Follow Us on Twitter

Our favourite films of 2018

2018 proved to be a good year for movies, with both the blockbusters and the awards contenders offering up plenty to get excited and impressed by.

On the awards front, the year began with the likes of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Churchill drama Darkest Hour and drew to a close with the likes of Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born remake and Steve McQueen’s powerful political thriller Widows.

The blockbusters, meanwhile, saw Marvel go from strength to strength with the likes of Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther, Tom Cruise go stunt crazy in Mission: Impossible – Fallout and dinosaurs running amok in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And the animated medium also proved, once again, that some of the most creative films in any year come from that medium.

But which, if any, made our favourite films of the year?

Deadpool 2

16) Deadpool 2

What’s the story? Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is struggling to come to terms with a personal tragedy but must also come to the aid of a teenage mutant named Russell (played by Julian Dennison), who needs Deadpool’s help to survive after being targeted by a fellow mutant named Cable (Josh Brolin), who has travelled from the past to kill the young firestarter.

Why so good?: If superhero fatigue is a thing, then the sequel to Deadpool should have had its work cut out not only in avoiding it, but also ensuring that the freshness of its fourth wall shattering, foul-mouthed, ultra violent original didn’t become stale as well. Fortunately, Deadpool 2 emerges as one of those rare examples of a sequel that actually betters the original. It’s just as brash, funny, inventive, subversive and, yes, offensive as its predecessor; but it arguably has a little more heart, a lot more cash and plays out on a bigger, more confident scale.

Read our review

The Incredibles 2

15) Incredibles 2

What’s the story? Set 17 seconds after the original (and thereby picking up in its immediate aftermath), the film still finds the Incredible family shackled by the need to remain anonymous given that superheroes are still illegal. Seeking to change all of this as much as the ‘supers’ themselves are the brother and sister team of Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener), whose late father was a huge advocate for the post-war first-generation superheroes. In a bid to honour his legacy, they launch a new PR offensive to persuade the government to change their minds and reverse the ban. They also promote Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) as the face of their campaign, leaving Mr Incredible (Craig T Nelson) at home to look after the kids, including baby Jack-Jack, who is developing an exceptional range of super powers of his own.

Why so good?: This belated sequel, while perhaps not as game-changing or original in this new age of superhero domination, is no less enjoyable. Indeed, it’s a blast. Returning writer-director Brad Bird has maintained the energy, the humour and the intelligence to ensure that this is on a par with Pixar’s Toy Story sequels rather than the more run-of-the-mill Cars or Monsters University follow-ups… Incredibles 2 is therefore another Pixar masterpiece. A follow-up that may not surpass the achievements of its illustrious predecessor, but which still manages to deliver a classic in its own right. You’ll have a blast.

Read our review


14) Tully

What’s the story? Long-suffering mother of three Marlo (Charlize Theron) has only recently given birth to her third child – and she’s struggling to cope. When Marlo’s wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) offers help in the form of a night nanny, she is initially reluctant to accept. But after one particularly challenging day, Marlo succumbs to temptation and makes the call that will change her family’s lives. Tully (Mackenzie Davis) is a modern day Mary Poppins…

Why so good?: The third collaboration between director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody is another gem. Tully is a continually engrossing examination of parenting in the modern era. But while certainly warm hearted and continually amusing, it’s also a film that dares to lift the lid on raising a family as it is: a struggle, albeit a wonderfully rewarding one… As they have previously shown with both Juno and Young Adult (which also featured Theron in the lead role), Reitman and Cody have a tremendous ability to deliver a set of characters who are as fallible as they are relatable.

Read our review

Black Panther

13) Black Panther

What’s the story? T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)1 finds himself succeeding to the throne of the fictional African state of Wakanda, a secret city state that is alive with innovative technology and powered by a hidden element known as vibranium, which in itself provides the Black Panther suit with much of its force. First and foremost, T’Challa aims to be a good king. But he soon comes to realise that the sins of a father he once looked up to may well provide him with the sort of ethical and moral dilemmas that compromise his ability to be so. This conflict is exacerbated by the arrival of Wakandan exile Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), a man determined to use Wakanda’s technological superiority to make a stand for racially oppressed African Americans and black people everywhere.

