CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Pick of the flix 2018

Dan Carrier presents his selection of the year’s best films

27 December, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther

THE figures are in – and it seems the terminally ill patient that is the British cinema industry has somehow found a miracle cure. You’ve heard it before – we are no longer heading out to hunker down on a flip-up seat watching films on big screens as movie streaming delivers the death blow to an ailing leisure pursuit.

But such predictions are way off the mark – receipts show Britain’s cinemas have enjoyed their best year since 1971. It may have something to do with the way our cinemas have been turned from cold, rat-ridden fleapits with sticky carpets and uncomfortable chairs into luscious theatre experiences with massive sink-into-me sofas, boomphing sound systems and posh nibbles. Add to this the fact that in 2018 there have been some simply wonderful films. Indeed, if you missed any of the following, make a point of rectifying this…

Black Panther

Marvel’s tale of the superhero Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and the African nation of Wakanda felt just right for 2018. A powerful film, with a big heart, it tells the story of T’Challa, a prince who returns home to take the throne of the hidden kingdom and then must face down a series of threats to his nation and the world. As well as an empowering narrative, it has some stunning set design.

Cold War

Joanna Kulig in Cold War

Pawel Pawlikowski has made a film that marries visual brilliance with a wonderful soundtrack that plays a vital role in the storytelling and uses it as a stage for a love story that somehow also manages to bring in mid-20th century global politics.

It is a truly masterful achievement, and the best romantic film of the year.

Hereditary

Toni Collette in Hereditary

Director Ari Aster’s supernatural yarn plays on well-trodden myths and is so terrifically horrible it must be the scariest film of the year. Starring Toni Collette, it tells the story of a family who have lost their grandmother – and then discover some rather unpleasant truths about her. As well as a creepy plot, it has unexpected moments of extreme gruesomeness.

Widows

Viola Davis in Widows

At first glance, this looks like Steve McQueen has taken the Hollywood buck and made another macho-gangster heist movie. Oh but no: when a robbery team, led by Rawlins (Liam Neeson) get blown to smithereens in a job that goes horribly wrong, it is up to his widow, Veronica (Viola Davis), to pick up the pieces. But Rawlins is up to his eyes in no end of trouble, and there was more to the job than his widow knows – precinct and ward politics and the election of a mayor in Chicago, historic debts and double crossing is the name of the game.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

An Ant-Man sequel, starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, the man who can go mini, this could be seen as the less well known, less hyped and therefore more dud offerings from Marvel. But no – it is terrifically funny, packed with both verbal and visual gags (they squeeze every ounce out of the idea of big objects / small objects colliding in the real world) and Rudd is a lovely addition to the superhero world – a comedy master.

You Were Never Really Here

Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a grizzled veteran who works as a bounty hunter, finding missing women and taking extreme measures against those who have committed crimes against people weaker than themselves. Joe, we learn, looks after his elderly mother and he and his old dear were victims at the hands of an abusive husband / father. He sets out to rescue the daughter of a New York politician – and then we hold tight as various twists and turns take us along a violent path Joe must travel.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Do we need yet another MI film? What can they do to make us sit up and take notice? Are there any other mind-blowing stunts they can cook up? And who can Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his sidekicks be saving the world from this time? It would be easy to ask all these questions about yet another outing of this franchise – but it is also fair to say they are answered in this crash, bang, wallop of an action thriller. Laughably, the plot involves a bomb with wires that need to be cut – and for its straight-up simplicity it deserves a gong. A seat-of-the-pants action adventure, it is all done with panache, dash and verve. Bravo to director Christopher McQuarrie for two hours of shameless fun.

Dogman

Matteo Garrone’s story is based on a real incident in the grotty badlands of a bashed-up housing estate on the fringes of an Italian town. Marcello (Marcello Fonte) is the man who runs a scruffy dog grooming business, a friend to all in his neighbourhood with a daughter he is devoted to, an ex-wife he gets on with, and a little sideline in dealing the odd bit of cocaine. Town bully Simone (Edoardo Pesce) makes his life hell, using and abusing him at random – until Marcello begins to think he doesn’t have to put up with it anymore. A beautifully acted film, the casting is spot on, the locations so well observed and the sparse plot enthralling.

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