Getting better! My last few years’ totals of new films viewed have been 46, 52, 61 and now 73. Beating that is going to be quite the challenge in 2019.
According to Variety “The worldwide movie business is on track to hit an all-time benchmark. Estimates show 2018 could end up with $41.7 billion globally. That would mark a healthy 2.7% gain from last year, with most of that hike coming from North America. Four titles joined the elusive $1 billion club: Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2“.
Great for the industry, but I didn’t rate 2018 at all. There wasn’t anything as good as 2016’s The Big Short, Youth or Sing Street, or 2017’s astonishing top five of Baby Driver, The Death of Stalin, Dunkirk, La La Land and Blade Runner 2049. Still, they don’t make cinema just for me, more’s the pity.
Let’s kick off then with my favourite movies. Just outside the top ten, honourable mentions to A Simple Favor, I Tonya, Incredibles 2, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and my friend Tom’s awesome documentary Under the Wire.
In tenth place is the surprisingly gripping Mission: Impossible – Fallout, proving that action movies have plenty of life left in them if made with love, a lot of money, and Tom Cruise. Kermode would probably say it had ‘heft’ and some sort of ‘visceral’ something. I completely forgot about my popcorn for two hours.
At nine, Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which in keeping with its gestation stretching back to the 1990s, has now managed to get problems in distribution, so few people have had the chance to see it. Thanks to the Cambridge Film Festival for delivering on that one.
At eight, the super-smart Aaron Sorkin drama Molly’s Game, which… oh, you need to see the trailer for this one:
At seven, Peter Jackson’s jaw-dropping Great War documentary They Shall Not Grow Old. I imagine that the technology required to do this will be available on wristwatches in a few years’ time, but for now, it’s one of the year’s two landmark achievements in film, alongside Charlie Brooker’s Bandersnatch, which didn’t qualify for this list because it was only on Netflix and is really part of a TV series (but the lines are getting blurred). Whatever technology brings us though, the passion in Peter Jackson’s film was remarkable.
At six, a film I expected to be a bit meh, but which took me completely by surprise – A Star Is Born. As every critic has pointed out, every generation seems to get its own version of this film; could 2018’s be the best?
At five, something which looked intriguing but potentially not my kind of thing at all: Wes Anderson’s bizarre animation Isle of Dogs. Apparently it’s been accused of racism or, at least, cultural appropriation, but apart from the inevitable ‘American turns up to save the day’ moment, that hadn’t struck me at all, such is the film’s amazingly self-contained world. There was so much to admire, I didn’t want to get into that sort of criticism.
At four is a film which I wouldn’t have seen at all had my son not kept banging on about how brilliant it was every day for a week: A Quiet Place. I wouldn’t have gone because the publicity made the film look a bit horror-tinged and potentially a bit gory too, neither of which appeal to me at all. Thank goodness I went though – I needn’t have worried. What a cracking film. Our cinema was as silent as others were reported to be, and we were on edge throughout.
At three, another musical offering, Bohemian Rhapsody. You don’t have to like Queen to appreciate this, and indeed you need to take off your music historian’s hat because even I could see they’d played fast and loose with the timelines. Never mind, Remi Malik’s performance was easily my performance of the year:
At two, and we’re going way off piste here compared to other film-of-the-year lists, is Nick Park hilarious Early Man. Most people don’t see it as being up there with Aardman’s best work, but in that case, maybe they wrote it just for me. The Guardian wondered if it was a Brexit movie for juniors, what with it being about “an insular, small-minded tribe cut off from the outside world who get gatecrashed by more advanced neighbours and fight to ‘take back control’ by reconnecting with their past”. Hmm. I just laughed and laughed, and if you’re a football fan, it’s even better, thanks to Rob Brydon’s commentators.
At number one is the most personal choice of all: the only film of the year which I knew would make me bawl my eyes out before I even watched it. Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager is the long-awaited documentary about one of the great football managers of all time, and one of my biggest boyhood – and grown-up – heroes. I so looked forward to the film, and it didn’t disappoint me for a moment. I expect to watch it many more times, and I’ll never fail to sob my heart out that he’s no longer with us.
Worst films of the Year
The full list of all the films I saw this year, in order, can be found on Letterboxd, but here are the bottom ten. No comment, they’re not worth it.
64. The Post
66. The Meg
67. Deadpool 2
69. The Final Year
70. Life of the Party
72. Book Club
Best music of the Year
As ever, I added any new music that I liked to a Spotify playlist as the year progressed. This year’s 59-song total is the lowest since I started doing this 7 years ago, so either I’m not listening to as much, I’m getting more picky or music is passing me by a bit. There was some really good stuff though. Album of the year was – completely predictably – the first in four years from Half Man Half Biscuit, No-one Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut. This made a brief appearance in the top 40 albums, a first for the band in over 30 years of releases, and was roundly ignored by the music critics. I also liked Swing Out Sister’s Almost Persuaded and Mumford & Sons‘ Delta.
Here are my top ten individual tracks of the year, and the Spotify Playlist for the whole top 59.
- Find A Way To Keep Me by Field Music
- Terminus by Half Man Half Biscuit
- 1933 by Frank Turner
- State Of Mine (It’s About Time) by Nile Rodgers
- Reaching Out For A Friend by The Coral
- Sin Triangle by Sidney Gish
- Be My Friend by Everything Is Recorded
- Pop-Ups (Sunny at the Weekend) by Marsicans
- Once in My Life by The Decemberists
- Pick Up by DJ Koze
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