Film Review Daily

Michael Darvell looks back at the year of 2018

The year began well with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri but I was less happy about The Shape of Water, On Chesil Beach, Hotel Artemis and Mile 22. But things picked up with Lady Bird, Downsizing and Ghost Stories... The Happy Prince was a revelation for one man – actor, director, producer Rupert Everett. Lean on Pete was the first of two films about horses, moving and funny with the great Steve Buscemi. The Rider was somehow less appealing. If On Chesil Beach left me cold, I warmed to Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace, one of the most affecting films of the year. Seriously speaking, Black 47 impressed as did Apostasy and its comrade-in-arms, The Children Act. Even more serious was BlacKkKlansman, but unexpectedly hilarious too for a Spike Lee joint. Britain looked at itself in The Escape, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Bookshop. John Hurt’s farewell performance in That Good Night was a fine way to say goodbye. A guilty pleasure was King of Thieves, about the Hatton Garden heist.

Elsewhere Searching, A Simple Favour, The Wife, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Disobedience impressed as did I, Tonya, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot and All the Money in the World. Comedy found its feet in The Festival, Swimming with Men, Love, Simon and, naturally enough, Finding Your Feet. My favourite comedy, however, was Madame, with Rossy de Palma pretending to be a Spanish royal. Musical films did less well for me. I am not programmed to like Mamma Mia! so the sequel left me as cold as the first film did. Lady Gaga’s version of A Star Is Born was a major disappointment. It’s difficult to erase memories of Judy Garland and that wonderful Harold Arlen score. I preferred The Greatest Showman, although hesitate to call it a classic musical. I am generally resistant to modern animation but was totally won over by Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and the French entrant Big Bad Fox and Other Tales… from Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner.
The documentary genre turned up trumps with David Wilkinson’s Postcards from the 48%, on the Brexit referendum, Roger Michell’s Nothing Like a Dame with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright each giving a good turn, while Joe Stephenson's McKellen: Playing the Part reached parts not previously explored, and McQueen was a very special study of the celebrated fashion designer who succumbed to suicide. Agnes Varda’s Faces Places, her trip around the villages of France, was a breath of fresh air while The Eyes of Orson Welles was a gripping study of the great filmmaker. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story revealed much about the two sides of glamorous Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr who was also a brilliant scientist. Spitfire was a straightforward account of the aeroplane’s history during World War II, while Peter Jackson’s They Will Not Grow Old resurrected original footage from World War I and presented an astonishing account of real life in the trenches in France.
It was a good year for films not in the English language including Cold War, Loveless, Dogman and In the Fade but, as good as they were, they were outflanked by Roma, Alfonso Cuarón's autobiographical masterpiece, filmed in monochrome on widescreen with a mindblowing soundtrack. It really was for me the film of the year.

1. Roma
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
3. The Happy Prince
4. Postcards from the 48%
5. Loveless
6. Dogman
7. BlacKkKlansman
8. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
9. Leave No Trace
10. Faces Places