There’s been a host of fantastic films this year so HeadStuff gathered the collective minds of our Film section to bring you our picks for top 20 of 2018. Below are #20 to #11, see our top 10 best movies here.
#20 Upgrade – Dir. Leigh Whannell
See Venom? Did you think the buddy-cop-but-inside-one-person was a neat idea but the film was pants? Would you like to see a more tonally coherent version where the black humour works, the action is fresh and inventive, and it’s justifiably R-rated? Well Upgrade is the film for you! The main actor even *looks* like Tom Hardy but without a distracting accent that makes him sound like Coach Steve from Big Mouth.
A smart, small-scale, violent action thriller with some neatly understated sci-fi elements and the ability to have a proper, satisfying ending by not being tied to a franchise. Richard Drumm
#19 The Night Comes For Us – Dir. Timo Tjahjanto
Hardcore action rarely comes more hardcore than this. The Night Comes For Us is a bone-shattering, skull-crushing ride into the filthy crimson pit that every action fan secretly dreams of. A throwaway story about betrayed loyalties and rescued children never distracts from the brutal physicality on display. A one-legged addict called White Boy Bobby fending off ten hatchet wielding gangsters. Joe Taslim annihilating twenty guys using only his fists, snooker balls and petrol. That final grudge match with The Raid’s Iko Uwais. The Night Comes For Us never apologises for what it is. It’s violent action on a scale we’ve never seen. Andrew Carroll
#18 A Quiet Place – Dir. John Krasinski
A Quiet Place sees real-life Hollywood sweethearts Emily Blunt And John Krasinski welcome us into the ultimate hair-raising cinematic experience. As inferred by its name, there’s practically no talking in this film. We focus on a family of four (soon to be five) as they navigate a post-apocalyptic world where making noise equals certain death. A species of blind creatures with an acute sense of hearing have taken over the world which has radically altered this family’s lifestyle. Krasinski and Blunt offer powerful performances in protecting their growing family from harm. Note: do not watch this film with loud popcorn munchers. Scout Mitchell
#17 Isle of Dogs – Dir. Wes Anderson
Perfect symmetry and nostalgic colour palettes graced cinema screens once again in March with the release of Wes Anderson’s second stop-motion animation, Isle of Dogs. Set in Japan, the political satire tells the story of a young boy’s attempt to rescue his dog from Trash Island, where all canine friends have been banished following a scaremongering campaign lead by Mayor Kobyashi. Anderson’s distinct style is more fitting than ever in this film as the intricate details of the stop motion reflect the stereotype of Japanese perfectionism. The aesthetic magnificence of the sushi making sequence is an excellent example. Scout Mitchell
#16 The Little Stranger – Dir. Lenny Abrahamson
This year, Ireland’s finest filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson made his best film to date with an adaptation of Sarah Waters 2009 gothic novel and hardly anyone saw it. This may have been down to its misleading marketing overplaying its supernatural elements – leading to some bewildered reactions. In fact, this was at its heart a thriller about class and obsession. But who needs ghosts when you have a never-better, creepy Domhnall Gleeson trying to inveigle his way into Ruth Wilson’s crumbling Victorian manor. This was haunting but not in a spooky way – more queasily uneasy with a perfect last shot. Stephen Porzio
#15 The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Dir. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
A mix of the two modes the Coen Brothers typically rotate between – absurd comedy and dark drama – their Netflix anthology western is a distillation of why the duo are so special. Like much of their work, it centres on life’s randomness, which gets one killed in the lawless West. Death looms large here whether in centring on a hilariously genial gun-toting killer (Tim Blake Nelson), a freak show attraction (Harry Melling) and his strained relationship with his master (Liam Neeson) or the elderly prospector (Tom Waits) searching for gold.
Not all its six stories engross equally. Yet each will have viewers either gripped or guffawing with laughter. While mostly Buster Scruggs revisits themes the Coens have covered elsewhere, the achingly romantic and devastating ‘The Gal Who Got Rattled’ – starring Zoe Kazan – feels like a new chapter for the duo. Stephen Porzio
#14 Avengers: Infinity War – Dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Avengers: Infinity War is a thing of beauty for those of us who have followed (fanboyed over) the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the the very beginning. Sure, it doesn’t work as well as a stand alone movie, but for the monumental cross-over event that it is, it is a magnificent success. The Russo Brothers, who previously took the Captain America trilogy from a throw-back origin story to a level the entire genre needs to aspire to, created something the fans not only wanted, but needed. Josh Brolin’s Thanos is the greatest villain the MCU has produced, the action sequences are brilliantly choreographed, they broke us down, built us up and broke us down some more. I don’t want the story to end but I’m also counting down the days to Avengers: Endgame. Paddy O’Leary
#13 Hereditary – Dir. Ari Aster
Those that saw Ari Aster’s shorts knew he wasn’t one to pussyfoot around. Hereditary mines his interest in transgressively fucked up families to emerge as an instant horror classic.
Toni Collette’s unhinged performance anchors the movie without feeling OTT because everyone watching should also be in shock after act one. Aster then stages a series of time honoured spooky set pieces so well that they feel new, right up to the strange, fairytale-like climax.
#12 American Animals – Dir. Bart Layton
Something that flew under many people’s radar this year was Bart Layton’s fantastically meta crime drama, American Animals. Starring our own Barry Keoghan, as well as American Horror Story’s Evan Peters, the movie tells the true story of a botched library heist that took place at Transylvania University, Kentucky in 2004. Juxtaposing the real-life players and their cinematic counterparts, American Animals is like watching the documentary and the dramatization of the event at the same time. While this seems like it could distract, it actually adds poignancy and tragedy to the characters as their modern-day selves comment and reflect on the events of the drama as we see them unfold. Stuart Kilmartin
#11 BlacKkKlansman – Dir. Spike Lee
Spike Lee’s best since Inside Man, kudos to producer Jordan Peele (Get Out) for pairing the filmmaker to the material. Known for bombastic portrayals of black excellence, Lee brings so much energy and swagger to this high concept true story of the African-American detective (a winning John David Washington) who went undercover with the KKK. Wickedly funny and satisfying throughout in its depiction of a black and Jewish cop (Adam Driver) running circles around repugnant white supremacists, it’s the film’s final harrowing moments which are truly unforgettable. Lee effortlessly transitions forty years from a burning cross to 2017’s Charlottesville Riots – hammering home how little has changed. Stephen Porzio