The Wills 2018

Probably the last picture of me in Hollywood, outside the famous Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard

Unbelievably here we are another year later, and unfortunately the number of films I’ve seen this past 12 months dropped from last year (there were some big gaps between cinema trips at times, because life invariably gets in the way). That’s not to say it’s not worth doing this list, because I know people have looked at these articles more than some of the reviews!

Hopefully next year I’ll have seen more or around the same amount – writing the reviews is a bit more stretched now with less time or ability to get them together (in the case of Deadpool 2, it was actually a month after I’d seen it that I got the review up and ready).

There were some stinkers, but also a few I think I could easily elevate to my top 10 of all time. Talk about extremes! I make no apologies for the number one film, even though it means that for each year I’ve done this, the same director is at the top…

One last thing – this year more than any other, please don’t regard something as being abysmal because it’s further down the list – there was a fine line between the truly bad and the OK movies. So once again I’ve split this films up into sub categories that explain my thoughts.

Without further ado…

The first four are what I would term a mixture between “who thought this was a good idea” and diminished expectations. In essence, in a few cases, these were real disappointments, specifically those of the sequel or franchise variety…

25. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets so much potential but just too much weirdness and a boring main character dooms this sci fi madness

24. Solo: A Star Wars Story – the first major misstep for Disney’s new movies, this was a film that didn’t need to be made and squanders the good things about it

23. Deadpool 2what a disappointment! Nowhere near as funny as the first and falling into the traps it should be taking the piss out of

22. Sicario 2: Soldado – an unnecessary sequel to an amazing movie, this completely disregards what made the original great and tries to force a franchise out of it

I like to think of this group as the “nearly” bunch. As you’ll see when you read the reviews, I enjoyed them all (though quite a few had issues I needed to address). A few of these are distinctly Oscar baiting films, a few action bonanzas (one of each by Spielberg, for god’s sake), while the others are memorable for what they achieved or stood for, be it empathetic CGI animals, a truly hilarious studio comedy or a teen gay romance.

21. Murder On The Orient Express – if I hadn’t have known “whodunnit”, I’d probably have enjoyed this more – as it is, it’s at least got some character and held my interest!

20. The Post – it’s not Spielberg’s finest hour but it’s a brilliant ode to journalism with some incredibly timely links to issues in modern day America (plus some unconventional Hanks and Streep acting)

19. Darkest Hour – the Gary Oldman Oscar bait movie, I enjoyed this for his transformative performance (even if other elements aren’t as strong in the end)

18. Love, Simon – a really pleasant surprise and (despite its middling elements), it’s a mainstream teen film about homosexuality that is remarkable for being unremarkable

17. Ready Player One – two Spielberg films in one year! This is a popcorn light, nerd heavy visual feast of references and geekiness that I enjoyed despite its surprisingly weak characterisation

16. Lady Bird – a really different and entertaining coming of age story that feels more honest, with two powerhouse performances from Saiorse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf

15. War for the Planet of the Apes – what a capper to the Andy Serkis motion capture trilogy, with the actor once again showing how performance can show through effects and create empathy

14. Game Night – a studio comedy that is actually hilarious! A rogue’s gallery of comedic talent combine for a madcap, often hilarious farce around the game night trend

These are the films that deserve a great deal of praise for being particularly memorable, hilarious or thought provoking. While not in my view the very best I saw all year, they are well and truly worth your time, a real mixture of fantasy, horror, superheroes, action and sci-fi along with a particularly hard hitting, Oscar hoovering drama.

13. Itthe first half of a two parter, this excellently adapts one of Stephen King’s most sinister tales with style and menace, with an unhinged performance from Bill Skarsgard

12. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi – while I still prefer The Force Awakens, this is a brave and fresh boost the Skywalker saga needed, with writer and director Rian Johnson making a real mark on Star Wars

11. Spider-Man: Homecoming – Marvel absolutely nails the prodigal webhead, effortlessly slotting him into the MCU with some great laughs and Tom Holland’s quippy, impassioned performance the best yet

10. Atomic Blonde – an 80s set action thriller, from a John Wick director and starring Charlize Theron? This is a brilliant slice of B-movie action crunch shot through with neon and a fiercely feminist drive

9. Thor Ragnarok – unhinged Kiwi comedy meets Norse alien gods. No other way to describe the best Thor, with Taika Waititi injecting a tired mini franchise with zaniness and style

8. A Quiet Place – a very clever, high concept horror that works an absolute treat, only bettered by Emily Blunt and John Krasinski’s excellent and intense performances

7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – it won a fair few Oscars and you can see why – a searingly biting commentary on justice and broken people, with Frances McDormand at her best

6. The Shape of Water – this shouldn’t have worked but it does! 60s romance fantasy horror drama – all beautifully made and presented by Guillermo del Toro and an exceedingly good cast

This final five: for one reason or another, they truly felt like amazing cinema experiences. While their impact (in one or two cases) is dulled a little on Blu Ray, the craftsmanship and ingenuity behind the cameras (and a deft script or lack of none) combined perfectly with everything onscreen for me for some unforgettable experiences at the cinema, and a series of films I will likely rewatch (or defend to anyone) again and again!

5. Baby Driver – years down the line people will still be enjoying Edgar Wright’s first US film – an ode to music, movies and action that feels utterly unique

4. Dunkirk – absolute sensory overload, Christopher Nolan’s WW2 epic batters and blasts you while simultaneously doing more to envision the hellish nature of war than most war movies

3. Black Panther – a true cinematic trailblazer and a seriously accomplished blockbuster with interesting themes and a sympathetic, complex villain – and it’s a Marvel superhero film!

2. Avengers: Infinity War – somehow the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins its conclusion with the impossible – bringing all its heroes together effortlessly, giving us a fascinating and engaging nemesis, and a stunning conclusion. Let’s see if its sequel in 2019 can stick the landing

1. Blade Runner 2049 – yes it’s Denis Villeneuve. Yes it’s science fiction. But from the first few seconds of my cinematic experience until the conclusion, no film since Sicario has forced itself into my favourites until 2049. From its aesthetic to its plot, its main character through to the stunning soundtrack – this is one of my all time cinematic classics.

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