2018 In Movies
Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows picks the top 10 films of the year in no particular order…
2018 wasn’t an amazing year for cinema, at least mainstream cinema, and so it was a challenge to pick 10 notable genre and superhero films. Here’s our Top 10…
The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
A new Coen Brothers film is always an event and this Western anthology, which got a limited cinema release to accompany its Netflix home cinema release, was no exception. Six vignettes of varying lengths with a cast that included Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan and Bill Heck, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs is a beautifully cinematic work which explores many of the Coens’ regular obsessions (sex, death, rivalry) with the sort of aplomb you would expect.
Produced by JJ Abrams and directed by Julius Avery, this war film with a horror twist is helped by some snazzy physical effects and a genuinely fun story that feels like it’s stepped straight out of an EC comic. Even though it wasn’t directed by Abrams, his fingerprints are all over this. An old-fashioned horror film in its best sense.
This film which reunited La La Land director Damien Chazelle with actor Ryan Gosling and tells the story of Neil Armstrong and the preparation taken to send him and his fellow astronauts to the moon didn’t engage with audiences. This was a shame as First Man was a very well made drama with some strong performances and some real tension even in the scenes depicting some of the most familiar events in 20th century history.
It was never going to be as exceptional as its progenitor but this follow-up, fourteen years after The Incredibles, gave it a good try. Picking up almost straight after the first film, it was a pleasure to see the Parr family cope with a new set of challenges and the presence of Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener as brother and sister lent a great deal to the overall quality. Visually, there is still a great deal of care and attention taken here.
Another film made by Netflix which had a limited cinema release, Alfonso Cuaron’s drama set in early 1970s Mexico City about a year in the life of maid in a middle class household and all of her trials and tribulations is a truly beautiful film. From the opening credits where we watch maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) clean the family’s drive ready for the return of Sofia’s husband Antonio, there is a cinematic precision to every scene and shot here. Cuaron who acts as his own cinematographer here, with the assistance of production designer Eugenio Caballero, has created an exquisite work of drama, with images that the viewer could stare at it for hours on screen. Yalitza Aparicio , who plays the maid, is excellent as is Marina de Tavira , who plays Sofia. Roma is a film with real heart and soul.
Avengers: Infinity War
2018 was Marvel’s year. Along with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War dominated the spring box office and really connected with cinemagoers. The Russo Bros showed just how you can create a superhero epic with a huge cast of characters and still find time for a little bit of humour and characterisation. Brolin fills Thanos’s CGI boots with gravitas and style and the directors manage to strike the correct tone, setting things up for Avengers: Endgame out this coming spring and Captain Marvel, out first. DC and Warner Bros. should take note of how you cultivate an onscreen superhero universe.
The Shape Of Water
Guillermo del Toro was a director who had a decent cult following but it was this unusual romance that really engaged with audiences. Thanks to an exceptional performance from Sally Hawkins and strong support from Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon, The Shape Of Water was a real gamechanger, bagging 4 Oscars in February. It wasn’t del Toro’s best film but it was refreshing to see such a leftfield film cleaning up at the awards. And we know it was out in the US in 2017 but this is a UK website and it didn’t come out until February 2018.
Disney•Pixar makes its second appearance on this list, with this sweet imaginative tale about a little boy in Mexico, Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) who dreams of becoming a musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (the voice of Benjamin Bratt). Sadly, music is frowned upon in his household and he has to take a trip to the land of the dead to find out that his idol has feet of clay. The animation here is pretty spectacular and the voice talent which also includes Gael García Bernal and Renée Victor is some of the best we’ve seen in a Disney or Pixar film for quite some time.
Steven Spielberg tackles hard-hitting journalism and the story of the US’s first female newspaper owner in the shape of Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) in this hard-hitting drama. Tom Hanks lends heart to Washington Post editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee while the supporting cast, which includes Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford and Sarah Paulson, gives extra gravitas to this story of US political corruption. It can’t quite match the virtuosity of something like All The President’s Men but it does give it a damn good run for its money.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Finally, we have Martin McDonagh’s solid drama starring Frances McDormand looking for justice for her murdered daughter. McDormand is exceptional on screen but the rest of the cast which includes Woody Harrelson as the rather unpleasant local police chief Willoughby and Sam Rockwell, a more junior member of the force, have real chemistry with her character. There is an empathy and humanity on display here that McDonagh hasn’t managed to pull off before.