Why so good?: Marvel continue to demonstrate their willingness to take risks and challenge audiences with Black Panther, a superhero movie with plenty of differences. Co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler (of Fruitvale Station and Creed fame), the film is notable for being the first black superhero movie – and one that isn’t afraid to be so. Yet by doing so, it also becomes an overtly political movie, with plenty to say to boot. That’s not to say this comes at the expense of Marvel convention. It still does everything you’d expect a superhero movie to do. But the film is at its most interesting when breaking away from convention and doing its own things.

Read our review


12) Hostiles

What’s the story? In 1892, legendary Army Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to their tribal land. Embarking on a harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, to the grasslands of Montana, they soon encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike) whose family was killed on the plains. The travellers must now band together to survive a punishing landscape that’s crawling with hostile Comanches and vicious outliers.

Why so good?: Having impressed with the likes of Crazy Heart and Out of The Furnace, Scott Cooper turned his attentions to the Old West for a gutsy, often harrowing tale of the end of an era, which had plenty to offer contemporary thinking. Bale was typically superb as the Army Captain haunted by past deeds, who must overcome long-standing prejudices to protect a Cheyenne war chief, while Pike was similarly towering as a woman forced to put her own feelings of grief and hatred to one side. Studi brought integrity to his role as the Indian. Cooper’s depiction of the West was revisionist, to say the least. There are some ferocious scenes, at times, which were difficult to watch. But this was an honest, heart-wrenching Western that refused to pull any punches… and which lingered for some time afterwards as a result.

The Post

11) The Post

What’s the story? Set in the ’70s, in the build up to the Watergate scandal so famously chronicled by All The Presidents Men, The Post focuses on an earlier scandal: namely, the publication of The Pentagon Papers, a 7,000 page report that, in a nutshell, revealed how the US government knew it couldn’t win the war in Vietnam but kept sending troops anyway for fear of the humiliation a withdrawal would bring. Scrambling to get their hands on these documents and avoid the legal threats issued by the Nixon presidency are Washington Post owner and publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks).

Why so good?: Three titans of contemporary cinema unite for The Post, a gripping account of the rise of The Washington Post newspaper and its role in taking on a corrupt government. Steven Spielberg directs with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep occupying the two central roles. It’s a trio that’s headline grabbing enough but while certainly serving as a fascinating history lesson; The Post has plenty to say about contemporary issues too. For that reason, it’s easy to see why the script – by Josh Singer and Elizabeth Hannah – attracted such heavyweight talent… The Post is a smart, astute piece of cinema that entertains in spades while still having plenty to say on a political, social and journalistic level. It is a film worthy of the heavyweight talent it has attracted.

Read our review

The Darkest Hour

10) Darkest Hour

What’s the story? With Britain facing up to the might of the Nazis in the early days of the Second World War, Winston Churchill is forced to decide whether to make a stand or negotiate a deal with Adolf Hitler. He opts for the former but faces an uphill struggle to gain support.

Why so good?: Gary Oldman’s grandstanding, Oscar-winning performance aside, Joe Wright’s movie offers a timely and vital reminder of a pivotal moment in World War II history. And while we all know how things turned out, the film still offers an eye-opening, incredibly tense, race-against-time style drama that showcases both the political brilliance and inherent stubbornness of one of history’s greatest leaders. It should be required viewing for future generations.

Sicario 2: Soldado

9) Sicario 2: Soldado

What’s the story? When a US supermarket is bombed and the terrorists are tracked back to a cartel, covert ops duo Graver (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) are swiftly enlisted to help the US government incite a war between rival cartels, so long as the finger of blame or suspicion doesn’t point back to them. But matters become complicated in the wake of the kidnapping of the precocious daughter (Isabela Moner) of a Mexican drug-lord, whose value quickly puts Graver and Alejandro on an apparently opposing course.

