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My Top Twenty Films of 2018

01 January 2019

Well, first of all, Happy New Year! Hope you all had a great evening celebrating - whether you stayed in, went out, or even found yourself getting chucked out of an early-closing McDonalds 10 minutes before midnight and then just sort of standing outside watching the surrounding fireworks with one of your besties for a little while, like myself. I'm finishing this post after having a lovely roast with the family, complete with my elegant cocktail of Lambrini mixed with Oasis Citrus Punch (Bucks Fizz) and two lots of leftover Yule log, and I now sit listening to the Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack, beside a freshly bought diary and a bunch of paperwork to sort out to start 2019 off with my shit together...ish - I reckon I've started the year off perfectly. Anyways, on to the reason you're here...

A couple of days ago, he thought he was a professional album critic, and today he's moving on to the movies - will he stop referring to himself in the third person before tomorrow's singles countdown? Honestly, I don't know...

This year, I've tried to make more of a conscious effort to see more movies - usually I like to stick to my bubble of comedies, musicals and kids' films but this year I tried to push the boat out - to limited avail. Below are my 20 favourite movies from 2018:

20. Like Father

We start with the pinnacle of films - a Netflix original. 'Like Father' sees Kristen Bell's character ditched at the altar, and her abandoning father (played by actual Frasier, Kelsey Grammar) turning up and running off again in the same day. What a shit day. Following a lot of drinking, she asks her father to accompany her on her honeymoon cruise, where they meet a group of couples and take on a number of activities that help them work through their shit, a bit, including some karaoke which is always fun. The trip pretty much helps her realise she's honestly just a bit of a career-focused, damaged bitch, and their relationship is fixed a bit, it's a nice watch.

19. Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again

I'l be honest - as soon as I heard where they took this story after so many years, I was a lot madder than I would care to admit, but it helps give a lot more context to what is a lovely reflection of the life of dungaree-fanatic Donna Sheridan. Lily James does a great job of playing young Donna, and seeing all our favourites from the original in their younger form is a great novelty that will start to wear off towards the end. Of course, it's worth powering through as the final scenes featuring Cher popping in to sing a couple of bops (and performing some questionable choreography) adds another half star to my rating in itself. 

18. Game Night

'Game Night' takes the crown for the 'Movie I Thought Was Going To Be Shite But I Gave It A Chance And It Was Actually A Solid B Minus 2018.' Shit gets real during Game Night, where a group of regular board game players, and a fresh new Irish girlfriend for one gamer, find themselves in the middle of an actual hostage situation. Chaos obviously ensues, and every character is given their chance to shine and - plot twist - the usually annoying cliche stupid character was actually done very well, and the film contained some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Applause all round team.

17. Molly's Game

Jessica Chastain playing the powerful, ambitious Molly Bloom works very well; a cold character who after being unable to compete in competitive skiing, turns to the world of gambling. The story takes a turn where she turns from amateur poker-game host to one of the best, all of the attention turns to her, including the bad guys... uh oh. A very enjoyable watch that leaves you feeling uncomfortable at parts, but it's Jessica Chastain so that's surely enough of a plus to negate that.

16. The Shape Of Water

On paper, this film may put you off - a woman falls in love with a sort-of sea creature, she helps break him out of captivity from the bad guys and they have sex in a flooded bathroom. Don't let that put you off, this story is told so uniquely with moments that will tug at the heartstrings, but also sit you somewhere between 'this is beautiful' and 'okay but seriously, what the fuck' including a slightly traumatic scene involving a cat.

15. Love, Simon

A cute coming-of-age movie that sees Simon being outed by a twat fellow student after anonymously being open with a stranger online, and having to deal with the aftermath of lying to his friends to keep his secret, coming out to his parents, and meeting the stranger he's fallen in love with online. Apart from the blackmail that seems to come out of nowhere, the story feels very real and it's heartbreaking to see someone going through something so big having pushed away his friends. It risked being too cute or too dramatic, but the film came into it's own and was a lovely watch. I also appreciated the inclusion of Simon being the one who drives everyone to school, and is always complimentary of his sister's cooking, showing that he is actually just a really decent guy caught up in a bad situation.

14. Adrift

Sam Claflin returns for another film where he gets to lounge around and do nothing whilst the woman does all the work. To be fair, in 'Adrift,' his character suffers with a lot of physical damage after getting caught in a hurricane on a boat, alongside Shailene Woodley. The film is cleverly told in two timelines - starting off with the aftermath of the hurricane, and flip flopping back and forth between the past and present, as we see the pair meet and embark on their journey, whilst also dealing with the damage to themselves and the boat, desperate to reach land again. It's a heartbreaking story, that risks falling flat at parts but is an enjoyable watch nonetheless.

