Top 10 Films of 2018

Another year passes and with it comes a list of my favourite films of the year. It’s certainly been a bizarre one because we received a Transformers film that wasn’t a horrendous, CGI-infested mess! That’s correct; Bumblebee arrived in cinemas this Christmas, and it didn’t sport any egregious use of product placement or unnecessary explosions!

It’s still hard to believe, but this year Disney even had a Star Wars film that flopped miserably in cinemas. Despite being an enjoyable little romp, Solo failed to impress in the box-office. Unfortunately, this impacted any ideas for upcoming spin-offs, but perhaps, this will push Disney to adopt a more careful approach with their projects in the future.

A24 had another solid year yet again, with the indie flick Lady Bird and their twisted horror, Hereditary. They somehow have a secret for distributing great films (such as The Witch, The Lobster and so on…), but we’ll see how long that continues. 2019 is looking pretty good for them though, with the director of It Follows’ upcoming neo-noir Under the Silver Lake, which will feature the underutilised Andrew Garfield.

Netflix was a bit of a mixed bag this year though, as Alex Garland’s ambitious Annihilation was a hit with most, but the streaming platform had its fair share of duds. Remember when everybody got excited over the surprise announcement of a new Cloverfield? How naïve we all were. Even Duncan Jones half-baked Mute failed to impress. Heck, after Moon and The Source Code, he was supposed to be the chosen one.

Sony Pictures even managed to somehow time travel back to 2003 with Tom Hardy’s Venom. Back then, the film would’ve been acceptable, and it would’ve even featured some Drowning Pool, but there’s clearly a new standard for superhero movies. It’s evident that Tom Hardy had something going on there, but Venom was ruined by shoddy editing and unfortunately, some of the worst CGI of the year.

2018 also reminded us that Spielberg hasn’t had a great film in a long time. Ready Player One came rolling in earlier this year, and it only took five minutes for my shoulders to physically ache from all the winks and nudges to popular culture. It’s quite hard to believe the man behind Jurassic Park made Ready Player One, but here we are.

Still, we did have some stellar releases this year! That’s correct, it wasn’t all bad. Below you’ll find a list of my top ten films, based on UK theatrical and Netflix releases only.

10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The wonders of Netflix never cease to amaze. It’s still hard to fathom that subscribers can instantly get a new Coens movie, delivered straight to Netflix. How have we deserved such treatment? Regardless, Joel and Ethan Coen did well to fill the vast hole left by completing Red Dead Redemption 2, with their anthology Western, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

The film features a grand selection of talent, such as Zoe Kazan, James Franco and Liam Neeson, amongst other notable actors. Each story sports a different theme, all touching upon certain aspects of the Wild West. Highlights include a grizzled gold prospector and another story concerning a wagon train.

Don’t expect joyful tales throughout, though. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs maintains the Coens’ trademark black humour, so prepare yourself for some melancholy endings. Still, it’s another fine addition to the Coens’ ever-expanding filmography, and let’s hope this kicks off a new tradition of their films being released on to Netflix.

9. A Quiet Place

It’s been a mixed year for the horror genre, with misfires such as The Cloverfield Paradox, but word of mouth and fresh concepts helped some films get noticed, such as Upgrade and especially, in this case, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place. Featuring Krasinski and Emily Blunt, the film involves a small family struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, surrounded by horrific nightmarish creatures that rely on sound to feed.

Of course, this concept lends itself to some truly tense scenes. Viewers will be able to hear a single pin drop during some moments of the film, as the family must utilise different methods to survive. Krasinski manages to really tap into something special here, as the importance of family even allows A Quiet Place to be surprisingly heart-warming.

A Quiet Place is a special little film, which needs to be viewed in complete silence. Admittedly, it may not be the most original concept (surely there’s a similar film out there), but it is undoubtedly a strong directorial debut for John Krasinski and an overall great horror experience.

8. Avengers: Infinity War

It’s hard to believe that we’ve come this far with Marvel Studios, but 2018 saw the release of the most ambitious and biggest superhero blockbuster to date, Avengers: Infinity War. Directed by the Russo brothers (perhaps Marvel’s biggest asset in years), the film broke new records while bringing along with it a plethora of memes, burning questions and anticipation for the following instalment.

Infinity War was Marvel firing on all cylinders. It boasted some of the finest CGI work to date, a great ensemble cast and huge action sequences that had fans grinning from ear to ear. How the Russos managed to balance out such a huge cast evenly is mind-boggling, but they deserve all the credit for it.

Will Avengers: Endgame live up the hype? We’ll see whether the Russos manage to wrap up the story properly, but considering their track record, they might just pull it off. There’s just no telling where Marvel goes from here though, as next year we enter the next phase.

7. Coco

Unfortunately, us British peasants didn’t receive Coco in cinemas a full three months after its initial US release, and it’s not the first time that fans have had to wait for Disney releases. It’s infuriating, but the wait was worth it. Coco is without a doubt one of Pixar’s most visually stunning films to date.

Directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), Coco told a pleasant, touching story of family and its meaning, with some of the finest art direction to grace our screens this year. Coco managed to carefully respect Mexican tradition, while also maintaining all the simple characteristics of a great Pixar film. It was funny, endearing and beautifully put together. While The Incredibles 2 was a fine sequel; it was Coco that took the award for best Pixar/Disney film this year.

6. Bumblebee

It has been stated already, but it’s hard to believe that a Transformers film is being placed on this list. Finally, the franchise was handed to someone who had great respect for the source material, and someone who wasn’t swayed by heaps of cash.

Yes, it’s a relief to say that Bumblebee is a fun, family frolic and that’s all thanks to director Travis Knight. Known for his work on Kubo and the Two Strings, Knight helped provide us with a movie that felt like an eighties Amblin Entertainment film, with Spielberg watching from afar, nodding in approval.

The film stars Hailee Steinfeld, who has been making waves since she starred in the True Grit remake at the age of thirteen. She plays Charlie Watson, a young teen who has been traumatised over the death of her father. Down her luck, she finally finds hope and friendship in Bumblebee, a mute Transformer from the planet Cybertron.

Of course, trouble arrives in the form of two evil Decepticons and the morally ambiguous Jack Burns, who is played by none other than John Cena. It really shouldn’t work on paper, but John Cena pulls of an aggressive government agent with ease, who is leaps and bounds better than the overbearing shouty father of previous Transformers films.

Bumblebee fell behind Mary Poppins Returns and Aquaman this Christmas, but hopefully, this means there’s still some more Travis Knight Transformers on the way. It still had a decent box-office return, and the reception has been great so far. We need more blockbusters like this and less Michael Bay in anything.

5. Mission Impossible: Fallout

Somehow, the Mission Impossible franchise appears to better itself with every instalment. Despite Tom Cruise now being 56 and injuring himself on set with his crazy stunts, Mission Impossible: Fallout turned out to be the best outing yet.

It might be hard to believe for some, but it was one of the finest action blockbusters of the year. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, MI: Fallout is undeniably more of the same. Ethan Hunt saves the world from doom in some bombastic manner and looks great doing so. This time around though, Ethan is joined by August Walker, a CIA operative played by the ruggedly handsome Henry Cavill.

Henry Cavill was a fine addition to the movie, and he excels at playing any character that isn’t Zack Snyder’s Superman. The film broke box-office records this year, and it even resulted in becoming one in Tom Cruise’s highest grossing film in his career. Critics regarded Fallout as one of the greatest action movies ever made, and while that’s being a tad generous, there’s no argument that it’s the best of the franchise.

Can Tom Cruise surpass it next time with the inevitable sequel? Perhaps if Henry Cavill reloads his fists again as he does in Fallout somehow, then I’m on board. Every action movie needs Cavill doing that, in all honesty.

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Having directed cult favourite In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, it was clear that Martin McDonagh was a director whose work needs to be closely followed. This year saw the release of his third feature, and it’s a strong contender for one of his finest films yet.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri focuses on Mildred Hayes (played by the fantastic Frances McDormand), a mother who rents three billboards to bring attention to the unsolved rape and murder of her daughter. The film also stars Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell as two police officers who engage with Mildred, hoping to find some sort of resolution. Peter Dinklage also makes an appearance, but his character does deserve a little more screen time.

Martin McDonagh is no stranger to strong scripts and terrific one-liners, and Three Billboards is no exception here. It’s a stellar black comedy, featuring some of the strongest performances of the year. Frances McDormand is remarkable as the lost mother looking for answers, and Sam Rockwell is simply brilliant as the prejudiced police officer. There’s one specific long take featuring Rockwell which is beautifully put together, and it helps remind viewers of just how capable he is when he’s playing a complete degenerate.

The film has also had a positive impact with activists and advocacy groups too, who have adopted the same method of using billboards to get their message across. Whatever Martin McDonagh does next, be sure to check it out. So far, he’s managed to have some of the sharpest scripts in black comedy to date.

3. The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water deserved all its accolades this year, and then some. That’s correct, The Shape of Water might be one of his greatest films yet, and it had nothing to do with the Hellboy universe.

Del Toro has always been a favourite despite some recent missteps (here’s looking at you, Crimson Peak), but The Shape of Water showcases all the director’s clear talents into one delightful, mesmerising feature. It displays his clear eye for intricate set design, his love for bizarre but beautiful creatures, and his knack for creative storytelling.

The film focuses on Sally Hawkins’ Elisa, a mute cleaner who falls in love with an amphibian man, who is held in a secret government laboratory. The amphibian man, played by the terrific Doug Jones, goes through a traumatic time at the hands of Michael Shannon’s Richard Strickland, who seeks to abuse and exploit the unique individual.

