Here is Part I of my list of the most enjoyable films I saw during 2018. Even though I cut back on the number of films I saw last year, the 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, having been thoroughly disparaged by the family of the central character, Dr. Don Shirley, as “full of lies.”
- A Star is Born: They keep remaking this movie and, except for the Streisand debacle, they are all good. This might be the best.
- 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.
- Bohemian Rhapsody: Another musical that knocks it out of the park with a terrific lead performance by Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury.
- Searching: This is a brilliantly devised thriller that is told in such a captivating way that it is almost impossible not to enjoy.
- 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.
- 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. Adding to the verisimilitude is the presence of actor Jean-Marc Roulot who is, in fact, an experienced winemaker in Burgundy. In French, English, and Spanish.
- Bad Times at the El Royale: Best thriller of the year.
- 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 the Democrats hail him as their “Lion of the Senate.” Ha!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Mule: If this is director/actor Clint Eastwood’s swan song, he’s going out on top.
- A Private War: Rosamund Pike plays the hard-drinking, hard-smoking, hard-living war correspondent Marie Colvin to the hilt.
- The Guilty: It’s hard to believe that watching a man speak on the phone for 84 minutes could be this entrancing. In Danish.
- 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, Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), winning the 1992 Nobel Prize for literature and his relationship with his WASPish wife, Joan (Glenn Close) and children, morphs into something quite different.
That’s not all! The rest of the list will appear next week.
Tony Medley is an MPAA-accredited film critic. See more reviews at TonyMedley.com.