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Laramie Movie Scope:
Top, bottom films, etc. of 2018

Best, worst and ruminations on 2018 films

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

February 23, 2018 -- Here is my list of the best and worst films, best actors, etc. from the year of 2018.

There are the usual caveats. I saw most of the year's top films with the exception of a few films which had limited distribution or promotion in this country, such as Amazing Grace, Shoah: Four Sisters, Gavagai, A Bread Factory, Parts One and Two, Capernaum, Never Look Away, Mirai, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, Minding the Gap and Of Fathers and Sons.

Two things stand out in the top films of 2018: There are an unusual number of strong roles for women in films this year, and there some really good films about racism in America.

So where are A Star is Born, If Beale Street Could Talk, Vice, The Favourite and some of those other top films on other lists? I saw them, but they aren't all that impressive.

A Star is Born is a musical drama with one good song and a tired old noble artist suicide story that has been done to death. If Beale Street Could Talk has some good scenes in it, but it is a dated period piece that probably should not have deviated as much from its source material as it did in an attempt to modernize it. Vice has great performances, and an underwhelming story, despite being propped up with too many narrative gimmicks. The Favourite is mainly for Anglophiles who enjoy a bawdy dramedy about rich, entitled dilettantes playing British royal power games hundreds of years ago. I couldn't relate to it.

There are also a few 2017 films in the 2018 lists below, mostly foreign films. Some 2017 foreign films were not released in the United States until 2018.

Below this list of top films, are honorable mentions, followed by lists of my picks for top director, top actor, top foreign film, etc. Those lists are followed by lists of the worst films, overrated films, funniest, saddest, most romantic, etc. I've included a Dubious Distinction award for a film of “bad faith.” My top 10 lists include more comedy and films starring black actors, two varieties of movies absent from most top 10 lists. Drama is easy, but comedy is tough to get right.

Page navigation: Commercial Links Honorable mention Best of by category Funniest movies,   Best Love Stories  Saddest movies Scariest villain Overrated movies,   Best movies you haven't heard of,   Most disappointing movies,   Dubious Distinction.

Best 10 films of 2018

1. Green Book[4 stars] There is an old saying that drama is easy and comedy is hard. This film gets both just right, and that is truly rare, making this a movie to treasure. Two very different men take a strange journey through the Deep South in the 1960, overcome their differences and become friends.
2. Paddington 2[4 stars] This is the perfect antidote to the cynicism, selfishness, xenophobia and hatred of the times we live in. This is a light, touching, magical film with imaginative visuals, interesting characters and an uplifting message. This was originally in my 2017 list of best films, but for some reason, I had to move it to the 2018 list.
3. The China Hustle[4 stars]This documentary is a wake-up call for investors. It uncovers some shocking facts about investments, and how few protections there are for investors victimized by the kinds of scams shown in this film. It also warns about efforts within the Federal Government to further reduce regulatory protections for investors.
4. Roma[4 stars] Roma is full of incredible images and memorable characters. It is a story of life and love — ordinary, down to earth people in extraordinary circumstances.
5. BlacKkKlansman[4 stars] In you hadn't noticed the rise of white supremacists in the U.S. in recent years, Spike Lee reminds us often of it in this film. Lee uses this based-on-fact movie about an amazing investigation into the Ku Klux Klan 40 years ago as a platform to show us the terrible costs of racism, past and present.
6. Tie: Won't You Be My Neighbor?[4 stars] and Three Identical Strangers[4 stars]

Won't You Be My Neighbor? — The fact that Mr. Rogers was a complicated man, with troubling things in his background that contributed to the man he became, takes nothing at all away from the fact that he was wonderful — a gift to the world. This is a wonderful documentary about a wonderful man.

Three Identical Strangers — Twins, separated at birth, somehow find each other. That is an incredible true story in itself, but then it turns out to be triplets, an even better story. That is just the beginning of this amazing documentary film about identical triplets, their families, an adoption agency, and scientists carrying out a secret experiment.

