Published: 00:51, 28 December 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, the KM Group's cinema writer, Mike Shaw, takes a look back at the films of the year:
It’s been a hard year, hasn’t it? But, like Shania Twain says, looks like we made it.
Obviously, this list would include The Greatest Showman if the film wasn’t released right at the tail end of 2017, so just know that if I could have included it, I would have. So, in no particular order:
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell both thoroughly deserved their Oscars for this film about a grieving mother kicking against a local police department struggling to find her daughter’s killer. From that description, you wouldn’t expect the movie to also be one of the darkest comedies of the year, but it was.
The only more-deserving Oscar-winner was Gary Oldman, for his incredible transformation into Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. There are no action scenes, and it’s all well-known history, but the film manages to generate some of the tensest scenes in cinema this year. It’s like House of Cards but with bigger jowls.
This biting biopic told the story of the infamous ice skating rivalry between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. The whole film lives because of the absorbing, entirely uninhibited performance by Margot Robbie, as Tonya.
Alex Garland followed up 2014’s Ex Machina with more cerebral sci-fi, that also failed to find a wider audience. Natalie Portman is a biologist who ventures into a mysterious phenomenon known as the Shimmer in the hope of finding out what happened to her husband. What follows is a deeply-unsettling mystery that brings the whole of reality into question.
They Shall Not Grow Old
Without question, Peter Jackson’s documentary is the most astounding piece of filmmaking this year. Jackson and his team took archival footage of the First World War and painstakingly restored it to bring the horrors of the Great War to a modern audience more used to full-colour HD. It’s a remarkable achievement and an incredibly powerful masterpiece that should be essential viewing for everyone aged 10 and above.
The Shape of Water
What a weird film. But what a beautiful film. This dark fantasy by Guillermo del Toro stars the wonderful Sally Hawkins as a mute woman who falls in love with a fish-man. It’s a twisted romance that retains del Toro’s warped sense of humour and flair for the gruesome.
Mission: Impossible Fallout
There are moments in the excellent new instalment of the M:I franchise where it seems like Tom Cruise is trying to get himself killed. More than 20 years in, the series should be stale and boring, but this is the best one yet. Absolutely thrilling from start to finish, and a great example of how an action film can be smart without sacrificing entertainment.
I reckon this is my controversial pick for the year, but I just can’t help including it. The film took forever to get made and had a succession of dramas involving the cast and crew. By all Hollywood laws it should have been terrible, but it wasn’t. Yes, the dialogue is truly horrible in places; sure, Rami Malek’s fake teeth take a while to get used to, but by the time the big Live Aid finale come around, the sheer energy has taken over and you spend the next couple of weeks asking friends and colleagues when they’re going to get round to watching Bohemian Rhapsody so you have someone else to enthuse with.
Isle of Dogs
Stop-motion might be the perfect vehicle for Wes Anderson’s tableau style of filmmaking. Isle of Dogs is his second animated film and tells a sweet (but razor-edged) story of a boy’s dedication to his pet dog, which has been exiled to Trash Island by an anti-canine government. Don’t be fooled by the cutesy styling - this isn’t a film for youngsters who want to watch cartoon dogs.
You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay’s follow-up to We Need To Talk About Kevin took six years to arrive but the excessively brutal revenge thriller was worth the wait. Joaquin Phoenix plays a mentally-fragile hitman on a mission to find a kidnapped 13-year-old girl. It’s uneasy, uncomfortable viewing, but a brilliant watch, helped greatly by the score courtesy of Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood. It feels an awful lot like Taxi Driver, and that’s never a bad thing. Well, not never - an episode of Paw Patrol that feels like Taxi Driver would probably be a negative.