbly well acted, flawlessly shot and even the CGI is impressive for its shoestring budget. I don’t just recommend this film but the entire catalog from these fine filmmakers.

Review here.

Searching

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Searching benefits from a creative director, exciting script and a career-best performance from John Cho. For a film that takes place mostly in front of smartphone and laptop screens and surveillance footage; it’s painstakingly tense. The unfolding narrative is aided by kinetic pacing and a mesmerizing central performance from Cho. My weariness for social media has now turned into terror.

Review here.

A Star is Born

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The one thing that propels this film above all others like it is how much confidence is shown in the filmmaking. The confidence in its talent, the confidence to do live performances, the confidence in the story. It’s these things that have turned this film into what it is, and the confidence never stops growing with every scene. Clearly, by the reactions of everyone on the internet, people have noticed this. If there wasn’t a big word of mouth spread about this film, I doubt that A Star Is Born would be receiving the same attention, but I’m beyond glad that it did.

Read the full review here.

Overlord

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Overlord is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. It’s pure B movie carnage set in the vein of Wolfenstein or Call of Duty’s Nazi Zombies. What sets it apart from the countless other zombie films is the film’s commitment to playing it straight, this is as much a war film as it is a horror film and the transition between the two genres is handled perfectly. The film opens with perhaps the most exciting and visceral opening scene of the year as soldiers are shredded and burned alive in the plane attack igniting feelings of claustrophobia and nausea as our leading man falls from the plane to a lake in a breathtaking one-shot scene.

Read the full review here.

Black Panther

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Perhaps Black Panther’s most impressive feat is its lack of callbacks or narrative tie-ins to the grander MCU story. There are no obnoxious nods to previous events or infinity stone nonsense to distract from its own story. It’s a film that stands apart from the MCU and forges its own interesting characters, most of whom have no superpowers. While it doesn’t quite break free from the Marvel formula and shares more than a few similarities to Hamlet, Black Panther is another triumph for Marvel but its significance is far more important than that. Black Panther is a win for representation and eliminates the unfounded belief that minority led films won’t break the box office because this film is fucking smashing it.

Read the full review here.

First Man

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First Man is a very unique film in that it offers a well-known story but gives a completely new insight. It breaks a lot of assumptions and replaces them with a fresh new perspective on the space race. I have a lot more admiration for Neil Armstrong, not just for being the first man on the Moon, but the emotional hardship and mishaps that he had to endure to get there. By treating his journey to the Moon as a sort of remedy for overcoming his losses, the character oozes humanity even if he is an emotional brick wall.

Read the full review here.

Blackkklansman

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Blackkklansman benefits from a phenomenal cast, specifically the great chemistry between the two leads, John David Washington and Adam Driver. Even the unthankful roles of the KKK members are played with a great sense of goofiness and yet sinister intent. While I don’t agree with the statement that Spike Lee is back (he never went away), in Blackkklansman you can feel his commitment and joy at bringing this great story to the screen.

Read the full review here.

Infinity War

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This is absolutely Marvel’s Empire Strikes Back. It’s an incredibly well-balanced mix of what makes each of the various characters work well (tried and tested at this stage). The humour, sincerity and absurd action are all just peppered throughout the film perfectly. We’ve definitely matured as a franchise – this villain isn’t messing around, he’s incredibly powerful and acts in such a way that for the first time in 17 films. I thought to myself ‘oh this isn’t a kids superhero film anymore, these people are fucked‘.

Read the full review here.

Widows

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Widows is both hard-hitting, brutal, hilarious, and touching. It’s a phrase I probably overuse but this film is a rollercoaster of emotions. This is due to a dynamic cast and a bulletproof script. It tackles themes of loss, grief and class divide in an emotional and mature manner.

Review here.

Hereditary

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It seems like every year now we can expect a high-quality horror film to divide audiences. Hereditary is the film that fits that description this year and while it split audiences down the middle I really found it the most unsettling horror I’ve seen in years. While most of the typical horror scenes are saved for the third act its the unbearable escalation during the first two acts that gets under your skin and pulls the biggest punches. Ari Aster crafts a unique and skillfully shot horror that I won’t forget for years.

Review here.

Annihilation

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Annihilation is not the kind of film you can sum up in a single sentence, it effortlessly weaves through genres infusing science fiction, horror, and thriller with a central mystery that unfolds in only more questions but never feels infuriating. The most obvious theme from the film to decipher is self-destruction and how it doesn’t necessarily derive from a cause, that it’s as unexplainable as chaos. The events transpiring in The Shimmer are not consistent with the logic we know or even the very few phenomena that the team can explain themselves. It’s the absence of logic and fear of the unknown that begins to unearth the cause of self-destruction among the team. What’s more impressive is that the team is made up of highly intelligent and capable women, which makes their descent into madness even more unsettling.

