The best films of 2018

What were the must-watch films last year

The votes are in, the ballots counted. The time has come to pick the best films of 2018, as selected by Time Out’s team of dedicated film critics. Does Alfonso Cuarón’s stirring drama Roma make the cut? Could Black Panther power on to the list? Did Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s updated take on A Star Is Born cut the mustard? And was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri really released this year? (Spoiler: yes, yes, yes, and we know, right? Feels like ages ago.)

Without further ado, here’s our pick of the best films released in the UAE during 2018.

A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper directs and stars in this well-trodden fable about fame, recruiting a surprisingly unassuming Lady Gaga as his foil. She delivers one of this year’s most nuanced performances, as well as co-writing the film’s inescapable soundtrack. Oscars will surely follow. Possibly most of them.

First Man

Damien Chazelle’s intimate Neil Armstrong story mines a pride born out of smarts, imagination and competence. It’s the right stuff that should fuel true patriotism.

A Quiet Place

A great argument for noise-cancelling snacks in cinemas, John Krasinski’s ace sci-fi thriller sparked a debate around the etiquette of popcorn-eating. Was it okay to munch noisily during the film’s frequent pin-drop moments? Did shovelling the stuff directly into your mouth distract from this hushed tale of a family surrounded by voracious space beasts who hunt by sound? The sequel is coming. Let battle recommence.

Black Panther
With its killer Kendrick Lamar soundtrack, eye-popping afrofuturist world and some stupidly charismatic performances, Black Panther is sleek, fast-moving and tonnes of fun. We walked away wanting to see Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, and Londoners Letitia Wright and Daniel Kaluuya in another superhero movie as soon as possible – which thanks to the epic Wakandan bits of Avengers: Infinity War, we shortly did.

Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan make a mighty double-act in this sharply realised and often hilarious sorta-autobiographical movie set in Gerwig’s hometown of Sacramento. The writer-director, who scored her first Oscar nominations for it, gets the best from Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts too.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The first part of the year belonged to the ever-ace Frances McDormand, who won an Oscar for her brilliantly salty turn as a mum who turns to unorthodox means to get justice for her murdered daughter. The tricky blend of big laughs and deep melancholy is executed perfectly by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges).

Cold War
Packing more into 88 minutes than most movies manage into twice that, Paweł Pawlikowski’s black-and-white gem is a treat for doomed romantics everywhere. A rapturous love story spanning years and countries, it also features the best use of Rock Around the Clock since The Karate Kid Part II.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout
While other franchises fall by the wayside, Mission: Impossible just seems to go from strength to strength, powered by slick storytelling and Tom Cruise’s willingness to lob himself off tall buildings. It’s the Duracell Bunny of blockbusters – and part six was the best yet.

Roma
If there was ever a grumble over this gorgeous, Netflix-released domestic epic, it’s that more people couldn’t see it on the big screen. On the upside, it’ll be on the streaming site for ever. It’ll be worth revisiting too, with director Alfonso Cuarón conjuring heart-shaking emotions.

Hereditary
This cracking debut from New York director Ari Aster divided horror aficionados, but for our money, it was the scariest film of the year. It was also beautifully crafted, filled with ornate detail and had actor Toni Collette in career-best form.

Phantom Thread
The film that launched a thousand memes, Paul Thomas Anderson’s tailoring tale is an opulent joy. Daniel Day-Lewis is predictably terrific, but we love Lesley Manville as his formidable sister.

Widows
What was a great year for arthouse directors making genre movies was rounded off with Turner Prize-winning artist and film director Steve McQueen’s take on a Lynda La Plante mini-series from the ’80s. Viola Davis heads up a posse of steely women in a Chiago-set heist movie with lots to say.

You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay’s brilliant thriller may yet evolve from cult fave into fully fledged classic. Like the film it’s been compared with – Taxi Drive – it casts a potent spell, with Joaquin Phoenix to the fore as its PTSD-stricken veteran.

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