Top 10 Most Beautiful Films Of 2018


In a year filled to the brim with big-budget superhero blockbusters, brilliant indie productions, and everything in between, there are some films whose visuals really stand out in the mind. So, here are my picks for the top 10 most beautiful films of 2018.

10. Leave No Trace

One of the year’s sleeper hits, Debra Granik’s drama Leave No Trace won plaudits for its measured and moving portrayal of the plight of some veterans returning to normal life.

And while the emotional drama is undoubtedly its crowning achievement, we can’t forget the film’s stunning visual beauty, largely set in the vast woods of the United States as a father and daughter live their ideal life in the forest, amidst the enormous and beautiful landscape.

Thanks to wonderful cinematography throughout and incredibly elegant directing from Debra Granik, the movie flows beautifully from beginning to end, with the drama of the story at hand accentuated by the stunning scenery in which it takes place, making the film one of the most striking portrayals of nature all year long.

Read a full review here.

9. Ralph Breaks The Internet

Disney’s animated movies seem to be getting better and better by the year, and as well as featuring riveting, entertaining and often deeply touching stories, the studio’s animation is becoming more and more vibrant and jaw-dropping with each new production.

The first Wreck-It Ralph was a delightfully colourful walk into the world of arcade games, however its sequel, Ralph Breaks The Internet, tops even that with its brilliantly vivid and imaginative portrayal of the world inside the internet, complete with hilarious and ingenious personifications of all things online, as well as a never-ending series of new worlds to explore.

In comparison to the rather empty and grey The Emoji Movie, Ralph Breaks The Internet does everything right with its delightful portrayal of the internet, with such beautiful animation throughout that will surely warm your heart and put a huge smile on your face.

Read a full review here.

8. Penguin Highway

There haven’t been many big anime hits this year, however one of the films that really went under the radar this year was the wonderful Penguin Highway, a hilarious and thrilling animation that’s actually one of the best anime films in a very long time.

But not only is the film a delightfully entertaining watch at every moment, it’s one of the most visually striking films of the year by a long way, featuring the typically gorgeous animation we’ve come to expect from Japan over the years, combined with a seemingly boundless imagination that allows for a film that grows and grows into a thrilling and jaw-dropping visual experience.

If there’s one animation that’s really gone unnoticed this year, then it has to be Penguin Highway, but with its stunning visuals and beautiful animation throughout, you won’t forget it in a hurry once you get the chance to give it a watch.

Read a full review here.

7. Free Solo

It’s not often that a documentary makes it into a list of the most visually beautiful films of the year, however the enthralling Free Solo is a stunning exception to that trend.

Following the unbelievable story of Alex Honnold as he attempts to scale the face of El Capitan without a rope, the movie is filled to the brim with some of the most beautiful cinematography of the year, with stunningly dynamic camerawork that sees the production crew hanging off the side of a mountain, all the while expertly capturing exceptional shots of one of the most daring climbing feats ever undertaken.

The genius of the film lies in its focus on the daring and equally risky production of the climb, immersing you in the making and filming of the story unlike any other documentary, and in the process featuring a combination of majestic sweeping landscape vistas, as well as vertigo-inducing and deeply uncomfortable shots hanging off the edge of a 3000ft cliff.

Read a full review here.

6. A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Not only did first-time director John Krasinski absolutely knock it out of the park with an inventive and thrilling horror, but the movie also stunned with its enthralling visuals and sound, in a unique manner that we’ve never seen before on the big screen.

While it’s the film’s ingenious use of piercing silence throughout that first comes to mind when thinking of A Quiet Place, it’s also a visual masterpiece with a striking and powerful use of light and dark to further strengthen the sense of danger and peril at hand, adding to the palpable tension created by the total lack of sound.

The scenes set at night are intense and horrifyingly claustrophobic, with the family confined to an isolated house as they attempt to evade detection by deadly monsters, while the daytime sequences open up the film to create a huge sense of unease, and the impending threat of attack from any direction in the empty landscape of rural America is just as terrifying, making the film one of the most effective employers of innovative visuals this year.

Read a full review here.