Unsurprisingly, Michael Shannon does his best ‘crazy Shannon’ impression during the movie, but the film truly excels with Sally Hawkins’ depiction of the cleaner, Elisa. She brings forth an award-winning performance, and it’s evident that Andy Serkis clearly has nothing on Doug Jones. Step aside, Gollum, Billy Butcherson is where it’s at.

The Shape of Water is a touching, inimitable romance filled with some of the best set design showcased this year. There’s inspiration from all sorts of mass media, but del Toro makes The Shape of Water his own, visually-distinctive piece of work.

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

2018 was a strong year for animation, with films such as Teen Titans Go! being a breath of fresh air for DC, and Ralph Breaks the Internet showcasing the incredible talents of Disney’s animation studio. However, Sony Pictures Animation rolled in this year to cleanse our pallets of Venom, with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which impressed critics and viewers alike with its unique visual style and exceptional storytelling.

Since his cinematic debut in 2002, Spider-Man has had a mixed reception. Fans have been put through the wringer with reboots and horrendous Goblin wannabes, but Spider-Verse managed to find the perfect mix for hardened veterans and newcomers alike. It successfully introduced the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, into the fold, while appealing to those who were still longing for more of the same with Peter Parker.

Into the Spider-Verse is visually ground-breaking, and it is paired with an outstanding voice cast, a bold script and a catchy soundtrack. It comes as no surprise to see that Phil Lord (The Lego Movie) played a part in the production of this film because it’s hilarious and charming throughout.

As a miserable, die-hard Spider-Man fan, it takes a lot to impress me. Into the Spider-Verse did more than that. It swiftly became my favourite Spider-Man film. It ticked all my boxes, including an edgy Spider-Man Noir voiced by Nicholas Cage. It’s a pleasure to see an animated film so far on this list, so hopefully, Sony Pictures Animation focuses on more of this and less of The Emoji Movie from now on. Yes, it’s easy to get confused as to how one studio can create both of those films.

1. BlackKKlansman

Honestly, if someone had informed me that a Spike Lee movie would be making one of these lists, I wouldn’t have believed them. Still, here we are, and Spike Lee’s BlackKKlansman became my favourite film of the year, if not one of the most important films of the year too.

Loosely based on real-life events, BlackKKlansman features newcomer John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, a police officer in the 1970s that sets out to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. With the aid of his colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), they manage to cultivate a relationship with some of the KKK members, including some of the more reckless ones.

Of course, the theme of working undercover lends itself to some truly nail-biting scenes during the film, as the KKK begin to poke holes in Flip’s identity. The film is often frightening at times with its harrowing imagery, but it also manages to infuse some comedy in the mix. Alec Baldwin helps set the tone of the film at first, as he plays a race theorist waffling on about how the Jews and black people are ruining the dearly beloved United States of America.

Topher Grace also appears in BlackKKlansman as KKK leader David Duke, and the resemblance is uncanny. He’s come some way from Eric Forman, and it’s a pleasure to see him in such a role. Hopefully, Grace ends up landing similar roles in the future. It is also worth noting how Adam Driver masterfully becomes Flip Zimmerman; a Jewish cop who goes undercover as a racist redneck. There’s no doubt about it, but Driver does certainly feel like the highlight of any film he stars in.

The cinematography is magnificent in BlackKKlansman, and it’s yet another film set in the 70s that will make you want to live during that era. The script is chock full of sharp and witty dialogue, and obviously, it’s just so damn provocative. Heck, it wouldn’t even be a Spike Lee film otherwise.

There’s no doubt about it, but Spike Lee drives home the message of racism with a sledgehammer. Perhaps that’s what we need right now, and to elicit an emotion as such is a testament to the power of cinema. Spike Lee follows up the end of the movie with a reflection of recent events, and it has been said that audiences are left in stunned silence. Rightly so. Spike Lee’s BlackKKlansman is an entertaining, thought-provoking piece of work that couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, do check out BlackKKlansman.



Honourable mentions include of 2018 include Isle of Dogs, Love Simon, First Man and Annihilation.



Kingsman: The Secret Service – Review


Kingsman: The Secret Service is Matthew Vaughn’s latest pairing with comic book writer Mark Millar, which tells the story of how one secret spy agency recruits a promising, yet troubled youth. Facing one of their deadliest threats yet, the organisation has to utilise its brains, gadgets and new recruits to save the world.

The film boasts a fine selection of actors, with some of the most recognisable British faces in cinema today: Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Michael Caine. Firth plays one of the more important roles in the film as Harry Heart, who sees potential in the newcomer ‘Eggsy’, played by Taron Egerton.

The director Matthew Vaughn has worked with writer Mark Millar in the past, having provided cinemagoers with the enjoyable superhero romp Kick-Ass. However, it is truly thanks to the talents of screenwriter Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, X-Men Days of Future Past), who manages to turn the source material into something really special.

Her script really succeeds in setting the film apart from other spy comedies – such as the abysmal Johnny English films – by injecting some unique comedy and allowing for some great character performances. Colin Firth for example, can no longer be considered a typecast actor. In Kingsman: The Secret Service, he is provided with a role that has impeccable comic timing, fisticuffs and the ability to use an umbrella like never before.


