THE BEST OF 2018

OUR TOP FIVE FILMS OF THE YEAR

YEAR IN REVIEW
By Charlie David Page
17th December 2018

What a massive year it's been for movie lovers - we've seen an explosion in representation of so many characters we don't usually see on the big screen. From killer comedies to daring dramas, it's been a wild year in cinemas - with so many gems, it's hard to choose the best films of the year. Nonetheless, each of the members of SWITCH share their top five films - with plenty of controversial choices from the year.

The only rules: it can only be five films, and it has to have been released in Australia cinemas in 2018. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think!

JUMP TO...

JESSICA FENTON
5
'TULLY'
I can’t imagine you’ll see ‘Tully’ on many, if any Top 5 lists this year. You probably don’t even remember it coming out at all. It’s true, back in May ‘Tully’ hit cinemas with very little fanfare, drowned out by ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Deadpool 2’ and ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’. It never really had a chance. But I saw it. Loved it. Bawled my eyes out watching it, and had one of the strongest emotional reactions to it than I have of any film for a long time. I’m a woman in my 30s who doesn’t have children, nor do I want them, so it wasn’t Charlize Theron’s plight that I empathised with here. So why did this seemingly innocuous film affect me so much? That is the $50,000 question. Perhaps because she was a woman. Perhaps because she was in pain - a universal condition. Whatever it was, it left me dehydrated and with genuine heartache. That - and the long suffering Jason Reitman fan in me - was all to happy to see the once-great director return to form with the help of collaborator Diablo Cody, screenwriter (an Oscar winner) for one of my favourite films of all time, ‘Juno’.
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4
'CRAZY RICH ASIANS'
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll swoon, you’ll drool at the impossibly beautiful people. This was the film made with Asians, by Asians and if the box-office numbers for China are correct, apparently not for Asians. Yeeesh! Not to worry, this gem of a romantic comedy reminded people that there are Asians in the world. It seems quite a few had forgotten about 60% of the global population. The effects of this film are going to be huge! I don’t just mean the upcoming two sequels. As I am part of the aforementioned 60% (well, part of me is anyway) I personally cannot wait to see what comes of this. Fingers crossed it means more Henry Golding.
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3
'A QUIET PLACE'
I do not do horror films. Absolutely not. But I did do ‘A Quiet Place’. Why? Is is because I also want to do John Krazinski? Maybe (see: oh god yes). Is it because of my deep, unwavering love of his wife Emily Blunt? Duh. Yes, it’s because of these you gifted and beautiful people that I stepped out of my comfort zone and was beguiled by this glorious thriller. And in the process I was introduced to the sensation Millicent Simmonds. Does this mean I’ll be seeing more horror films in the future? Hahahahahahaaaaa... no.
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2
'SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE'
Ask any DC fan, and they’ll tell you that where they shine is in their animated features that seem to end up on very much under-the-radar home entertainment or streaming services. I can only imagine due to the joyous critical response to this latest Spidey, which will surely translate into dolla dolla bills y’all, DC will be reworking their release model. After all, riding Marvel’s coattails is what they do best. ‘Into The Spider-Verse’ is what “we” like to call a “game changer”. After three different Spider-Man incarnations in 15 years, what’s one more? Only this one has broken the mould. A POC Spider-Man. Multiple Spider...men? I mean people... or actually, things really. It’s animated with incredible style and pizazz, and the voice casting is pitch perfect. Choosing a fav Spidey would be like choosing a favourite (can’t say child) dog but I have to say, this one made me question everything - and I like it.
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1
'INCREDIBES 2'
14 years we waited for this movie, and did it disappoint? Ha! No it did not. It’s quite possibly better than the first, depending on what day you catch me on. And it had a female superhero/working mother at the forefront. Yaasss Queen!
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JAKE WATT
5
'COLD WAR'
Inspired by the lives of director Paweł Pawlikowski’s own parents, ‘Cold War’ tells the tale of a musical director who discovers a young singer, following their captivating love story, decisions and adversity over 15 years. Pawlikowski uses music to push the narrative forward, with Lukasz Zal's cinematography and the film’s set design illustrating the state of flux that post-war Communist Poland was in during the 1950s. Running leanly at less than 90 minutes, this is stunning, elegiac storytelling.
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4
'THE FAVOURITE'
There is nothing like being in a packed cinema during a Yorgos Lanthimos film and listening to the laughter of an audience slowly ebb into a nervous chuckle, then a ripple of uncomfortable silence, a collective gasp... all the way back to laughter again. His latest, a historical period comedy-drama about the reign of Queen Anne, features a trio of strong performances from Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman, each of them savouring the film’s savage and extremely funny dialogue.
