There are issues with a British Film Critic composing a list of the greatest films of any given year. Britain tends to receive the Best Picture contenders in January and February, which is why so many UK critics have lists of best movies of 2018 that include films such as Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, despite both films being 2017 films by almost any metric.
Consequently, I always call the list I compose in December preliminary with a more enduring list of the greatest movies of any given year being released in March on my podcast, One Good Thing. But here is a list of the 30 best films I have seen from 2018 so far, submitted in the hopes that it may give you a few new films for the watchlist.
30. Under The Silver Lake (dir. David Robert Mitchell)
Andrew Garfield shines in this Hitchcockian detective thriller about the secret messages hidden in modern life. It’s about the myth of the crusading hero. It’s intelligent and provocative and funny and scary and completely unforgettable.
29. The Endless (dir. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead)
Two brothers return to the suicide cult they once escaped to find it eerily unchanged. A hugely imaginative horror film that will not yield all of its delights on first viewing. It’s a dense, Lovecraftian puzzle of a film with a very human heart and a great sense of humour.
28. Climax (dir. Gaspar Noe)
An intense trance of a film that sees a troupe of hip hop dancers locked in a warehouse, dosed with LSD. The film is a bad trip; a disorientating visceral brain masher that is singular and will definitely stay with you long after you crawl out of the cinema.
27. The Old Man and The Gun (dir. David Lowery)
The beautiful true story of an elderly bank robber who remained classy to the end. The Old Man And The Gun is a lovely yet thrilling tale of a man’s quest to remain ever vital. David Lowery has rendered another powerfully human tale in gorgeous textural celluloid. Robert Redford couldn’t have asked for a better chance to bow out and at long last stay put.
26. A Quiet Place (dir. John Krasinski)
A young family must survive a world where terrifying monsters are alerted by sound. It’s a tense and vitally exciting horror film that makes masterful use of sound to create suspense.
25. Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler)
Marvel’s newest Superhero must gain control of his kingdom, adopt the mantle of The Black Panther and fight the deadly Killmonger. Black Panther is a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe and one the freshest installments in this franchise in years. It’s also funny without undercutting the drama, political without feeling simplistic and epic without losing that personal touch.
24. In Fabric (dir. Peter Strickland)
A monster dress wreaks havoc on the lives of those who buy it. In Fabric is a cheesy Stephen King-esque premise with profound arthouse sensibilities. It’s as much a treatise on the loneliness of consumerist culture as it is a hilarious camp extravaganza. It’s a deeply entertaining horror comedy with a huge array of talent bringing their best. In Fabric is one of the strangest and most entertaining horror films in years.
23. Asako 1&2 (dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
The often painful and sometimes humorous story of a young woman and her relationship to two men who look identical. Asako is a very funny romantic drama with some hard edges. Whilst it’s more fantastical twists may be difficult for some viewers, it’s a considered and deeply moving portrayal of the compromises of true love.
22. Revenge (dir. Coralie Fargeat)
A brutal story of a young woman left for dead, hunting down her attackers. It’s an extravagantly violent genre piece that offers tension, beauty and really affecting horror.
21. Tully (dir. Jason Reitman)
Charlize Theron plays a mother on the verge of a breakdown who finds release in her new night nanny, Tully. Tully is a fabulous movie about motherhood that doesn’t shy away from the grime and grind. It’s funny, frightening, relatable and moving. It also finds time to be a little bit fantastical.
20. Overlord (dir. Julius Avery)
A squad of soldiers land in Nazi-occupied France and discover a terrifying Nazi experiment that could change the war and the world. Overlord is a genre-bending thriller that is brutal and energetically thrilling.
19. Bad Times At El Royale (dir. Drew Goddard)
Several strangers, each with a dark story to tell, find themselves at the run-down El Royale motel, where chaos soon follows each of them. Bad Times is a fabulously stylish and unbearably tense thriller featuring memorable performances and extravagant direction.
18. BlacKkKlansmen (dir. Spike Lee)
A black detective infiltrates the Klu Klux Klan, and BlacKkKlansman is an excellently crafted thriller, a naturally funny parody of the racism but crucially an urgent call to action for anyone who believes equality is a given and anyone who doesn’t see the dangers of our time.
17. Wild Rose (dir. Tom Harper)
A young Glaswegian mum dreams of becoming a country music star, but must balance her aspirations with her responsibilities. Wild Rose may be a familiar story but it’s told with real heart and compassion. It’s one of the funniest and most moving stories of the year.
16. If Beale Street Could Talk (dir. Barry Jenkins)
A Young African-American woman tries to prove the innocence of her wrongly incarcerated husband, the father of her unborn child. If Beale Street Could Talk is a powerful and provocative adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel. It’s a richly told story of humanity and inhumanity. It’s a bold story of hope and fear, but what sticks with you is the heart.
15. Burning (dir. Lee Chang-Dong)
A lonely delivery man longs for his childhood friend, who is infatuated with a mysterious and slightly menacing stranger. Burning is a very affecting and beautifully made thriller that plays with audience expectations by daring us to doubt them. A tense and thoughtful experience.
