Sure, it is a bit later than usual, but a list of the best movies of any given year is much more credible when delivered in January of the following year than it would be if presented in November (or even earlier in many cases), long before the year in question is even finished. So, here is my list of the top ten movies of 2018.

Whilst most lists of this type are somewhat meaningless and usually compiled by people who are servants to personal preferences, a particular political/social ideology or industry influences, my selections are devoid of any influence from any individual, organisation or ideological framework. This list is derived purely from the truth of the viewing experience and the quality of the product that has been presented on screen.

It would be impossible for me to have seen every film released this year so, as always, this list is drawn from the movies that I have seen in cinemas in 2018 (regardless of when they were initially released). From new releases to festival screenings, re-releases, previews or retrospectives; if I saw it in a cinema in 2018, it is eligible for inclusion in this list. Films viewed on DVD, television or via streaming or online platforms are most definitely not considered.

Custody 1

This list is compiled using the reviews and ratings that I posted on Letterboxd in the days following each screening. Given that there will be many movies with the same or similar ratings, I also take into account the way in which a film has continued to resonate with me long after I saw it, which always suggests that there is something particularly prescient or powerful about a particular production and the reality is that there are some movies that are just so good that they simply cannot be overlooked or ignored.

The films are not ranked in any particular order as all of the films listed in this group of ten are outstanding and attempting to narrow the order into some kind of sequential evaluation of merit seems a little pointless. They are all excellent and they all deserve to be celebrated and admired. No doubt there are those who will disagree with my choices and that is fine because those people absolutely have the right to be wrong.

Shoplifters 1

Only films viewed in a cinema by me in 2018 have been considered. Release dates are irrelevant and should never be considered for such lists. This is about the best movies I saw in a cinema between January 1 and December 31, 2018. It also, obviously, precludes any films released in 2018 that I am yet to see.

So, my Top Ten movies of 2018 (in no particular order) are:

Custody

Shoplifters

Thelma

Lady Bird

The Death of Stalin

The Shape of Water

A Fantastic Woman

Summer 1993

Madeline’s Madeline

The Favourite

Of course, these were plenty of other great movies released on cinema screens in 2018 for which justification for inclusion could easily be mounted. The compilation of such a list necessitates the absence of some very good films to arrive at a final ten.  Therefore, here are 10 others worthy of mention that could quite easily have been included as one my final selections:

Anna and the Apocalypse

A Star is Born

Lean on Pete

Ava

American Folk

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Okja

Black Klansman

You Were Never Really Here

Boy Erased

It is a sad reality that this year, like every other, there were some real stinkers that somehow found their way onto screens. The worst of the bad releases from 2018 that I had the misfortune to see was Mary Magdalene, while some other rubbish served up in 2018 included Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Red Sparrow and Kodachrome. Although not completely awful, the Tony Harding biopic I, Tonya was also a disappointment despite a great performance from Margot Robbie.