2018 was a rough year in film but there were a few bright spots. Below is our list of the year-saving contributions and performances that made our Cinematic 2018 not too bad in the end.
Don’t miss our 2018 Nominee Interview Series, featuring exclusive interviews with dozens of this year’s nominated artists and be sure to check out Awards Headquarters for more from the Critics’ Pick Awards, including the Theatre and TV winners.
Without further ado, the winners are:
Outstanding Production Design
Perhaps a bit overlooked in a big year for big-budget pictures, this delightful sequel went bigger and brighter than the original and created some of the most beautiful worlds in any live-action work this year. Rich in detail and full of thrilling colours, each new place Paddington travelled in his second big adventure was more delicious-looking than the last.
This Alex Garland sci-fi epic deserved a lot more buzz than it got and, coming out near the beginning of the year, it went all but totally overlooked when it came to winning awards for the mind-blowing effects both practical and digital that went into the crazy mythology and creepy worldbuilding of this ambitious piece. This is our small attempt to give credit where credit is due.
I mean… come on. No contest, really. This year was all about the monarchy when it came to costumes but, while there were definitely some high achievers working with English period stuff, Ruth E Carter took royalty to the next level for the royal family and warriors of Wakanda, drawing on African influences but letting her imagination run wild.
No 2018 movie had bench depth quite like Black Panther where the villain was every bit as complex as the hero, the mom and the sister were so much more than family to fight for, the warriors were more than weapons, the sidekicks were more than comic relief, and the love interest was a whole person unto herself. You can’t do all that without a cast like this.
Outstanding Supporting Actor
2018 was the year of oddly great dumb studio comedies and Game Night was a prime example, highlighted by the always brilliant Jesse Plemons giving one of the weirdest, all-in performances we’ve ever seen. It was a masterstroke of deathly serious deadpan with an inspired hint of tragedy.
Outstanding Supporting Actress
This Netflix comedy about the daughter of a former beauty queen was a breath of fresh air with an underrepresented perspective and a ton to say. Its star performance came from queen of my heart Aniston as a mom who means better than she’s given credit for but does more harm than she realizes.
This movie sucks but Rami Malek is a force and his performance as Freddie Mercury is a captivating display of detail work and total commitment. Malek’s performance and his (only slightly faked) vocals feel totally authentic, even if nothing else about the movie does. It wasn’t a great year for male performances.
(Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
But it was a hell of a year for female performances, highlighted by this career-best turn from McCarthy in a wonderful movie about loneliness, desperation, and yearning for recognition. McCarthy was heartbreaking, funny, and honest which is all I could ever imagine wanting from any actor.
The buzz around this visceral gem from the genius Bo Burnham was deadening then totally died. Which is a shame because this movie is incredible. Hard to watch, but incredible. Burnham’s level of insight and vulnerability has always made his comedy stand out but the empathy he showed writing from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl was nearly superhuman.
Sorry to Bother You
This Boots Riley dark comedy was a total trip that will be looked back upon as the most influential movie of 2018. I really believe that. There were things that were more enjoyable to watch, but nothing punched you in the gut and threw you through a loop and showed you things you’d never seen before like Sorry to Bother You.
Three Identical Strangers was a bigger hit, Free Solo had the prestige, and RBG was the best story but the filmic artistry with which Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui directed this honest look at fashion’s controversial wunderkind paid tribute to the film’s subject and world in a way a sunnier portrayal never could have. A beautiful piece of work by all definitions.
The one truly great prestige film of 2018 was this stunning female-focused dark comedy with traumatic undertones and absurdity at its heart. Yorgos Lanthimos is a brilliant stylist with an exquisite knack for contradiction and, working for the first time in English with a script he didn’t write himself, his potential was most brilliantly unleashed.
A close second place for Best Movie of the Year goes to Thoroughbreds, a sadly under-the-radar masterpiece that left us stunned very early in the year by its sure-footedness, profundity, and tonal complexity. Its writer/director Cory Finley is only 28 years old and the film is the first (and, at the time, only) thing listed on his IMDB page. Don’t take your eyes off him.
Performer of the Year
Not only was her performance in The Favourite one of the greatest performances we’ve ever seen (not just one of the best of 2018), Weisz also shone this year in tough roles in The Mercy and Disobedience. Her quiet consistency makes her easy to overlook but Weisz has been really good for a really long time so we’re taking this moment to finally dwell on that fact.
I first fell in love with Anton Yelchin in 2007 when he played the title role in a Risky Business/Ferris Bueller-y smart scamp comedy called Charlie Bartlett. He went on to moderate fame in Star Trek and utter brilliance in Cymbeline, stopping along the way to deliver memorable turns in indie gems Like Crazy, Only Lovers Left Alive, 5 to 7, and Rudderless among many others. He worked a ton in the 16 years between his debut in an episode of ER and his sudden death in a bizarre car accident in 2016, amassing 68 credits including 26 episodes of the Showtime series Huff and 52 episodes of Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia where his voice work in an episode that aired May 25, 2018 became the last piece of unreleased content he recorded before he died. I loved Anton Yelchin. He had the charisma of a mainstream star and the offbeat taste of someone more concerned with finding interesting roles than becoming a mainstream star. On March 22, 2018, I saw Thoroughbreds. He was mesmerizing in it, making a meal out of a supporting role. It was the last time I’d ever see one of my favourite actors and I doubt I’ll ever quite get over that. I never got the chance to give Anton a Critics’ Pick Award. So he’s getting this one. I’ll never not miss him.