Oli Buckley’s Top 10 Films of 2018

December 24, 2018
Oliver Buckley 0
Features, Film

As the year draws to a close it’s once again time to start bundling the last twelve months of cinema in 10 little boxes, also known as making a list of my favorite films of the year. I think it’s important to point out that as a Brit I am basing my top films on those that were released at the cinema in the UK in 2018. There may be a 2017 film in there, for our American readers. I tried to leave it out but it physically hurt me to even contemplate that.

10. Mary Poppins Returns

This is a last minute entry into my favourite films of the year, and I think it’s deserving of the recognition. The original Mary Poppins is one of those films that’s almost a constant through my entire life. I can’t pinpoint a time when I first watched it; it feels like something that has always been there, and in heavy rotation as a child. Thankfully, the long-awaited sequel does actually live up to its predecessor with Emily Blunt delivering a wonderful take on the character in a film that feels magically delightful.

9. First Man

First Man tells a story that nearly everyone on the planet knows to some degree and still manages to make it exciting and truly engaging. This is a film about the space race that isn’t really about space at all but instead about loss, grief and the human condition. The film is beautifully shot (the silent scenes on the moon are phenomenal) and superbly acted, with Claire Foy giving an absolute standout performance.

8. Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War is everything we know and love about the MCU but amplified to eleven. It manages to balance so many competing characters and storylines to produce something that is far better than it had any right to be. The film is proof, if it were needed, that Marvel’s long-term planning and patience has really paid off. It may be only half of the story, but what a half it was; this is event cinema at its finest. If ever a movie could be a justification for sitting down to watch 18 other films in preparation, I think that Avengers: Infinity War might just be that film.

7. Annihilation

Sci-fi has seen something of a resurgence in recent years and Annihilation is the latest complex, thought-provoking, and grown-up sci-fi film. Director Alex Garland has crafted a superbly ambiguous film that plays with some really hefty ideas, all while providing a visual spectacle. Like Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 before it, Annihilation is a beautifully bewildering ride that doesn’t spoon-feed the audience but instead lets you wrestle with the broader themes yourself.

6. A Star is Born

A Star is Born is a simple story that is built on some superb performances and an incredibly strong soundtrack. It’s a film that I didn’t really expect to love but something about it just got under my skin and wouldn’t let go. Bradley Cooper delivers a beautifully layered performance while also demonstrating a considerable talent as a director. Lady Gaga is a real surprise and Sam Elliott delivers one of the most heartbreaking scenes this year.

5. Coco

I really enjoyed Coco; at its heart, it’s a traditional Pixar buddy pairing but it feels fresh and different. It’s a refreshing change to see a movie like this focus so heavily and completely on Mexican culture, and I thought it was really interesting and (sadly) something that is all too rare for “big” movies. The film is an exciting ride, with our two heroes taking us on a whirlwind adventure through the Land of the Dead, but what makes this a truly great Pixar film is that it is so much more than a fun ride. Coco has a lot of depth and more than its fair share of moments of genuine emotion. For example, there’s a version of “Remember Me” (one of the film’s main songs) that is utterly heartbreaking.

4. The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is a really clever film that is an utter joy to watch. The central romance between Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and the creature (Douglas Jones) is very smartly done and has more heart and emotion than you would expect for a relationship between a woman and a fishman. The central romance is beautifully played, like a silent film at times, between the two leads. Their shared silence allows them to bond more quickly than if they had used any language on the planet. It’s a modern day fairytale that just works so well – it’s a beautifully constructed film, with a fantastic score and superb performances all the way down.

3. Black Panther

Yes there are two MCU films on my favourite films this year, what can I say? I’m an absolute sucker for a Marvel movie and it just so happens that this year has been a great year for the MCU. I loved Black Panther; it’s exciting, well-written and acted, and it genuinely takes us to places that we’ve not been to before in the MCU (both physically and figuratively). Marvel Studios picked a director with a strong, singular vision and they allowed him to go out and make the movie that he wanted to make. It feels like Marvel striding out in a new direction away from their tried and tested formula. It’s a great Marvel film and a fantastic film in its own right.

2. A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place really took me by surprise. It was completely off my radar at the start of the year but it’s a film that I’ve struggled to get out of my head ever since I first saw it. In some ways it reminded me of Signs – it created a believable world and creatures with real menace. Where A Quiet Place really stands apart is that there’s a cast of characters I actually cared about. It’s a wonderfully tight and tense film that gripped me from the opening scene and didn’t let go until the credits finally rolled. I was so invested in what was going on that I feel like I may have only taken two or three breaths throughout the whole film.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I had this on my list of “Most Anticipated Films of 2018” and I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint. Usually when it comes to movies, with great expectations comes great disappointment, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse absolutely hammered my expectations into the ground. It’s all I could have hoped for and far, far more (mainly because I am in no way a creative mastermind). The visuals are stunning and in my opinion they really push the boundaries of animation to new levels, the script is smartly written and gives a new twist on a well-slung web. If you haven’t seen this yet then definitely go and see this as many times as you can at the cinema and then fervently wait for it to come out on Blu-Ray and do it all over again.

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