Why so good?: It may be missing half the creative team behind the original Sicario but this equally gripping follow-up maintains the quality of its predecessor as well as the brutal efficiency. Part of the reason for this lies in one of its returning players: screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, who once again imbues the film with a cynicism and intelligent reality befitting its grim subject matter. Yet there’s also Benicio Del Toro, once again brilliantly enigmatic as ruthless operative Alejandro, and Josh Brolin, charismatic yet conniving as his cold-dealing US government handler, agent Matt Graver… The result is another extremely timely thriller that excels on so many levels.

Read our review

Avengers: Infinity War

8) Avengers: Infinity War

What’s the story? Thanos (Josh Brolin) needs to unite six Infinity Stones in his Infinity Gauntlet to gain power over the universe and bring about the balance he seeks. It’s up to the Avengers, who are still recovering from the events of Captain America: Civil War, to try to stop him.

Why so good?: The 19th film in this sprawling cinematic saga is epic in every sense. It’s an eye-popping, sometimes mind-blowing, always exciting and occasionally even poignant ‘event movie’ that delivers in just about every area that Marvel fans could possibly hope for. There are surprises designed to make you gasp aloud. There are cool crowd-pleasing moments to bring on the cheers. There’s even an ending that will leave you floored and crying out for more, which is due to arrive in the form of the as-yet untitled Avengers 4 in 2019. Perhaps most incredibly, there is no sense of fatigue setting in just yet.

Read our review

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

7) Mission: Impossible – Fallout

What’s the story? Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF colleagues are once more scrambling to save the world from a nuclear threat after a mission has gone wrong. In doing so, they must reluctantly take on board new member Walker (Henry Cavill), a CIA operative sent to observe and possibly usurp them, while putting aside personal feelings for former villain Solomon Lane (Sean Harris, still orchestrating the mayhem he created in Rogue Nation) and MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), once more throwing a spanner in the works with her conflicting loyalties.

Why so good?: There’s a term given to football players when they’ve given their all during a match: leaving it on the field. And likewise, there’s a scene at the end of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which sees an exhausted Tom Cruise lying flat on his back, in which he looks as though he has literally done just that. Few modern movie stars throw themselves into stunt-work with as much gusto as Cruise. But therein lies one of the great joys of watching this sixth instalment in the seemingly indefatigable Mission: Impossible series unfold… the stunts are breathtakingly brilliant… Fallout rates among the best in a series that isn’t short on highlights.

Read our review

Lady Bird

6) Lady Bird

What’s the story? Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is beginning to contemplate life away from home… possibly in New York where she can pursue her passion for the arts (or maths). But her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), finds Lady Bird irritating and ungrateful. A nurse working hard to keep her family going, since her husband (Tracy Letts) has been laid off, she is all too aware of the cost [and financial strain] such a move would place on her family. But she loves her daughter and is always there for thrift shopping trips or to offer emotional support and/or counselling.

Why so good?: Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird has rightly been lauded as one of the best coming-of-age films in recent memory. It’s witty, moving, intelligent and beautifully acted, as well as semi-autobiographical in nature. Gerwig, who has long been tipped for great things within the movie industry, wrote the screenplay as a tribute [or thank you] to her own mother, as well as a love letter to her home-town of Sacramento. Perhaps that’s why it feels so authentic… Lady Bird is a pleasure to watch throughout; yet it’s also a film that resonates beautifully and deeply.

Read our review

5) Coco

What’s the story? A 12-year-old boy named Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), whose close-knit family of shoemakers have banned music following a family tragedy, runs away, steals a guitar belonging to his deceased icon, Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), and finds himself unwittingly transported to the Land Of The Dead during the Dia De Muertos celebrations (which enables the deceased to visit the living and perpetuate their memory). Trapped on the other side and seeking his deceased family’s blessing to be allowed to continue playing, Miguel subsequently faces a race against time to get what he wants or risk remaining in the afterlife for good.

