10. Le Mans ‘66
The amazing true(ish) story of the slick Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and his rough-but-decent driver pal Ken Miles (Christian Bale). These men’s mission is to create a car for Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) capable of besting Ferrari’s legendary vehicles in 1966’s 24-hour Le Mans. Bromances don’t come much better…
Kidman is on scenery-chewing form, undergoing a physically incredible transformation to show the horrific state she’s in after years of alcohol abuse. Her present-day looks contrast sharply with flashbacks to when she was a bright-eyed, beautiful young cop sent undercover to infiltrate a dangerous gang of bank robbers. This is bleak, brilliant filmmaking that will tear your soul apart.
8. The Favourite
Watching these two leading ladies locked in a battle of wits, with the Queen’s favour the prize, is diabolical fun that pulls no punches. It’s not just the loyalties of the Court that are switched and played with as events take dubious twists – viewers too are in for an emotional rollercoaster ride. The Favourite is a film that might well live up to its name…
7. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino is back with his 9th film – spinning the tall tale of what might have happened ‘Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood’. This is a love letter to 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as fading TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his long-time stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. Highly watchable stuff!
6. The Irishman
Netflix have bet big on The Irishman, the story of lifetime mobster Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro showing he is still a freaking acting legend). Based on the memoir ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ compiled by investigator Charles Brandt – the title alludes to how the walls change colour when someone is shot ‘painting’ the walls with their blood. This Irishman is excellent and shows that the old boys can sometimes still school the youngsters in the cinematic art. Well played Netflix in making this happen!
“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” asks Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), of his counsellor, after being attacked and beaten in the street by a gang of youths. What follows is a heart-breaking odyssey into madness and violence that traces the birth of Gotham’s clown prince of chaos – Joker. What we have here is the full-throttle descent of a misunderstood man who has no positive reference points. Joker is a timely instant classic - put on a happy face!!
Glass feels like a spiritual odyssey that tackles the mystery of what it is to be human as much as it is a thinking person’s comic book tale. It is gorgeously shot and cleverly ties in the previous films to leave audiences broken and challenged. A cracking cinematic achievement, Glass is the antidote for anyone who is suffering from super-hero burnout.
3. A Good Woman is Hard to Find
The standout finale to this year’s FrightFest – and one of the only films to have a 100% ‘Fresh’ Rotten Tomatoes rating. This is the brutal tale of Sarah (Sarah Bolger) a recently widowed young mother. Her son Ben has been an elective mute since the day he witnessed his father being knifed to death on their estate. Police have done nothing to catch the killer, but never underestimate the power of a good woman…
Booksmart is super sharply written and innovative – blessed with a fantastic cast who include a winning turn as uber driving school principal (Jason Sudeikis), plus Will Forte and Lisa Kudrow as Amy’s super-Christian, gay-supportive parents and Gigi (Billie Lourd) – an unhinged Heathers / Mean Girls type. You can almost smell the adolescence and feel the heartbreak as Wilde delivers so many superb cinematic experiences – all backed up with a killer soundtrack. Funniest film of the year by a mile.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Payoff is exactly what this delivers - for a supremely satisfying, total adrenaline rush of superhero adventure – there is simply nothing to match Avengers: Endgame. At three hours, the runtime might be butt-numbing, but it’s certainly never dull. The winning interplay of the heroes and a cleverly worked renewed threat mean that Endgame delivers both some excellent fun moments (Thor playing Fortnite!?) and the crunching action scenes that scale intimate duels and epically huge final showdown with a deft touch.
Read my Top Films of 2018 here