It’s that time of the year when we reflect on… the year that was. As always, each year seems to have its own flavor. Plenty of ups and downs – people in and out of controversy and the headlines for good and bad reasons. My list of the 10 most fascinating people of 2018 covers a little bit of everything in the world of entertainment.
Let’s begin with someone who’s had a big couple of years: TIFFANY HADDISH. She was a Best Supporting Actress Critics Choice nominee in January for her comedic performance in the previous summer’s “Girls Trip”. That role also allowed Haddish to co-announce the Oscar nominations with Andy Serkis. Haddish co-starred with Tracy Morgan on the inaugural season of the TBS comedy series “The Last OG”, which has been picked up for Season 2. And in the Fall, Haddish opened two comedy movies: “Night School” with Kevin Hart and Tyler Perry’s “Nobody’s Fool”.
We move on to the star of the movie that dominated the winter… and spring… and still made some money in the summer. It’s “Black Panther”’s CHADWICK BOSEMAN. He rose to fame as Jackie Robinson in 2013’s “42”, followed-by another critically acclaimed performance as James Brown in 2014’s “Get On Up”. But his entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” would change Boseman’s life. “Black Panther” has now skyrocketed him to A-list status – in a film that’s a legitimate contender for the Best Picture Academy Award.
No show has dominated the cable ratings quite like “LIVE PD”. And the trio of on-air personalities are now some of the biggest faces of television and social media. The A&E reality series draws an average 2 million people on Friday and Saturday nights. Host DAN ABRAMS and analysts SEAN “STICKS” LARKIN (a Tulsa PD officer) and TOM MORRIS, JR. lead the way for three hours of unpredictable live TV. “Live PD” is an undeniable hit.
Fascinating is the perfect word to describe JEFF GOLDBLUM. He’s one of the most stylish dressers in entertainment. And in 2018, he re-teamed with director Wes Anderson to voice a character in “Isle of Dogs” and reprised his role as Ian Malcolm in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”. But most fascinating of all – he released a jazz album.
One of the indie darlings of the year has been “EIGHTH GRADE”. Its writer/director BO BURNHAM was best known as a stand-up comedian with a successful YouTube channel. But his first venture into filmmaking has proven to be a monumental leap for his career. This is also partly because of his leading actress, young ELSIE FISHER. She voiced Agnes in the first two “Despicable Me” movies before giving a breakthrough, Golden Globe, Critics Choice and Independent Spirit Award nominated performance in this coming-of-age dramedy.
We don’t have to turn back time that far to delve into the unpredictable life of CHER. She made a grand entrance as grandma in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and performed two songs in the film. Her collaboration with Abba became the inspiration for an entire Abba covers album… and a new comeback tour (appropriately titled “Here We Go Again”) for next year. “The Cher Show” just opened on Broadway. And now the Oscar winner has announced she is writing a memoir set to be published 2020 – and a biopic on her life is also in the works.
“Dancing with the Stars” stirred things up with its surprising winner: country radio host BOBBY BONES. He became the “everyman” who connected with America and is looking to become a fixture in the ABC family. Bones was a judge on “Miss America”, presented at the CMAs and will be the official in-house mentor on the upcoming season of “American Idol”.
She’s one of the biggest movie stars on the planet who’s having one of the biggest years of her career. NICOLE KIDMAN earned a Golden Globe nomination for the action drama “Destroyer” (out in select theaters on Christmas Day) and a Critics Choice Awards nomination for “Boy Erased” (now playing). Kidman is also in “Aquaman” (opening Thursday) and the long-delayed comedy “The Upside”, with Hart and Bryan Cranston (January 11). And she’ll be back for Season 2 of HBO’s “Big Little Lies”.
You don’t need to make this list for positive reasons. Academy President JOHN BAILEY is a fascinating individual when it comes to making decisions. Making the Oscars 3 hours max. Not incorporating all 24 categories into the live show. That whole “Best Popular Film” category nightmare. And the whole Kevin Hart hosting thing. This has not been a positive PR year for AMPAS, which now sees the potential of no Oscar host in February – something that hasn’t been done in decades.
But The Most Fascinating Person of 2018 is… FRED ROGERS. Wherever you went this year – you couldn’t ignore Mr. Rogers: the show, the “character”, the man, the legacy. Focus Features acquired the distributing rights to the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” following its Sundance Film Festival debut in January. They soon released a trailer that captured the hearts of America. Soon there were Mr. Rogers stamps commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the PBS series. And PBS aired their own star-studded tribute to Rogers hosted by Michael Keaton (a former worker on the show) before Focus released “Neighbor”.
“Neighbor” ushered in the most acclaimed year for the documentary film genre and won the Best Documentary Feature honor at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards. Through that film and various specials and in-depth news and magazine stories and interviews, we’ve been able to get an incredible amount of insight into the true identity of Fred Rogers. And in October, Tom Hanks will attempt to earn his first Oscar nomination in nearly two decades playing Rogers in the drama “You Are My Friend”, directed by “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”’s Marielle Heller.