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Friday, 28 December 2018

The best and worst films of 2018

It's that time of the year again - a time when critics dig through their pile of reviews and compile a best 'of' list. So let's do it.

Firstly though I just want to point out I've been somewhat limited in what I've been able to watch this year, so forgive me if I haven't seen your fave. And release dates are based on Australian release dates.

Dig in.

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 


A masterclass in screenwriting, acting, and directing, overflowing with great characters, brought to life beautifully by a stellar cast, and with a strong thematic and emotional core while still being wickedly and darkly funny. What more could you want in a film.

2. First Man


A story we all know but don't really know which proves fascinating in Chazelle's hands. His documentary-style delivery, aided by stunning performances from Gosling and Foy, makes for emotional, powerful, and gripping viewing.

3. A Quiet Place


The most innovative horror film since The Blair Witch Project. But it's so much more than its silent conceit - it's a repeatedly devastating story that will have you on the edge of your seat for the majority of its runtime.

4. The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs


The Coens' made-for-Netflix Wild West anthology is among their best stuff, with each segment gorgeously written, the lyrical qualities of the dialogue really singing in the mouths of an all-round talented cast.

5. The Shape Of Water


Guillermo del Toro's worthy Oscar-winner poses the question "what if the monster got the girl?". It's a strange question, with weird answers, but it's one del Toro asks with beauty, delicacy and intelligence in this fable about acceptance and equality.

6. Avengers: Infinity War


Infinity War makes some bold choices that render it not only surprising, but also devastating. It goes to the darkest places yet in the MCU, and yet is still brimming with the franchise's typical humour. It's had the biggest expectations of any superhero film to date, and manages to meet them and even exceed them.

7. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse


With its eye-popping blend of hand-drawn sensibilities and CG wizardry, Sony's latest attempt to cash-in on its webslinging moneyspinner looks and feels ripped straight out of a comic book. It's a ploy that works better than expected and helps make this one of the best superhero flicks of the year.

8. Darkest Hour


Gary Oldman delivers the greatest performance of a great career, providing a fascinating insight into WWII and the machinations far from the trenches.

9. Black Panther


Black Panther is great, boasting a sense of grandeur as it tells a sprawling Shakespearean tale that traverses the political, the racial, the ideological, the familial and the fantastical.

10. A Star Is Born


Despite being the fifth version of this story to hit the big screen in 81 years, the narrative arc at the heart of A Star Is Born remains compelling, with Bradley Cooper's version a welcome modernisation that's enjoyable, interesting, and boasts a great soundtrack.


1. The BBQ


It feels unpatriotic to slag off an Aussie movie, but on the other hand it's galling that this is the type of crap Screen Australia chooses to fund. Regardless of its country of origin, The BBQ is a shit film. Its screenplay is so horribly boring and inane that it renders the entire film dull and almost irredeemable.

2. I Feel Pretty


Writers-directors Kohn and Silverstein are trying to make a movie about positive body image while getting across the idea that all you need is a bit of confidence and self-belief, but I Feel Pretty's script and delivery is constantly bodyshaming its main character (and a couple of side characters), in a sense belittling its target audience. The central premise seems to be that Amy Schumer's Renee is unattractive and we should be laughing at her for not realising she's unattractive. When a film has the exact opposite effect of what it's trying to do, that's a bad film.

3. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald


The worst film of JK Rowling's Wizarding World is a hot mess that suffers from an excess of ideas and no solid narrative to hold them together. It struggles to keep its story and characters rolling along in a sensible fashion, and ultimately whimpers its way to an unsatisfactory climax. The whole thing is a shambles.

4. Pitch Perfect 3


Pitch Perfect 3 is a great example of many things, such as "milking an idea dry", "the uncalled-for second sequel", "continued diminishing returns", "the wearing out of a welcome", and "not knowing when to stop". It's a shame - the first film was great, the second was okay, but the third one is bad enough to run the risk of damaging the brand.

5. Life Of The Party


Exactly as you expect it to be, but not as funny as it should be, Life Of The Party's "mom goes to college" premise rarely surprises, never shocks, and is lacking in laughs for too long. As a result, the whole thing is tiresome.

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