The final countdown has arrived. I’m sure many of you are on the edge of your seat. As usual, before we delve into the countdown, here is what came before.
52. Raiders of the Lost Shark 51. Ibiza Undead 50. Fifty Shades Freed 49. Mom and Dad 48. CHIPS 47. Alien Covenant 46. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge 45. Killing Hasselhoff 44. The Man from U.N.C.L.E 43. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows 42. Kingsman: The Golden Circle 41. Terminal 40. Fast and Furious 8 39. XXX: Return of Xander Cage 38. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 37. Geostorm 36. The Hurricane Heist 35. Life 34. Solo: A Star Wars Story 33. Dear Dictator 32. Suburbicon 31. The Lego Batman Movie 30. Final Score 29. Kong: Skull Island 28. The Monster Squad 27. Nanny McPhee 26. Super Troopers 2 25. Central Intelligence 24. Baywatch 23. The Hitman’s Bodyguard 22. Denial 21. The Mummy (2018) 20. The Lady In The Van 19. The Bodyguard 18. The Greatest Showman 17. Thor: Ragnarok 16. Darkest Hour 15. The Disaster Artist 14. I Kill Giants 13. Colossal 12. The Death Of Stalin 11. Isle Of Dogs 10. Kubo and the Two Strings 9. IT 8. Hidden Figures 7. Apollo 11 6. Captain Fantastic
Some really good films didn’t make it into the top five, and I’m sure more than a few of you won’t agree with my top five. Either you’d rank them differently or maybe you think they shouldn’t be there at all. That’s what lists are for. They open up discussions and let’s be honest, it would be boring if we all liked the same thing. Please feel free to comment below or on Facebook or Twitter with your favourite films you watched last year, or why you don’t like my choices.
Now sit back and read on to see my top five films I watched for the first time in 2018.
5. The Red Turtle
Quick Verdict: A dazzling joy
I don’t even know why I decided to watch this. My wife was at work late and I decided to stick this on in my office whilst I waited for her. Well that turned out to be a very wise decision indeed.
A man stranded on a desert island, has his attempts to escape on a raft thwarted each time. A meeting with a red turtle changes everything.
This is a beautiful film. Beautifully crafted and designed. For a film that is has no speaking, it is really powerful.
It’s a hard film to explain and describe. It’s such a lovely film and a real joy to watch. The animation is simple and effective, the sounds of the ocean and the wind are so beautifully done, you feel really immersed in the world that director Michael Dudok de Wit has created.
It’s amazing I got all of that from watching it sat at my desk at work waiting for my wife to finish. Well, it beats working.
4. A Star is Born
Quick Verdict: Music magic
I hadn’t seen any version of A Star Is Born before going to watch this. So had a blank canvas, no expectations, and no idea of where the story was going to go.
Bradley Cooper plays Jack, an ageing rockstar, who enjoys a drink. Lady Gaga plays Ally, a waitress and singer. When Jack bumps into Ally at a bar where she is playing, they spark up a relationship, and with Jacks help, Ally hits the big time.
It’s a timeless story that’s been told several times, but here it’s been updated and adjusted. Whereas previously the male protagonist’s career had been declining, in line with how rockstars generally go on and on these days, his is still going strong.
Bradley and Lady Gaga make a great couple with amazing chemistry, and I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Lady Gaga deserves that best actress Oscar. She is absolutely phenomenal in this. For a star who is so extreme and so high profile, it’s great to see how adaptable and down to earth she can become. I do hope this is the beginning of a great career in acting for her. I know she’s done other stuff, but this is something else.
Unfortunately I think the buzz around A Star Is Born has faded somewhat, and it probably won’t do as well at the Oscars as some initially thought. For me, as long as Gaga gets the actress Oscar, I’ll be happy. Although Glenn Close seems to be getting all the praise at the minute.
3. Paddington 2
Quick Verdict: A Marmalade Medley
Paddington was a full on magical delight. Ben Whishaw was a superb choice for the voice of Paddington. I can’t imagine a world where he was voiced by Colin Firth. I’m sure there must be footage of it somewhere. It just wouldn’t be right. Ben has the perfect soft tone, with sincerity and warmth. Just brilliant.
So how can they perfect perfection? Well by just carrying on. This isn’t better than the original, and it’s not worse. It’s just as charming and funny and lovely as the first film.
Paddington 2 sees our star settling in nicely on the street. He’s now a welcome member of the community and spends his time doing odd jobs. The money from which, he is saving up too buy Aunt Lucy a special gift for her one hundredth birthday. When the gift is stolen before he can buy it, Paddington becomes the prime suspect.
If Ben Whishaw was the stand out performance of the first film, the award has to go to Hugh Grant this time. He is so good as the master of disguise villain, Phoenix Buchanan, and puts in probably a career best performance. I know being a general family film means he won’t get any award recognition, but I’m sure this’ll be one of those films in years to come where people will remember it for his performance.
Every supporting character has equally charming traits. Sally Hawkins as the quirky mother, Brendan Gleeson as Knuckles McGinty the mad prison chef, and all the countless British talent who pop up all over the place, too many to name them all.
As I said, it’s just as charming as the first and had me in tears by the end. If you haven’t seen either of them, what have you been doing with your life?
2. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle
Quick Verdict: Adventure Perfection
Now this may surprise a lot of you that it is so high on the list. If I’m honest, at one point I had it in the top spot. What can I say, I absolutely bloody loved every second of it.
That’s right Dwayne, I loved it.
Set some twenty years after the events of the original Jumanji, the game has now evolved into a computer console. When four kids stumble upon the game in the basement of their school during detention, they are sucked into the game, literally, and are forced to play it through to their final life.
This builds on the original film, but in a way that doesn’t belittle what came before. It has a couple of nice nods to the past, but doesn’t become a film that’s so full of Easter eggs you forget you’re watching something new. Which certain franchise have been guilty of.
I had so much fun watching this film. I was like a child discovering The Goonies or Star Wars for the first time. It made me smile, it made me laugh and the adventure was compelling and interesting. I also described it to a friend like the first time we watched the 1999 The Mummy. It was a great adventure. I hope the effects of this film will hold up better than The Mummy Returns (The Scorpion Dwayne The Rock Johnson CGI King)
I’m a bit uncertain about the sequel. Here’s hoping for another rip roaring adventure.
1. Blade Runner 2049
Quick Verdict: Replicants Forever
I do feel a little bit unoriginal picking this as my number one film, but then I thought, ‘I don’t really give a shit,’ and put it in the top spot anyway.
First things first, it is a visual delight. Denis Villeneuve captures the feel of the original and expands the world. It feels like the same world and that it is thirty years later. With all that in place, I was still utterly surprised that the film was so good. The original is so iconic and has such a following it was going to be hard to create a sequel that would be accepted. Well I am one of those fans of the original and this is a fitting sequel.
I won’t reveal the story of this, but it is one that is a worthy sequel. I really like Ridley Scott but with his recent track record of great, followed by not great, followed by really not great, followed by great. He’s too unpredictable to be left in charge of this and I’m sure having Denis in charge was a good call.
Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks and Ryan Gosling are great, but for me, Ana de Armas is the best character as Jol, Which considering she’s a computer program is pretty impressive.
This is a brilliant film, well worth watching if you’re a fan of the original. Might even be worth a watch if you’re not or haven’t even seen the original.
So that’s my list. As I said above, feel free to comment, discuss my list, or even rip it to shreds if you wish. Comment below, on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with my countdown list of the films I watched for the first time in 2019 next January.