Best of 2018: Our Favourite Films of the Year

17 Dec 2018 BY Michael Prescott in Film Features

8 mins
Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs

In our 2017 retrospective last year, we praised titles including Get OutLa La LandPaddington 2 and My Life as a Courgette, and 2018 has once more been a spectacular year for cinema. With more choice and accessibility for audiences than ever before, both our curation team and a number of our young reporters have chosen their favourite films of the year. But before all that, let's explore some of the biggest cinematic trends of 2018.

Animation Around the World

Much-loved US studio Pixar gave us a decidedly Mexican tale in Day of the Dead adventure Coco, while Wes Anderson paid homage to Japanese culture in US-German co-production Isle of Dogs. Japan produced some outstanding anime itself, first in Studio Ponoc's debut Mary and the Witch's Flower, and secondly with family sci-fi Mirai. Elsewhere, Britain's Aardman Animations produced a sports-caveman crossover with Early Man; Irish studio Cartoon Saloon created the Afghanistan-set The Breadwinner; and French-Belgian co-production The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales... featured a troupe of farmyard animals telling a trio of short stories.

Classic Characters

This year saw the continuing trend of much-loved characters appearing on screens, from Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit to Winnie the Pooh in Disney's Christopher Robin (the second Pooh movie in as many years, in fact). Elsewhere, 221B's legendary sleuth appeared in animated form in Sherlock Gnomes, and will return once more before the end of the year in comedy Holmes & Watson. Alicia Vikander took on the role of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot, while Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse gave us more incarnations of the web-slinging superhero than ever before in a vibrant animated adventure. Spidey also appeared in live-action in Avengers: Infinity War, the first part of the culmination of ten years of storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ready Player One and Ralph Breaks the Internet appealed to nostalgia by overloading the screen with cinematic characters from past and present.

Diverse Stories, Diverse Storytellers

The last twelve months have allowed for a much-needed diversification of stories and storytellers, with audiences registering their appreciation by flocking to such titles in their droves. Ryan Coogler made Marvel's Black Panther, which became a massive blockbuster hit; Crazy Rich Asians was another box office phenomenon, with an all-Asian cast; Love, Simon was the first studio-made film to feature a teenage LGBT protagonist; transgender drama A Fantastic Woman won the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film; F-rated The Miseducation of Cameron Post explored gay conversion therapy from a female perspective; Ava DuVernay helmed Disney's children's adventure A Wrinkle in Time; while emerging deaf actress Millicent Simmonds starred in two films released on the same day: Wonderstruck and A Quiet Place.

Political Turmoil

Reflecting the unsteady and unstable climate of global politics, many documentaries and fiction films addressed political issues through both contemporary adaptations and period pieces, tackling issues such as activism, race relations, elections and conspiracies. Steven Spielberg's The Post investigated the publishing of the Pentagon Papers to gripping effect; 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) followed LGBT activists protesting the AIDS crisis in 1990s Paris; Spike Lee told an incredible, almost unbelievable true story in BlacKkKlansman; Michael Moore looked at Donald Trump, the Flint water crisis, gun violence and more in his typically incendiary Fahrenheit 11/9; and young adult adaptation The Hate U Give powerfully explored police brutality and a community in turmoil.

The Return of the Musical

One of the biggest trends of the year has been the return of the big-screen song-and-dance extravaganza. Though The Greatest Showman was technically released at the tail end of 2017 (on Boxing Day), its impact has been felt both in cinemas and on DVD throughout the entirety of 2018, with word-of-mouth working to superb effect and keeping the film in cinemas far beyond its expected lifespan. Demand for the genre shows no signs of slowing. From musical drama and awards hopeful A Star is Born, Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, and ABBA sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - not to mention Mary Poppins Returns over the festive period - the big screen musical is well and truly back, with singalongs galore!

World Wars

Following on from Christopher Nolan's blockbuster success with Dunkirk last summer, 2018 has seen a remarkable number of high-profile films looking at war, with a particular focus on the 20th century's two World Wars - in particular The Great War, given the centenary of WWI this year. Gary Oldman won the Academy Award® for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour; a British ensemble led the transfer from stage to screen in Journey's End; and documentaries Spitfire and Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old gave further insight into the men and machines behind the conflicts, with the latter drawing particular attention and acclaim for its astonishing restoration of archive materials.

Into Film's Curation Team's Best of 2018

This year we challenged our curators to pick their favourite film for each age group, and a selection of our Young Reporters have also highlighted their favourite titles for primary and secondary audiences. How do your favourites match up with ours?

Joe - Film Curation Manager

Fresh, contemporary, inventive and innovative... this is a superhero film made with love and an understanding of the hold such characters can have on young people's imaginations.

Joe on 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'

Michael - Film Curation Coordinator

There are very few films that possess an energy and urgency to match that of 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute), a drama which simply bursts with life.

Michael on '120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)'

Maria - Film Curation Officer

This year the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced the world to Wakanda in this thrilling action film that also discusses issues of race and history.

Maria on 'Black Panther'

Into Film's Young Reporters Best of 2018

Alexa, 18

Primary: Isle of Dogs
Secondary: Avengers: Infinity War

Through this film, Wes Anderson's wildly witty imagination is allowed to soar.

Alexa on 'Isle of Dogs'

'Infinity War' balances many deeply-loved characters in the MCU and creates a wild storyline that still resonates emotionally.

Alexa on 'Avengers: Infinity War'

Archie, 15

'Incredibles 2' gave me everything I wanted; superb action, a huge dollop of nostalgia and more hilarious Jack-Jack and Edna Mode moments!

Archie on 'Incredibles 2'

'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is cinematic perfection. This is not only 2018's most thrilling blockbuster, but also one of the greatest action movies in decades!

Archie on 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'

Cai, 17

Primary: Coco
Secondary: Searching

'Coco' had a great message: be driven by what you believe in and stop at nothing to achieve your goals in life.

Cai on 'Coco'

This kept me on my toes and kept up suspense throughout the whole film... not many films can really leave me speechless, but this one did!

Cai on 'Searching'

Emilija, 17

Lily James plays the role with such infectious enthusiasm and the ABBA beats are brilliant; this film definitely had me feeling like a Dancing Queen.

Emilija on 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again'

This is an inspiring period piece that detailed the life of teenage Shelley, letting us know what drove her to write such a gothic tale.

Emilija on 'Mary Shelley'

Eve D, 18

It's filled with fun from the comedy to the singing and dancing... there's something for every member of the family to enjoy!

Eve D on 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again'

The film's plot is an emotional rollercoaster and this, paired with the incredible soundtrack, draws you in and pulls on your heart strings...

Eve D on 'A Star is Born'
Michael Prescott

Michael Prescott, Curation Coordinator

Michael has an MA in Film Studies with Screenwriting from Sheffield Hallam University. He has previously worked at the British Council and on the BFI Film Academy, and has volunteered at organisations including Sheffield Doc/Fest and Cinema for All.

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