TC Candler

The Top 10 Films of 2018

1. Us and Them

No 2018 film had a greater emotional impact on me than this exquisite Chinese story of unrequited love.  Zhou Dongyu and Boran Jing are pitch-perfect as star-crossed lovers who reflect on their missed opportunities and try to come to terms with the apologies their stories deserve.  Spanning over a decade, this haunting, romantic epic is not to be missed.  Make sure to sit through the credits for the best cinematic weep you will have all year.  Rene Liu directs this masterpiece.

9.9 / 10

2. Shoplifters

Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda tells an intimate story of a poor Japanese family that relies on small-time shoplifting to make ends meet.  One cold night, they take in a neglected 5-year-old girl and care for her as their own.  This is a masterful film that explores what “family” really means… and it sneaks up on you with an emotional wallop you don’t see coming.  “Shoplifters” won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

9.8 / 10

3. Burning

A young man bumps into a childhood neighbor and strikes up a sexual relationship with her.  Within days of their re-connection, she asks him to cat-sit while she takes a trip to Africa.  However, she returns from the trip with some extra baggage — another, far-wealthier, young man who muddies the water entirely. “Burning” is creepy, mysterious, layered and brilliant.  It is yet another masterful South Korean thriller.

9.8 / 10

4. The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the strangest and funniest directors working today.  The man behind “Dogtooth”, “The Lobster” & “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” delivers yet another acerbic, dark comedy filled with superb performances.  Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz & Olivia Colman all deservedly nabbed Oscar nominations for their roles.  “The Favourite” is high-end cinematic brain food.

9.5 / 10

5. Cargo

Despite being almost 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, not many people seem to love this movie as much as I do.  Virtually everyone seems to think “Cargo” is a good / very good film.  I think it is fantastic.  Based on a 2013 short, it tells the story of a father trying to keep his family safe amidst a zombie apocalypse.  Although the genre is a tired one, Martin Freeman’s superb performance elevates “Cargo” to greatness.

9.4 / 10

6. The Guilty

I have a penchant for films that are all shot in one place.  Sure, it can be gimmicky… but if used effectively, it adds a level of tension and claustrophobia.  “The Guilty” occurs entirely within the walls of a Danish emergency call department, as one police officer tries to decipher a particularly mysterious phone call.  It is thrilling and surprising.  Not to be missed!

9.3 / 10

7. Leave No Trace

A veteran & his 13-year-old daughter live in the public park woodlands of Oregon.  They live off the land and a monthly sum of money he gets from the sale of his PTSD medication.  Eventually, the system catches up with them and tries to reintegrate them into civilized society.  Great acting from Ben Foster, and a star-turn from newcomer, Thomasin McKenzie, makes this worthy of its 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

9.3 / 10

8. Wildlife

Actor, Paul Dano makes his directorial debut with this story about a family dealing with disillusionment, unemployment & infidelity in small-town Montana, circa 1960.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan play the parents to Ed Oxenbould as we watch the family fall apart at the seams.  The entire cast is electric.  The emotions burn as intensely as the raging forest fire that is edging toward their town.

9.3 / 10

9. Vox Lux

Probably the biggest cinematic risk of 2018 is “Vox Lux”, directed by Brady Corbet.  Celeste is a Lady Gaga-like sensation, played as a teen by Raffey Cassidy, and as an adult by Natalie Portman.  The traumas in her past both shape and cripple her life and career.  The film is an observation / condemnation of fame and cynicism, tragedy and hope.  It is a layered film with much to contemplate.  Great performances from top to bottom.  I loved its brazen strangeness and lack of inhibition.

9.3 / 10

10. Cold War

Some of the most beautiful cinematography and one of the most haunting pieces of music from 2018 guides us on a romantic journey through the best part of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  “Cold War” is a decades-long tale of on-again-off-again, tempestuous love between a music director and a gorgeous singer.  This Polish film is a masterpiece of efficient direction and emotional mood. Joanna Kulig is a star!

9.3 / 10

(Please Scroll Down the Page for More — Acting Awards / All Movie Ratings / The Worst 10 List… etc.)

