If you’ve been online during the last week, you’ve no doubt encountered a number of “Best of 2018” lists. This list is not exactly that.
This is a favorites list. I wouldn’t be comfortable writing a “Best Movie” list because I’m not exactly qualified to name the best movies of last year. First, I’ve not seen all of last year’s movies. That disqualifies me right there.
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Secondly, film is art, and art is subject to taste. What is tasty to me might not be as tasty to you.
My taste in films is pretty middle of the road. What critics call “popcorn movies” are my wheelhouse, and I’m not ashamed of it, or at least not that ashamed of it.
Also, I’m wishy-washy. If you asked me to re-write this column next week, the numerical order would definitely change, and I might do something crazy like add “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Instant Family,” or “Aquaman” to my top 10.
Sue me, I thought all three were very fun movies.
Director Spike Lee delivers perhaps his best movie since 1989’s “Do the Right Thing,” and certainly his most provocative in “BlacKkKlansman.” The film’s plot of a black cop infiltrating the KKK sounds preposterous, but it’s based on a true story. Adam Driver’s great as a jewish cop who teams with black cop John David Washington to stick it to the Klan. The movie is hilarious at times, but still thought-provoking, and at times chilling.
Adam McKay’s black dramedy effectively satirizes the life of Dick Cheney who plotted and schemed his way into becoming perhaps the most powerful vice president in U.S. history. Christian Bale’s impression of Cheney is spot on, and Amy Adams is even better as Lynne, Cheney’s wife and cattle prod for his ambition.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
Who didn’t hold back a tear when Tom Holland’s Spider-Man uttered, “I’m not feeling so good Mr. Stark,” after arch-villain Thanos snapped half the universe’s population out of existence in this film that not only was a super-hero comic book come to life but also a great comic book come to life?
4. Mary Queen of Scots
Critics have been eviscerating this movie, but director Josie Rourke’s film enthralled me thanks to strong performances of Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth. From Rourke’s point of view, Mary was the stronger character by striving to live the life she wanted, while Elizabeth was the coward by not being true to her own desires.
5. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
An excellent documentary that confirms that Fred Rogers was every bit the kind and loving man he portrayed for decades on his PBS children’s show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” but only stronger.
6. Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse
I didn’t see a more visually arresting or inventive film this year. The movie introduces Miles Morales, an African-American/Latino kid, who gains spider powers after a tragic occurrence early in the movie. If you are a fan of Spider-Man, comics, super heroes or animation of any type, this is a movie you need to check out. This movie probably should be higher on my list.
7. Mission: Impossible — Fallout
At 56 years old, Tom Cruise is still getting it done like few other stars in Hollywood. This is the sixth movie in the “Mission: Impossible” film series, and to me the movies keep getting better and better. Cruise’s Ethan Hunt saves the day, but Henry Cavill’s CIA assassin August Walker gives him a run for his money.
8. Black Panther
I probably have this film ranked too low, too. It’s likely to be nominated for an Oscar, and if it is, it might just win. Writer-director Ryan Coogler introduces film audiences to all the wonders of the hidden kingdom of Wakanda in a beautifully rendered film that brings Black Panther, one of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s most dynamic comic book characters, to life. Chadwick Boseman is perfect as the regal king, and Michael B. Jordan is a perfectly sympathetic but still all-out evil as villain Killmonger.
“Annihilation” is a freaky, confusing, beautiful, scary, and thought-provoking film that keeps you riveted to your seat. I’m still not exactly sure of what all was going on, but that even makes the alien-invasion film even better.
10. Bohemian Rhapsody
The film isn’t a great movie. It’s not exactly accurate. Rami Malek’s buck-tooth prosthetic is off-putting, but seeing Queen’s music performed with verve and energy on the big screen and hearing it piped through a fantastic sound system had me pumped up as I exited the theater. That’s worth a spot on my top 10.