Yay, the positive side!
I talked about the worst films of the year in the last article and now it’s time for the best. And in that last one, I said that the bad films were not as bad as previous films. But on the other hand, the good films weren’t quite as good. It was a year of mediocrity in my opinion, with a bus load of three stars and a lot just not being able to get out of that average category.
But there were some great movies and it’s time to talk about them! Same rules apply as last time, to qualify for the list you have to be released in 2018. Let’s go!
Honourable Mentions: Mission: Impossible — Fallout, Early Man, Blackkklansman, The Darkest Hour, Black Panther
10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Netflix movies count and this proved it. In a year where we mocked Netflix for buying the movies studios didn’t want anywhere near a cinema, they ended up also making a fantastic Coen Brothers movie. It is tricky to rate The Ballad of Buster Scruggs as it is a series of vignettes and they do vary in quality. I think that All Gold Canyon is very slow and lacking a good punchline to make it worth it but the other vignettes were superb. Whether it was possible the maddest thing I’ve seen all year as Buster Scruggs turned into a god damned angel or the brilliantly paced and truly fantastic The Mortal Remains. All were different, all had a point and all were great to watch. I know vignette movies can be uneven but this one for the most part was consistently brilliant.
9. A Star Is Born
Hey Adam, you are going to love a musical remake from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga this year! I would have called bullshit on that a few months ago but here we are. Somehow Lady Gaga, known best for stupidly lavish costumes and one of the most out there personalities in pop, was able to reign it in to play this every girl who falls in love with a rockstar before becoming a star herself. It’s one of the revelations of the year that she can act, unlike Rihanna. Battleship still scars me man. But other than Gaga’s performance, this story despite being told a lot is still very powerful thing and the songs are of course great. I mean with Lady Gaga as the lead the singing was at least going to be good. But against all odds, a star movie was born.
8. The Post
Journalist bias? Definitely but in an era where proper journalism is ignored and disrespected in favour of fake news outlets and gobby pundits, a movie dedicated to the hard work of journalists should be loved more. It would be very easy to compare this movie to Spotlight but they tackle an entirely different part of journalism. That was about the grit of investigative journalism, this is about the tough decisions at the top. It’s about how the powerful try to quash journalists and how they have to make the tough to choice to risk their lives to make sure we know the truth. It’s magnificent to watch and Tom Hanks makes you feel the sheer stress of these big decisions put onto him. It’s another brilliant depiction of journalism and one made even more important considering recent events.
7. Crazy Rich Asians
I told you this would be on the list! Look, I didn’t think the guy who made Jem and the Holograms would have this in him either but here are. A romantic comedy that ignores all the old cliches that killed the genre and is actually brilliant. It has likeable characters who you root to be together and enjoy seeing on screen. You have side characters who yes are a bit one dimensional, but in a fun way where they add to the movie when they are on screen but don’t distract from the main plot. And as the guy who loves snooping in rich people houses on property websites, I did love seeing all the wealth on show in the movie. Singapore as a location was great too because I am so bored of New York City at this point. It’d be crazy not to have it on the list.
I remember when we were all writing articles that Pixar was dead because they started to make some average movies. Those articles are now being deleted though because they proved that the era of Cars 3 and Monsters University was a blip rather than a trend. Coco is truly magnificent. It brings together all their strengths, brings forward a culture and setting that is usually just a backdrop to other films and just like so many other great Pixar movies, it is so incredibly touching in the end. I don’t how Pixar made rooms playing the end of the movie incredibly dusty but that technology was marvellous. This is another magnificent movie from them and I’m looking forward to more in the near future. Oh, it’s Toy Story 4. Never mind then.
