Music-themed films top the list

| January 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

Here is my list of the most enjoyable films I saw during 2018. Even though I cut back on the number of films I saw this year, this list is much longer than it has been in the past. Am I getting soft?

This is based only on films I saw and does not include those I didn’t see, like “Green Book,” a film most people liked. I’m afraid I might have been in the minority because it’s another twisting of the truth by Hollywood, a film that has been thoroughly disparaged by the family of the lead character, Dr. Don Shirley, as “full of lies.”

1. A Star is Born: They keep remaking this movie, and, except for the Streisand debacle, they are all good. This might be the best.

2. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again: After the horrible casting of Meryl Streep and other non-singers in singing roles ruined the first one, this is a pure delight with wonderful music, good actors, singers, production numbers, and boffo cinematography.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody: Another film that knocks it out of the park musically with a terrific lead performance by Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury.

4. Searching: A brilliantly devised thriller told in such a captivating way that it is almost impossible not to enjoy.

5. Always at the Carlyle: Loaded with celebrities and royalty, fascinating and funny, producer / writer / director Matthew Miele captures the magic of life in New York City, a fitting companion to his “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s.” I hated to see it end.

6. Back to Burgundy: Highlighted by gorgeous cinematography shot on atmospheric location in real Burgundy vineyards, this is a compelling view of winemaking as it really exists in France. In French, English, and Spanish.

7. Bad Times at the El Royale: Best thriller of the year.

8. Chappaquiddick: Ted Kennedy finally gets what he deserves, a truthful story about what a spoiled, selfish, pampered, irresponsible, self-centered heel he was, even though some Democrats hail him as their “Lion of the Senate.” Ha!

9. Adrift: Hollywood finally gets it right in telling a true story of an amazing survival at sea with a wonderful twist at the end, that many viewers completely missed.

10. The Children Act: British High Court Judge Emma Thompson acts with certitude in her courtroom when faced with important decisions often affecting life and death. But when confronted with her own dilemma, she lacks such certainty and runs away from facing up to the problem. It’s a brilliant dichotomy treated with sensitivity and perception.

11. The Mule: If this is director / actor Clint Eastwood’s swan song, he’s going out on top.

12. A Private War: Ros- amund Pike plays the hard-drinking, hard-smoking, hard-living war correspondent Marie Colvin to the hilt.

13. The Guilty: It’s hard to believe that watching a man speak on the phone for 84 minutes could be this entrancing. In Danish.

14. Leave No Trace: Director Debra Granik’s last film was the surprise stunner “Winter’s Bone” (2010) that introduced the world to Jennifer Lawrence as a backwoods girl. Once again, Granik is in the mountains. This time, she introduces us to Thomasin Harcourt Mc-Kenzie in her debut, and all Ms. McKenzie does is give a performance that is the equal of the aforementioned Ms. Lawrence. Granik needs to make more than one film every eight years.

15. The Wife: With a title that turns out to be tellingly tongue in cheek, what starts out as a relatively benign story of an elderly Jewish man, Jonathan Pryce, winning the 1992 Nobel Prize for literature and his relationship with his WASPish wife, Glenn Close, and children morphs into something quite different.

16. Tully: After what seems like an interesting, entertaining, well-above-average dramedy, a reveal in the last moments causes one to wonder if something metaphysical has been going on here.

17. Puzzle: I cannot think of one single thing that I would change about this film. The acting is incomparable, the directing deft, and the writing poignantly brilliant. All should have got Oscar nominations, but that is a pipe dream for a small movie like this.

18. Under the Tree: An involving film about revenge with the moral that it is often better to turn the other cheek and let things roll off your back, to mix aphorisms.

19. Colette: A biopic of the great French writer whose quality is more than a sum of its parts. For me, the best of it is the cinematography (Giles Nuttgens). The locales are so beautifully framed and shot that many of the scenes could stand as magnificent oil paintings. The visual values of this movie blew me away.

20. Journey’s End: A brilliant exposition of what life was like in the trenches of WWI and the futility of even trying to hope. The battle scenes are excruciatingly realistic.

21. Love, Gilda: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Gilda Radner, but not enough of Roseanne Roseannadanna.

22. Moynihan: An interesting documentary on a fascinating man.

23. Gringo: A throwback to the old days, a good screwball comedy from the ’40s as things turn from bad to worse for everybody, and it’s a gas.

24. The Seagull: The play that was the game-changer for doctor / writer Anton Chekhov translated by a terrific cast is as heavy as you might expect, but well worth it.

Also worthy: “Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain,” “Hal,” “Instant Family,” “Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom,” “Red Sparrow,” “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “Widows.”


Category: Entertainment

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