Whether you're heading to the cinema with friends or curling up on the couch with your significant other, a night watching movies remains a fantastic source of entertainment, enjoyment and escapism. Sitting in the dark, switching your mind away from your regular worries and slipping into another world — if you're catching the right flick, few things can top it.
Cinema-wise, 2018 has thrown up plenty of films that tick all of the above boxes — and now we're just past the halfway mark, it's time to look back. Maybe you missed one of this year's hits when it was in theatres. Perhaps it's still showing and you haven't made it yet. Or, there could be a few gems that just slipped your attention. Of course, there's always the ace movies you saw, loved and want to see again.
Whichever category fits, here's 12 films from 2018 that you you need to catch up on. Head to the cinema and grab a choc top or organise your streaming queue and cook up some popcorn, as we've sorted out your viewing for the near future.
THE SHAPE OF WATER
What our critic said: A sea of perfectly assembled elements, The Shape of Water truly feels like a film that no one else could have made. Working from a script co-written with Vanessa Taylor (Divergent), director Guillermo del Toro is operating at the top of his game, and his fingerprints can be seen in every exquisitely detailed image.
What our critic said: If everyone looked at strangers in the same way as French New Wave icon Agnes Varda (Cléo from 5 to 7, Vagabond), the world would be a much kinder place. Roaming through small yet lively villages, Varda makes new memories while reminiscing about older ones — about love, work, times passed, friends lost and past moments immortalised in earlier photos.
What our critic said: Every textile metaphor you can think of applies to Phantom Thread. It's a film that's carefully woven from the fabric of human urges, teeming with hidden layers and positively bursting at the seams with emotional detail. It's also one made by the finest possible craftspeople, with Anderson and his three stars fashioning the cinematic equivalent of haute couture.
What our critic said: As impressive a list of plaudits as Lady Bird has amassed, they pale in comparison to the movie itself. While it can seem like high school coming-of-age films are more common than actual high schoolers, Greta Gerwig gets everything right with her entry into the genre.
What our critic said: It can't be overstated how wonderful it is to see transgender representation on the big screen (no offence Eddie Redmayne, but this is how it should be). Vega's performance as Marina feels authentic, in no small part because it is authentic. Every movement, every delivery is subtle, considered and real.
What our critic said: At its best, Game Night is laugh out loud funny, subverting some classic comedy tropes and delivering scores of killer one-liners. It's probably one of the better Hollywood black comedies we've seen in the last few years, and ultimately entertains enough to justify the price of admission.
What our critic said: John Krasinski's stripped-back use of sound reflects his entire approach, crafting a masterfully sparse movie from start to finish — and a downright masterful one too. Forget questions about why the monsters are there and where everyone else is: they couldn't matter less in this taut, fast-paced thriller, and they shouldn't even cross your mind.
What our critic said: Tully's motherhood scenario inspires rich performances from a particularly raw Charlize Theron and a suitably sparkling Mackenzie Davis — the former committed to conveying the hardships of maternity in all of its unglamorous glory, the latter calm and kind as Tully brings Marlo back from the brink of desperation.
What our critic said: Set to a soundtrack that flits from electronic beats to sorrowful piano, to the pleading chants of ACT UP taking to the streets, what emerges is a movie that's both intimate and expansive. Just as BPM's first scenes leave a definite imprint, so does the cumulative effect of its 143 minutes, weaving personal tales into a sprawling snapshot of a real-life movement.
What our critic said: Ari Aster plagues the movie's protagonists with weird occurrences, including strange words etched into walls, odd flashes of light, upsetting strangers and alarming seances. He is making a horror film, after all. But more than that, the writer-director doubles down on tragedy, stretches the characters' emotional limits and heightens their psychological strain,
What our critic said: Bone-crunching, blood-splattered revenge is a dish best-served with an AI sidekick in Upgrade. Although the concept might sound more tired than wired on paper, it makes for a sharp, sleek and savage wander into genre territory.
What our critic said: Foxtrot asks the audience to stare at its main cast harder than most films; to feel their aching hearts, to dive into their despairing minds, and to experience their unshakeable sorrow. Writer-director Samuel Maoz doesn't just call upon his actors to attract attention, though, but ensures that every meticulous shot reflects the characters' internal states.