Top 10 Movies of 2018

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A little late due to sickness and life. But here is my final Top 10 list for 2018 focusing on my favorite films. I’m still behind in reviews, so haven’t added Paddington 2, Aquaman, Bumblebee, Roma and a couple others, but only one of them made the list. BUT WHICH ONE?

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Top 10 TV 2018

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It’s been a great year for television, evidenced mostly by having too many good shows I can’t even catch (I will get to the Americans when I get to it). Pioneers like Netflix and Hulu continued streaming’s dominance by putting focus on writing and character. There may be tiny spoilers in the descriptions but nothing too major.

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Top 10 Music – 2018

 

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They Shall Not Grow Old

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There’s a tendency to think of the recent past, a hundred years ago or so, as existing solely in shadowy black and white images, as was the state of film at the time. In Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old the major conceit is the use of technology to colorize old footage to give it a life that it did not have prior. However, this is only one aspect to this vexing, engaging film. The stylized footage of ruddy-faced boys in blues and greens doesn’t really factor in until half an hour into the film, and at that point my attention was already focused, rapt as the every scene unfolded.

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If Beale Street Could Talk

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There’s a dreamlike quality that wafts around If Beale Street Could Talk, writer-director Barry Jenkins follow-up to his Oscar-winning film Moonlight, and based on the novel by James Baldwin. Following the love story of Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), childhood friends who become adult lovers, the film tracks the beginning of their relationship and it’s strain when Fonny is arrested for a rape he didn’t commit and Tish learns she’s pregnant.

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Ben is Back

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Julia Roberts is having a moment, with her venture into TV with Amazon’s Homecoming, and her welcome return to form in Ben is Back, her first leading movie role in a few years. As the movie of the titular Ben (Lucas Hedges), her oldest of four children, an addict, that surprises the family with an abrupt return on Christmas Eve. The film sets up intriguing character dynamics and shifts tones between family drama and mild thriller as the forces some surprising turns, but ultimately it never quite veers away from being a well-done version of a mediocre movie that Lifetime specializes in.

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Green Book

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There’s probably a great movie to be made about Dr. Don Shirley, the closeted classical piano virtuoso as he embarks on a tour of the south in the segregated 60s, but Green Book isn’t it. While the film itself is well produced, and leads Viggo Mortensen and especially Mahershala Ali are amazing, this film is more interested in showcasing and normalizing the casual racism of Mortensen’s Tony Vallelonga as he operates as Shirley’s driver. If you want to see a white-savior movie where a black guy learns about Little Richard and fried chicken from a white dude that uses “eggplants” as a pejorative then have at it, but this film made me feel more uncomfortable than anything.

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Free Solo

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Sometimes movies where the conclusion is known can be robbed a little bit of their momentum, but in the case of Free Solo, there was a fascinating tension throughout. The gorgeously-shot documentary film covers the intention of Alex Honnold to become the first person to ever scale the 3000 ft. wall of El Capitan in Yosemite with no ropes or gear of any kind. As the film tracks Honnold’s quest, his training, and his relationship, it also showcases the beautiful scenery of the mountains he scales, and somewhat surprisingly, there’s never a dull moment. Continue reading

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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By lunging headfirst into the Spider-Man mythos and poking fun at its tropes while continually reinforcing them, Into the Spider-Verse is a silly, heartfelt fun ride, that is as bold and engaging as it is dense and impenetrable. Amidst a story full of time-travel, parallel-universe hokum, the film nonetheless pulls at the right heartstrings while highlighting the universality that made the original Spider-Man an everyman hero.

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The Favourite

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While eschewing historical accuracy, The 18th century epic The Favourite plays like a political All About Eve, decorated with crowns and powdered wigs. Purporting to tell the story of Queen Anne (a deliriously grand Olivia Colman) and her dueling subjects, confidant Sarah (wryly malicious Rachel Weisz) and new servant Abigail (earnestly aggressive Emma Stone), the film veers into a seedy sexual triangle of one-upmanship. With lush backgrounds continually magnified through fish-eye lenses, the style of the film is only surpassed by the game performances of its three leads.

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