Top 12 Movies of 2018
Cosmatos and Cage proved a perfect match with a berserk tale of grief and revenge. Visually spectacular and continuing Cosmatos’ obsession with grotesque villains, outlandish weaponry and the 1980s. While it won’t be for everyone, Mandy has a bit more plot to chew on than Beyond The Black Rainbow and it rewards repeat viewing with its striking visuals and unsettling atmosphere.
2. Brawl in Cell Block 99
Released globally in 2017 but only making it to Australia in 2018, S. Craig Zahler’s swaggering prison flick stunned with its 70s anti-hero stylings, tough guy dialogue and unflinching brutality. It’s the perfect follow up to Bone Tomahawk, and utterly riveting in the slow build toward inevitable cataclysm. It’s also far, far better than its disappointing successor Dragged Across Concrete which got festival screenings this year.
3. A Quiet Place
It takes considerable skill to create tension in a horror movie, but it’s another level of skill entirely to sustain that tension for the entire duration of a film. A Quiet Place demonstrates this ability with an almost implausible ease, creating a genuine nail biter around a simple yet irresistible concept, exceeding the hype in the process.
4. You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay’s grubby revenge picture is by turns, ugly and beautiful. Very little violence is actually seen, yet such is Ramsay’s skill here, you walk out thinking you’ve seen far more brutality than you have. Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic as hired muscle on the trail of a missing girl and it’s another cracking entry in the resurgence of revenge movies over the last few years.
5. Euthanizer (Armomurhaaja)
Precisely as downbeat as you think movie about a pet euthanizer will be. Billed as a black comedy, it’s a classic case of a marketing department not knowing what to do with a film that does not sit comfortably within an established category. Yes, there is humour here, but it’s also a dark drama about bullying, loneliness and cruelty. Euthanizer wants us to consider our relationship with animals and asks some uncomfortable questions within that. When you think it’s gone as dark as it will go, it goes darker, but it never feels exploitative. However, Euthanizer is confronting, and I don’t recommend it if you’re feeling a bit fragile, but it’s still an excellent movie that deserves to find its audience in 2019.
6. The Night Comes For Us
Pure, distilled action insanity. Timo Tjahjanto belted out an inventive, brutal, action classic-in-waiting. If you pine for the days when John Woo was delivering stylishly violent set piece after set piece then look no further. The Night Comes For Us is an action masterpiece and yeah I’m saying it, it’s better than The Raid.
7. The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
The Coen Brothers’ western anthology comprises six unrelated frontier tales that nicely encapsulate everything that’s great about their filmography. The deft comedy, the dark violence and the sublime dialogue - there is no one who writes dialogue better than the Coens on top form. The stories range from weird, to sinister, to idiosyncratic musical numbers, and yet they remind me of Ethan Coen’s short story anthology, Gates Of Eden, as much as anything. After the disappointment of Hail, Caesar!, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs is a very welcome return to form.
8. American Animals
An innovatively told crime story concerning the attempted heist of valuable art books from a university library in 2004. Using actors and talking head footage of the people involved, American Animals succeeds in its unenviable task of mashing together drama and documentary, resulting in a hugely satisfying true crime film and cautionary tale against letting wild ideas get out of hand.
9. Ant-Man and the Wasp
A really great, fun sequel that doesn’t get too bogged down in the ongoing Avengers / MCU storyline and really benefits because of it. Ant-Man and the Wasp exists within that larger story, but has plenty of space to just do it’s own thing – which is more of the same fun capering we came to expect from the first movie. Ant-Man and the Wasp is also aided by its excellent cast, with great actors in smaller roles, including the surprising but very welcome addition of Hugh from The Detectorists (Divian Ladwa) as a truth serum wielding henchman. Great fun.
Stranded on the Arctic tundra after his plane goes down, Mads Mikkelsen acts almost the entire movie on his own, in Joe Penna’s riveting wilderness survival tale. Another film that really manages to apply tension, but in an entirely different way from a horror movie. It really puts you through the ringer.
11. Let The Corpses Tan
Cattet and Forzani’s most accessible movie is a sun bleached, leather creaking, speedometer cranking crime yarn that whittles down the numbers with double cross after double cross. A seedy peek at holiday resort euro-crime, that makes you feel hot and sweaty just from watching it.
Overlord is not brain science, but then it never claims to be. What it does claim, is to pit a small band of Allied soldiers against a bunch monsters and evil nazi bastards, in the basement of a creepy old church. It’s silly and gory and historically ambivalent. But it delivers.
Still trying to formulate an opinion on this. It was waaay too long but there’s something about it that’s stuck with me, and I will definitely revisit it.
Lacking the sheer surprise of the first movie, but a joyful heartwarmer nonetheless. Utterly impossible to dislike.
Isle Of Dogs
Wes Anderson’s futuristic, Japanese, canine caper. Wonderfully animated and just the right amount of ‘strange’ to keep things interesting.
Mom and Dad
Another rampage movie from Crank co-director, Brian Taylor, with Nic Cage and Selma Blair trying to kill their kids. The best part is Cage listening to Reagan Youth in his basement!
Three Bilboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Yeah that’s right, I was that one person that didn’t like it. I did not find the dark humour remotely amusing and there was a mean streak running throughout that left a bad taste. McDormand and the rest were great of course, but they couldn’t save this ugly movie.