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Our writers have chosen their top three Screen based media releases of 2018. These Screen media weren’t necessarily the ones with the most awards, biggest box office revenue or highest up vote to down vote stats. Instead, these Best of Screen 2018 choices are the media we want to recommend for what they mean to us.
Best of YouTube 2018 – Emma Armitage
Best Series: Jack & Dean of All Trades
Jack and Dean’s series was originally distributed by Fullscreen in 2016. However, the two seasons of the series, plus a Christmas finale, were released to the team’s YouTube channel – Jack and Dean – over advent 2018. JADOAT is akin to the skits the duo have released on YouTube to date, but with an overarching plot. The series follows childhood friends Jack and Dean as they take various jobs via a temp agency. With running gags, sharp humour, occasional musical numbers, and forth wall breaks, it’s a chill, binge worthy series.
Best Channel: The Try Guys
The Try Guys Keith, Ned, Eugene and Zach have been featuring in viral videos at Buzzfeed since 2014, but this past June, they launched their own independent YouTube channel. And since then, I have not missed a video.
Whilst they can produce mass-appeal, entertaining content such as ‘The Try Guys Try Knitting’, ‘Keith Eats Everything at KFC’, or ‘The Try Guys Wear Corsets For 72 Hours’, the team also produce more heartfelt and personal content, like focussing on the Trevor Project, significant others, illness, or house renovations. Their channel is a combination of videos like their original Buzzfeed content, but with the element of old-school vlogging that builds viewer investment and shows how human they are.
Best Video: TESTING SIZE 14 JEANS ACROSS TEN BRANDS – THIS MAKES NO SENSE | LUCY WOOD
In this video, as the title suggests, YouTuber and freelance writer Lucy Wood tries jeans from different brands. In doing so, Lucy outlines the inconsistency in women’s clothing sizing and the negative effect this has on women and girls’ body confidence.
Immediately, I was entertained by Lucy’s self-deprecating humour when she opens the video with “I don’t know about you, but shopping on the high street these days literally makes me want to perform some kind of fancy synchronised swim dive, straight out of an upstairs window, while also, simultaneously, removing my eyeballs”. Her delivery, her jokes, her whole attitude towards the clothing industry, is laugh out loud funny. During the video, Lucy points out how in women’s clothing, unique bodies are condensed down into “one magical number category” of clothing sizes; if those pieces of clothing don’t fit, that isn’t our body’s fault. I completely recommend Lucy’s channel generally, but this video has such a sincere yet entertainingly delivered message that it’s just important to watch it, really.
Honourable YouTube channel mentions: Annika Victoria, Daniel J. Layton, DarkSquidge, Embly, Illymation, Jammidodger, Safiya Nygard, and Scarf Demon.
Best of Television 2018 – Erin Wilson
This is an obvious choice I think as Bodyguard has been the most watched BBC drama since the Christmas Day Doctor Who Special in 2008. 10.4 million people tuned into the agonisingly dramatic finale. The show followed PS David Budd (Richard Madden), an Afghanistan war veteran, hiding the fact he suffered from PTSD who had been assigned to the Protection Team for the Home Secretary, Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) amid fears of a potential assassination. What starts as an admittingly difficult job in the first place, turns into a murder plot which uncovers the biggest government conspiracy aimed at framing PS Budd.
This is probably the best thing I’ve watched this year, and for a long time.
I have to admit, this is a very close second to the Bodyguard. Once again, the show includes vibes of assassination and government corruption. The story follows the cat and mouse international chase of Villanelle (Jodie Comer) by MI5 Security Officer Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh). The highest viewership peaked at 1.25 million who tuned in to watch the BBC adaptation of Luke Jennings infamous crime novel, ‘Codename Villanelle’, a female orientated thriller which came alive on screen. Safe to say it captured audiences with relentless violence and the anticipation of Villanelle’s inevitable discovery and the series of plot-twists along the way.
Another show that was remarkable for its edgy differences. The product of Edward St Aubyn’s series of books (partly biographical) sees Benedict Cumberbatch embody the title role in this show. This 5-part drama depicts drug addiction, redemption, friendship, sexual abuse and the downward spiral of a dark and troublesome childhood. The work of David Nicholls (Writer) and Edward Berger (Director) does a brilliant job of depicting the scars left from childhood and how parents may have an inadvertently damaging affect.