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3
'LEAVE NO TRACE'
Debra Granik’s ‘Leave No Trace’ is a minimalist character study that is even more low-key than ‘Winter’s Bone’ but with a heart full of empathy for the outsiders that eke out an existence on the fringes of American society. A haunting exploration of trauma but with an ultimately hopeful and tender message, the film features nuanced, lived-in performances from Ben Foster and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie as a father and daughter on an endless trek across the country, searching for solitude.
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2
'MANDY'
One hour of slow-paced mood building followed by one hour of Nicolas Cage, roaring like a beast, snorting cocaine off a shard of broken glass, slurping vodka in his undies, and battling mutant bikers with a gleaming axe. Panos Cosmatos crafted a pulsating, kaleidoscopic revenge film that recalled everything from Dario Argento to Heavy Metal comics. It also has the best movie score of 2018, the final legacy of the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.
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1
'THE INSULT'
A Palestinian Muslim working for a builder in Beirut is accidentally splashed with water, so he fixes a broken drainpipe on the balcony of a Lebanese Christian man’s apartment. Then everything gets crazy. The highest compliment I can pay to Ziad Doueiri’s film is that it took a viewer as unfamiliar with the Middle Eastern conflict as I am and guided me through a complex maze of race, politics and ages old grudges. Interesting, funny, timely, intense... ‘The Insult’ is thoroughly engrossing.
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DANIEL LAMMIN
5
'SORRY TO BOTHER YOU'
There’s a part of me that still can’t believe this film exists. I have to remind myself that it wasn’t some sort of weird fever dream, something I hadn’t hallucinated, such is the insanity and scope of Boots Riley’s magnificent satire on race and class in America. Surprising, inspiring, disturbing, hilarious and breathtaking at every turn.
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4
'FIRST MAN'
As the credits rolled on Damien Chazelle’s portrait of Neil Armstrong, I completely broke down, sobbing and shaking and breathless. Even after multiple viewings, I’m still overwhelmed by its emotional intensity, its extraordinary craft and its deep humanity. It is cinema as experience, in a manner only cinema can be (especially when viewed at IMAX). Whenever I think about it, I still get chills down my spine.
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3
'LADY BIRD'
Oh god, I love this film. I love it so much, more and more every time I watch it. It’s pure joy and pure heart, moving and hilarious and riotous. Greta Gerwig never puts a foot wrong, taking a story so familiar and blasting it with new life. It’s a little miracle of a film, practically perfect and eternally loveable.
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2
'PHANTOM THREAD'
Sublime. Delicious. Hilarious. Breathtaking. Diabolical. Wicked. Frustrating. Moving. Intoxicating. Beguiling. Decadent. Witty. Poisonous. Ridiculous. Thunderous. Furious. Uncompromising. Unexpected. Shocking. Gothic. Romantic. Haunting. Singular. Staggering. Overwhelming. Unforgettable. Perfect. Masterpiece.
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1
'ROMA'
The kind of film you stand before in awe. Pure, perfect cinema. Life itself captured in all its complexity, absurdity, heartbreak and joy. It’s almost impossible to put into words how it makes you feel, almost impossible to describe, how it fills you with so much life and light and sorrow and hope. Alfonso Cuarón’s third successive masterpiece and one of the finest films ever made.
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CONNOR DALTON
5
'YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE'
Lynne Ramsay takes her time between projects, however, whenever she gives us a new cinematic offering it is often masterful. ‘You Were Never Really Here’ is just that; an uncompromising and often exquisite vision that sticks with you long after the credits. The near perfect combination of Ramsay and Joaquin Phoenix, who gives us one of the year’s best performances, are able to orchestrate a hypnotically disturbing piece of cinema which blends beauty and brutality with ease. In a word, it is spellbinding.
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4
'THE FAVOURITE'
‘The Favourite’ left me in awe, with its morbid sensibilities and uproarious sense of humour coalescing to create an enriching cinematic experience. The dialogue is sharp, the rich portrayal of the period setting is sublime and it is an absolute masterclass from the three central performers of Coleman, Weisz and Stone. And yet, for all its daringly surrealistic undertakings, it still manages to offer a complex summation of what ugliness forms when jealously and power begin to consume an individual. Salacious and absurd, ‘The Favourite’ is a delight from start to finish.
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3
'LADY BIRD'
‘Lady Bird’ is a film that surpassed all expectations. For a film depicting the adolescent experience, it does so with earnestness and insight and provides an accomplished cinematic experience in the process. For all its naturalism, the film is still able to convey a heartfelt emotion at its core, one that is profound and pervading a universality for all audiences. It is a beautiful piece of work. It’s cast to perfection, the screenplay is terrific and how it champions the complex emotions we all at one point hold is welcomed to see. We will be talking about ‘Lady Bird’ for a long time.
