The Best Movies (and TV) of 2018

Life is short. The world is wide. I wanna make some memories.

The best of the best bore little resemblance to each other, so trying to rank them seems pointless and beside the point of what makes them great. On any given day, any of the following seven would come out on top: Widows, My Brilliant Friend, The Tale, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, First Reformed, The Favourite, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

And more … Sense8: Amor Vincit Omnia, Vox Lux, Foxtrot, In the Fade, Dirty Computer, Jane Fonda In Five Acts, Shirkers, Shoplifters, Love, Simon, Wildlife, Thoroughbreds, Crazy Rich Asians, BlackKklansman, Annihilation, Sharp Objects, Faces Places, Molly’s Game, A Star is Born.

And more … Assassination Nation, Summer 1993, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Eighth Grade, Game Night, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel season 2, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Mozart in the Jungle season 4, Creed II, First Man, Killing Eve, A Simple Favour, Three Identical Strangers, Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams, Hearts Beat Loud, The Incredibles 2, Mary Poppins Returns, One Day at a Time season 2, Sorry to Bother You.

Favourite Performances

Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline – The film didn’t do it for me at all, but Howard gives possibly the only performance I saw this year that felt like it couldn’t have been given by anyone else. A debut that already shows a unique identity.

Laia Artigas, Summer 1993 – Aged 8 when filming (if Google is to be believed), newcomer Artigas gives complex and moving voice to the incomprehensible emotions swirling beneath her character. A feat at any age.

Raffey Cassidy, Vox Lux – Her co-star Natalie Portman is being touted for awards in the lead categories, but the film ultimately belongs to Cassidy, who (spoilers?) appears in almost every scene in two roles. “It was not her grief, it was theirs,” a narrator says, tragedy monetised. As teen pop star Celeste, Cassidy has a nation riding on her shoulders.

Lily James, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – As a young woman fearlessly making her own way in the world, James is totally irresistible, inviting you along for the ride with her. Pure joy, and gave possibly my favourite movie moment of the year.

Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible – Fallout – He’s been Ethan Hunt for over 20 years, but his commitment only ever increases. His ability to still do so relatively unscathed (there were some broken bones on this installment) is nothing if not a miracle.

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed – Hawke has long been one of my favourite actors, but it’s here, as a man quickly losing his faith in a “world without hope”, he gives one of his most moving turns.

Rachel McAdams, Game Night – In another actor’s hands, a forgettable character. Here, madcap comic energy to burn.

More favourites … Ludovica Nasti and Elisa del Genio, My Brilliant Friend; Lady Gaga, A Star is Born; Isabelle Nelisse, Laura Dern, and Elizabeth Debicki, The Tale; Carey Mulligan, Wildlife; Elizabeth Debicki, Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cynthia Erivo, Widows; Sakura Ando, Shoplifters; Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, and Emma Stone, The Favourite; Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, and Eliza Scanlen, Sharp Objects; Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade; Chloe Moretz, The Miseducation of Cameron Post; Diane Kruger, In the Fade.

Memorable Scene

Heist, Assassination Nation – Even better, it wasn’t even the original plan for the scene! Only makes it more miraculous.

Full list of what I saw.

2018 Oscar nomination predictions and observations

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The Shape of Water 11

Dunkirk 9

Blade Runner 6

Three Billboards 6

Lady Bird 5

Get Out 4

Mudbound 4

Darkest Hour 4

Phantom Thread 4

Call Me By Your Name 4

I Tonya 3

Greatest Showman 3

The Post 3

Baby Driver 3

Star Wars 3

Beauty and the Beast 3

The Florida Project 2

Coco 2

The Disaster Artist 2

Molly’s Game 2

All the Money in the World 1

Logan 1

Battle of the Sexes 1

Orient Express 1

Bright 1

Wonder 1

Wonder Woman 1

Okja 1

War for the Planet of the Apes 1

The Big Sick 1

Observations

I love that this all hinges on The Big Sick, which is on the Best Picture and Screenplay (Original) bubble lines, but is likely only looking at 1 nomination (Holly Hunter).

The consensus this year is more scattered, hence my thinking there’ll be 9 BP nominees, instead of the 8 there usually is in a tighter year.

The Original race is really stacked, I wish the respective camps had attempted to get The Big Sick, The Post, or I, Tonya passed as adapted (all could’ve had an into that race, based on sources/prior events) because all would have had an excellent chance of nominations/wins.

