The list was not easy to limit to Ten pictures - But here is my top Ten for best films and actors for 2018 -- Including some runner up favorites, it was sad to see less female Directors that I hope make the nominations list at the Oscars and other film fest events.
The Best film of 2018 - ROMA - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
This rich film offers human insight into loneliness and motherhood and is a wonderful take on the human condition. Director Alfonso Cuarón crafts a story that blends Mexican culture and the universally shared feeling of loneliness to create a unique narrative that reminds the viewer that, while being alone can be hard, comfort and comradery can be found among others with similar experiences. The film explores the bond of the film makes bond with his boyhood housekeeper.
Number 2 pick for best Film - FIRST REFORMED
Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, parish pastor at a small Dutch church in upstate New York celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence. From writer-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver; American Gigolo; Affliction) this is a gripping thriller about a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political, and planetary.
Number 3 - ISLE OF DOGS An outbreak of dog flu has spread through the city of Megasaki, Japan, and Mayor Kobayashi has demanded all dogs to be sent to Trash Island. On the island, a young boy named Atari sets out to find his lost dog, Spots, with the help of five other dogs... with many obstacles along the way. Director Wes Anderson Writers Wes Anderson story by, Roman Coppola Stars: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton.
Number 4 - CRAZY RICH ASIANS Directed by local Bay Area favorite Jon M. Chu, from a screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. The film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Nico Santos, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong. and Michelle Yeoh and follows an American professor who travels to meet her boyfriend's family and is surprised to discover they are among the richest in Singapore. The first all Asian Cast in 20 years, that has world wide earned the most for a RomCom.
Number 5 film BLACK PANTHER Director: Ryan Coogler After the death of his father, T'Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T'Challa's mettle as king -- and as Black Panther -- gets tested when he's drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.
Number 6 - A STAR IS BORN “A Star is Born” is predicted to win three of the four acting awards and Best Picture at the Oscars. We expect that leads Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper as well as supporting player Sam Elliott will all take home Academy Awards. The casts of only two other films in the 90-year history of the Oscars have pulled off such a feat — “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) and “Network” (1976) — and neither of those films claimed the top prize.
My pick for Number 7 SHOPLIFTERS - From the director of Still Walking, Like Father, Like Son and Nobody Knows. A film by Kore-Eda Hirokazu.The film follows a group of people in poverty living in a small home in Tokyo: Osamu, a day laborer forced to leave his job after breaking his ankle; his wife Nobuyo, who works for an industrial laundry service; Aki, who works at a hostess club; Shota, a young boy; and Hatsue, an elderly woman who owns the home and supports the group with her deceased husband's pension.
Number 8 DEATH OF STALIN Political satire comedy film written and directed by Armando Iannucci and co-written by David Schneider, Ian Martin and Peter Fellows. It stars Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, and Jeffrey Tambor, with Olga Kurylenko, Paul Chahidi, Dermot Crowley, Adrian McLoughlin, and Paul Whitehouse appearing in support roles. Based on the French graphic novel La mort de Staline, the film depicts the power struggle following the death of Soviet revolutionary and politician Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) in 1953.
Number 9 - MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ explores a British monarchy tussle “Mary Queen of Scots,” a history lesson that is no less than a stirring inspiration for an epic such as “Game of Thrones” — No dragons — but all the better for having been a series of real-life events. Two of the in-demand actresses bring fiery life to Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) and Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), cousins and queen regents of lands long governed by lesser men. Together, respectively, they ruled Scotland and England. Separately, each demanded more of the other than they themselves could return in kind. Their Catholic and Protestant faiths were at odds. It pulled their trajectories into each other’s orbits and it did not end well for both of them. David Tennant plays a damnation-spouting cleric that is more of a Greek chorus for the movie.
Number 10 - 8th GRADE Director: Bo Burnham American comedy-drama film written and directed by Bo Burnham. It is his feature film directorial debut. The plot follows the life and struggles of an eighth-grader, played by Elsie Fisher, during her last week of classes before graduating to high school. She struggles with anxiety in social situations but produces video blogs giving life advice. A Sundance hit and Honored
I also want to mention - VICE, BLINDSPOTTING, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, MARY POPPINS, BLACK KLANSMAN, WIDOWS, THE FAVORITE, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, BE MY NEIGHBOR
BOY ERASED, BEAUTIFUL BOY, THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN, MOWGLI LEGEND OF THE JUNGLE, THE SISTERS BROTHERS, BURNING
BEST ACTORS 2018
GLEN CLOSE - THE WIFE
ETHAN HAWK - FIRST REFORMED
LAKEITH STANFIELD - SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
YALITZIA APARICIO - ROMA
BRADLEY COOPER - A STAR IS BORN
LADY GAGA - A STAR IS BORN
RAMI MALEK - BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
Constance Wu - Crazy Rich Asians
Amy Adams - Vice
Christian Bale - Vice
Lin-Manuel Miranda - Mary Poppins Returns
Viggo Mortensen - Green Book
Robert Redford - The Old Man & the Gun
John C. Reilly - Stan & Ollie
Look for my Golden Globe and Oscar picks - in Mid January 2019
GO SEE A MOVIE