For some, Samuel L. Jackson’s appearance in the movie might be unwelcome, but he perfectly fits into the role of the maniacal villain Valentine. His plot to change the world is slightly ridiculous, but it’s the typical modus operandi for a spy villain. The film realises how absurd the entire plot is though, and it unashamedly embraces it to full effect.

Hopefully the newcomer and charismatic Taron Egerton will be picked up some future roles. He’s a believable lead and he perfectly portrays the disparate youth of Britain today. Vaughn was able to get Daniel Craig noticed for the role of James Bond, so here’s hoping it works out for Egerton too. He is undoubtedly the breakout star of the film.

The director has often managed to push the boundaries of the certificates given to him, and Kingsman: The Secret Service is no exception to that. With the excessive use of body parts, explosions and an array of guns, it’s a wonder as to why the BBFC thought an 18-rating wasn’t necessary. Nonetheless, a 15-rating will surely (and hopefully) bring in more money.


Matthew Vaughn has a keen eye for action, and it is displayed lavishly throughout the film. A few action sequences may not benefit from the editing and the camerawork, but the church sequence is a stand-out moment which will really surprise those who are fond of Mr Darcy. Vaughn brings in his trademark style for Kingsman: The Secret Service, and it’s a pure visual treat from start to finish.

It is a wonderful cocktail of James Bond 007 movies and comic violence, as it shakes up the genre for a wider audience, by allowing a certain degree of fun and charm. It is blissfully self-aware, hilarious and slick, therefore becoming Vaughn’s best piece of filmmaking to date.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a fantastic way to kick off 2015, and it yet again proves that British filmmakers are the best at what they do. It is definitely worth the ticket price, and then some.

Framed Recommendations – 12/11/14

This week saw the release of two new Marvel comics, Superior Iron Man and Captain America. Unsurprisingly, both comics failed to impress. Superior Iron Man came straight out of the current Marvel event that keeps giving, and Tom Taylor’s script was vastly underwhelming. There’s really no reason for Tony Stark to be written as such a reprehensible character anymore. Axis’ core concept might be switching the alignment of good and evil, but it’s just not interesting or exciting.

Captain America was also disappointing, despite Stuart Immonen being on the creative team. Rick Remender has proven he can be fantastic before, especially with Uncanny X-Force, but Captain America was fairly boring from start to finish. The final reveal wasn’t anything new, as it’s all been done before. Let’s get some new blood into Captain America’s rogues’ gallery already, Marvel.

However, it’s not all bad this week. Cameron Stewart’s Batgirl arrived on our shelves, and here’s hoping this Batgirl is here to stay. It’s such a refreshing read, and the artwork really compliments the script. How long can DC keep it up? Who knows, but here’s hoping it’s a while.

Admittedly, a guilty pleasure of the week was Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. Sure, we’ve seen it all before. Batman conveniently has the upper hand against Superman and the Justice League every time, but it was still a bit of fun. It’s probably helped by Capullo’s artwork as well, making it the nicest looking Batman story for some time now.

Finally, Mark Millar’s MPH had it’s fourth issue this week. Duncan Fegredo’s artwork is always on form, and even though it’s a strong statement to make, his Hellboy artwork was better than Mignola’s. MPH has had a decent build up so far, and it’s strange to think it could be a film worth looking forward to. Ignoring Millar’s Kick-Ass sequels and other nonsense, titles such as MPH and Starlight make you realise he’s got a great deal of talent.

BATGIRL #36 Stewart + Fletcher / Tarr DC
Stewart + Fletcher / Tarr
BATMAN #36 Snyder / Capullo DC
Snyder / Capullo
Duggan / Lolli
MPH #04 Millar / Fegredo IMAGE
MPH #04
Millar / Fegredo

Top 20 Movies of the Year

20. Blackfish


Blackfish is a transfixing documentary that largely focuses on one killer whale, Tilikum, an orca at SeaWorld Orlando, who was involved in the deaths of three individuals at the resort. Blackfish explores the blatant dangers of keeping the species in captivity, and it allows viewers an inside look into the true, horrible practices at such a resort, which have lead you to believe they have the animals interests at best.

Blackfish is not to be missed, especially if you have a semblance of care for animals of any sort, as it’s a perfect example of what a documentary should be; shocking, interesting and even persuasive. I’ve always been lead to believe that marine animals should not be used for human entertainment, and Blackfish further cements my stance on the subject. Go check it out, it is documentary filmmaking at its finest.

19. Don Jon


Don Jon was Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first directorial debut, and yet again he further proved his status as one of the most versatile actors working today. Not only did Gordon-Levitt direct Don Jon, but he also wrote the script and starred in the movie. The film focuses on Jon (Gordon-Levitt), whose obsession with pornography has morphed his expectations of relationships and intimacy. Of course, this habitual problem causes issues in his new relationship, and it’s up to Jon to find a new perspective on life.

