Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Ten films from 2018 that weren't the best but at least they made me forget
about Brexit for a bit

It's end-of-year list time guys, a tradition for which I usually spend 365 days planning (366 in some cases) with feverish anticipation. However, having spent this year continuously adjusting and amending my ranking of all the films I saw in 2018 (which you can find here), I've come to the conclusion that it's very very boring. I stand by my opinion that all the ones at the top end deserve their place in a list of Films I Thought Were Really Very Good, but I've given hardly any of them a second thought since I saw them.

So this year - the latest in a series of years designed to break the human spirit and batter us all into wearily accepting a succession of apocalypses not of our choosing - here's something a bit less worthy. The following are not the films I thought were 2018's best (OK, some of them are), but rather the ones that made me smile, laugh, cry, cry-laugh, go "ooh", "aah", "holy shit" and "wheee!" the most, and which generally reminded me of cinema's power to cheer me the fuck up.

So here, in order of release, are my Ten Films From 2018 That I Will Almost Certainly Watch Several More Times, Probably On A Saturday Night, In My Pants And With A Little Bit Too Much Gin Inside Me!

COCO Tragically all but forgotten in most Best Of 2018 lists due to its release in the year's infancy, Pixar's first original story since 2015 is a kaleidoscope of eye candy, emotional manipulation and narrative rug-pulling. An odyssey through the great beyond stuffed with gags, great songs, intrigue, amusing skeletons and a wonky dog, it deserves an afterlife as long and fun as the one it depicts. And it all takes place within the pre-title sequence of Spectre! Amazing.

BLACK PANTHER I missed the first five minutes of this at the cinema because I had to go outside and complain that the fucking lights were still up, so that put me in a bad mood and I didn't enjoy myself. Pretty sure it was OK though and it's one of those "MCU" things that are all the rage these days so I'll definitely watch it again when Cineworld Enfield eventually send me the Blu-ray as compensation for yet another sub-par cinematic experience.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Long, dumb and full of fun: as much as these things are starting to look more and more like Pixar films, and as much as they're increasingly uninterested in what it means to be superhuman (or, indeed, human), I can't help but have a good time with them. It's just a blast to spend time with all these characters, and almost everyone gets a satisfyingly balanced amount of screentime here without it feeling like an exercise in scriptwriting box-ticking. Not sure how worthwhile it is to complain that this one just isn't very clever; I guess all the payoff will be in Endgame.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Smashing into my official Best Of 2018 list at (*checks notes*) number 33, Solo is so hamstrung by the needlessness of its own existence that it fights an uphill battle from the beginning and never feels like it makes much ground in that fight. Alden Ehrenreich has about 3.8% of the personality required to match Harrison Ford, Emilia Clarke is, as always, terrible, Paul Bettany is a limp villain and Bradford Young's cinematography is like watching the film being projected onto the bottom of a puddle. BUT its title contains the words "Star Wars", so fuck you. Yes I am aware that I am part of the problem.

INCREDIBLES 2 In truth the fourteen-year wait has dulled the sheen of this franchise a little (especially as the sequel isn't a giant leap on from the original) but Incredibles 2: 2 Fast 2 Cred makes up for it by boasting the most retina-pleasing Pixar visuals yet, electrifying set-pieces, another swaggering Michael Giacchino score, some canny commentary on parenting and - most crucially - Elastigirl, Pixar's sexiest sprite. I mean what a woman. Those curves... the lycra... the... uh, sorry, excuse me a sec

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN I can take or leave Cher (sorry Twitter), but for everything else in Mamma Mia 2: 2 Mamma 2 Mia I just throw my hands in the air and surrender to the cheese. Nothing else this year gave my emotions as thorough a workout as this merciless bastard of a film: I did 94% of all my laughing and crying for 2018 in its 113 minutes. All I ask for now is a Godfather cut of both films so I can watch them in chronological order.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT So good of Christopher McQuarrie to personally apologise to me for Rogue Nation by taking action directing to the kind of levels that literally scare off Bond directors. Helped in no small part by Lorne Balfe's occasionally Zimmeresque score, McQuarrie hewed eerily close to Christopher Nolan with this relentless thrillgasm, his shot choices and editing taking this franchise way beyond anything it had ever previously promised. This is an ankle-smashing leap forward in blockbuster filmmaking that evokes Buster Keaton at his most inventive, and that is about the highest compliment I can pay it.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY There's a really good film at war with a really bad one in here, but the really good one wins because it brings out the ruddy artillery right at the end. Despite valiant attempts to sink itself with a general sense of superficiality, some truly hackneyed bits of writing and a plodding insistence on hitting all the expected beats of the rock biopic, all that cringing guff is washed away by the tidal wave of awesomeness that is those final 20 minutes. A three star film but a five star experience that I fully expect to watch many, many more times than Phantom fucking Thread.

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS (specifically, THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS) The Coens' album of mini-westerns is fine, obviously, but the title track would have been my film of the year if only those pencil-pushers at City Hall would just let me include specific seventeen-and-a-half-minute segments of films rather than the whole shebang. Thank God for Netflix, then, who let me watch as much or as little of whatever I want whenever I want like I'm some kind of entitled millennial. (Don't "at" me, kids)

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE I literally just finished banging on about how astonishing, amazing, spectacular etc this is, don't make me repeat myself.

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