5. I, Tonya
Biopics get a reputation for being a bit stuffy and I understand why. Because so many are about great people, the tone is set to one of respect and respect is often so boring. So when you encounter a biopic about an unlikeable sports star, you are hoping for something much different. And boy was I, Tonya different. Just like disgraced ice dancer Tonya Harding herself, this movie is spiky, doesn’t care what anyone else thinks but yet seems to hate the world around it. Despite ultimately being a depressing movie about how Tonya’s unfortunate circumstances turned someone who was truly talented into America’s whipping girl, it is incredibly funny and Margot Robbie’s performance as the titular character is something else. Perfect ten for this one. Well, five I suppose.
4. Molly’s Game
In many ways, Molly’s Game is great for the same reason that I, Tonya is great. Because the movie is a biopic by a less than great character, it can afford to be more creative in it’s tone. However, instead of being just that little bit trashy, this movie is about the world of underground millionaire poker games so it’s a bit more classy. It’s basically a gangster movie as Molly, played by a best she’s ever been Jessica Chastain, works her way to the top of the gambling world before allowing her arrogance to take her down in the end. It’s truly a marvel to watch the way Molly games everyone into basically handing her money and like the best of this genre, it makes you want her to succeed despite all the illegal things she is doing. Out of all of the movies on this list, I feel like this was the one that didn’t get all the chatter and buzz it deserved. So can we give it that now?
3. Avengers: Infinity War
As a critic, I’m meant to be a bit sniffy towards blockbusters. After all, nothing can match up to that French movie about tulips from 2006 which was only broadcast in a leaky 10-seater cinema in Shoreditch. But I defy anyone to find another movie this year which caused as big an emotional effect as this one did. It does have an advantage over any other movie because it had the advantage of ten years of movies building into this one but I think even if you just saw this one that you’d still be shocked by the ending of this movie which for some reason I’m not spoiling even though it has been memed into death already. Even without that ending, this is one of the most exhilarating movies out this year as it just doesn’t stop to take a breath. Also Thanos is now an iconic villain for being one of the few that actually succeed. It is a classic.
2. The Shape of Water
It is the easiest joke in the world to simply write this movie off as the fish fucking movie. It’s easy but it’s unfair. Because if you can get over that one scene, which was actually a really well-executed scene for something that should have warranted laughter and derision in the cinema, this is the best romance movie in years. Yes, the one between a deaf woman and a fish man. The movie does incredibly well and making these two feel so isolated from the rest of the society and that despite how weird it all is, you are rooting for these two to be together because it just fits right. There are so many sequences in this movie which just shouldn’t work but because of the power of the romance and director Guillermo del Toro, they end up being the most magical part of the movie. Add in a truly sinister performance from Michael Shannon and you’ve got something great.
- Isle of Dogs
I love Wes Anderson movies. I love dogs. So this was always going to end up on my list but number one is as shocking to me as it is you. So why have I made this my film of the year? Because nothing hits as hard. It’s always been in the case that in movies and probably life to some extent, we care about dogs more than we do other human beings. We’ve seen lots of people die on screen without effect but if a dog dies, it causes a riot. There’s a reason there’s a website called Does The Dog Die. And even though this stop motion adventure which takes place in a dystopian, futuristic Japan feels completely different to anything else in the cinema this year, it hits home on the basic but emotive story of a boy and his dog. This is a story that is starting to be exploited big time, looking at you A Dog’s Purpose, but here the fact you only understand the dog rather than human makes it speak to you in a completely different way to something like Hachi.
It is a very weird movie because this is Wes Anderson, but even for him this is an out there movie. He’s done stop motion before with Fantastic Mr Fox but that now feels like just a trial run for this movie. The biggest shock is that unlike so many other Wes Anderson movies, this is not coated in pastel colours but is actually packed with reds, blacks and greys. Yet he still makes it look stunning because he just has a talent for that sort of thing. But even if the movie was done in real life or looked like crap, that basic story of a boy and a dog would still keep this on top of the list. It was a much closer year than most because The Shape of Water was truly excellent, but this year I’m happy to say that Isle of Dogs is my film of 2019.