Don Jon is essentially a story of one man’s moral lesson, and it ends a rather unconventional note. Its ending is sentimental, which a few reviewers were quick to dismiss the film over, but it’s a neat touch. All of the main leads are great, and of course Joseph Gordon-Levitt shines throughout. It’s smart, funny and thought-provoking. Here’s to JGL’s next movie.

18. Alpha Papa


Alan Partridge finally took his leap onto the big screen this year with Alpha Papa, which is possibly one of the best British movies of the year. After being sacked, disgruntled Norwich DJ Pat Farrell takes it upon himself to take hostage his old co-workers at the radio station. To help prevent any ghastly incidents, the police use the assistance of the famous and ever cowardly, Alan Partridge.

It’s a hilarious movie, from Partridge’s amazing intro sequence and right to the end credits. It’s indefinitely classic Partridge, but just on the big screen. There are plenty of memorable moments throughout, and it has a cracking finish. It’ll be quoted for days after it’s been watched. “Sea…Gull…”

17. Saving Mr Banks


Sure, Saving Mr Banks is undeniably melodramatic for the most part, but it’s a brilliant film that stars an Oscar-winning performance by Emma Thompson, who plays famous author P.L.Travers. The film is focused around Disney’s attempt at adapting Traver’s novel, Mary Poppins, and during the production Travers reflects on her childhood.

Tom Hanks gives a surprisingly convincing performance as Walt Disney, and Colin Farrel tries his best as the troubled father, portrayed in the flashback sequences. Admittedly, Farrel should stick to dark comedy, but all in all Saving Mr Banks was a wholly enjoyable movie, which is heart-warming and sure to be a tearjerker for some.

16. Side Effects


Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Channing Tatum starred in one of this year’s best thrillers, directed by the great Steven Soderbergh. The story focuses on Mara’s character, Emily, who is dealing with severe depression and anxiety issues. After being prescribed a new treatment by a renowned psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), a terribly tragedy befalls her and her husband.

Side Effects was one of my favourite movies of the year, purely due to the fantastic script and Soderbergh’s eye for cinematography. It’s rife with Hitchcockian motifs throughout, and it’s one of the sexiest thrillers in years. For a longer review, check out the link here:

15. Blue Jasmine


Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine boasts one of Cate Blanchett’s strongest performances to date, in a movie that tells the story of one rich New York socialite who loses almost everything. After being taken in by her sister, she attempts to pull herself together again.

Blue Jasmine is an exceptionally well made movie, and it’s one of the more resonant movies Allen’s directed for some while. The entire cast is phenomenal and it’s arguably one of the best dramas of the year. It’s a real pleasure seeing Louis CK in the movie, and Blue Jasmine goes on to prove that Bobby Cannavale needs to star in more movies.

14. About Time


There’s no doubt about it, Richard Curtis is the greatest romantic comedy director of our time.

About Time is about a young adult named Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), who discovers he has the ability to travel in time. He can only ever travel back to the time has personally experienced though, and he ends up utilising this power to win the heart of Mary (Rachel McAdams).

Of course, things don’t go very smoothly for young Tim. It’s a heavily sentimental movie, which is both funny and genuinely moving. There’s great chemistry between Gleeson and McAdams, and you can’t really go wrong with Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy. Just get the tissues ready, because those tears are going to be flowing.

13. Monsters University


Unless it’s a Toy Story sequel, you have to be a little wary of Pixar’s sequel offerings. It’s an unfortunate fact, but Cars 2 proves this point. Nonetheless, Dan Scanlon managed to direct a great sequel to the much-loved Monsters Inc., and it’s possibly even worthy to stand amongst Pixar’s bests.

The movie tells the story of Mike and Sulley’s time at Monsters University, as both students attempt to make it big in the Scaring Academy. As is the case with all Pixar and Disney movies, there’s a strong moral lesson which is taught during the film. However, Monsters University has a slightly unconventional ending, which really sets itself apart from other animated features. Monsters University is literally brimming with charm and humour, and since its release I’m now anticipating a whole slew of Art (Charlie Day) shorts. Any time now, right Pixar?

12. Filth


Directed by Jon S. Baird, Filth is based on the novel of the same name, by renowned Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh. The movie featured James McAvoy in the main role, as a corrupt and bigoted police officer in Scotland, who surrounds his life autoerotic asphyxiation, gallons of alcohol and mounds of cocaine.

Thankfully, the movie lived up to the name and book. It’s McAvoy’s best role to date, as viewers get to witness his character’s dark descent into madness. It’s a fantastically bleak movie, and not for the faint of heart but what do you expect when the original author of the book is Irvine Welsh? After viewing Filth, it’s evident that McAvoy needs to chase down more of these roles. Less of the X-Men, more of the Filth.

