With the first half of 2018 drawing to a close, we’ve already picked our favourite films, TV shows and video games of the year thus far. Now we’re taking the opportunity to highlight stuff that might have flown under your radar. Here are 15 fantastic pieces of entertainment that you should check out at your earliest convenience.
Writer-director Natasha Kermani announces her arrival with this engaging sci-fi drama that feels like a cross between Under the Skin and The Man Who Fell to Earth. Lauren Ashley Carter plays dual roles as an alien and an adult film star, with the resulting film both beautiful and beguiling.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead — the dynamic genre duo behind Resolution and Spring — make it three-for-three with The Endless, a tale of brothers returning to the cult they escaped years previous for some form of closure. But all does not go according to plan during their visit. This is a film that masterfully blends elements of horror, comedy and science fiction into something utterly unique and original.
Based on the bestselling book by Becky Albertalli, and directed by Arrowverse mastermind Greg Berlanti, Love, Simon revolves around a teenage boy endeavouring to discover the identity of the anonymous classmate he is talking to online, and with whom he has fallen in love. What sets the film apart — and makes this sweet, charming, understated movie so important — is the fact that Simon is gay, and the object of his affection is a boy.
Writer Leigh Whannell nailed horror with the likes of Saw and Insidious. And now he’s doing sci-fi, both writing and directing the wildly entertaining Upgrade. Logan Marshall Green plays a mechanic who — following an accident that leaves him paralysed — is gifted an AI implant that gives him superhuman strength and agility. Which he obviously uses for revenge. The film is a blast to watch, with the action as gory as you’d expect from the horror maestro. Upgrade review here.
You Were Never Really Here
OK, this is a bold claim but here goes — we doubt a better thriller will be released in 2018. Based on the book by Jonathan Ames — adapted and directed by the Lynn Ramsay — You Were Never Really Here stars Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled war veteran who tracks down missing girls for a living. Tough, uncompromising moviemaking, it isn’t for the faint-hearted, but could be a good outside bet for Oscar glory come awards season.
Imagine playing a Zelda game where you only have 60 seconds to live. That, in a nutshell, is Devolver Digital’s Minit. Fortunately though, it’s more fun than it sounds, with this charming little adventure perfectly capturing that “ just one more go” compulsion. With Minit coming to Switch soon for less than the price of a fancy beer, there’s no excuse to miss out on this indie gem.
When it comes to sprawling 3D epics, there have been few 2018 releases quite as overlooked as Vampyr. While it may have some slightly iffy combat, its depiction of a vampire-infested 20th century London is wonderfully grim. And thanks to its unique blend of RPG systems and surprisingly far-reaching consequences for feeding, Vampyr is the rarest of games — an action adventure that makes you think. Vampyr review here.
Yoku’s Island Express
There are some bizarre combinations that just work. Cream cheese and Marmite. Danny Devito and Always Sunny In Philadephia. And now, you can add pinball and platforming to that lis. This cutesy little adventure blends exploration with pinball in a way that simply has to be played to be understood. Long live the pinballformer. Yoku’s Island Express review here.
Shadow Of The Colossus Remake
This is far from a new game, but when it’s given such a stunning face lift, it’s hard to care. A February release that may have been forgotten in the wake of Kratos’ killer comeback, it’s a beautiful from the ground-up remake that proves exactly why this game is such a timeless classic. Shadow of the Colossus Review here.
Thanks to a striking Disney via Ghibli artstyle, Forgotton Anne quickly grabbed our attention. Yet it was the poignant tale of rebellion and the weight your decisions carry that really kept us hooked. If you’re searching for a charming and gripping narrative adventure, then look no further.
Barry is the most weird and wonderful new sitcom of the year. Bill Hader plays the title character, a ruthless assassin who gets swept up in the LA theatre scene, inspiring him to give up killing. But getting out isn’t that easy, the show combining big laughs with shocking violence, anchored by a complex and nuanced performance from Hader.
There’s no word regarding when/where this one will screen in the States, but rest assured we’ll let you know as soon as we hear, as Save Me is must-watch TV. Walking Dead/Fear the Walking Dead star Lennie James writes and takes centre stage as a hard-drinking lady’s man whose life is turned upside down when his estranged daughter goes missing and he becomes the prime suspect. Tough, gripping, uncompromising drama.
Superheroes are everywhere you look on TV right now, with Arrow, Flash and Supergirl doing their thing, The Defenders doing a slightly more grown-up thing, and Legion doing… well, we’re not quite sure what Legion is doing. All of which means that audiences might have missed out on Black Lightning. Which would be a shame as — in focussing on both an African-American superhero and a gay superhero — it’s one of the most progressive comic book shows on the small screen. But also because it’s a blast watching the ageing title character take down hoods with his electric powers. Black Lightning review here.
In this twisted TV drama, Sandra Oh plays an MI5 agent tracking down a dangerous assassin with whom she becomes obsessed. Based on the Codename Villanelle stories by Luke Jennings, and developed for TV by Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Killing Eve is an original and compelling thriller, subverting genre expectations at every turn.
Rocky reboot/sequel Creed shouldn’t have worked, yet was one of the best movies of 2015. Karate Kid reboot/sequel Cobra Kai shouldn’t work, and yet it’s one of the best shows of 2018. Streaming on YouTubeRed, the series centres on bad-boy Johnny this time around, and his story is tragic, funny, and full of surprises. With Cobra Kai taking a very different approach to the characters, but ending up the perfect companion piece to the unforgettable original.