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Friday
Dec072018

More top ten lists for your reading pleasure...

List after list every day now. Wheeee,  we love this time of year even as we wish the majority of critics would actually wait for the last week of the year or the first week of the new year to do their top ten lists. Nobody has seen enough by early December is our feeling. But anyway here are a few more lists to check out from popular critics and sites...

EMILY YOSHIDA
You can read her full article here. Her fellow Vulture critic David Edelstein, repeats half of her titles in his own list. We've included two excerpts below...

10. A Star is Born
09. Have a Nice Day
08. Sorry to Bother You...

Politically progressive cinema needn’t be a preachy drag, and Boots Riley’s directorial debut is proof of how much fun it can (and used to) be. The story of Cash Green’s (Lakeith Stanfield) rise and fall in the ranks of a soul-crushing corporate behemoth goes to places most films would discard several drafts before the final, but in this case, the lack of self-consciousness is the film’s best trait. Riley’s film has a handmade feel to it, packed to the gills with visual jokes and art-department gems, but rather than the preciousness-for-its-own-sake of a Michel Gondry film (or Dongry, if you like), it’s all there to ensure that its pro-union, punk-rock ethos is not soon forgotten.


07. Shoplifters
06. Eighth Grade

Watching Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is like cracking open an old yearbook, telling yourself you’re just going to flip through it for a second, and two hours later getting lost in it, equal parts horrified and heart-warmed. Resisting its pull is futile. Burnham’s script is unsparing in its depiction of adolescent humiliations, and yet never mean. (The Welcome to the Dollhouse comparisons only go so far.) As Kayla, an awkward tween striver trying to find herself in the maelstrom of social-media-augmented adolescent terror, Elsie Fisher is a true find, and she somehow manages to make the words “Yeah, huh?” one of the best line readings of the year.


05. The Rider
04. Suspiria
03. Shirkers
02. First Reformed
01. Roma 

SEAN FENNESSEY & ADAM NAYMAN
The Ringer's writers created a dual top ten list... not sure how that worked (no third or a tiebreaker?) unless these men have the exact same taste? You can read the full thing here but here are two excerpts.

10. If Beale Street Could Talk
09. Support the Girls
08. Annihilation

As science fiction goes, 2018 was not a banner year. Consumed by the trappings of adaptation (Ready Player One), intellectual property (The Predator), world-building (The Cloverfield Paradox), and sequelism (Pacific Rim: Uprising), just one film in the genre sought to tell a story individuated from our modern movie world. Garland’s loose adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel is an exceptionally strange film as studio fare goes, colorful and violent, but also opaque, elusive, and spiritual. The film follows an all-female team of emotionally unmoored scientists who travel to the center of an all-consuming ecological event that is devouring land and time at a terrifying rate. It’s called the Shimmer, and its appetite is cosmic. Garland, who plumbed the depths of artificial intelligence in 2015’s Ex Machina, takes a bolder risk here, attempting to tangle with the idea of the self while also having Natalie Portman fire an automatic weapon at a mutant alligator. It’s an odd, intoxicating film with a score that will invade your bloodstream, a breathtaking third act, and a puzzle-box ending that rewards multiple viewings. There is nothing else like it, mostly because no one else would try. 


07. Let the Sunshine In
06. First Reformed
05. Black Panther

Black Panther does something that no other movie has done before. I’m not talking about crafting a cinematic superhero film that is both acclaimed and socially relevant, though that’s true. And I’m not talking about making a film with a primarily black cast an international sensation, though that is also true. Black Panther does something else extraordinary: It bends a world to its whims. The extended Marvel continuum is the center of the pop cultural universe, more dominant, demanding, and overexamined than anything else. But, in a clever bit of self-referentiality, Black Panther mimics its own core crisis of isolationism vs. globalism, zooming in to a localized fable of succession, kings, and factional warfare. Sure, it globe-trots like a James Bond flick and ponders the history of the fates. But it takes itself seriously and stays home in Wakanda, eyeing oppression and disenfranchisement within the walls of closed communities. 

But this isn’t a turgid morality play. The composite parts of a rollicking comic book movie are all there: sharply drawn set pieces, exceptional costuming and production design, overqualified actors filling in bit-part gaps, adventurous photographic choices, meme-worthy gags. Evil threatens and ultimately falls. But Coogler’s sure-handed, empathic portrait of fathers and sons—what they give to each other and what they take away—is an uncommonly trenchant theme interwoven in a movie that also features CGI war rhinos. Black Panther is obviously great, but never greatly obvious.


04. Zama
03. Roma
02. Minding the Gap
01. Burning 

RICHARD LAWSON
Vanity Fair's chief film critic writes beautifully and has the courage of his convictions as you can see in this list. You can read his full thing here but there are two excerpts below.

10. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Midway through a grim year, how nice it was to take a dreamy trip to Greece for a party, a bit of mourning, and, finally, a baptism. The sequel to the smash-hit 2008 film, itself an adaptation of ABBA’s blockbuster stage show, has to contend with a distinct lack of Meryl Streep—but in that struggle, it finds wit, invention, and surprising depth. Lily James joins the troupe as a younger version of Streep’s character, Donna, and she matches the film’s radiance with her own. ABBA’s songs may be cloying as baklava, but all that sugary sentiment feels proportionate to the lush dimensions of writer-director Ol Parker’s well-calibrated film. Neither high art nor empty act of corporate cynicism, Here We Go Again embodies the giddy bounce of life at its silliest and most delicious. How could anyone resist all of its exuberant energy? And what’s more, there’s Cher.


09. Happy as Lazzaro
08. A Star is Born
07. Mission: Impossible - Fallout

There are moments in Christopher McQuarrie’s cracklingly fun spectacular when series star Tom Cruise seems hell-bent on killing himself. He did, in fact, break an ankle while filming one of Fallout’s rollicking sequences, a testament to his go-for-broke commitment to this franchise. The Mission: Impossible movies have always been a good time, but Fallout is the first of them to fully utilize the potential of film physics. Whirling high above the mountains of Kashmir in a helicopter and zipping through Paris in one of the new century’s greatest chase scenes, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is an agent of masterfully controlled chaos, the embodiment of action, finally loosed, regarded with both awe and fear. The best action movie since Mad Max: Fury Road, Fallout may be the sixth installment in the M:I series—but in all its grand escalation, it runs like brand new.


06. The Favourite
05. Shoplifters
04. Free Solo
03. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
02. Leave No Trace
01. Roma 

What do you think of these lists and have you already started rough-drafting yours?

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Reader Comments (8)

I have a feeling history will not be kind to Sorry to Bother You and the critics that praised it. But that's just my opinion. Burning, however... one for the ages.

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvangelina

The Ringer guys have a corresponding podcast with individual lists. They bring on Chris Ryan, and all 3 have solid lists, well articulated. Adam Nayman’s is especially idiosyncratic and interesting. The printed list is a combo list between Fennessey and Nayman, they both had Burning at #3, actually- but there combined appreciation pushed it to the top.

P.S. Nayman wrote an amazing book on the Coen Brothers, which deep dives each of their films. Find it, and find another podcast these three did about the Coens’ top 5 films. And no, I don’t work for the Ringer, haha- just really respect their film coverage and found the “exact same taste” line a little snarky (I do love you and your film coverage, as well, Nathaniel!).

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Jake:
What is the name of the podcast to the Ringer guys? Sounds interesting. And are there other good podcast about movies that you know of?

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Like a good Oscar watcher, I rank all the films I see by year as I watch them. In that way, my Top Ten list has been in formation since October 2017. :-)

Why do you think critics release their Top Ten lists so early? I understand why critic's groups do -- to influence awards -- but why must individual critics? You would think there'd be more readership for lists like this around New Year's or just before the date when Oscar nominations are announced.

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I agree with Emily Yoshida about "Sorry to Bother You" - it isn't much of a surprise this movie is so good at radical, pointed political commentary while still being actually *good* when you consider that Boots Riley was a member of The Coup - one of the few radically political musical acts that I genuinely love as both music and political commentary.

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

MAMMA MIA 2 will likely be on my top ten as well.

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Manuel - the Ringer podcast is called “The Big Picture.” Sean Fennessey is the main guy. He talks to filmmakers frequently (the best this year have been Bo Burnham, Steve McQueen, and, interestingly, John Krasinski - all three speak so intelligently about the process of making movies, and Fennessey’s a great interviewer). He also does top 5 podcasts, like the Coens one, and Oscar stuff with Amanda Dobbins, who’s very good, too.

As for other film podcasts, these are the ones I subscribe to:
Slash Filmcast - in depth movie reviews, very professional
Filmspotting - highbrow film criticism that still takes time for hits of today. If you go way back in their catalogue, they cover Ingmar Bergman’s filmography and it’s wonderful.
F! This Movie! - terrible title, great podcast. Patrick Bromley does a weekly deep dive into a random movie, chosen by his guest, who is usually a friend of his, or a part of the F! This Movie team and community. The conversations are like those between old friends and the sense of closeness between the whole group is the draw. Listen to enough of them and you kind of feel like you’ve made a bunch of new friends.

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Widows, Black Panther, Infinity War, The Death of Stalin, Hereditary and that’s all I have for now because my movie watching was abysmal this year.

December 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterkris01

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