Why so good?: As with the best Pixar movies (or their originals, as opposed to a lot of their sequels, Toy Story aside), Coco works on so many levels that it plays equally as well to adults as it does to kids. Hence, while the youngest viewers can marvel at the stunning visuals and the rich world that Unkrich has created (complete with fun characters and wondrous beasts), adults can really explore the many themes the story has to offer – from the importance of family to the choices we make in life and how they can inform legacies… Coco is a grand cinematic treat: a love letter to Mexico and Mexican culture that transcends genres to offer up something that everyone can enjoy. It’s yet another Pixar tour-de-force.

Read our review

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

4) Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

What’s the story? Teenager Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) unwittingly becomes the new Spider-Man after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Barely ready to accept the challenge, he must try and prevent over-sized crime lord Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) from opening up a portal to other alternate realities, only to find himself thrust into a crazy new world in which there are numerous other web-slingers, including the original Peter Parker (Jake Johnson, now somewhat out of shape), the kick-ass Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), the ultra-cool Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), and the totally surreal cartoon pig, Peter Porker (John Mulaney).

Why so good?: Marvel’s multi-faceted cinematic universe continues to throw up incredible surprises thanks to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. A visually rich, emotionally compelling, and consistently thrilling alternative Spider-Man movie, this wildly inventive animated adventure from the creative minds behind the 21 Jump Street franchise pretty much exhilarates on every level, while simultaneously breathing new life into a superhero universe that many would have been forgiven for thinking was becoming exhausted… This is as fresh and vital as comic book movies can get.

Read our review

A Star Is Born

3) A Star Is Born

What’s the story? Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a massive country music star whose latter-day career is being propped up as much by reputation, drugs and booze as it is raw talent. Seemingly hell-bent on self-destruction, his life changes when he meets and subsequently falls in love with waitress Ally (Lady Gaga), who is a wannabe superstar singer in her own right. But as he helps her star to rise spectacularly, his own career starts to derail and it’s a question of whether their love can save him before his demons get the better of him.

Why so good?: Bradley Cooper makes a stunning directorial debut with A Star Is Born, an emotionally devastating rollercoaster of a journey that exhilarates as much as it devastates… Cooper ensures that the 2018 ‘cover’ is indicative of the times in which it is set. Hence, while there is undoubtedly the feel-good element of the rags to riches story under-pinning one half of its well-worn tale, there’s also a damning expose of modern celebrity, corporate greed and the destructive toll addiction can have on a career and a relationship.

Read our review


2) Widows

What’s the story? When a group of robbers are killed following a botched heist, it is left to their wives to complete the job or face the consequences of not being able to pay their late husband’s debts.

Why so good?: Taken at face value, you could be forgiven for thinking that Steve McQueen – director of such challenging films as Hunger, Shame and 12 Years A Slave – has decided to take it easy, go mainstream and have some fun with an update of Lynda La Plante’s 80s TV series, Widows. But you’d be wrong. Rather, the filmmaker has taken a well worn genre [the heist movie] and given it his own gritty spin, albeit with a little help from writer Gillian Flynn (of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects fame), who helped co-pen the script. The result is a muscular thriller of the highest order that lacks none of the social awareness or political heft of past McQueen presentations.

Read our review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

1) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What’s the story? Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) is a mother still angry and grieving at the rape and murder of her daughter and the apparent inaction of the local sheriff, Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), to make any arrests. She subsequently takes out advertising on the three billboards of the film’s title in a bid to shame the police into action. But while Sheriff Willoughby remains sympathetic to her plight, he has his own battles to fight, leaving his deputy, Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), a Mother’s boy with violent tendencies, to try to deter Mildred.

Why so good?: Just as he did with both In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, McDonagh manages to find comedy in the darkest places but here exhibits a greater maturity befitting the generally more sombre tone of the film, which in turn affords it greater bite. This is a story in which death is as much a character as those on-screen for the way in which it informs choices and character. It is a painful companion to them.

Read our review