My 10 Favorite Films of 2018 (For The First Time, We Have A Tie For #1)
It’s been a very good year. The top-spot was a hair-puller, and so I took the easy way out ...
Here we go again. As the years go on, these lists become tougher and tougher to compile. The above images represent my top choice, but before we get there …
Here we go, in descending order:
Suspiria has been called by one critic “The Godfather of horror films.” I’m not sure about that, but it is certainly the most balls-to-the-wall (if you do not accept that accurate descriptor in such a serious list, then we’ll go with the “batshit crazy” alternative) genre film you may ever see. A remake that nobody asked for of the 1977 Dario Argento classic, the new Suspiria follows the bones of the original film, about a questionable dance company which may be a front for witches. Try not to shield your eyes during the final 20 minutes. I dare you.
9. Mary Poppins Returns
About the best thing I can say about Mary Poppins Returns is I did not think of Julie Andrews once. Emily Blunt owns the role now. The acting was uniformly terrific, the sets, the songs, all spot-on. In this era of ugly politics and a divided world, this film is the right one at the right time. A throwback to classic Disney features, my only unfavorable comparison to the original would be this, though I loved the songs here, those in the original were considerably more memorable. That aside, Mary Poppins Returns is a cinematic pleasure.
8. The Favorite
The Favorite reminded me of one of my favorite films, Peter Greenaway’s wild The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, was surprisingly bawdy, set in early 18th century England as they were at war with the French. This one is not your grandmother’s period piece. Pineapple eating, duck racing, horrific dancing and cunnilingus (clearly not a typo) are the orders of the day. The triple threat of Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz will all be Oscar-nominated. And the screenplay served up some of the most humorous and biting lines of the year.
Shoplifters is a Japanese film about a family of thieves. To say any more would be spoiling its myriad surprises. Needless to say, this one showcased some of the year’s finest and most emotional writing.
6. A Star Is Born
A Star Is Born is by far the finest version of the oft-told tale. Lady Gaga will win the Oscar this year as Best Actress, and Bradley Cooper will be in the running for Director and Actor. This was a Hollywood film done right, with soul and an abundance of heart. Sam Elliot, whose been doing his thing in this business for decades, was nonetheless a revelation here.
5. Beautiful Boy
Beautiful Boy being one of two films on this list dealing with drug abuse, blew me away with Timothy Chalamet’s dead-accurate performance as a meth addict. I was a special education teacher for 10 years; I lost a student, high on meth, in a shootout with two cops who were defending themselves. Real life intruded on my movie-going with a vengeance that day. Steve Carell was magnificent as the father who would never give up on his son. The writing and directing were superb.
4. Black KkKlansman
Black KkKlansman brought my admiration of Spike Lee and his films to a new level. Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X are two of my very favorite movies of the last 50 years. Black KkKlansman represents Spike in one of his finest hours. A humorous script, based on a true story, about black and white police officers who infiltrate the KKK, was but one of its innumerable assets. Taking this material and making this one of the most purely entertaining films of this year was genius.
3. Creed II
Creed II and yes, I mean it. Sylvester Stallone, once a punchline, will go down in the annals as one of the more important figures in 20th and 21st century filmmaking. Ryan Coogler directed the original film and set the new franchise on its course; the capable Steven Caple, Jr. took the reigns of this sequel. Michael B. Jordan is as believable and likable as Creed, and Tessa Thompson can star in everything as far as I’m concerned. In 1976, Stallone unleashed a character who became a fabric of our culture. In 2018, the same formula applies and the story continues for a new generation. The resonance of these films are not sheer “luck.” They resonate because a successful formula that changes with the times is an effective formula. Rocky has become a father figure here, with the promise of a related reckoning (yes, I’m trying to be clever here) by the film’s end. It’s a brilliant continuation of a decades-old mix that has rarely failed to impress. (Sorry, all, I enjoyed Rocky V.)
2. Ben Is Back
Ben Is Back was the surprise of the year to me. Just, wow. Julia Roberts’ best performance ever, for one. If she’s not Oscar-nominated for this, it’s a crime. Ditto Lucas Hedges plays her son struggling to stay clean from the most severe drug addiction. Before you say, “Not another drug movie,” I thought the same thing going in. Beautiful Boy is one of my very favorite films of the year, dealing with some of the same themes, and I didn’t think we needed another one. Apparently, though, we did. This film is haunting, and exceptionally well-made. It’s honestly extraordinary. Kudos to Lucas’ father, Peter Hedges, who has made a film unlike any you’ll see all year.
1. Black Panther/Stan And Ollie
Black Panther will go down in history, in my humble opinion, as a flashpoint of cinema, and one of the most important and influential films ever made. I compare it to the original Star Wars in this regard. Writer-director Ryan Coogler (along with writer Joe Robert Cole) has added a relevance and dimension to the Marvel character, as played by Chadwick Boseman, that relatively few in the mainstream could have expected. Comics readers saw the potential for relevance early, especially considering our real-world political climate, but it took the film’s creators to not only meet but exceed it. The cast is uniformly brilliant, the script, the sets, and the music equally sublime. This is no simple “comic book movie.” Black Panther is an all-time Hollywood masterpiece, and — mark my words — will be the first film based on a comic book to be Oscar-nominated for Best Picture.
Stan and Ollie, on the other hand, will not be Oscar-nominated for Best Picture because it veers towards “safe,” and yet a strong case can be made that it deserves every last award it can attain. Stan Coogan and John C. Reilly are dead-on perfect as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, respectively. A fine script and terrific performances all around bring the emotional goods. I’m a fan of the legendary duo, but I never expected such a warm, personal piece of material. “Safe” be damned. I laughed and cried throughout the entire thing.
So there you go. Argue away. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to a brilliant 2019 at the movies.
- A Private War
- Active Measures
- Incredibles 2
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- Divide and Conquer
Originally published at geeks.media.