And in some ways, not a whole amount has changed in the past 12 months. We’re still in the EU (just), and we still haven’t seen Replicas.
In other ways though, a lot has happened. Check out my movie year in review, below. It may look nearly as long as 2018 itself, but unlike the real thing you can skip the bits you don’t like – just click on the links below.
| 2018 – Missing In Action | My Year In Movies | My Worst Films Of 2018 | My Best Films Of 2018 | My 2018 Film Highlights | Indie Film | Diversity & Change | 2018 On Cautionspoilers.com | 2019 on Cautionspoilers.com! |
2018 – Missing In Action
Two movies on my 2018 Must-Watch list still haven’t been released, and guess what, they star my favourites. Karma’s a bitch (and I wasn’t even that bad!)
Replicas, about a slightly batshit scientist (Keanu Reeves) who loses his family in a car crash and then clones them, had its first trailer back in 2017.
Apparently it’s coming out in the US in January, though there’s no UK date. At this rate real technology will overtake it and when I do get to see it, it’ll be downloaded directly to my eyeballs, the way future film directors will be telling us movies are meant to be seen.
Keepers – now The Vanishing – has Gerard Butler as one of three chunky sweater-wearing lighthouse keepers, who disappear after finding a chest of gold. It’s out in the US next week, and in the UK in March.
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My Year In Movies
Still, I didn’t spend the whole year at home, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for Replicas and The Vanishing. Just most of it. On the other day I met Willem Dafoe.
Oh and in 2018 I also:
– Went to the Cannes Film Festival for a week (check out my Cannes experience, including standing on the Croisette with a sign begging for a premiere ticket – reader, it works! And press tips)
– Was accepted as a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic.
– Attended the London Film Festival (read my LFF round-up and my visiting LFF as Press article)
– Conducted several interviews, including the world’s shortest with the lovely Jessica Hynes (no I didn’t ask her about Spaced, stop asking me that). She only had a few minutes but was still friendly and fascinating.
– Saw hundreds of films, and reviewed almost every one (sorry, Ash Is Purest White, still in my Drafts folder)
– Became a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics (OAFFC)
– Was a judge at the Fish Eye Film Festival (one of our multiple winners, the short Chuchotage, is now shortlisted for the Best Live Action Short Film Oscar)
– Was an extra in short film Entrance No Exit – read about my first film set experience. (Top tip – wear thermals and if you must hang around the craft services food table, chew quietly.)
– Built up relationships with publicists of smaller films.
– Had Colossus intervene in an argument with my 8 year old son at Comic Con, as we fought over which picture we’d like actor Stefan Kapicic to sign.
It’s still tough getting known to publicists from the big studios and distributors. In most cases, if you see a *big* film reviewed by me, I paid to go and see it. All I can say is thank god for superhero films that come out in the UK a week before the US.
Waiting for Replicas and Keepers to come out.
My Worst Films Of 2018
There’s a big pushback against “Worst Of” lists, as it’s seen as a negative view of filmmaking. Though as a woman I’m so conditioned to apologise, my list would probably consist of me saying I wasn’t too keen on a movie but it was probably my fault so not to worry.
Plus lots of people work on films, often doing great work on what turn out later to be terrible movies for reasons beyond their control. (Some people working on rubbish films will be rubbish and it is within their control, but at the time of writing it’s the season of goodwill so let’s not talk about that.)
And usually there’s something good to say about a film, somewhere – even in Shark Exorcist, a movie where Satan himself probably demanded to be credited as Alan Smithee, one of the actresses had a nice top on.
But then I saw Robin Hood, so…
Robin Hood 1.5/5
He was a Robin Hood for the 21st century. I mean the 14th century. No wait, the 23rd century, somewhere in a galaxy far away. Too many parallels and references weighed this down, and the jokes were sparse. Its attempts at relevance and modernity had already been done (come back Guy Ritchie, all is forgiven).
Don’t worry though, I still thought there was something good about it! Ben Mendelsohn was great fun as the Sheriff of Nottingham (doesn’t the bad guy always have all the best lines?)
My Robin Hood review
Holmes & Watson 1.5/5
This was an old-fashioned mess with flashes of potential: Rebecca Hall’s “lady doctor”, as hubristic a medic as any of her male colleagues, was clever. But far too many ideas fell flat, leaving us with just a few frustrating glimmers of what could have been.
My Best Films Of 2018
As for my “Best Of” list for 2018, usually I come up with my favourites, hit Publish, then see everyone else’s lists and am reminded of lots of brilliant films I’d forgotten about.
So I can only say the following Top 16 (which is in no particular order, and should have been 15 only I refuse to remove Den Of Thieves) is incomplete, especially as at the time of writing there are still some instant classics I haven’t seen yet.
And really, how can you compare Deadpool 2 to The Happy Prince? Consider these a range of good-to-great movies in a good-to-great movie year.
- Widows 4.5/5
- The Favourite 4.5/5
- They Shall Not Grow Old 5/5
- Aquaman 4/5
- The Guilty 4.5/5
- Den Of Thieves 4/5
- Destination Wedding 4/5
- Black Panther 4.5/5
- A Quiet Place 4.5/5
- Shoplifters 4.5/5
- The Happy Prince 4/5
- Deadpool 2 4/5
- Bombshell – The Hedy Lamarr Story 4/5
- Mandy 4/5
- Stan & Ollie 4/5
- American Animals 4.5/5
My 2018 Film Highlights
There are so many older classics I need to see, though I managed to tick off some of them this year. Highlights included:
- Finally seeing The Seventh Seal, so now I can look askance at anyone who calls themselves a cinephile and hasn’t seen The Seventh Seal.