14. A Simple Favour (dir. Paul Feig)
Lonely housewife Stephanie Meyers (Anna Kendrick) tries to learn the truth behind the disappearance of her mysterious friend. A Simple Favour is a very funny dark comedy, and a fabulously labyrinthine thriller. Feig and Sharzer succeed in capturing the spirit of Hitchcock and Clouzot whilst also providing authentic comedy, making this film a very entertaining experience.
13. Roma (dir. Alfonso Cuaron)
The life and times of a maid in Mexico City. Roma is the most personal and intimate film Cuaron has made in years and it’s just as breathtakingly stylish as his blockbusters. His portrait of a loving family in turmoil is one of his very best works.
12. American Animals (dir. Bart Layton)
The true story of some young men desperate for meaning and some rare books. American Animals is simultaneously an extraordinary modern example of the heist film whilst also being a complete deconstruction of the genre. It parodies the romanticized portrayal of the gentlemen criminal and explores our fascination with them. It’s a funny and incredibly exciting suspense film. And it does all of this whilst telling the extraordinary true story of four boys who got bored and decided to steal some valuable books.
11. Isle of Dogs (dir. Wes Anderson)
When Megasaki City banishes all of its dogs to trash island, one little boy sets out to rescue his beloved pet, and challenge the dog-hating world. Wes Anderson has returned with a beautiful animated story of love and adventure. The peril feels real, the world rich and the characters human (even the dogs).
10. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (dir. Christopher McQuarrie)
Ethan Hunt and his team return to stop the detonation of a nuclear warhead. Mission: Impossible- Fallout may well be the most exciting installment in this franchise. It effortlessly blends the grit of JJ Abram’s M:I 3 with the playful heroics of Brad Bird’s Ghost Nation. It’s a new height for the franchise and easily one of the most thrilling action movies ever made.
09. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman)
Miles Morales must learn to become Spider-Man and save the universe, and a few other universes too. Into The Spiderverse is an exciting and truly inventive superhero film. It’s gorgeous animation style, deft handling of character, natural humour and fascinating premise ensure that it is as deeply entertaining as it is surprisingly meaningful. It’s a sweet-natured story of growing up and finding yourself. Anyone can wear the mask, but very few pull it off as well as this film does.
08. Happy New Year Colin Burstead (dir. Ben Wheatley)
Colin Burstead tries to bring his family together on New Years Eve, but doesn’t count on an unexpected appearance by his estranged brother. Happy New Year, Colin Burstead is a lively family drama. It’s a change of pace for Wheatley, but not a change of pacing. It’s an exciting and tense story of a family torn apart but jealousy, greed, and resentment. It’s one of the funniest films of the year but also one of the most affecting and even frightening.
07. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (dir. Marielle Heller)
A failing writer turns to art forgery and forms an unlikely friendship with a local drunk. Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a charming, and stylish tale of a very classy crime by an utterly unique personality. It’s beautifully acted and fabulously well-written.
06. Suspiria (dir. Luca Guadanigno)
A young girl joins a modern dance school in West Germany, seemingly unaware that the school is a front for a coven of witches looking for a new body for their spiritual leader. Suspiria is a gorgeous and grotesque masterpiece of horror with a beautiful soundtrack. It’s gorier and more subtly menacing than its predecessor but also a thoughtful expansion of its core ideas and themes. It’s a fascinating watch that I cannot wait to experience again.
05. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (dir. Joel and Ethan Coen)
Six exciting tales of the old west, each exploring death with varying degrees of playfulness and severity. The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs is a masterful work by writer-directors at the top of their game. It’s funny, tragic, and completely unpredictable.
04. First Reformed (dir. Paul Shrader)
Reverend Toller takes an atmospheric trip into the darkness of his soul as he contemplates man’s treatment of God’s creation, and considers drastic action. First Reformed is a compelling slow-burn journey into darkness. It is a timeless tale of the battle within man’s soul, but also an urgently contemporary treatise on the state of the soul in the current climate. It’s unpredictable and unforgettable.
03. Leave No Trace (dir. Debra Granik)
A young girl and her father live a peaceful life in the wilderness of a vast national park. Once they are discovered by authorities they must adapt to a more conventional existence. It was worth the long wait for Debra Granik’s third feature film. Once again she has presented a poetic and humanist insight into the lives of those who live on the fringes of American society.
02. Sorry to Bother You (dir. Boots Riley)
A telemarketer discovers a very unique and powerful ability which he then uses to excel in the business of modern slavery. Sorry To Bother You is one of the most exciting and entertaining transgressive experiences in recent years. It’s a troubling social satire, a hilariously surreal comedy, and very unique.
01. The Favourite (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
Queen Anne’s relationship with her favourite subject is threatened by the arrival of a young upstart. The Favourite is a sublime work. A captivating chamber piece of dueling wills and an insightful into the loneliness of power and desperation of powerlessness. It’s hilariously funny, relentlessly tense and perfectly pitched throughout.