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2
'WILDLIFE'
Similar to ‘Lady Bird’, an inherent strength of Paul Dano’s directorial debut ‘Wildlife’ is how seamlessly it is able to impart profundity. While dreamlike by design, there is palpably haunting human element to ‘Wildlife’ about how the spectrum of any given situation can create a different emotional response beautifully. Beyond that, it displays some of the best cinematography of the year, a deft and intelligent screenplay, and astonishing performances across the board. It is a film that lingers and never quite leaves you.
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1
'PHANTOM THREAD'
If it's true that this is the finale to the decorated career of one Daniel Day-Lewis, ‘Phantom Thread’ is arguably the best possible adieu. A scintillating display from one of modern cinema’s finest auteurs in Paul Thomas Anderson, ‘Phantom Thread’ and its intoxicating portrayal of a toxic relationship set against the alluring world of Day-Lewis’ 1950s dressmaker cast a spell on me almost immediately. Watching ‘Phantom Thread’ is pure lyricism; its opulence is ravishing, while its narrative is rich in complexity and nuance. It is a remarkable telling of love’s possessive nature, and is an out-and-out masterpiece.
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CHRIS EDWARDS
5
'THE FAVOURITE'
Going into 2018, this was the film that seemed most tailor-made for me. A trio of career-peak actresses riffing on 'All About Eve' via 'Dangerous Liaisons', helmed by Yorgos Lanthimos, director of the equal parts hysterical and haunting ‘The Lobster’ and ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’? Sign me the fudge up, man. Reframing the typically masculine way we portray history by centring a love triangle/power struggle of Shakespearean proportions between three deeply unhappy women, Lanthimos somehow crafts a hysterically nasty, casually brutal, tonally striking cyanide capsule of a film that miraculously never tips into condescension or character-hating cruelty (which he has previously been accused of). Also, further proves that Olivia Colman is one of the greatest actors currently alive, and anyone unconvinced after the way she here weaponises close-ups cannot be trusted.
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4
'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT'
Not just because it belongs to a franchise that has somehow survived the single greatest joke from that hugely influential late-2000s sitcom ‘Cougar Town’ (RIP), but also because since the memefication of Cruise the series has not only survived, but thrived. In fact here, with easily the year’s best blockbuster, it’s truly become some sort of slick yet deranged modern version of a vaudeville performer, constantly doing the absolute most to make sure its audience is as entertained as humanly possible. You want gags? We got gags!! You want fights? We got fights!! You want crazy death-defying and surely insurance-inflating stunts??? Boy do we get those!!! Feverishly distilled, muscular filmmaking from collaborators firing on all cylinders - one of whom happens to be the most fascinating of contemporary movie stars... and maybe the last. May the franchise be as unkillable as its protagonist (and star).
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3
'PHANTOM THREAD'
It’s become sort of de rigeour to find Paul Thomas Anderson’s films hypnotically beautiful and intellectually robust, but not in a long time has one of them been as complex and profound in its sexual and romantic explorations. Formally thrilling and woozily entrancing, Anderson meticulously crafted one of the great romantic dramas of this century, complete with a knotty, complicated politic and a star-making performance from Vicky Krieps, going toe-to-toe with an expectedly fantastic Daniel Day-Lewis in his (supposedly) final performance. Name a more iconic duo from 2018 that Reynolds and Alma (and those mushrooms), I’ll wait.
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2
'FIRST REFORMED'
Hey! Did you know that our planet is dying, and our generation might see the end of it, and everything is terrible? If you didn’t, let Ethan Hawke and Paul Schrader school you on the soul-numbing existential despair that can set in and cause a spiritual rot, in this case leaving one man living out the opening line of an old ‘Stars’ song – when there’s nothing left to burn, you’ve got to set yourself on fire. Crafted with a composed austerity that always demands that you come to it rather than it come to you, ‘First Reformed’ may be one of the most quietly devastating cinematic experiences I had all year. But, like, funny, too!
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1
'LADY BIRD'
Sometimes, a film just hits you right in your sweet spot. It hits on a tone, a topic, a timbre that resonates so perfectly with your specific foibles and follies, your achievements and mistakes, your loves and regrets. It may not be about you, or intended for you, but it finds something within you and latches on, burrowing its way into your heart and setting up shop there, probably forever. And so, into my heart steps ‘Lady Bird’. There, Greta Gerwig’s perceptive, deceptively complex, and exceedingly generous of heart flat-out masterpiece will reside forevermore, singing Sondheim and fleeing moving vehicles and being the best version of itself it can be. A miracle.