11. The Way Way Back


Sure, coming-of-age indie movies have been done dozens of times, but The Way Way Back stands tall amongst them, with a finely tuned script, a great lead and a wonderful cast (which includes a dancing Sam Rockwell – always a good omen). 14 year-old Duncan (Liam James) is on holiday with mother (Toni Colette) and her overbearing partner Trent (Steve Carrell). Thankfully for Duncan, he finds solace during this holiday by working at a waterpark, owned by the effortlessly cool Owen (Sam Rockwell).

The Way Way Back further proves that Jim Rash (the Dean from Community, no less) needs to write more scripts. The same applies to Nat Faxon, the director of the movie and cowriter. If you’re after a relaxing way of spending your evening, then look no further than The Way Way Back. It’s a pure delight, from start to finish. It’s funny, irresistibly charming and touching, and it’ll live you feeling warm for hours.

10. Anchorman 2


Now, upon watching Anchorman 2, it must be noted that the sequel never had a chance of reaching the cult status of the first movie. Having said that though, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay do a damn fine job of attempting to recapture that comedy magic, with a cast that back on top form and a script that boasts Brick one-liners which are just as good – if not better – than the first.

This time round, Ron Burgundy loses his job to Veronica Corningstone, and he has to pull himself together again, to star in 24-hour rolling news alongside his old news crew. It’s typically satirical of the times in the 70s, but it’s undoubtedly one of the funniest movies of the year. Anchorman 2 was a surprising relief for many, and I’d argue that it has some of the best cameos ever.

9. The Lone Ranger


One of the biggest box-office disasters of the year, Gore Verbinksi’s The Lone Ranger ultimately deserves a place in the top 10. Yes, the movie opened to scathing reviews and empty audiences, but Verbinksi’s movie is pure popcorn entertainment, from start to finish.

It’s bizarre that a movie with Johnny Depp didn’t sell that many tickets, but to me it felt like The Lone Ranger was already dismissed even before it got a chance to showcase its humour, interesting themes of ambiguity and insane action sequences. Its good old fashioned escapism and I loved every minute of it. If you haven’t seen it yet, then don’t hesitate to do so. Most people I’ve talked to about the movie have been pleasantly surprised.

8. Django Unchained


The release of Tarantino’s eagerly anticipated Western took too damn long in the UK. Nonetheless, the movie finally arrived in January and it turned out to be one of Tarantino’s finest offerings to date. Of course, he always has had a solid repertoire of movies, but Django Unchained ranks highly amongst them.

The movie is focused around slavery, and it features Jamie Foxx as Django, and Christoph Waltz as King Schultz. Leonardo DiCaprio was surprisingly cast as the villain for the movie, as Calvin Candie, and he turned out to be fantastic. Django Unchained is a masterpiece, and Foxx shines as the main lead. Of course, there’s plenty of gratuitous violence, but it wouldn’t be a Tarantino movie without it. It’s gorgeously shot, wonderfully acted by its main leads and it stands as being one of the best Westerns in years.

7. The World’s End


The third film in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy had a lot to live up for, since Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz raised the bar so high. This time round, Pegg and Frost found themselves in Newtonhaven, back with three friends in an attempt to recreate the infamous pub crawl they never finished. Not everything is as it used to be though, which leads the five friends for a night out they’ll never forget.

The World’s End is a typical Wright creation; frenetic, funny and layered with some warming sentimentality. Pegg and Frost are on form here, and it was a pleasure to have the Cornetto trilogy end on such a high note. Disregarding Anchorman 2, this may be the most quotable movie of the year, “Smashy smashy egg-man,” and it may have encouraged many guys to sort their out their own golden mile…

6. Kings of Summer


Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kings of Summer tells the story of three young teenagers who escape to the woods to build themselves their own piece of paradise. It premiered to rave reviews at Sundance, and upon watching the movie, there’s no surprise why. The movie boasts some wonderful performances from newcomers Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and especially Moises Arias, whose role as Biaggio was undeniably one of the kookiest characters in cinema this year.

Kings of Summer is full of poignancy and charm, and the cinematography is wonderful throughout. Sure, it’s another coming-of-age teenage comedy/drama, but it’s fresh, unique and Nick Offerman and Alison Brie star in it. That should be enough of a reason to watch this movie already. If this is Vogt-Roberts debut feature, I look forward to what’s next. It’s one of the most gorgeous movies of the year.

5. Pacific Rim


What, this isn’t my favourite movie of the year?! Guillermo del Toro’s monster epic was my most anticipated movie of the year, and I enjoyed it so much I even wrote a big article on it. Starring Charlie Hunman, Riko Kikuchi and Idris Elba, Pacific Rim was about humanity’s fight for survival against the deadly, monstrous Kaiju.

Inspired by old Japanese Kaiju movies and anime, del Toro delivered cinemagoers a visual treat for the eyes, as trained pilots utilised their mechanic behemoths – called ‘Jaegers’ – to fight the Kaiju. It was pure popcorn entertainment throughout, and del Toro really achieved what he had set out to do; to make you feel like a kid again. Pacific Rim is not to be missed, especially if you’re fan of anime, big robots punching things or Idris Elba. It looks glorious in HD.