13. Black Panther

I'm going to say this now and maybe hide in the corner - I just really don't care about Marvel. I've tried, I've really tried, but it just doesn't happen, but 'Black Panther' stands out from the crowd. There are still beings with incredible powers, there are still action shots, there's still a villain and a few funny moments for some light relief. The overall story appears to focus on power and morality and was something I could sink my teeth into. Martin Freeman's also in it. 

12. A Simple Favour

Anna Kendrick as a kooky non-creepy mummy-vlogger and Blake Lively as a mysterious suit-donning lady sounds like exactly what I want from a movie. A movie that contained some funny moments, a little bit of suspense and a kid swearing at one point. The plot felt a little far-fetched, but it was a very enjoyable watch, and both Anna and Blake serve some serious looks throughout the movie. I also very much appreciated the vlog updates as things got more mysterious, and find the idea of these vlogs existing hilarious.

11. The Incredibles 2

The family of superheroes return and are completely overshadowed by Jack Jack, who is definitely the best part of this film. The plot is a little predictable, but the characters are able to make you laugh and keep you entertained the whole way through, including a lighter look into family traits - solo parenting, teenage dating and even money problems, which are a nice addition to the action, and Jack Jack's ever-growing list of superpowers.

10. Dumplin'

A film about a Texas pageant, an ode to Dolly Parton, and an uplifting story about turning what appears to be a rebellious act against vanity into a celebration of yourself, through the eyes of agitated, plus size legend (same) Dumplin'. A film that just gets me. It was a film that was sort-of on my list, but definitely not one I was rushing to watch any time soon, though following a strong recommendation from a friend, I decided to give it a go. I'm very glad I did. Aided by her friends and some fabulous drag queens, Dumplin' takes on her mother's beauty pageant but finds herself struggling to keep up, and keep her friends, before an expected very warm ending. Maddie Baillio is also a strong highlight for me.

9. A Wrinkle In Time

Oprah, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon all find themselves in a Drag Race maxi challenge where the category is... space princess. Set with more iconic costume changes than Lady Gaga's new Vegas show, 'A Wrinkle In Time' is a nice story that simply says something along the lines of love being light, and light saving you from the darkness. We see Meg, her younger brother, and a friend, on a quest to find her father, played by a rugged looking scientist Chris Pine, who accidentally fucked up and found himself trapped somewhere in the darkness. It's not the most complex film, and it definitely has its flaws but for a light watch, it's fine - on reflection, I think I might've watched this on a very good day.

8. Lady Bird

Saiorse Ronan stars in this beautiful coming-of-age story, playing a young girl, known as Lady Bird surprisingly, who is honestly just looking for something more, having outgrown her  hometown of Sacramento. It feels more than the usual coming-of-age story - there's the obvious tropes of Lady Bird being rebellious, in constant beef with her mother, and going through many important life things for the first time - but it also sways more towards society, religion and poverty. Lady Bird just wants more from life, which you can't blame her for to be fair, and you do honestly find yourself rooting for Lady Bird, even if she is a bit of dick sometimes.

7. Oceans 8

Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Sandra Bullock in the same movie? Am I dreaming? Is this real life? I can't ev- you get it, we stan legends. Throw in the very underappreciated Mindy Kaling, sort-of newcomer Awkwafina and global superstar Rihanna and you've got yourself 8 of the best. I won't even follow that with a noun, they're just 8 of the best. The plot may fall a little flat, but the characters mould together to form the perfect support structure to carry the movie that is suitable nod to its predecessors, that sees them hatch a plan to steal a necklace at the Met Gala, complete with a few cheeky cameos and an appearance by James Corden that is both unnecessary but also helps the plot reach it's inevitable conclusion. It's also responsible for giving us potentially the best collection of promo/interviews maybe ever, mostly down to Sarah and Cate. YouTube it, seriously.

6. Ralph Breaks The Internet

The idea of 'Ralph Breaks The Internet' sounds like something that in the wrong hands could be maybe one of the worst films ever, but it's actually done very well, in my opinion. It is a Disney film after all. The internet references are cleverly done in the most part, if not for some bad puns, yet it is a bit of a stretch in terms of the main plot, but the characters interacting outside of the arcade gaming world is refreshing, as we are introduced to the very-cool, Gal Gadot voiced 'Shank,' a racer in a world Venellope is immediately excited by, following the sameness of her founding game Sugar Rush, that is currently unplugged.

A highlight is of course the Disney Princess scene, set inside the dressing room of 'Oh My Disney,' and a great reference to the Dark Web, where an act of selfishness leads to the potential shutdown of the whole internet. In some cases, it can feel like a giant advert, and doesn't match the original in terms of quality, but there's just enough plot to keep it an enjoyable film.

