Members' Vote: The Best Films Of 2018

Tom Dwyer

20 Dec 18

As we edge nearer to Christmas, it's tradition to take a look back at the year and evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly of the last twelve months of film. Despite a summer heatwave, a royal wedding and football (almost) coming home, there's been a wealth of films to keep us cinema lovers content, and we've asked our Members to rank the best theatrical releases of 2018.

Last year, Kenneth Lonergan's masterful Manchester by the Sea was picked by our Members as the best of 2017, on a list that also included Jordan Peele's satirical horror Get Out and the fuzziest film in recent memory, Paddington 2. Over 1,000 Picturehouse Members voted in this year's poll, and the results demonstrate the diverse and discerning taste of an impassioned group of UK cinemagoers. 

Despite its January release, Martin Mcdonagh's cinder-black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was the clear winner. Career-best performances from Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, coupled with McDonagh's razor-sharp script, made Three Billboards one of the most unforgettable films of 2018. A little further down the list, you'll also find the Picturehouse staff favourite Phantom Thread.

Due to several tied votes, we've included fourteen films on the final list. Over to our Members for the best films of 2018!

Joint 10. Leave No Trace

Director: Debra Granik. Starring: Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey.

Will (Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put under the aegis of social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland. An intelligent tale about love and survival from the director of Winter's Bone.

Joint 10. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Director: Ol Parker. Starring: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Lily James, Cher.

Ten years on from the events of the first movie, Sophie (Seyfried) is pregnant and wants to learn more about her mother's past. The film begins to flit between past and present as Sophie learns the trials Donna (Streep) went through before she was born, and how those experiences could solve her own worries. Lily James joins the fun under the sun to play Donna's younger self, while Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan feature as young Sam, Harry and Bill respectively.

Joint 10. The Wife

Director: Björn Runge. Starring: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Max Irons, Annie Starke, Elizabeth McGovern, Harry Lloyd, Christian Slater.

Joan Castleman (Close) has spent forty years sacrificing her dreams to support her charismatic husband Joe (Pryce) and his literary career. After a lifetime of uneven compromises, Joan and Joe's marriage has reached the moment of truth. On the eve of Joe's Nobel Prize for Literature, Joan confronts the biggest sacrifice of her life and the biggest secret of his career.

Joint 9. First Man 

Director: Damien Chazelle. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbott, Ciarán Hinds, Corey Stoll.

First Man revisits the legendary life of navy-pilot-turned-astronaut Neil Armstrong (Gosling), tracking his epic journey to becoming the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 space mission. La La Land director Damien Chazelle's intimate, visceral account tracks everything from Armstrong's acceptance into NASA's astronaut programme in 1961 to his world-changing space walk in 1969 – and all the sacrifices in between.

Joint 9. Phantom Thread

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps.

Couturier Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Manville) are at the centre of the 1950s London fashion world, dressing royalty, film stars, heiresses and debutants with the distinct style of the House of Woodcock. But despite the many women in his life, Woodcock remains a confirmed bachelor. That is until he meets hotel waitress Alma (Krieps), who turns his carefully tailored life upside down.

8. Lady Bird

Director: Greta Gerwig. Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet. 

Christine 'Lady Bird' McPherson (Ronan) embarks on the bittersweet transition from insecure high-school teen to self-assured woman. Desperate to escape sleepy Sacramento, she rebels against but is exactly like her critical mother (Metcalf): wildly loving, strong-willed and deeply opinionated. Gracefully sidestepping cliché, first-time director Greta Gerwig's rendition of the familiar coming-of-age narrative is frank, funny and utterly charming.

7. Isle of Dogs

Director: Wes Anderson. Voices: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand.

Wes Anderson returns with a stop-motion animated tale full of his trademark whimsical charm. After a mysterious outbreak of 'canine flu', the corrupt mayor of a Japanese city banishes all dogs to a vast refuse dump off the coast. When 12-year-old Atari ventures to the island in search of his beloved pet, a quarantined pack of mongrels rally to help him on his noble quest.

6. The Shape of Water

Director: Guillermo del Toro. Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spencer.

Set in a high-security government lab in 1960s Cold War-era America, this darkly romantic adult fairy tale sees mute janitor Elisa (Hawkins) strike up an unlikely romance with a captive fish-man hybrid (Jones). When the cruel Colonel Strickland (Shannon) sets out to kill the aquatic creature, Elisa attempts a daring rescue. Master storyteller Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) delivers a heart-stirring crowdpleaser that celebrates all that is weird and wonderful.

5. Shoplifters

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda. Starring: Kirin Kiki, Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Sosuke Ikematsu, Mayu Matsuoka.

Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2018, this superb drama from Kore-eda (Nobody Knows) follows a poor family who rely on petty crime to survive. After one of their shoplifting sessions, they come across a homeless girl and, despite the strain on their finances, agree to shelter her. The family seem to live happily together, until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets and shakes the bonds that unite them.

Joint 4. BlacKkKlansman

Director: Spike Lee. Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace. 

It's the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. Teaming up with seasoned colleague Flip Zimmerman (Driver), the young detective goes undercover to take down the extremist hate group from the inside.

Joint 4. A Star is Born

Director: Bradley Cooper. Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott 

In this new take on the tragic love story, Cooper plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers – and falls in love with – struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer… until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship breaks down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody

Director: Bryan Singer. Starring: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers.

Bohemian Rhapsody raises a hefty glass to one of the world's greatest rock legends, Freddie Mercury, the band Queen's lead singer. Rami Malek takes to the stage as Mercury in an authentic biopic documenting the star's early life. Bryan Singer tracks Mercury's meteoric rise to worldwide fame, from the beginnings of Queen, right up until their earth-shattering performance at Live Aid in 1985.

2. Cold War

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski. Starring: Tomasz Kot, Joanna Kulig.

Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida) won Best Director at Cannes in 2018 for this stunning, epic romance set against the backdrop of post-war Europe. Set to a soundtrack that takes us from the rustic folk songs of rural Poland to the sultry jazz of a Paris basement bar, this is a wistful and dreamlike journey through a divided continent – and a heartbreaking story of two musicians who fall deeply and destructively in love.

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director: Martin McDonagh. Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell.

Anger begets anger in Martin McDonagh's (In Bruges) blistering pitch-black comedy, which veers between riotous laughter and sobering drama. Fed up with the lack of police progress in her daughter's murder case, a grieving mother (McDormand) sparks a public feud by shaming the town's revered sheriff (Harrelson) with a controversial message on three roadside billboards. The move stokes the ire of the sheriff's thuggish deputy (Rockwell), whose involvement only adds fuel to the fire.