My 2018 Top Ten (And More)

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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It’s customary for film critics to issue an annual Best Picture list. Some critics go very highbrow. Others sprinkle their list with foreign films that will never come to your neighborhood movie theater. I try to stick with popular fare, films you might have had a chance to see.

Here are my Top Ten picks … along with a few Honorable Mentions worthy of your viewing.

10. “Crazy Rich Asians” – A silly rom-com but done superbly well with a mostly Asian cast. You will like it. That’s entertainment in the old Hollywood tradition with a Far East flavor.

9. “The Rider” – An almost-true story about a crippled rodeo rider who has a way with horses. Chloé Zhao’s verité drama captures the conflicting emotions of Brady Jandreau (here cast alongside his own South Dakota relatives) more or less playing himself.

8. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – This musical drama based on the singing group Queen is entertaining, if not totally accurate. But Rami Malek gives a strong performance (on and off stage).

7. “A Star Is Born” – Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga join forces to retell this familiar story about a rising star (and a falling star). A great movie debut for Lady Gaga to the delight of her many fans.

6. “BlacKKKlansman” – Spike Lee takes another swipe at racism in this true story about a black lawman who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.

5. “Black Panther” – Marvel’s black superhero appeals to audiences of all ethnicities. Wakanda forever!

4. “The Favourite” – This costume piece about England’s Queen Anne is indeed an absurdist comedy. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman are wickedly delightful in director Yorgos Lanthimos’s surreal masterpiece.

3. “If Beale Street Could Talk” – Racism and romance are interwoven in this dramatic adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel. A young woman named Tish (KiKi Layne) discovers she’s pregnant after her lover Fonny (Stephan James) is wrongfully accused of rape by the police. From Barry Jenkins, the director of “Moonlight.”

2. “Green Book” – In this reverse “Driving Miss Daisy,” a white guy (Viggo Mortensen) chauffeurs a black musician (Mahershala Ali) for performances throughout the South. Based on a true story.

1. “Vice” – Christian Bale got fat and bald to portray former vice president Dick Chaney. Great comedy even if it is based on recent political history. When Christian Bale won a Golden Globe for the role, he thanked Satan “for giving me inspiration on how to play this role.”

Honorable Mentions: Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” captures the angst of youth, a familiar theme but one that’s rarely been done better. Elsie Fisher is perfect as a thirteen-year-old whose day-to-day existence is defined by social media, squabbles with her dad, and social anxiety.

Honorable Mention: “A Quiet Place” deserves serious reappraisal following the similar-themed Netflix hit, “Bird Box.” Here, sound-sensitive monsters roam the countryside in this apocalyptic horror story starring John Krasinski and his wife Emily Blunt.

Honorable Mention: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” certainly deserves a nod, but this Coen brothers Netflix movie never played in theaters. Still it’s a brilliant piece of filmmaking, using the Old West as a backdrop for six stories of plans gone awry.

Honorable Mention: In “The Old Man and the Gun,” a gentle tale of a gentleman bank robber, Robert Redford says goodbye to the screen (supposedly).

Honorable Mention: “Can You Ever Forgive Me” gives a showcase to Melissa McCarthy’s acting ability. In this dramedy about loneliness and creative talent, she plays a biographer-turned-letter-forger.

Honorable Mention: With “Mission Impossible: Fallout” we must give credit where credit’s due – to Tom Cruise for delivering a thoroughly entertaining action thriller.

Best Foreign Film: “Roma,” with “Burning,” “Cold War,” and “Shoplifters” deserving a nod.

Best Documentary: “Three Identical Strangers,” with “Free Solo,” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” getting an Honorable Mention.

How does this measure up with your list? Keep in mind this in not an Oscar forecast.

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