Read the full review here.

A Quiet Place

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An entire medium of storytelling has essentially been removed in this film, we’ve dropped a sense, and that could have gone really really bad for them. But it’s done so well, and with so much care that it not only gives you an incredibly concise introduction to this world but forces you to explore the entire frame in every scene and pick up on the information you would otherwise miss if there was this forced and lazy exposition scene played out.

Read the full review here.

Roma

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Full confession, we never got a chance to give this wonderful film a full write-up and hopefully, we will rectify that soon. Roma is a film made for lovers of cinema with a beautiful old fashioned style of filmmaking utilized by Alfonso Cuarón. The sweeping shots and black and white style are wonderfully realized by Cuarón himself with his dazzling cinematography. Roma is a personal and human story set in a chaotic backdrop that reflects shades of our present day. Cuarón is truly a genius behind the camera.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

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To say the set pieces are outstanding, especially for a series known for them, really doesn’t give the film justice or McQuarrie. Every fistfight, car/motorcycle chase, halo jump, Helicopter duel is expertly shot, framed it almost becomes nauseating how fast-paced and thrilling Fallout really is with each sequence outdoing the previous scene. There’s a wonderful mix of both practical and special effects which flow so seamlessly even the most eagle-eyed cinephile will struggle to spot a green screen. Not only is it exasperatingly exciting, but Fallout is also a beautiful film thanks to the masterful cinematography from Rob Hardy who’s work was equally impressive with Annihilation. I’m sure plenty of shots in this film will make for great desktop backgrounds.

Read the full review here.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

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McDonagh’s background in playwriting lends to a fantastic script, limited set pieces, fully fleshed out characters and wonderfully dark yet humorous dialogue exchanges. It’s an uncompromising film about suffering and loss which might be a shock to fans of McDonagh’s previous work but it’s coated in a delicious icing of dark comedy and vile but hilarious anecdotes. For a film centered around such a memorable central performance, McDonagh masterfully fleshes out every side character and gives the audience and easy understanding of what side of the fence stand on in this chaotic tale.

Read the full review here.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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Not only has this film snatched the crown of best superhero film of 2018 from ‘Infinity War’ at the last second, but the harsh reality for me was also that it surpassed Spider-Man 2 as the best Spider-Man film to date. It really is a combination of excellent filmmaking, respect for the source material and a fantastic voice cast. Into the Spider-Verse manages to dazzle with unique and kinetic visuals and a fresh exciting soundtrack with exciting fight scenes but genuinely touching moments.

Read the full review here.

The Shape of Water

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The Shape of Water is filmmaking at its finest as it has its toes dipped in old-fashioned filmmaking while utilizing all the technical benefits of modern filmmaking.  It’s astonishing how many unique elements Del Toro nails from the Cold War setting, to the creature effects, to a voiceless protagonist. Del Toro is a man bursting with imagination and has a fine visual eye to bring it all to life and to top it all of he’s a gifted storyteller. The success of the Shape of Water is a truly exciting event as this man can focus on any project he wants now.

Read the full review here.

Mandy

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‘Mandy’ is a whirlwind of chaos, beauty, and violence that only Panos Cosmatos could string together. It’s a technical marvel in many ways making full use of light and sound with an ensemble cast giving it their every fiber. The film will have you tackling whether to fist bump the air or writhe in horror, there were moments when I didn’t know if I should’ve burst into laughter or tears. The final shot of the film is the most cathartic scene of the year and has been burned into my memory since the credits rolled.

Read the full review here.

You Were Never Really Here

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You Were Never Really Here is a methodical and traumatic character study of a man living between life and death. Lynne Ramsay and Joaquin Phoenix are an impeccable pairing bringing out the best in each other which begs for future collaborations. The film is an exemplification of flawless filmmaking utilizing illicit visuals, unnerving sound design and a masterclass in blocking as the camera captures every painstaking moment on Phoenix’s face. It’s a career-defining film and certainly one of the most understated yet expressive films I’ve ever seen. Clocking in at a perfect 90 minutes, You Were Never Really Here is a tour de force of brutality, suffering, and isolation that catapults Ramsay to the top of the best British filmmakers working today.

Read the full review here.

Author: Tony

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