4. Captain Phillips


Captain Phillips was one of the most engaging movies of the year, and that’s all thanks to director Paul Greengrass and amazing Tom Hanks. The movie is based on the real life 2009 hijacking of a US container ship by a crew of Somali pirates, and it’s up to Captain Phillips (T.Hanks) to resolve the situation.

It’s safe to say, this is Tom Hanks strongest performance since Castaway, and arguably Greengrass’ best movie yet. However, they shouldn’t get all the credit, as Barkhad Abdi – who played lead pirate Muse – was astounding in his scenes alongside Hanks. Captain Phillips keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, and it ends with one of the most emotional moments in cinema this year.

3. Iron Man 3


The third Iron Man movie from Marvel Studios was this year’s cinematic Marmite, as audience opinion was split right down the middle. Some people accused the film of being the worst thing they’ve ever seen, and others would simply declare it as the best Iron Man outing yet. For me, it was indefinitely the best Iron Man movie yet, and that’s all thanks to Shane Black and his sheer genius.

Iron Man 3 concerned itself with themes of terrorism, as the Mandarin became Tony Stark’s new nemesis, whose reach knew no bounds. After dealing with PTSD from the events of the Avengers, Tony Stark had to use all of his skills – in and out of the suit – to overcome the dangerous odds.

Disregarding the Avengers, Iron Man 3 turned out to be my favourite Marvel movie yet. Shane Black infused the third movie with some fantastic humour, the greatest reveal of the year, and some astounding set pieces. The plane sequence alone was one of the best action scenes of the year, alongside the scene that included all of his glorious armours. Sploosh.

2. Gravity


One of the highest rated movies of the year, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity was undoubtedly a masterpiece. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, Gravity is about two astronauts’ survival in the unforgiving realm of space. Using state of the art technology, Cuarón brought to cinemas one of the most enthralling movie experiences of my life.

It’s a testament really, to cinema. Whether or not Gravity will have the same effect on the small screen remains to be seen, but it cannot be denied that Gravity needs to be witnessed in 3D, on a big screen. It’s visually astounding, and truly unforgettable. Bullock and Clooney give it their all too, and it could be said that this is Bullock’s greatest achievement to date (apart from Miss Congeniality, of course).

If you didn’t get a chance to see Gravity in cinemas, then it’s a damn shame. Films like Gravity only ever come round so often in cinema, and its 90 minutes of pure spectacle. Heck, it even makes a good argument for 3D, which hasn’t been done since Jackass 3D. Cuarón has delivered us the best Harry Potter film to date, the great Children of Men and now this. Here’s to his next big thing.

1. Rush


This might be a surprise to some, but Rush is my favourite movie of the year.

Brought to us by the great Ron Howard, Rush is based on the true story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda, two F1 drivers who had a bitter rivalry in the 1970s. The film showcases their attempt to win the Formula One championship, and it presents the glaring differences between both drivers.

It’s an exhilarating ride, and perhaps for the first time in cinema history, Formula One racing has been captured correctly in cinema. Biopics are always a nice treat when they’re done properly, and Rush is no exception. Somehow Ron Howard manages to tell these captivating stories and characters perfectly, and in doing so he creates one of the most exciting and enthralling movies of the year.

You don’t even have to be a Formula One aficionado to appreciate Rush. The movie doesn’t have you picking sides, which is thanks to the fantastic script. It’s compelling even when the racers aren’t on the tracks, and when they are you get a real sense of danger, as the engines roar loudly over the speakers.

Rush’s clear strength is that it’s one of the most enjoyable rides of the year. Hemsworth and Brühl are perfectly cast, and the racing scenes are some of the most dynamic sequences in an auto-sports movie to date. If you haven’t seen Rush yet, then do so. You’re in for a great thrill ride:













Cult Classics – Re-Animator (1985)


Released in 1985, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short and strange tale, ‘Herbert West – Re-Animator’.  A science-fiction horror imbued with comedy, the film stars Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and Bruce Abbot.  Currently maintaining an impressive score of 95% on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film was loved by critics and soon after its release, it received a strong cult following.  A fan-favourite amongst many cultists, Re-Animator received two sequels, Bride of Re-Animator (1990) and the Spanish film Beyond Re-Animator (2003).

Re-Animator follows the story of one genius scientist, Herbert West (Combs), who believes he has the correct formula to bring people back from the dead.  He meets the young, impressionable Dan Cain, a colleague at medical school who is currently living with fiancée Megan Halsey (Crampton).  Together, the two med-students put West’s strange practices to the test.  Of course, bringing people back from the dead comes with a few surprises; animalistic, violent re-animated corpses.  Much to the dismay of Megan Halsey, Cain and West give birth to a terrifying set of events.