Honorable TV mentions: A Very English Scandal, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Best of Streamed Film 2018 (Rom-Com edition) – Emma Armitage
I cannot say enough good things about this film. It’s got body positivity, Dolly Parton music, drag queens and Jennifer Aniston with a Texan accent – what’s not to love? The protagonist of the film is Willowdean (Danielle Macdonald), the daughter of former beauty pageant winner and local celebrity Rosie (Jennifer Aniston). Willowdean, who is repeatedly looked down upon by her mother and others for being plus sized and unconventionally attractive, decides to rebel by joining the local pageant contest. It’s your classic feel-good-film with endearing character relationships.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before is a modern-day teen romance classic. Lara Jean (Lana Condor) writes love letters to every intense crush she ever has, to help get over them, but never sends these letters. Even from this premise, it is easy to predict that those letters will get out, but despite that, the events of the film are endlessly sweet and watchable. Lara Jean ends up fake dating Peter (Noah Centineo), a recipient of one of these letters, in order to avoid confrontation with another letter recipient, Lara-Jean’s sister’s boyfriend, Josh (Israel Broussard). TATBILB ultimately uses our expectations of teen love stories, and plays to them, making the film incredibly wholesome. The best part is that there is a confirmed sequel in the works.
Set It Up
It was at this point that I realised my favourite streamed films of 2018 were all Rom-Coms or teen romance or some variation of that template. Unlike my previous two favourites, Set It Up is not a teen romance, but an office one. The film focusses on two overworked assistants (Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell), who plot to set their bosses (Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs) up together in order to lessen their work stress. Deutch and Powell’s relationship is adorable and easy to get invested in, as is their scheming. The plot progression can feel slow at times, but it makes the love stories of the film feel even a little bit more realistic compared with the time scale usually given for characters to fall in love in other films.
Honourable Streamed Film mentions: When We First Met, Happy Anniversary, Like Father
Best of Cinematic Film 2018 – Toby Cooke
Sorry To Bother You
Political activist Boots Riley’s debut feature is my film of the year. Sorry To Bother You begins as a story about young black American, Cassius Green (played by the impeccable Lakeith Steinfeld), and his search for employment. He works his way up the ranks in a call centre by using his “white voice”, and things gradually start to spiral out of control, into the surreal. This is a truly shocking film, that breaks boundaries I to the extent I have rarely seen. It is not only a politically powerful satire, but it is also both hilarious and has genuinely heart-warming moments too. It’s a shame Sorry To Bother You isn’t on the radar for Awards Season, it has struck me more than any of the Awardsy films this year. But beware of the final second of the film, it will scare you for weeks to come!
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
This film seems so long ago but it really stuck with me, despite its controversy, so I could not leave it out of my end of year list. Frances McDormand is as outstanding as ever and imprints her signature style all over the film, providing an excellent sense of black comedy. She stars as a grieving mother who takes revenge on the town police officer for not solving the case of her dead daughter, by putting up billboards on a road holding him to account. The strength of this film lies in its ability for the audience to really empathise with the characters despite them all being thoroughly dislikeable. It’s real genius from writer and director Martin McDonagh. Three Billboards will stay in the canon for decades to come, and far surpasses The Shape of Water, in its themes covered, its writing and its acting, which beat it to the best picture Oscar back in March.
Wow. Hereditary was an interesting one. This was probably the most divisive film of the year, with audiences largely hating it, but critics adoring it. I personally am in absolute awe of this film, and all it managed to achieve. Hereditary is hard to explain without giving away the twist of the second half, but little hints are dropped throughout the first half as to its theme, and if you pay attention, it won’t come as too much of a surprise. The main premise follows a mother who is haunted by her family ancestors’ past, and how this affects her relationship with her husband and children. The criminally underused Toni Collette is outstanding as the lead character. Hereditary manages to cram in many thought-provoking metaphors and ideas to consider into its two hours, and still manages to be a genuinely terrifying horror film without using any tacky jump scares.