7. The Hate U Give[4 stars] This movie is as moving as anything I've seen this year. It packs a very strong emotional punch, by putting the viewer into a world which is way outside the comfort zone of most white people. It is one thing to intellectually grasp the facts of life for people who live under the constant threat of violence from gangs, police, or federal agents, but it is quite another to enter that world in a film like this.
8. Destroyer[4 stars] In a story about a world weary detective, played brilliantly by Nicole Kidman, the story bounces back and forth in time, revealing more and more about her soul, as each new layer of truth is revealed. We've seen this character before, usually played by a man, but seldom has there been so many character layers revealed in such a dramatic way.
9. Blindspotting[4 stars] This is a powerful, well-acted film with memorable characters. It has a fair amount of humor in it, as well as some poetry, in the form of rap. Director Carlos López Estrada makes good use of imagery, poetry, drama and humor to illustrate what it is like to live as a troubled black man in a racially divided city.
10. First Man[4 stars] The special effects depicting space travel in this movie are loud, violent and claustrophobic, making the dangers of space travel seem more personal. Most movies about space travel show rocket launches, dockings and landings from a distance, making it all seem larger than life, majestic, elegant, controlled — high adventure. This movie makes it seem more like the dangerous, desperate voyages of the ancient explorers, setting off for new worlds across vast and dangerous spaces in flimsy vessels.

Honorable Mention

Bohemian Rhapsody[3.5 stars] Hands down, the best music in any movie this year, and the best musical performances as well. Also the best lead actor performance, according to most awards shows anyway, by Rami Malek, who plays lead singer Freddy Mercury in this biopic about Mercury and the rock band Queen.
Sorry to Bother You[3.5 stars] This is a highly original movie that is very funny, but there is also some serious social commentary in it. The acting is effective and the story moves right along. Director and writer Boots Riley has produced a wonderful screenplay and an extremely impressive debut film.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?[3.5 stars] Lee Israel and Jack Hock come across as low-rent, marginal scoundrels that we have some sympathy for. They are crooks, but their victims are, for the most part, not entirely innocent either. This film walks that narrow path between these sympathies very adroitly.
Black Panther[3.5 stars] Black Panther, the most anticipated movie of the year, preceded with as much hype as anticipation, doesn't disappoint despite all that. It lives up to expectations. It is black pride on full display. This is something so rare in American films that it seemed like I was watching a foreign film, made in Wakanda, rather than Hollywood.
Colette[3.5 stars] This film has a similar story line to that of another 2018 award-winning film, “The Wife,” but “Colette” is based on fact, and the other one is based on fiction. Since this film is based on fact, it has the advantage of being far less predictable.
A Wrinkle in Time[3.5 stars] This loving adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's beloved novel is an emotional, visual feast, much needed in these times of division, anger, cynicism and mistrust. It is a tribute to the power of love in a cold, indifferent universe. This movie looks great in 3D. The tragedy is that Disney chose not to release the blu-ray in the 3D format.
They Shall Not Grow Old[3.5 stars] Rather than trying to do an all-inclusive documentary, Jackson, wisely I think, chose to focus on one aspect of World War One, that is the personal experiences of average British infantrymen fighting the Germans on the Western Front. It is all about life in the trenches as well as deadly machine guns, artillery and poison gas.
Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse[3.5 stars] This is very fast-paced, smart and high energy story telling. It has some drama, and a lot of comedy. The characters are interesting, and it all looks great. It's fast, it's funny, and it is stylish.

Patrick Ivers’ favorite 2018 films:

Films rated A:
The Hate U Give
Bohemian Rhapsody
Green Book
Borg vs McEnroe
Boy Erased
First Man
The Resistance Banker
Three Identical Strangers
First Reformed

Honorable mentions (rated B+):

If Beale Street Could Talk
Black Panther
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Death of Stalin
Mission: Impossible- Fallout
Mary Queen of Scots
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
The Guilty
Free Solo
Red Sparrow
Private Life
The China Hustle

More lists below

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Links to reviews of all the films on this page are indexed in the following web pages:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through L
M through Q   R through S   T through Z

Best director

1. Peter Farrelly — Green Book
2. Alfonso Cuarón — Roma
3. Paul King — Paddington 2
4. George Tillman Jr. — The Hate U Give
5. Spike Lee — BlacKkKlansman

Best actor

1. Viggo Mortensen — Green Book
2. Rami Malek — Bohemian Rhapsody
3. Ryan Gosling — First Man
4. Bradley Cooper — A Star is Born
5. Willem Dafoe — At Eternity‘s Gate