Best Actors of 2018

1. Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
2. Martin Freeman – Cargo
3. Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
4. Boran Jing – Us and Them
5. Steve Coogan – Stan & Ollie
6. Ed Oxenbould – Wildlife
7. Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here
8. Jakob Cedergren – The Guilty
9. Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
10. Alexander Skasgard – Mute
11. John C. Reilly – The Sisters Brothers
12. John C. Reilly – Stan & Ollie

Best Actresses of 2018

1. Zhou Dongyu – Us and Them
2. Miyu Sasaki – Shoplifters
3. Carey Mulligan – Wildlife
4. Joanna Kulig – Cold War
5. Thomasin McKenzie – Leave No Trace
6. Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
7. Lana Condor – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
8. Victoria Carmen Sonne – Holiday
9. Marine Vacth – L’Amant Double (Double Lover)
10. Amanda Seyfried – First Reformed
11. Constance Wu – Crazy Rich Asians
12. Natalie Portman – Vox Lux

The GOOD

(Other Good Films Released This Year)

Holiday

A gangster’s young blonde girlfriend meets up with him and his crew at a seaside resort in Turkey… but this “Holiday” is not a peaceful, relaxing getaway.  Instead, we get one of the most nihilistic, emotionally cold, intensely menacing films in recent memory.  There are some astonishing ‘holy fuck’ moments in this Danish film.  It features one of the bravest and most unpredictable performances of the year from Victoria Carmen Sonne.  I was left shaken as the credits rolled.

9.1 / 10

Revenge

“Revenge” takes a generally unlikable sub-genre of horror… the rape / revenge movie… and turns it into an original, stylish, entertaining and empowering example of everything the sub-genre is typically not.  Matilda Lutz plays Jen, a gorgeous young woman who is attacked and left for dead by three men, including her wealthy boyfriend.  Her bloody revenge is an extraordinary example of pure pulp cinema.

9.0 / 10

Annihilation

Alex Garland directed one of the best films of the past decade, “Ex Machina”.  He returns with another superb piece of science-fiction, starring Natalie Portman.  A team of scientific explorers are challenged with entering a strange anomaly, known as ‘The Shimmer’ — an area that no one has ever previously returned from.  The film explores the nature of self-destruction, loneliness, love, loss and salvation.

9.0 / 10

Mute

9.0 / 10

It is strange how much hate “Mute” received.  It was visually striking, fast-paced, and entertainingly unhinged… a quality sci-fi adventure.

Like Me

8.9 / 10

Addison Timlin stars in one of the darkest and most cynical films in recent memory.  She plays a social-media-obsessed teen who will do anything for views.

First Reformed

8.9 / 10

Ethan Hawke gives the performance of the year in this moody, introspective & layered drama.  Amanda Seyfried is also strong.  Paul Schrader directs.

Stan & Ollie

8.9 / 10

Delicate and heartwarming year-in-the-life biopic of the great Laurel & Hardy, 20-yrs after their heyday, with two ‘swell’ performances from Coogan & Reilly.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

8.8 / 10

Maybe the brightest new star of 2018 is Lana Condor.  This teen rom-com takes a very tired genre and generates real belly laughs and genuine romance.

You Were Never Really Here

8.7 / 10

Joaquin Phoenix delivers a brooding, nightmarish turn in Lynne Ramsey’s dark thriller.

A Quiet Place

8.6 / 10

Sure, the concept is gimmicky… But “A Quiet Place” scared the daylights out of me.  Emily Blunt NAILS her performance!

Roma

8.5 / 10

Alfonso Cuaron’s deeply personal film revolves around one astonishing scene near the end.  That scene completely broke me down emotionally.

The Equalizer 2

8.3 / 10

Denzel Washington’s sequel goes toe-to-toe with the original in terms of action & excitement.  It is one of the best “guy films” of the year.

Bad Times at the El Royale

8.2 / 10

There are hundreds of poor Tarantino imitations.  “Bad Times” is a notable exception.  The first half is better than the ending.  The cast is great!

Disobedience

8.1 / 10

Rachel Weisz & Rachel McAdams play long lost lesbian lovers (The Quad L) who try to reconnect in an orthodox Jewish London community.

L’Amant Double (Double Lover)

7.9 / 10

This movie is as French as a movie can get…  And that is a compliment.  Marine Vacth delivers a fascinating character that is going out of her mind.

Red Sparrow

7.8 / 10

I am a sucker for movies with any of the following: Cold War; Espionage; Snow; Naked Jennifer Lawrence; and bad Russian accents.  