Which brings me to one of the weirdest on here. The Logan prediction will likely raise most eyebrows – it will be the first superhero movie to get a screenplay nomination. Its placement in here is really a wildcard, as there are no other Best Picture contenders in the adapted race, and with a Writers Guild of America nom for a screenplay by favourite James Mangold (Walk the Line), Logan is a convincing curveball. Alternatives could include The Beguiled, Star Wars, and Wonder Woman, but purely didn’t get any attention in the precursors to suggest their addition. Really, it could go anywhere.

Nomination counts will be interesting and result in a lot of BP nominees with extremely low nom counts (3 and 4 are the magic numbers), with everyone except TSOW artificially lower because they are not tech category-heavy films. TSOW is instead artificially higher in nom count (it typically wouldn’t get this many) , purely because there’s no other BP contender to nominate. Nothing but TSOW or Dunkirk can get more than 6, realistically. The Post would usually be looking at taking home 6 or 7, but died from being too late and the field being too stacked.

Which brings me to The Florida Project. Only getting one nom other looks low for a BP nom (I know that some are predicting Sean Baker as a surprise in BD as well, though), but back to the artificially lower thing – every year there’s one BP nominee with a really low count (usually 3 – Brooklyn, An Education etc). It’s just this year, due to everyone else being lower than usual and pushed out of getting more, hence still being predicted a slot.

A bit of shocking trivia – Mudbound’s cinematography nomination for Rachel Morrison will mark the first time a female DP has been nominated for an Oscar.

One of the longest-standing Oscar predicting rules is that the top 5 (or 4 plus one wildcard like The Force Awakens) Best Picture nominees are your Best Film Editing nominees. This year will be a test as to whether that holds water – most of the Best Picture frontrunners (eg. Lady Bird) don’t have the sort of flashy editing that people automatically nominate – meaning that we may see plenty that aren’t close to the prize, or Best Picture contenders at all.

No guts no glory prediction this year is Jessica Chastain for Molly’s Game, getting in over Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water. Chastain has been hitting the circuit hard, with an event nearly every day so far in 2018, and combined with her visibility lately, goodwill is high. Plus, she hasn’t had a nomination since 2013 for Zero Dark Thirty, getting consistently good notices in the time since. I think this will be an Arrival-type situation, where the film is one of the most (or the most) nominated, but its subtle lead performance is sadly cast aside. Helps that she’s a truly on fire in the film.

At ClexaCon, a moment of anger turned into action for LGBT women // Little White Lies

Asked why Lexa’s death led to such an uprising, the organisers of  ClexaCon responded: “It is always difficult to pinpoint what spurs a movement at a given time and place. Social media and fandoms most certainly had a vital role to play. If the internet of today existed when Tara was killed on Buffy, or when Xena was killed off at the end of that series, it seems likely that this revolution would have started a lot sooner. Lexa was a beloved character, and the feelings of shock and loss the community experienced were likely just the tipping point – when the queer community finally had enough of the ‘bury your gays’ trope and decided to do something about it.”

On the surface of it, ClexaCon looks like just another fan convention. There are meet and greets with special guests, panel discussions, a film festival and a cosplay contest. Except ClexaCon is different. This year’s guests included actors Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi (whose character in Person of Interest was controversially killed around the same time as Lexa), Katherine Barrell and Dominique Provost-Chalkley (from Wynonna Earp), and Elise Bauman and Natasha Negovanlis (from the web series Carmilla) – all of whom play queer characters on TV.

Unlike most fan conventions, however, wider issues are discussed at ClexaCon, with the conversation at this year’s event turning to how fans can not only love what they watch but become involved, writing and shaping their own stories. “At most conventions you’re hard-pressed to find actresses and content that are LGBTQ-friendly, let alone geared specifically toward LGBTQ+ audiences,” say the organisers. Andras hosts a workshop about writing “damn good TV for women”, and there are others on speed pitching and developing ideas for film, TV, streaming and print.

Has the satire and humour of Big Little Lies been lost in translation? // The Guardian

Moriarty is a bestselling author in the US, but it’s only recently that she’s become known in her home country; it was therefore inevitable that the adaptation would be an overseas production – and it’s a very, very great one, too. But when it comes to transferring something as indebted to its specific location as Big Little Lies to a different place, the less precious and beholden to the source material the better; it’s better to capture the intended atmosphere of the book than force rigid adherence to a story that may or may not fit.

From its mysterious opening, to the Greek chorus of talking heads who offer a series of peripheral observations in the aftermath of the trivia night tragedy, Big Little Lies has staunchly adhered to the story laid out in Liane Moriarty’s novel – with the exception of some narrative padding in the later episodes. The added backstory, David E Kelley’s writing, Jean-Marc Vallée’s direction and the stunning performances giving depth to these characters, but there’s still something missing in the transfer, something that made Moriarty’s words so entertaining and so tragic: the satire at the centre of it.