The Movie Waffler We Pick The Winners Of 15 Movie Duels Of 2018 | The Movie Waffler

We Pick The Winners Of 15 Movie Duels Of 2018

revenge movie
15 times similarly themed movies went to war in 2018...and our winners.

Words by Eric Hillis

We've picked 15 cases of two thematically similar movies from 2018 and thrown them into an arena where only one film can emerge victorious. You can find last year's edition here.

1985 vs Summer 1993
1985 jamie chung
One set in the '80s, the other the '90s - both Yen Tan's 1985 and Carla Simón's Summer 1993 explored the effects of the AIDS epidemic at the height of its crisis. The latter featured an incredible performance from child star Laia Artigas as the daughter of an AIDS victim who may or may not have contracted the virus herself, but it's 1985, with its bevy of beautifully played roles and subtle direction that gains the edge here.

The winner: 1985

22 July vs Utøya-July 22
utoya july 22
Two films tackled the 2011 Norwegian terrorist attacks. Paul Greengrass's English language 22 July dealt mainly with the subsequent trial of mass killer Anders Breivik, while Erik Poppe's Norwegian language Utøya: July 22 played out in real time during the attack, filmed in a single unbroken take. Unlike Greengrass's film, Poppe wisely never showed Breivik, focussing instead on the horrific effects of his actions and paying tribute to his victims and the survivors of the massacre.

The winner: Utøya: July 22

A Simple Favour vs Thoroughbreds
thoroughbreds anya taylor-joy olivia cooke
A pair of blackly comic, female led crime thrillers arrived on screens in 2018. A Simple Favour saw director Paul Feig step outside his comedy comfort zone with unimpressive results, despite spirited turns from Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. More successful was Thoroughbreds, the directorial debut of Cory Finley, which saw Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke in formidable form as a pair of young sociopaths who concoct a plan to have the former's stepfather killed.

The winner: Thoroughbreds

A Star is Born vs Bad Times at the El Royale
Bad Times at the El Royale
Writer/director Drew Goddard's Bad Times at the El Royale was a bit of a rambling mess, but in Jeff Bridges and Broadway transplant Cynthia Erivo it gave us a pair of knockout performances. Their subplot was a far more involving story of a struggling young female singer inspired by an older, bearded muse than the one that formed Bradley Cooper's A Star is Born remake.

The winner: Bad Times at the El Royale

Apostasy vs Disobedience
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The struggles of women in marginalised, tight knit religious communities was explored in two British films. Set in North London's Orthodox Jewish hub, Disobedience fell flat despite some impressive performances from Rachel Weisz and Alessandro Nivola. Apostasy plunged us into the world of Manchester's Jehovah's Witnesses and provided a nuanced and balanced study of a mother torn between her love of her children and her duty to her faith.

The winner: Apostasy

Climax vs Suspiria
gaspar noe climax
Luca Guadagnino's much anticipated remake of Dario Argento's Suspiria veered heavily from its source, losing itself in an overblown narrative that took in everything from German terrorists to the Holocaust. A story of members of a dance troupe violently losing their grip on reality in a primary coloured vision of hell, Gaspar Noe's Climax had more in common with the work of Argento.

The winner: Climax

Hereditary vs Pyewacket
Horror movie as family drama was the theme of Ari Aster's much lauded Hereditary and Adam MacDonald's lesser seen Pyewacket. The former descended into histrionics and genre clichés while the latter maintained a low key sense of dread throughout, and its young lead, Nicole Muñoz, provided a far more interesting heroine than the over the top theatrics of Toni Collette.

The winner: Pyewacket

If Beale Street Could Talk vs Sofia
If Beale Street Could Talk
It's ironic that amid the #MeToo era we got two films in which young men are falsely accused of rape. Both Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk and Meryem Benm'Barek-Aloïsi's Sofia proved even-handed explorations of their controversial subject, but it's Jenkins' natural cinematic ease that sways this one.

The winner: If Beale Street Could Talk

Lean on Pete vs The Rider
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Broken boys learning to heal through their relationships with horses featured in both Andrew Haigh's Lean on Pete and Chloé Zhao's The Rider. Haigh's film boasted a tender performance from Charlie Plummer but gave in too readily to working class stereotypes, while Zhao gave us a loving portrait of a section of America rapidly being left behind.

The winner: The Rider

Lucky vs The Old Man & the Gun
lucky harry dean stanton
Two 2018 movies paid tribute to the cinematic legacy of their aging stars. In his final performance, the late Harry Dean Stanton landed one of his finest roles in John Carroll Lynch's Lucky, while in what he claims could be his final role, Robert Redford exuded charm in David Lowery's The Old Man & the Gun. The latter lost its way somewhat and never quite fulfilled its thesis of exploring the myth of the loveable outlaw, but Lucky was a charming sendoff to one of the great character actors of American cinema.

The winner: Lucky

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts vs Revenge
revenge movie
2018 doesn't seem like an era that can accommodate the rape-revenge genre, but a pair of women filmmakers reclaimed that most exploitative of narratives. Coralie Fargeat's Revenge was a pulse-pounding love letter to the excesses of grindhouse cinema, one which cleverly manipulated the allegiances of its male audience. Mouly Surya's slowburn Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts couldn't be more different in tone yet similarly updated the genre's tropes through a female lens. Both are must sees for grindhouse fans, but Fargeat takes this round.

The winner: Revenge

Mobile Homes vs Sadie
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Set in the world of trailer parks, indie thrillers Mobile Homes and Sadie both attempted to spin crime narratives in a working class milieu. The former felt exploitative, its setting gimmicky and decorative, while the latter sucked us into its world of people struggling to stay afloat and introduced us to a bright new talent in Sophia Mitri Schloss as the titular troubled teen.

The winner: Sadie

Ocean's Eight vs Widows
widows movie
"If men can pull off heists, why not women?" was the question asked by sequel Ocean's 8 and Steve McQueen's Widows. As you might expect from an instalment in the Ocean's franchise, Ocean's 8 was a light and barely involving comic thriller, while McQueen's film took in race, gender and politics while proving an entertaining old school heist flick.

The winner: Widows

Searching vs Unfriended: Dark Web
unfriended dark web
In the role of producer, Timur Bekmambetov gave us a pair of entries in the 'screen life' genre, in which narratives play out on computer screens. Searching offered a rarity in the sub-genre - a compelling lead performance courtesy of John Cho - but sequel Unfriended: Dark Web used its limited conceit in far more impressive and innovative ways.

The winner: Unfriended: Dark Web

Upgrade vs Venom
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Logan Marshall-Green is often jokingly referred to as a b-grade Tom Hardy, but in 2018 he bested Hardy when the two actors appeared in films with very similar premises. In Upgrade, Green finds himself host to a sentient microchip that takes over his physicality, while in Venom, Hardy becomes host to an alien 'symbiote'. Both films required their leading men to give highly physical performances, but where Venom was a sloppy mess, Upgrade was a taut b-movie with visuals that excelled its limited budget.

The winner: Upgrade