5. Hearts Beat Loud

If you're looking for a warm, feel-good film, 'Hearts Beat Loud' does just that, and then some. A film predominantly about the relationship between a father and his daughter who share a similar interest in creating music and find minor success on Spotify, featuring Parks and Rec legend Nick Offerman. Of course, the daughter is leaving for college soon, and goes on to go through her own coming-of-age story, and has to fight her father's continuous efforts and passions to take their band further, and in the process randomly learns to ride a bike with help from a female love interest. The climax of the movie is enough to leave you beaming from ear to ear, as they get together to sing again, and honestly the songs are very, very good. Well played, all.

4. A Star Is Born

I've talked about this film so much even I'm sick of myself, but it's honestly just a really great film. I'm glad that 99 people in the room didn't believe in Lady Gaga because Bradley Cooper did, and boy did they deliver with this remake of a remake of a remake (of a remake?) that sees two talented strangers come together in a bar full of drag queens, before they end up touring the world together and fall in love before life takes quite the dramatic turn for them.

'A Star Is Born' hits you right in the feels - the music is powerful and helps aid the storytelling, whilst L. Gaga and Bradley Cooper's chemistry leaves you invested in their relationship and respective careers, beaming through the highs, clenching through the lows and trying not to sob at the ending that hits you right in the gut.

3. Crazy Rich Asians

I think more than anything, the thing that really stood out for me with 'Crazy Rich Asians' was just how extra this film was. They took the idea of throwing large lavish events to a new level, and left me and my friend speechless every time. The story follows two lovebirds, played by Constance Wu and Henry Golding, as we find that the rest of his family is rich... very rich. Bring in a cast full of some of the most well known and talented Asian actors, including the hilarious Ken Jeong, Miley Cyrus soundalike Awkwafina and the absolutely stunning Gemma Chan, and a plot full of relationship highs and lows, some scheming from a protective mother, and we're left a visually stunning film that is less of a rom-com than it is a parody, that doesn't take itself too seriously.

The film definitely focuses on the ridiculous; a type of rich that seems almost unreal, but definitely exists in some capacity, and can come across quite cliche, but if you forget that it's just a very enjoyable watch that shows you that money isn't everything, though it may look like it. Aside from the lavish events which look both incredible and fills me with anxiety at the thought of being at one, you're left with a bunch characters who are a little lost, or just unhappy, ultimately saved by... you guessed it, each other. How cute.

2. Mary Poppins Returns

It's been a very long time since I've left a film feeling warm, and happy, and just really, really nice. Come through 'Mary Poppins Returns.' Although the film features a stellar cast, including Broadway great Lin Manuel Miranda and the incomparable Emily Blunt, I was a little skeptical going into 'Mary Poppins Returns.' Like many, the original holds a special place in my heart, but I had absolutely nothing to worry about - though the first musical number didn't instantly hit me, every other musical number felt like it could've easily been in the original, and even features a Miranda/Blunt duet 'A Cover Is Not The Book' complete with a brand new Chicago-esque bob for Mary Poppins I was not ready for. Other highlights include epic number 'Trip A Little Light Fantastic' and the beautiful 'A Place Where The Lost Things Go.'

The film makes several nods to the original, and includes a couple of cheeky cameos I won't spoil for you, and plenty of references that have aged accordingly with the original Banks children. Speaking of the Banks children, the new children, all belonging to Michael Banks, are cute and do very well in the film, and are rarely annoying which is always helpful. One of the children is played by Pixie Davies, who's been in Nativity, Humans and that advert where the cute little girl teaches her dad to eat the Oreo - so we know we're in good hands. Chris O'Dowd and Fred Flinstone himself, Mark Addy also lend their voices, whilst Meryl Streep pops in for a bit for the oddly wonderful 'Turning Turtle' and Julie Walters is great as always. Rarely do I watch a film multiple times in the cinema, but I'm seeing this again on Friday and I am EXCITED.

1. Coco

A Disney Pixar film takes top place in my year-end list, and I'm not even mad. 'Coco' was an imaginative look at the 'Day of the Dead' celebrations, and is a great way to combine what appears to be a very respectable look at the traditions and roots of Mexico, and a touching story of family, passion and hope. It deals with the idea of death the only way Disney can - through the story of a child, Miguel, armed with enough naivety and curiosity to act on his musical dreams and meet his idol. There is a warmth to the movie, even in the colder moments and the emotion during the final scenes in particular felt very real, though that may be more due to personal experiences, where I found myself crying... a lot.

The animation and, in particular, the colours in 'Coco' leave the film visually stunning, which matched with the heartwarming story, that leaves you willing Miguel on, and finds your heart breaking exactly when his does. It's a very powerful movie, done very well - probably the best Disney Pixar film in a good few years.


There we have it, my favourite films of the year... what have you been loving in 2018?

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