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

7.8 / 10

The 3rd best ‘Mission’ movie in the franchise’s history.  The official order from best to worst is ‘Original’, ‘Rogue’, ‘Fallout’, ‘III’, ‘Ghost’, ‘2’.  No arguments.

Thoroughbreds

7.7 / 10

Two teens, played superbly by Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy, hatch a plan that should seemingly solve all their problems.  Vicious and cynical.

Unsane

7.7 / 10

Claire Foy carries this intensely scary scenario from credits to credits.  The latest from Steven Soderbergh is a mind-bendy thriller.

Crazy Rich Asians

7.6 / 10

The huge crowd favorite from 2018, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a breath of fresh air.  Tons of awesome characters… Tons of plot threads… Tons of laughs.

A Simple Favor

7.6 / 10

Sexy… Fun… Pulpy… Outrageous… Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick star in a disappearance mystery with a million twists and turns.  Absurdly entertaining.

The Sisters Brothers

7.5 / 10

A gritty Western manhunt starring Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly & Jake Gyllenhaal.  The only complaint is a pacing issue.  It drags from time to time.

Three Identical Strangers

7.4 / 10

A documentary detailing the shocking story of triplets who didn’t know each other existed until well into their teens.  Fascinating.

The Night Eats the World

7.3 / 10

A “last person on earth” zombie flick with a terrific central performance from Anders Danielsen Lie.  The main danger is not zombies… but isolation.

Beirut

7.2 / 10

Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike star in a CIA drama set against the backdrop of 1970’s middle-east tensions.  A good solid thriller.

Support the Girls

7.0 / 10

I think this film passed everyone by.  No one I know has seen it.  Check out this female driven comedy whenever it comes your way.  It is a hoot!

Unstoppable (KOR) 

7.0 / 10

Ma Dong-Seok punches the fuck out of peoples faces and ribs in this Korean imitation of “Taken”.  The action is, as expected, absolutely fantastic.  However, the film insists on brightening the tone with too much silly comedy.  It doesn’t fit the mood and takes away from the gravitas of the subject matter.

Eighth Grade

6.9 / 10

Bo Burnham is a thoughtful stand-up / director / philosopher… and he imbues his film with honesty and empathy.  It may be a tad slight, but still good.

Sorry to Bother You

6.9 / 10

Maybe the most original and bizarre film of 2018.  It may not be your cup-of-tea, but you won’t be able to say it is boring.  What a mind-fuck of an ending!!!

Everybody Knows

6.8 / 10

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz headline in this kidnapping mystery.  Director Asghar Farhadi doesn’t replicate his best films… but still a very solid story.

Fahrenheit 11/9

6.7 / 10

Almost all of Michael Moore’s docs are entertaining, interesting and easy to sit through.  This one feels a little less focused than most, but still worthwhile.

Dark Figure of Crime (KOR)

6.7 / 10

A solid Korean thriller that borrows heavily from other masterpieces in the genre.  This one is a low-boil puzzle that never generates a whistle.

The Spy Gone North (KOR)

6.7 / 10

The acting is very good throughout.  However, although based on a true story, this Korean espionage flick is generally more interesting than it is exciting.

Papillon

6.5 / 10

The original 1973 version with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman is one of my 25 favorite films of all time.  The remake is fine, but falls way short.

Bohemian Rhapsody

6.4 / 10

Essentially, this is a cheap TV movie with a great soundtrack, a great central performance and some awesome concert re-enactments.

The Negotiation (KOR)

6.4 / 10

Son Ye-jin is one of my favorite actresses.  Hyun Bin is a fantastic counterpart.  Unfortunately, the plot is too hard to believe and it becomes forgettable.

Upgrade

6.3 / 10

A sci-fi “Robocop”clone where a man gets a cyber-upgrade, allowing him to get revenge on his wife’s killers.  The ending is better than expected.

Ash is Purest White (CHN)

6.2 / 10

Zhangke Jia directs a towering performance from Tao Zhao in this film about the changing times in modern China.  It does drag in the middle.

First Man

6.2 / 10

Here is a film I admire more than I enjoyed.  Coming off “La La Land”, I expected more of an emotional impact from director Damien Chazelle.  It felt flat.

Ramen Heads

6.1 / 10

I have an obsession with really good ramen.  This documentary made me hungry for more.