- Finally seeing the director’s cut of Das Boot, all three and a half hours of it, so now I can raise a single eyebrow at anyone who claims to be a fan of the submarine genre and hasn’t seen Das Boot (the short version doesn’t count).
- Finally seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey – so now I can stroke my chin and tut imperceptibly at anyone who calls themselves a film fan and hasn’t watched it on a huge screen, with one of the few sound systems capable of playing the music as it should be heard, introduced by Christopher Nolan at Cannes.
- Waking up every morning wondering if Replicas is out yet (every life needs a bit of tension).
I think the best experience was Bergman’s The Seventh Seal – it was at a film club and three elderly men turned up who remembered seeing it when it was released in 1958. They talked about the huge effect it had on them and it reminded me what a mark movies can make on your psyche (and also the importance of older people’s film memories).
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Independent cinema is thriving, though it’s also always a challenge. And anyway what exactly is indie film? Obviously a film can be independent and not low budget though often indie filmmaking does indeed go hand-in-hand with shoestring filmmaking.
In filmmaking, £10k and under is considered zero budget, under £100,000 is micro budget and under a million pounds is low budget.
Then there’s marketing… and then when you wrap up on your first feature, trying to get a second one made – a very difficult task especially if you’re from a group already under-represented in film.
And while indie film is a sector many directors and actors embrace, for some it’s more of a millstone.
What is clear to me, after watching plenty of indie movies, is that the difference between a million pound film and one made for £20,000 is a lot less than £980,000.
Diversity And Change
This year the #MeToo movement (originally founded by Tarana Burke way back in 2006), managed to stay on track despite some rather whiny comments from certain actors. Thanks goodness then for Idris Elba, who said it best when asked about being a man in Hollywood since the development of the movement: “It’s only difficult if you’re a man with something to hide.”
The year saw some significant films that had a big impact in terms of representation on screen and behind the lens. I’m not going to list all of them! But:
Black Panther was a huge cultural event and a massive step forward in terms of representation of black people on the big screen, in big budget movies. Directed by Ryan Coogler, it was critically acclaimed as well as being a massive financial success (so far it’s made $1.3 billion).
Smaller pictures are still making their mark. Sorry To Bother You, Boots Riley’s weird and absorbing satire on race and big business, has made nearly $18 million on a budget of $3.2 million.
(Following directors such as Riley on social media is a salutatory lesson on how hard they have to work to push their films, even if an early, small-scale release results in critical acclaim. He, and other directors of smaller films, work tirelessly to help their movies roll out on a wider scale – across the US and then worldwide. Supporting them online does make a difference.)
Ava DuVernay became the first African American woman to direct a film with a budget over $100 million with A Wrinkle In Time. It made over $100 million at the box office, and though it wasn’t a critical or commercial smash, one of the signs of change is when women and other directors from under-represented groups are allowed to fail (or what is considered failure in Hollywood!) and try again with big studio budgets.
In the UK, writer-director Clare Anyiam-Osigwe became only the sixth British black woman director to obtain a UK cinema release – with her romantic drama about colourism in relationships, No Shade (check out my interview with Clare here). The film was also released in the US.
LGBTQ cinema has given us some very different takes on women’s sexuality. Of the movies I saw this year, the 90s-set Miseducation of Cameron Post had a fantastic central performance from Chloe Grace Moritz as a young lesbian sent to a Christian camp for conversion therapy.
And I urge you all to see Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, a hilarious menage-a-trois involving our very own 18th century Queen Anne, her best friend and lover Sarah, the Duchess of Devonshire, and Sarah’s newly-arrived cousin Abigail.
With fabulous performances from Olivia Colman as Anne, Rachel Weisz as Sarah and Emma Stone as Abigail, the men are reduced to mere over made-up lackeys as the three ladies battle to be the ultimate woman on top.
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2018 on Cautionspoilers.com
This site is now just over two years old – and I’ve hit 350,000 page views, most of them this year.
So THANK YOU for your visits, your (mostly polite!) comments, suggestions for films to see, and generally making this site a pleasure to write for and to run.
I’d do it even if no one read it, but having regular and new readers is a real boost.
And another big THANK YOU to the publicists who send me screeners / invite me to screenings / ask me to interview interesting directors and actors / offer me competition prizes – often for movies that may be smaller financially but have huge critical acclaim.
This year I’ve added sections on Submarine Movies, Smartphone Filmmaking, and Festivals (with info on attending as Press as well as film round-ups), to go with existing areas focussing on Stunts, Indie Film, and more.
Plus plenty more interviews, hundreds of reviews and a special Keanu Reeves feature as… well, it’s my site so I can write what I like.
Check out my 2018 Must Watches – how many did you see?
2019 on Cautionspoilers.com!
This will be the year I finally start my newsletter – hopefully monthly at first but then more frequent.
I’d also like to do a podcast, as I’m sure you all can’t wait to hear me talk about how great John Wick is, right?
And I’m planning on working through my Still Not Watched list, reviewing a couple of films a month that you probably think I’ve seen, and I should have seen, and hell I probably think I’ve already seen but haven’t.
Happy new year and here’s to a fantastic 12 months of movies in 2019.
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