August is upon us, now is probably as fitting a time as ever to have a look back at the films that have come out in the UK in 2018 up until this point.
5. A Quiet Place
John Krasinski proves his mettle as a director in this taught and entertaining horror flick that shows just how effective minimalism can be, both in the lack of dialogue and the bare bones story that has emotional heft and a strong structure. This was one of the most tense viewings I’ve had in a while, which is due to both the emotional investment I had in the characters and the sound design that made every beat more impactful. Krasinski and real-world spouse Emily Blunt work well together, as do the actors playing their kids, with Millicent Simmonds proving that deafness cannot get in the way of an impressive performance. This and Hereditary could tie for best horror of the year, but I found this film a lot more entertaining and hopeful, with an ending that will leave you clapping.
4. First Reformed
This tale of religion and environmental activism is well handled by Paul Schrader, directing and writing his best film to date. Ethan Hawke gives a mesmerizing performance and his character is endlessly fascinating. Amanda Seyfried and Cedric Keyes are also great, and their characters are just as well written. It is a bleak and slow watch, as well as an endlessly rewarding one, thanks to the strong script that explores timely themes and balances plotlines perfectly. The cinematography and tone are perfect and feel old fashioned enough to be like something out of the 50’s. Schrader could retire from filmmaking after this, but it would be sad to see him go considering how much future potential he has shown.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
10 years since Iron Man debuted, Marvel Studios have made their most epic film to date and what a film it is. Though Infinity War had to pay off almost 18 prior films in the MCU and set up another film, what is impressive is how the Russo Brothers manage to still tell a complete story, built around the main villain, Thanos. Josh Brolin gives a masterful turn as the MCU’s big bad and he is matched by an equally strong cast, all delivering some of their best work to date. The action is thrilling, the drama is engrossing and the whole experience had a sense of dread that I’ve rarely felt in a blockbuster before. The ending is also one of the most jaw dropping moments of any film this decade. It felt like a comic book come to life and reaffirmed how the MCU’s episodic storytelling can be a benefit rather than a dead weight.
2. Love, Simon
Nick Robinson charms in this sweet and touching tale of a teenager struggling to come out. The script balances the humour and the drama perfectly and it tackles the hard-subject matter with remarkable honesty and heart. Greg Berlanti adds a lot of life with his direction and creates a film both highly entertaining and relatable. Though it would have been acceptable for the first LGBT themed mainstream teen film to just be good, the creative team behind Love, Simon went above and beyond to make something truly special.
Paramount were fools for dumping this film on Netflix overseas, as Annihilation is easily one of the best sci-fi films of the decade. Alex Garland directs a beautifully tense and atmospheric film that is both intellectually satisfying and narratively rich. His direction is like a blend of Kubrick, Tarkovsky and Carpenter all in one and it sucked me in further as it progressed. The script gives every character depth, the acting is fantastic and there are scenes that I will not forget for a long time. This film feels like what Ridley Scott was aiming for with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, succeeding where those films failed at balancing sci-fi horror with philosophy. Garland has proven himself to be one of the most talented directors of this generation and with this and Ex Machina, I can only hope his future films continue to receive the support they will likely deserve.