7 Days in Entebbe

6.0 / 10

This true hijacking story from the 1970’s is generally intriguing, well-acted and tense.  Unfortunately it feels a little stodgy and drags from time to time.

Door Lock (KOR)

6.0 / 10

The first half of this Korean thriller feels like something out of Hitchcock’s top drawer.  The second half dwindles into a routine and predictable TV-movie.

Kursk (aka: The Command)

6.0 / 10

I once wrote a screenplay about this true-life Russian submarine tragedy. It was better than this run-of-the-mill version. “Kursk” barely gets a thumbs-up.

The Average

(Forgettable Films in the Middle of the Pack)

Game Night

5.9 / 10

The first half of the film is laugh-out-loud funny… but once it switches into action mode, the film devolves into moronic chaos.  

A Star is Born

5.9 / 10

Bradley Cooper delivers a great performance.  Gaga is very good too.  However, the entire film feels rushed and abbreviated.  I wanted more… much more.

BlacKKKlansman

5.9 / 10

Spike Lee’s film is consistently well acted and the time period is beautifully captured.  However, the story is not compellingly told and my interest waned.

Widows

5.9 / 10

Four women join forces, to pay off gangsters, via one of the most absurd heist plots you will ever see.  The acting is very good.  The story is ludicrous.

Vice

5.8 / 10

It is the same issue with director Adam McKay’s “The Big Short”.  He takes a serious subject and makes it dumb for consumers.  Bale is superb as Cheney.

Swing Kids (KOR)

5.7 / 10

A group of tap-dancers must put on a show in a POW camp during the Korean war.  The film can’t decide if it is a comedy or a drama.  It ends up neither.

Blockers

5.7 / 10

The kids were far more interesting in this teen-comedy than the adults.  The film tries to be “American Pie”, but ends up more like a trifle.

Skyscraper

5.5 / 10

Dwayne Johnson is incredibly likable… but his filmography has far too many of these throw-away action adventures.  “Skyscraper” is silly fun.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

5.4 / 10

The first “Sicario” was close to being a masterpiece.  This sequel felt unnecessary and bored the life out of me. Losing Emily Blunt’s character was key.

Rampage

5.2 / 10

I watched this with friends, and we all expected to hate it.  In fact, each of us laughed and went along for the silly ride.  It is not as dreadful as you’d imagine.

Tomb Raider

5.2 / 10

While it towers above the Angelina Jolie “Lara Croft” flicks in terms of craft and entertainment, Alicia Vikander’s attempt is simply middle-of-the-road.

Braven

5.2 / 10

Jason Momoa tries his hand at an old-school 1980’s action flick, the likes of which used to star Seagal, Van Damme, Willis, Arnold or Sly.  It is passable.

Bird Box

5.2 / 10

A far weaker version of the same concept seen in “A Quiet Place”.  Everything about this film is mediocre… and it is never terrifying or remotely believable.

The Commuter

5.0 / 10

Liam Neeson does his “ass-kicky” thing on a train.  Liam Neeson gets 5 points for that.  The rest of the nonsense gets a big fat zero.  Hence… 5 out of 10.

Long Day’s Journey into Night

5.0 / 10

Despite beautiful cinematography and undeniable technical mastery with that unbroken 60-min shot, this Chinese film is too abstract and vague to matter.

Operation Finale

4.6 / 10

Here is the perfect example of a film with a good cast, a fascinating plot, high production values and a noble intent… but was instantly forgettable.

The Pool

4.6 / 10

A Thai thriller about a man who finds himself trapped in a 10-foot deep, fully-drained swimming pool, without a ladder… and a crocodile for company.

Psychokinesis

4.6 / 10

From the same Korean director who made the phenomenal “Train to Busan”.  This superhero-esque action-comedy never quite hits full stride.

22 July

4.5 / 10

A truly tragic day in Norway’s history deserves better treatment.  This “re-enactment” focuses too much on the killer and the shooting… not the impact.

Life Itself

4.4 / 10

One of the most critically-panned films of the year showcases a good cast and an ambitious concept.  It is not as bad as most say, but it ain’t good either.

The Polka King

4.1 / 10

Obviously, Jack Black’s “JackBlackness” has worn out its welcome over the years.  However, here he tries something a tad different.  It is still pretty weak.

