If 2018 taught us anything, it’s that Hollywood will continue to pump out the franchise blockbusters — and audiences will still flock to see them.
Almost all of the 10 biggest box office earners were franchise fodder or sequels (there were five comic book flicks alone), with Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody the notable exception.
Take a look:
- Avengers: Infinity War ($2,047)
- Black Panther ($1,346)
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($1,304)
- Incredibles 2 ($1,241)
- Venom ($851)
- Mission: Impossible — Fallout ($791)
- Deadpool 2 ($734)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp ($622)
- Bohemian Rhapsody ($596)
- Ready Player One ($582)
(Source: Box Office Mojo. 2018 worldwide gross, measured in millions in US dollars.)
But cash doesn’t always equal class.
Film critic Zak Hepburn guides us through his best and worst films of the year, with top spot going to a loveable bear that keeps on delivering.
Here’s what Zak has to say:
In a year that gave us the subversive and revolutionary comic book film Black Panther, this long-awaited starring role from everyone’s favourite alien villain felt like taking a time machine back to where superhero cinema was stuck in the early 1990s.
It had a cliche script with dialogue sounding like it may have been written by an alien.
The visual effects left a lot to be desired and the central performance from Tom Hardy showcased a performer never really knowing if they were in a drama or comedy.
Still, the film won fans all over the world and generated a huge box office result — so here’s hoping they get a few of these things fixed before Venom 2 inevitably creeps onto our screens.
Has any actor visited more crimes against cinema than John Travolta?
This film was a longtime passion project for Travolta, but sadly the true-life mafia crime drama about New York mobster John Gotti is incoherent from the moment the opening credits roll.
One of the key issues of the film — aside from its nonsensical narrative — is that it’s bone-wrenchingly dull and slow. Even the moments with Travolta chewing the scenery can’t help it.
This film was so lambasted upon its release it quickly vanished from cinema screens and was hidden in the deepest darkest areas of your favourite streaming services where it can hopefully do no more damage.
I’d rather watch a series-long marathon of Who’s The Boss than witness this dull crime boss drama ever again.
1. Night School
Night School is the perfect plane movie.
That is, if that plane had a broken screen, no headphones, lost luggage and the food trolley hit your arm every time it was pushed up the aisle.
This “comedy” about a group of adults forced to go back to school featured a charisma-free performance from Kevin Hart, tired gags and tired stereotypes — and didn’t even attempt to hide any of it.
The writers clearly missed the scriptwriting and joke telling class. Audiences deserve more in 2018.
So, for that Night School gets the failing grade of 2018 from me.
5. You Were Never Really Here
This intense, stylish neo-noir packs a real punch.
It follows the story of Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), the hired gun who rescues trafficked girls by using any means necessary.
Directed with an impeccable visual flair from Lynne Ramsay, she crafts a modern Taxi Driver, pulsating with an intense central performance from Phoenix and a fantastic musical score from Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood.
Read: You Were Never Really Here reviewed by Jason Di Rosso (ABC RN’s The Hub on Screen)
4. Sweet Country
Sweeping the recent 2018 AACTA Awards, this is a deeply affecting experience directed by Indigenous filmmaker Warwick Thornton.
Set in 1920s outback Australia and following the story of an Indigenous farm worker, it has an incredible ensemble cast featuring Bryan Brown, Hamilton Morris and Sam Neill.
The cinematography recalls the revisionist Westerns of the 1970s. Focusing on our nation’s history, the film is almost completely devoid of music, presented with a fractured editing style, culminating in a profound statement that delicately balances anger and empathy.
It makes it an astounding piece of work from a skilfully assured filmmaker.
Luca Guadagnino’s take on Dario Argento’s iconic 1970s Euro horror was less remake and more remix as the filmmaker took the thematic strands evident in the original film and launched them in bold new directions.
Sprawling, atmospheric and challenging, this film about a prestigious dance academy with a dark side was criminally underseen upon its theatrical release.
Featuring a fantastic performance from Tilda Swinton (appearing in two roles) plus a mesmerising first time film score from Thom Yorke, all the elements within this film feel overtly original and inherently refreshing.
I do hope this bewitching modern horror finds the audience is so greatly deserves.
2. A Star Is Born
Bradly Cooper’s directorial debut came in the form of a truly iconic Hollywood melodrama.
The fourth screen incarnation of this musical romantic drama showcased Cooper as a force to be reckoned with behind the camera.
But in front of the camera it was the leading turn by Lady Gaga who stole our hearts with her exquisite performance.
Has the Oscar returned from the engravers yet? Because it’s already a sure thing we shall see her performance win.
The film just works on every level, but chiefly it is the chemistry between Cooper and Gaga that is the key.
We fall in love with them as they fall in love on screen.
1. Paddington 2
The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part 2 — some of the greatest films in history have been sequels.
And now Paddington 2 can join those ranks. This animated talking bear film was THE film that we needed in 2018.
Brimming with positivity, deeply emotional resonance and a delightful whimsy, the central message of the film can be succinctly summarised with a quote from our marmalade-loving star: “If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.”
I think that is the greatest take-home message of any film released in 2018.