Favorite films of 2018

Critics are saying 2018 was the best year for film in years, maybe even in this century. That may well be true. They get paid to see a lot of films. As a private citizen with a busy life that included turning out a book, I saw fewer films than ever.

Also, a few of them stunk.

“Ocean’s 8” gave me a sinking feeling, ha ha.

I made a point of seeing “Let the Sunshine In” after strong reviews and a fizzy trailer. I disliked it and its confused and annoying lead character, and was in disbelief when in the final few minutes 1) Gerard Depardieu showed up out of nowhere and 2) the scene just kept going, with the credits on one side of the screen and more yakking taking place on the other. (The SF Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle put this movie in his Top 10. Even the great are allowed to falter.)

As if this hadn’t put me off enough from spending two hours in a theater, I came back from a vacation to find the well-reviewed, right-up-my-alley “Hearts Beat Loud” already on its way out of theaters. I drove to Brea to catch a matinee. What a disappointment. Somehow the main character was selling vinyl records in hipster Brooklyn — and failing? But he was. In all the scenes in the shop, there was rarely even one customer, which may have said more about the low budget for extras than about record selling.

This sourness is what happens when you feel pressed for time and see a dud: It’s harder to take it in stride. It puts you off the whole enterprise of moviegoing. Still, “Green Book” cheered me at Thanksgiving, and I rallied for three strong movies in the waning days of 2018.

This is all to say that this year’s Favorite Films list is a bit wan and underdeveloped. But here it is. Take a look and then tell me in the comments what you saw and liked, or hated.

Incidentally, and for posterity, I wish I’d seen the October 2017 release “Faces, Places” in time to include it on my 2017 list. It would have been No. 1. It may have been the best movie I saw in 2018, but I don’t list it below since I can’t credibly call it a 2018 movie.

10. Black Panther

9. Death of Stalin

8. The Post

7. Vice

6. RBG

5. Green Book

4. Leave No Trace

3. Roma

2. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

1. Shoplifters

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  • SAWZ

    I saw very few films this past year, compared with my usual slate. It seemed like there was never much enticing and I was busier than usual. (There is a documentary about the man that climbed El Capitan free-style, “Free Solo”. When I read that Jimmy Chin had filmed it I told myself I must see it. It evidently slipped into the Laemmle in November and I missed it. I hope it will come back around.)

    I saw “The Post”, “Green Book”, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, and “Hearts Beat Loud”–enjoyed all of those. Also caught “Shape of Water” just before the Oscars.

    When “Bohemian Rhapsody” debuted, I wasn’t enthusiastic to see it because the critics had panned it and I never believed it was possible for any actors to portray Freddie Mercury and the other three members of Queen and do them “justice”. Anyway, I saw it the first weekend it showed at the Laemmle and have seen it five times. It is fabulous! I think the hands-on participation of band members Brian May and Roger Taylor with the production resulted in the most entertaining movie of the year. The casting was excellent–I think the actor who portrayed Freddie Mercury, Rami Malek, deserves the Oscar for best performance by an actor in 2017.

    ROMA–I felt I wasted those two and one-half hours to see it. It was boring!

    Oh, I did attend the western series that you hosted at the Ontario Library. Enjoyed the experience and look forward to more. How about a documentary series. MERU, about elite mountain climbers scaling that mountain in India, is on my list of the best movies of my life.

    • davidallen909

      You’re much of the reason I write these movie-year posts, Shirley, so it’s always good to hear from you. Critics say it was a great year for movies, but if like me you weren’t that enticed, that’s just how it goes.

      I think the Ontario movie series may be kaput; usually I hear from the library late in the year, and that didn’t happen.

      • SAWZ

        Did you honestly not see, “Bohemian Rhapsody”? When I was watching it the first time, I was figuratively pinching myself thinking, “This can’t be– a film about this group, this good, was impossible!”

        • davidallen909

          No, I honestly did not see it. I saw only four or five movies that didn’t make the Top 10, Avengers being aced out at No. 11.

          • SAWZ

            Art is in the eye of the beholder. Since we had such divergent reactions to ROMA, I will be interested to learn your critique of BR–which I predict you will not be able to resist viewing when the opportunity comes.

  • SAWZ

    I just learned that the documentary on Salvadore Dali has two showings at the Laemmle next week–I hope to get there. I went to the Salvadore Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Florida in the year 2000–it is the largest collection of his works outside Europe.. Since I was there, the museum has been torn down and a new one built. That artist is fascinating!!

  • SAWZ

    What a weird movie year this was. I open info on the top-rated movies and read the audience reviews; nothing appeals or makes me want to view. Yet, I could watch BoRap over and over.
    The cinema-photography in the Dali documentary was beautiful–much better than the same for ROMA. Re ROMA: I don’t get that soapy, water slowly covering and bubbeling across a tiled carport floor again and again, or a nude Ninja warrior doing his moves, are great cinema-photography. The upcoming Oscars are going to be so boring! Oh well–we will still have the fashions.