The BAD

(Movies That Just Didn’t Work on Any Level)

Prospect

3.5 / 10

The trailer was a 9/10.  The execution was an interesting effort on such a low budget.  Ultimately, it ends up falling way short.  A glum sci-fi entry.

Transit (GER)

3.4 / 10

Clearly, I am in the minority on this acclaimed German film.  I found it unfocused and emotionally flat.  The acting is the film’s strength.  All else was dull.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

2.8 / 10

I can watch Bryce Dallas Howard in anything… which always convinces me to keep trying these “Jurassic” sequels.  I need to learn my lesson.

The Witness (KOR)

2.7 / 10

Korea virtually never disappoints with its cinematic thrillers.  “The Witness” is a rare exception.  A man witnesses a gruesome murder from his apartment balcony.  Out of cowardice and selfishness, he does not report this to the police.  As a result, lots of others die.  One simple phone call or explanation would have rendered this story over.  Yet, for no legitimate reason, he remains silent.  Nothing in this film is remotely believable or logical.  

Creed II

2.6 / 10

A sequel with tons of flaws, dull extraneous sub-plots, dreadful sound editing and a laughably predictable outcome.  One of the worst in the fight franchise.

I Feel Pretty

2.5 / 10

Amy Schumer (ugh) stars in a film that teaches young girls that they can only feel pretty if they suffer severe head trauma.  The ending is morally bankrupt.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

2.4 / 10

I never saw the first one because it seemed too much like the awful “Transformers” schtick.  Caught this on a plane and wish I had slept instead.

Searching

2.2 / 10

A gimmick of a movie, featuring one of the most hard to believe plots of the past decade.  Nothing in this film has the air of authenticity.

The Worst of the year

(Hate-Filled Pieces of Crap)

The Cloverfield Paradox

1.8 / 10

This film has as much to do with the Cloverfield universe as my nutsack.  It is a cheap sci-fi flick trying to capitalize on a franchise name-brand.

Blindspotting

1.8 / 10

Two worthless and unlikable criminals surrounded by worthless unlikable cops in an overwritten mess with an absurd and contrived final act.  The first time director is trying so desperately hard to squeeze a message into film that only teenagers would find deep.  Daveed Diggs is the only good thing here.

Ready Player One

1.7 / 10

Steven Spielberg is a legendary filmmaker.  “RPO” is his worst film — a 140-minute Easter-egg hunt that devolves into a headache-inducing visual mess.

Final Score

1.7 / 10

Van Damme once did a surprisingly decent action flick called, “Sudden Death”.  Imagine that, but with soccer, bad acting, low stakes, an F-list cast, and a Pierce Brosnan cameo.  Also, the film has a ludicrous plot that features a West Ham United team going to a European club semi-final.  Preposterous! 

The Clapper

1.4 / 10

Ed Helms is in a lot of good TV shows and films — and he is the worst thing about all of them.  “The Clapper” is really bad — and he is still the worst thing.

Hereditary

1.3 / 10

I have two major issues with “Hereditary”.  The use of Milly Shapiro feels exploitative… And the final third of the film is so bat-shit that it’s laughable.

Anon

1.2 / 10

Miserable, slow and ludicrous beyond belief.  Clive Owen & Amanda Seyfried are usually far more reliable than this.

When We First Met

1.0 / 10

A time-travelling “Groundhog” wannabe with the most punchable face in the lead role – Adam Devine.  Even Alexandra Daddario can’t save this mess.

Aquaman

0.9 / 10

I like Jason Momoa… but his talent and charisma are wasted on dismal superhero flick with bad special effects and an embarrassingly self-serious plot.

The 15:17 to Paris

0.2 / 10

Clint Eastwood continues his miserable streak of films with a dull 85-minute build-up to a 3-minute plot that wasn’t particularly heroic or interesting.  Awful.

Yes… There is a Section Lower than the Worst Movies of the Year!
I Present a List of Films That I Absolutely Refuse to Watch… (Because I am a Pretentious Film Snob).

“Avengers: Infinity War”
PLEASE… no more superhero movies!

“Deadpool 2”
The first one was mediocre at best.

“Venom”
Because I am an adult without arrested development.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp”
Are you sensing a snobbish theme against this type of crap?

“Halloween”
Because how f**king often do we have to reboot this nonsense?

“Mortal Engines”
That trailer may have been the biggest turn-off in history — it looked terrible.

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