Honorable Cinematic Film mentions: Suspiria, Under The Tree, A Star Is Born, Game Night, Blackkklansman
Best of Streamed TV – Beth McMillan
Try the juicily dark and mysterious, The Originals. For any Vampire Diaries (also on Netflix) lovers, The Originals is a spin-off that doesn’t disappoint. Set in beautiful New Orleans with some stunning shots, The Originals shows a darker side to our beloved vampire world. Starting in 2013, the show aired five seasons, finishing earlier this year. Focussing on the original vampire family the Michaelson’s, it explores the struggles for power within New Orleans’s supernatural community but stays true to the Vampire Diaries comedy, with actors Daniel Gillies, Joseph Morgan and Claire Holt portraying the most adorably dysfunctional family ever- with fangs…
If you’re looking for something outside the box, then try The Good Place (a Netflix Original). Eleanor Shellstrop died and went to heaven, slight problem… she’s not supposed to be there! Now it’s up to her “Soulmate” Chidi, a teacher of moral philosophy to try and show her the error of her ways in a bid to help her earn her place. The Good Place, (which recently aired its latest series) takes the simplest ideas and turns them in to a romp of epic proportions. Part sci-fi/ fantasy, part absurdist comedy, it will both disturb and delight you, in the best possible way!
In the top spot, he’s the one, the only, Lucifer Morningstar! Lucifer is an Amazon Prime original which aired its third season this year. If the Devil took a holiday, where would he go? Why the city of Angels itself of course! Set amongst the stunning sights of Los Angeles, Lucifer combines fantasy, police drama, romance and comedy. The devil really does wear Prada- and owns a nightclub! Tom Ellis stars as the perfect devil- cheeky, sexy and downright wicked! Who better to punish criminals? Yes, he’s less Satan more Sargent, working for the LA police department, even if they do disagree on how best to torture… But when being amongst humans starts to rub off on the King of Hell, things get interesting. He’s got the looks, but can he get the girl?! Lauren German plays the no nonsense Detective Chloe Decker and provides perfect chemistry with Ellis’ flamboyant Lord of Darkness, who just isn’t getting through to her!
Honorable Streamed TV mentions: Disenchantment, Queer Eye, Aggretsuko
Best of Gaming – Emma Armitage
Little Nightmares, Secrets of the Maw – The Residence
I know Little Nightmares came out in 2016 and the DLC came out in 2017, but the last part of that DLC came out early 2018 so I’m counting it as one of my favourites. Little Nightmares is a puzzle horror game arranged like a 3D platformer, with chase sequences and creepy antagonists. Secrets of the Maw, The Residence is the third instalment of the three-part DLC that accompanies the main Little Nightmares game. In the DLC, players control The Runaway Kid as he attempts to escape from the depths of the Maw. The DLC incorporates similar mechanics and themes of the main game and expands upon the world of Little Nightmares. The world of Little Nightmares and it’s DLC is so detailed and immersive, I honestly can’t get enough of it. Here’s hoping more content will be released in the future.
It’s hard to do anything new with Spider-Man, as shown by the numerous film remakes and games, but Marvel’s Spider-Man is more than aware of that and plays to it. There are references to well-known villains like the Green Goblin and Scorpion, suits from comics, Easter eggs referencing other Marvel characters, and all of this is applied to a new plot. The real strength of the game – ignoring the impressive graphics, web swinging, plot, voice acting, DLC – is Peter Parker. This Peter is the most Spider-Man-like of other Peter Parkers, with quips and comments that had me chuckling throughout. A perfect Spider-Man story.
Florence is an interactive comic about Florence Yeoh as she falls in love with cellist, Krish. It’s a very short experience, with simple ‘puzzles’ like solving a speech bubble jigsaw to make conversations between Florence and Krish, moving a toothbrush to brush Florence’s teeth, choosing dialogue options when Florence’s mum calls, or scrubbing at the screen to reveal Florence’s drawings. It’s more of an interactive experience than the conventional associations of gaming. However, this heartfelt story about life, love, and career goals is definitely worthy of its success as The Game Awards 2018’s ‘Best Mobile/Handheld Game’.
Honourable Gaming mentions: Life is Strange 2, Episode 1, Jurassic World Evolution, Monster Prom, Marie’s Room