Best actress

1. Nicole Kidman — Destroyer
2. Melissa McCarthy — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
3. Glenn Close — The Wife
4. Keira Knightley — Colette
5. Amandla Stenberg — The Hate U Give

Best supporting actor

1. Mahershala Ali — Green Book
2. Richard E. Grant — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
3. Steve Carell — Vice
4. Jonathan Pryce — The Wife
5. Rafael Casal — Blindspotting

Best supporting actress

1. Amy Adams — Vice
2. Lupita Nyong'o — Black Panther
3. Letitia Wright — Black Panther
4. Emma Stone — The Favourite
5. Rachel Weisz — The Favourite

Best child actor

1. Storm Reid — A Wrinkle in Time

Best adapted screenplay

1. Paddington 2 — Paul King and Simon Farnaby
2. The Hate U Give — Audrey Wells
3. BlacKkKlansman — Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott
4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? — Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
5. First Man — Josh Singer

Best original screenplay

1. Green Book — Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly
2. Roma — Alfonso Cuarón
3. Sorry to Bother You — Boots Riley
4. Destroyer — Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
5. Bohemian Rhapsody — Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan

Best documentary feature

1. The China Hustle
2. Won't You Be My Neighbor?
3. Three Identical Strangers
4. They Shall Not Grow Old
5. RBG

Best animated feature

1. Spider-Man into the Spider Verse
2. The Incredibles 2
3. Ralph Breaks the Internet
4. Isle of Dogs

Best foreign language film

1. Roma
2. Shoplifters
3. The Resistance Banker
4. The Guilty
5. Twelve-Year Night

Best cinematography

1. Roma — Alfonso Cuarón
2. At Eternity's Gate — Benoît Delhomme
3. Crazy Rich Asians — Vanja Cernjul
4. Paddington 2 — Erik Wilson
5. The Favourite — Robbie Ryan

Best editing

1. Roma — Alfonso Cuarón and Adam Gough
2. Paddington 2 — Jonathan Amos and Mark Everson
3. Green Book — Patrick J. Don Vito
4. BlacKkKlansman — Barry Alexander Brown
5. The Hate U Give — Alex Blatt and Craig Hayes

Best songs in movies

1. Bohemian Rhapsody — Songs by Queen.
2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — Song “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,”
written by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch, sung by Willie Watson.
3. A Star is Born — Song, “La Vie en rose,” music by Louiguy, lyrics by Edith Piaf and sung by Lady Gaga.
4. Mary Poppins Returns — song “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” written by Scott Wittman, and sung by Emily Blunt.
5. RBG — Song, “I'll Fight,” music and lyrics by Diane Warren.

Best visual effects

1. Ready Player One
2. Black Panther
3. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
4. Avengers: Infinity War
5. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Links to reviews of all films on this site are indexed below:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through L
M through Q   R through S   T through Z

Funniest films of the year

Sorry to Bother You[3.5 stars]
Green Book[4 stars]
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part[3 stars]

Saddest films of the year

Ben is Back[3 stars]
Destroyer[4 stars]
The Hate U Give[4 stars]
Vice[3 stars]

Best love stories

If Beale Street Could Talk[3 stars]
Crazy Rich Asians[3 stars]

Scariest villain of the year

Racist mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, played by Anders Danielsen Lie in 22 July[3 stars]

The year's most overrated films

All of these films have won awards or have been highly rated by some critics groups, or have won praise at some film festivals, or are just rated higher than they ought to be. These are listed alphabetically.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout[2.5 stars]
A Star is Born[3 stars]
Avengers: Infinity War[2.5 stars]
If Beale Street Could Talk[3 stars]
The Favourite[3 stars]
A Quiet Place[3 stars]
Vice[3 stars]