5. Ready Player One

If there was one film which I really thought would be a visual mess this year, then it was definitely Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, a huge, chaotic and boundless CGI extravaganza that takes place predominantly in an entirely virtual world.

And while the movie is undoubtedly chaotic from beginning to end, there’s something so striking about its use of CGI that actually makes it one of the year’s most visually mesmerising films. Taking a seemingly endless list of classic pop culture properties and smashing them all together, the movie somehow manages to juggle absolutely every pop character under the sun, and bring them together in one delightfully manic and vibrant thriller of a film.

The use of motion capture is second to none, with the added bonus of the movie’s virtual setting to make things feel a little more appropriate, while the boundless imagination and innovation that it uses to craft such a visually vibrant virtual world is truly stunning, completely subverting my expectations regarding what is possible with CGI, and opening up a whole new world of possibilities for films that aim to delve further and further into the virtual world.

Read a full review here.

4. Suspiria

Dario Argento’s classic cult horror Suspiria is a ridiculous kaleidoscope of colours and sheer madness, however Luca Guadagnino’s remake this year takes things in the complete opposite direction, with a washed-out and deeply unsettling colour palette that transforms the same story into a completely new cinematic experience.

The film is one of the best remakes I’ve ever seen, taking a classic property and using it in a completely new manner, and nothing exemplifies that quite as well as the movie’s visuals, combining that dull, washed-out colour palette with the eerie setting of Cold War-era Berlin, crafting a film that’s more palpably disturbing than any other all year long.

It may not have captured the imagination of everyone around the world, but Suspiria’s stunningly unique and exceptional visuals make it one of the year’s most memorable films for me, and one that’s both deeply beautiful and horrifyingly disturbing to watch throughout.

Read a full review here.

3. Roma

Alfonso Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical drama, Roma, about life in Mexico City in the 1970s is without doubt one of the most visually beautiful of the whole year, with stunningly immersive cinematography that’s both patient and equally mesmerising from beginning to end.

Bathed in beautifully nostalgic black-and-white throughout, the film elegantly flows through the months of an average middle-class family’s life, all the while slowly building drama and tension as their lives are gradually turned upside down, all the while engrossing and immersing you with its patient slice-of-life style as it pans across the daily life of the family.

Complete with brilliant attention to detail that can have only come from Cuarón’s own memories, the film is a deeply personal and intimate piece throughout, and above all thanks to its wonderful visuals, it’s able to draw you into an ordinary life like no film before it, making for a truly unique experience throughout.

Read a full review here.

2. Annihilation

The greatest tragedy of this year in film has to be the international release of Alex Garland’s exceptional sci-fi Annihilation on Netflix, when it’s a film that absolutely has to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated.

No film this year has challenged the imagination quite as much as Annihilation, and its stunning story that follows a team of scientists who venture into a bizarre world of impossibilities is vivified by incredible visuals that combine beautiful and bizarre sci-fi scenery with colourful and powerfully imaginative CGI that leaves a particularly strong impression.

It’s a truly mesmerising film with bold ambition and boundless imagination, and with its truly exceptional visuals throughout, it makes for one of the most hypnotic viewing experiences all year, and one that’s undoubtedly great on any platform, but really exceptional on the biggest screen possible.

Read a full review here.

1. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

I’m sure you’ve heard about how amazing Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is, but I’m going to reiterate that once more, because it really is one of the most exceptional films of the year. Funny, exciting, moving, imaginative, and most of all visually spellbinding, it’s a film that pushes boundaries in every direction imaginable.

Combining brilliantly fun-loving sensibilities with a clear love and passion for all things superhero, the movie brings the structure and vibe of comic books to life on the big screen like none other, featuring exciting and colourful animation from beginning to end, while adding in delightful little details like comic book panels, the odd THWACK! and BIFF!, and everything in between.

And along with its brilliantly vibrant comic book visuals, the movie also brings in a palpable urban vibe that distinguishes this unique interpretation of Spider-Man from what we’re used to, and on top of that the endless different worlds that crash together in the film’s ingenious and imaginative story, all of which comes together to make one of the most delightful movies of the year, and without a doubt the most beautiful film of 2018.

Read a full review here.


About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: