In another unpredictable, groundbreaking and (on certain occasions) soaring year at the movies, these are my selections for the 10 Best:
1. “MARY POPPINS RETURNS”
My most anticipated movie of 2018 ends-up being the best movie of 2018. Disney, Rob Marshall and the dazzling Emily Blunt have created a joyous, beautiful sequel that practically perfectly mirrors the iconic original. The songs are tremendous. The cameos are incredible. The story has so much power. And as I watch it again throughout the rest of my life, I will always tear-up (or beyond) at two specific places. If you’ve seen “Mary Poppins Returns” (and know me well), you can probably guess the scenes.
The year’s best animated feature is a profound look at childhood and parenthood. When it comes to storytelling and the visuals, director Mamoru Hosda’s latest is stunning. I hope it becomes annual viewing for families.
3. “SCIENCE FAIR”
The finest documentary feature (in the strongest year ever for the genre) centers around students from all over the globe who compete in a renowned science academic competition. It put a smile on my face the entire time. I could watch it another 20 times and enjoy it just as much every single time.
4. “READY PLAYER ONE”
When I walked out of seeing this in March, I declared that I would be stunned if it didn’t end-up on my 10 Best Movies list at the end of the year. Steven Spielberg was making this and my No. 1 film of 2017, “The Post”, simultaneously. He can still knock it out of the park.
5. “THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS”
Joel & Ethan Coen’s six-story western is a refreshing, stylistic throwback to their early work. Each of the shorts has strength and power, particularly the first, title one. Tim Blake Nelson has embodied a now iconic cinematic character in Scruggs.
6. “CHRISTOPHER ROBIN”
It’s a rather bizarre yet utterly fascinating trip to the Hundred Acre Wood and beyond. “Finding Neverland” director Marc Foster pulled-off a rather high-pressure task: capturing the same kind of spirit, energy and care from the hand-drawn animated Winnie the Pooh adventures in live-action and CGI form. It deserves a Visual Effects Oscar nomination.
7. “A STAR IS BORN”
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are simply dynamite. And as I was watching it, I quickly realized that this is a film made by someone who LOVES movies. “Star” will be an inspiration for the next generation of filmmakers.
8. “INCREDIBLES 2”
Brad Bird and Pixar did what was thought to be impossible. They made a sequel to “The Incredibles” that, in many respects, is even better than “The Incredibles”. The second half is stellar, and Michael Giacchino’s score is sensational.
This is the movie that has lingered in my mind the most in 2018. I knew I liked it when I saw it in February, but director Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina” follow-up has a lasting, growing impact. Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh are also fantastic.
10. “EIGHTH GRADE”
Comedian Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is a poignant coming of age dramedy. And there’s no question that young Elsie Fisher is now a bonafide movie star.
“Avengers: Infinity War” – One of the best casts of 2018 and an unforgettable ending
“First Man” – Damien Chazelle has crafted yet another winner, with a career-best Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong.
“Halloween” – Jamie Lee Curtis is terrific in one of the year’s biggest surprises.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” – A complete 180 of the original
“Three Identical Strangers” – A spellbinding and haunting documentary