The year's best films you've never heard of

The China Hustle[4 stars]This informative, scary documentary about the pitfalls of investing in China, opened in only 20 theaters, and it is not available on DVD or blu-ray. The only place I found it for sale or rent is at Amazon.com. No wonder so few have heard of it.
They Shall Not Grow Old[3.5 stars] This excellent documentary about World War One got a very limited release in some U.S. theaters through Fathom Events on December 17 and 27, 2018. I missed those dates, but luckily, it returned to Laramie the following month, by popular demand. It looks great in 3D, so I hope it will be released as a 3D blu ray. Because of the timing of it's release, it is totally ineligible for the 2018 or 2019 Academy Awards.
Colette[3.5 stars] This would normally be a French language film, since it is a biopic about a famous French writer, but it is an English language film, with a British star, Keira Knightley, playing the French writer Colette. What is it's market? It had limited distribution in the U.S.
Destroyer[4 stars] Nicole Kidman's brilliant performance as a world-weary detective got some notice, but not enough to raise the profile of this excellent film. Released on Christmas Day, 2018, it played in only 235 U.S. theaters.
Ben is Back[3 stars]Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges give great performances in this harrowing tale of the costs of drug addiction. Another limited release.
Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes[3 stars]A movie about the history of Fox News and the man who created it, the late Roger Ailes. People who actually believe Fox News is fair and balanced ought to see this, but probably won't. Another limited release documentary.
Love, Gilda[3 stars]If you have fond memories of watching the late Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live, or in other venues, you will probably enjoy this wistful documentary about the brilliant, accessible, vulnerable, smart, funny, beautiful Gilda Radner. Another limited release documentary.
The Wife[3 stars]Glenn Close won every acting award, except the Academy Award, for her brilliant performance as the long suffering wife of a famous writer. This fictional story is very similar to that of the true story of the famous French writer, Colette. Another limited release movie.

The Most Disappointing Films of 2018

While I saw most of the best films 2018, I purposefully missed nearly all of the reportedly bad films, including GottiThe Happytime MurdersWinchesterHolmes & WatsonRobin HoodSherlock GnomesDeath WishSlender ManDeath of a Nation Fifty Shades Freed Show DogsThe Possession of Hannah GraceNobody's FoolA-X-LBreaking InPeppermintMidnight Son and Johnny English Strikes Again, among many others. I also missed most of the bad limited release bad films, among many others, so this is not in any way a list of the worst of the worst films, just the worst of the films I saw. I did see The Darkest Minds, Venom, and Mortal Engines, and while they were disappointing, it did not make my “worst of” list, because I went into them with low expectations. I saw Mile 22 and A Wrinkle in Time and liked them far more than most critics did.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald[1.5 stars]I liked the Harry Potter movies and the first Fantastic Beasts movie, but this sequel was a huge letdown to me. Sequels are usually inferior, but this was especially so.
Mary Poppins Returns[2.5 stars] Based on the reviews of other critics, I was expecting a better movie than this turned out to be. It is not bad, but it falls far short of the 1964 original film in every way it can fall short.
Tomb Raider[2 stars]I liked the original Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) but this reboot was a disappointment. It is all cliffhangers with no character development. Some say it is the best video game movie adaptation ever made. If that was true, which it is not, they might just as well give up.

Dubious Distinctions

Bad Faith Award

The Bad Faith Award this year goes to Michael Moore's

Fahrenheit 11/9[2 stars]Michael Moore seems to have lost his sense of humor (his saving grace) in this gloom and doom polemic about the shortcomings of politics in America. Moore does a good job documenting the Flint, Michigan water crisis, but then his documentary goes off the rails.

His postmortem of the 2016 Presidential Election, is misleading and off target, way off to the left. His depiction of America as being far more liberal than it really is, also seems misleading. His depiction of President Donald Trump as a Nazi is over the top. Those seeing this film just prior to the November 6, 2018 elections might have been astonished at the election results, which seemed to be just the opposite of the America depicted in this film.

I expect reality-based documentary films from Moore. He is capable of so much more than merely being the Dinesh D'Souza of the left. He's better than this. He is certainly capable of funny films that still carry a strong message. He's done it before. I hope he does it again.

Links to all my reviews are indexed below:

A through B   C through D   E through G   H through I
J through L   M through N   O through Q   R through S   T through Z

Page navigation: Commercial Links  Honorable mention Best of by category Funniest movie,   Best Love Stories  Saddest movie Scariest villain Overrated movies,   Best movies you haven't heard of,   Most disappointing movies,   Dubious Distinctions.

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Copyright © 2019 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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