It’s essentially a modern day Frankenstein story, within the same vein of Sam Raimi’s acclaimed Evil Dead series.  It’s brought to life with some great lead performances, who perfectly work their way around some strikingly bloody scenes.  There’s a moment in the film when you realise Re-Animator isn’t your run-of-the-mill horror, and that’s clear when West and Cain are fighting off a frenzied, zombified cat in a basement.  It’s a ridiculous scene, but Combs and Abbot sell it perfectly.


Of course, one of the main reasons Re-Animator has been such a hit with cultists is thanks to Jeffrey Combs.  Whilst Bruce Abbot and Barbara Crampton – amongst others – bring to the operating table some great acting, it’s down to Combs who leads with a truly memorable character.  He’s a crazed scientist, trying to bring people back from the dead.  He’s attempting to defy the laws of nature, trying to save mankind – but his methods to accomplish this are questionable and unorthodox, to say the least. 

Combs is a well-known figure with cultists – partly due to his appearances in the Star Trek series –  and fans have driven Re-Animator into its current status within cinema.  No stranger to horror and sci-fi conventions, Combs has attended many around the world for his fans.  Of course, the sheer level of gore and ridiculousness that the film contains is also a main reason for its cult, but without Combs, Re-Animator would not be the same film. 

Re-Animator is almost unrivalled with its slapstick horror, later providing audiences with one visual gag that is creepy, funny and downright disgusting all at the same time.  John Naulin, the make-up artist for Re-Animator, reportedly stated that 24 gallons of fake blood were used for the movie, and he faced his biggest challenges with some of the creative designs later used on the film.  That can clearly be noticed, especially towards the last 15 minutes of the movie.  An insane set of events lead to a superb ending, throwing shocks and surprises left, right and centre. 


There is no doubt that Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator belongs with some of the greats in cult cinema.  It shook the genre up and injected it with some great displays of practical special effects, horror and humour.  It later spawned two sequels, a strong following and even a musical.  This was Stuart Gordon’s first feature film, and it can be argued that the director hasn’t matched this remarkable piece of work yet.  If you’re looking to grab Re-Animator, track down a copy that the BBFC haven’t got their dirty hands all over.  They’ve cut out just under two minutes, which undermines the horrors of one particular character.

“Who’s gonna believe a talking head? Get a job in a sideshow.”

We have to go deeper.

The Adjustment Bureau


After the general release and praise of Inception, film studios began to understand the importance of having a blockbuster film with originality and intellect. Due to this understanding, a large amount of films were marketed towards an audience which appreciated Nolan’s achievement. The Adjustment Bureau was one of those films from Universal Studios, attempting to capture interest with slogans such as “Bourne meets Inception!” and cleverly edited trailers, using the same techniques which were employed for Inception‘s marketing.

The film had an intriguing set-up, which tells the story of two lovers whose fate was not to be determined by themselves, but by a strange group of suits called the Adjustment Team. Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s short story, Adjustment Team, a US Congressman is attempting to run for the US Senate. He is David Norris, a man who has never had a real connection with any person up until he meets Elisa Sellas, a mysterious and charming woman who he encounters whilst he rehearses an important speech in a public bathroom. There’s an obvious chemistry between them, but their embrace unfortunately doesn’t last long. A slight interruption breaks them apart, only for David to abruptly discover her during a bus journey the following morning.

Everything seems kosher, up until the moment the Adjustment Team get involved in their new found relationship. Their task is to make sure that the human race follow their correct paths, as certain fates have already been determined for them by a higher force. For some reason, David and Elise shouldn’t be together – so it’s up to them to make sure they never fall in love with each other. However, David is adamant on being with Elise, which makes the situation much harder for the suits.

The premise works surprisingly well. Blending romance and science-fiction together seamlessly, The Adjustment Bureau pulls off a convincing, heartfelt story with a neat sci-fi edge. It never concentrates too hard on either of the two and it doesn’t falter when explaining the much needed details concerning the suits, which are at hand to adjust David’s fate accordingly.

Matt Damon is one actor who never fails to impress, and here his acting chops are on show. Bewildered by the new happenings that surround him, he still manages to focus his attention on Elise. He presents us a man who still believes in the concept of love, whose strength and intelligence leads him onto the correct path. Emily Blunt manages to maintain the look and feel of a strange, excitable woman brilliantly. The pair feed off each other effortlessly, as the chemistry helps evolve their on-screen romance. Blunt manages her character so well, that it’s a wonder as to why she just doesn’t appear in more films.

The action never slows down and manages to pace itself fluidly throughout, reaching a climactic ending scene which is a delight to witness. The film plays with the general idea of an omnipotent God, but it never truly explores that theme. The director George Nolfi, hoped that the film just raised general questions, about a particular higher force and the discussion of fate vs. free will.

There’s no doubt about the fact that The Adjustment Bureau is an intelligent film, boasting with its own artistic style and ideas. So perhaps the marketing team knew what they were doing. Inception may have bred a new slew of films with a high-concept attached to them. Thankfully, this one pays off as a film which brilliantly manages to attach two different genres together for an engaging, thought provoking experience.