2018 has seemingly had no end. With noise and gloom surrounding our everyday lives, it’s time to reflect upon a fantastic year in the world of film. The One Room With A View Top 20 films of 2018 has arrived. 2018 was a golden year for film, with tremendous pieces of work arriving from all over the world.
As always, we begin with a rundown of our 20 to 11 positioned films here, and that’s when the fun begins. Over the coming days, we’ll be announcing our top 10 films, day by day, with essays from our writers vouching for each film’s excellence.
Thank you all for your support for another year. It’s been invaluable.
David Brake, Founder/Editor of One Room With A View.
N.B. As our site is UK based, we work off the selection of films released in cinemas in the UK in 2018
=20: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the first superhero movie in ages that feels like it was made by people who love watching and making movies. Every part of it is an early Christmas present, from the sharp comic-book visuals, to the performances that bring wit and warmth to a whole family of spider-people. Spider-Verse wins by embracing the goofy, spectacular history of Spider-Man as a character and cultural product, then one-upping that. As Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) proclaims: “It CAN get weirder!” Also, the end titles are a three-minute pop-art masterpiece in their own right and should be hailed as such.
=20: Leave No Trace
Debra Granik’s first feature since Winter’s Bone raises questions of familial and governmental responsibility but refuses to moralise, instead focusing on personal discoveries, choices, and relationships as a father and daughter attempt life on their own terms. Ben Foster continues to be one of the strongest actors working and Thomasin McKenzie stuns in a subtle, star-making coming-of-age arc as her Tom finds a place in the world she has been running from. The storytelling neither excuses nor judges any characters’ actions – instead trusting that all make their own kindest choices – giving a compassionate but unflinching picture of lives at a crossroad.
Hereditary stays with you. Even if you saw it on release in June, you’ll be struggling to get some of the haunting, shocking imagery out of your brain. A head covered in ants, a creepy smiling reflection and a “clucking” noise all seem destined to become iconic horror moments – all as the slow-burn dread rapidly escalates to a terrifying final act. Like the best genre films though, the scares alone are not enough. Hereditary also serves up a gripping family drama, complete with a gut-punch death and that dinner table row, which encapsulates Toni Collette’s phenomenal central performance.
Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda has built his sublime filmography upon the foundation of his deeply perceptive understanding of the familial unit, and how our bonds within it (or lack thereof) fundamentally and unavoidably affect who we are, and who we will become. To this end, his Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters is certainly no exception – through the prism of a poverty-stricken family, Kore-eda hits upon certain absolute truths about family and society, with a voice and an eye that never pass judgement or attempt to sway. His extraordinary compassion as a filmmaker allows simple words and deeds to have profound effects.
17: First Man
Superficially, Damien Chazelle’s followup to La La Land is about as contrasting a film as it is possible to imagine. And yet First Man explores many of the director’s favoured themes: ambition, competition, and what it means to pursue the American Dream. Ryan Gosling portrays Neil Armstrong as a quiet, restrained, grieving man, leaving Claire Foy, as wife Janet, to take the emotional reins. Justin Hurwitz’s score underpins a melancholy, yet triumphant, tale of loss and redemption – though it is the film’s sound design, exemplified in the truly terrifying flight sequences, which will ensure Chazelle’s third outing retains a lasting appeal.
16: Sorry to Bother You
Despite the title of his electrifying debut film, Boots Riley isn’t in the least sorry about bothering us. In fact, he’s counting on it. His satirical depiction of modern-day California is hilarious and horrifying, brought to life by razor-sharp writing and some inspired visual cues (few other films could call to mind Michel Gondry and David Cronenberg in the space of a single scene). But the satire cuts all the deeper because of the very recognisable, very human characters – particularly Lakeith Stanfield, who gives a career-best performance as a young man torn between doing the right thing and being able to pay his rent.
15: Avengers: Infinity War
In 2008, Iron Man threw down a tantalising gauntlet. A decade later, it was up to the operatically-titled Infinity War to finally accessorise it. For a while now, an unspoken agreement has existed between Feige and the fandom: get Infinity War right and guarantee popular culture immortality (undoing all the Dark Worlds in the snap of a finger). But get it wrong and undo ten years of good feeling – consigning the whole saga to oblivion. Going against a villain even greater than Thanos (namely: hype), Marvel went further by delivering their most epic chapter yet – as well as a thundering event-style blockbuster for the ages.
14: Black Panther
Going up against the outsized events of Infinity War, Black Panther should have been forgotten about. By 2018’s end, it’s the opposite, redefining the universe it inhabits. Set against the stunning CGI background of Wakanda, Ryan Coogler combines fast-paced action sequences with Shakespearean drama to bring us the most visually stunning offering we’ve seen so far from the Marvel universe. Full credit has to go to a first-rate cast, with Michael B. Jordan leading the way as the charismatic (if possibly misguided) Erik Killmonger. Breaking away from the MCU’s standard, simpler, themes, Black Panther was the break from Thanos and his Infinity Stones that we probably all needed.
BlacKkKlansman is Spike Lee’s wolf in sheep’s clothing. Dressed as a buddy-cop procedural, with 1970s Shaft stylings, the flash masks a kaleidoscopic account of institutionalised racism in America. Its story is crafted masterfully with humour and impeccable performances, but it is the intervals that remind us why cinema needs Lee’s particular voice. Historic cinematic scenes (The Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind) and harrowing footage of Charlottesville interrupt with fury and relevance, the images impacting like gunshots. Lee doesn’t rest on fiction to generate a wake-up call; the reality is horror enough.
12: Cold War
2018’s answer to Casablanca? Seriously. Organise a double bill; in 20 years’ times, we’ll be discussing these birds of a feather in the same, superlative-laden breath. Following My Summer of Love, and the gorgeous, Oscar-winning Ida, Cold War – acclaimed Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski’s latest opus – is arguably his best work yet. Staging his own history – the film is loosely based on his parents’ romance – against the icy backdrop of the Cold War, Pawlikowski mounts a heart-wrenching tale of frustrated love onto a scintillating monochromatic tapestry which includes some of the most breathtaking cinematography you’ll see this or any other year.
11: Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson’s films boast a familiar, quirky, warm quality – uniquely captured in their visual symmetries and eloquent colour schemes. Isle of Dogs is no different. Following the adventures of Chief (Bryan Cranston) and co., and their developing bonds with the human Atari Kobayashi, the film reminds us of the love and connection we forge with our own pets. Combining nostalgia for our own childhood animal companions with the unbridled gusto for change that only young people have the courage to pursue – alongside Anderson’s gift for storytelling and character development – make this a film that will always provide a vital uplift.
So to recap, here’s our Top 20 to 11…
#20= – SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
#20= – LEAVE NO TRACE
#19 – HEREDITARY
#18 – SHOPLIFTERS
#17 – FIRST MAN
#16 – SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
#15 – AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
#14 – BLACK PANTHER
#13 – BLACKKKLANSMAN
#12 – COLD WAR
#11 – ISLE OF DOGS
Stay tuned each and every day for the remainder of 2018 to count down our Top 10 films of 2018!
Thanks to Stephen O’Nion for the great images within our rundown!