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BRENT DAVIDSON
5
'AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR'
If you were anything like me, you were #shook by what was the biggest, most intense Marvel film ever - and boy, wasn’t it. So many things happened. So many things blew up. I was a small child watching ‘Power Rangers’ again, and I loved every minute. The only minutes I didn’t love were the 15 minutes of intermission that films in Portugal apparently all have – it just so happened to occur the moment there was almost the most crucial plot point was dropped and I was left scratching my head and super-frustrated by the Portuguese cinema experience! That said, jaw drop after jaw drop and nothing really disappointed, it’s amazing that Marvel really keeps going from strength to strength. How do these movies keep getting bigger!?
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4
'GAME NIGHT'
This was an unexpected delight. I watched it on a plane honestly thinking it would be something to fall asleep to, but here I was laughing and being taken along for a fantastic ride. It’s silly and light but so perfectly executed that it’s a blast from beginning to end. So many enjoyable twists, and Billy Magnussen is a talent going from strength to strength (with this and 'Maniac' in mind). Light fun for all to enjoy but done the right way.
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3
'READY PLAYER ONE'
Nerdgasm alert! 'RP1' is a film I have been dreaming about since I devoured the book in the space of 48 hours. It’s got action, adventure, computer games and 80s references, all pulled together by (as Daniel puts it) the master Steven Spielberg – who else could, with so much of his own intellectual property was included in both the book and film! While it might not be groundbreaking, it is certainly a lot of fun - and to be honest, with the year we’ve had, we need some fun!
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2
'ISLE OF DOGS'
Who could ask for a more charming film? And who doesn’t like being tricked into saying “I love dogs” every time they say the name of the film? Charming voices and a charming story surmounts to a charming film. Wes Anderson does it again with his unique style – this film totally barks up the right tree.
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1
'THE PARTY'
Hands down my favourite film I think I’ve seen in the last few years, and thanks to film festivals and strange release dates, I wasn’t able to put it on my list for last year (damn you rules!). Sally Potter's masterpiece of writing, editing and directing sums up for me what I wish every party was! The script crackles with acerbic wit and it’s a pure delight in 70 minutes – could you ask for more? (The answer is yes – I need some Patricia Clarkson reaction GIFS.)
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CHARLIE DAVID PAGE
5
'GAME NIGHT'
Jason Bateman is a funny, funny guy. Pair that with the charisma of Rachel McAdams, and you have a brilliant lead duo. Throw in a host of wildly talented supporting cast, and you’re in for a great time. Now, not only does ‘Game Night’ have a fantastic cast going for it, but a truly one-of-a-kind and unpredictable screenplay and some honestly jaw-dropping cinematography, this is without doubt the romantic comedy action thriller of the year.
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4
'CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?'
Read my full review of this film on the link down below, and you’ll quickly discover that I believe it’s the role of Melissa McCarthy’s career. There’s sure to be plenty of accolades coming her way this awards season - both she and co-star Richard E. Grant have already been nominated for Golden Globes - and while she’s definitely the highlight of the movie, that’s not to throw shade on any other part of the production. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, it’s a true story that’s sure to woo the indie film lover.
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3
'HEREDITARY'
Can Toni Collette do no wrong? Here, she successfully manages to freak everyone the fuck out in one of the best horror films of the year (yes, right up there with Jess’ pick of ‘A Quiet Place’). This is a truly messed-up feature debut from writer/director Ari Aster, moving from tragedy to insanity in mere heartbeats. You’ll never be able to hear someone click their tongue again without a shiver running down your spine.
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2
'THE INSULT'
What could have been a dull-as-dishwater political drama becomes a nail-biting, captivating affair from Ziad Doueiri. Rather than telling a story of the tensions between Lebanese and Palestinian people, he chooses to focus on two characters, and use them to explain the situation through their personal biases. Truly a surprise, ‘The Insult’ didn’t get anywhere near the attention it deserved during its Australian release, so do anything within your means to hunt it down.
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1
'McQUEEN'
One of the most refreshing films of the year, the style and intrigue that permeates through this documentary makes it like nothing else that has appeared on Australia’s big screens this year. The portrait of a man so inspired and yet so troubled, he was pushed to the brink by both his own expectations and the influence of consumerism. For someone with little to no interest in the fashion industry, I was enthralled for every moment of this film.
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TRENDINGRIDE LIKE A GIRLMelbourne Cup biopic plagued by race's questionable history
TRENDINGPROMISEDFlashback to Australian-Italians in the 1970s is a bland affair
TRENDINGLOCUSTSA low-key, low-down thriller
TRENDINGSLAMA gripping urban mystery
TRENDINGNT LIVE: FLEABAGThe birth of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's masterwork
TRENDINGZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAPThe gang's back for a brainless zombie comedy sequel
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