10. A Fantastic Woman. This fantastic film about a transgender woman navigating the aftermath of her boyfriend’s death impressed me by resisting melodrama and club-you-over-the-head agenda messaging, instead trusting the power of its story. Transgender actress, Daniela Vega, delivers an understated but powerful lead performance.
9. Thoroughbreds. Evil plans are put in motion when an unlikely friendship, between a psychopath and a prep, forms in wealthy suburban Connecticut and a marvelous dark comedy unfolds.
8. Game Night. My nominees for most fun movie of the year (in no particular order) are Ralph Breaks the Internet, I Feel Pretty, and Game Night. Don’t miss any of these if you need a feel-good laugh session. But the needy skepticism of Jesse Plemmons’ “Gary” puts Game Night in the lead.
7. The House that Jack Built. Matt Dillon (from that 1990s movie Singles, for example) worked with Lars Von Trier (from that movie Antichrist, for example) on this longitudinal study of a serial killer. And it worked. Mind blown.
6. Can You Ever Forgive Me? Everyone says this is Melissa McCarthy’s best role to date, and it is! It’s wonderful to see her flex her deeper acting muscles in this biopic about writer Lee Israel, who forged letters from famous historical writers when her own career stalled. And Richard E. Grant as Jack Hock brings a perfect off-balance lightness to offset her misanthropy.
5. The Old Man and the Gun. My mom had a crush on Robert Redford in the 1980s, and forty years later I can still see why. He’s positively swashbuckling in this story about a career robber. Forrest Tucker (Redford) is charming, polite, and truly passionate about his “job”. I don’t know who else could have pulled this off (George Clooney?).
4. Won’t You be my Neighbor? Documentaries don’t usually make me cry. But Mister Rogers did.
It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair
But it’s you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys
They’re just beside you.
But it’s you I like
Every part of you.
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself
It’s you I like
3. Sorry to Bother You. I’m still unpacking this unpredictable parable of wealth, work, and class complete with evolving photographs, terrible rapping, and mutant horse people. This film will entertain you and make you think.
2. Revenge. It’s hard to put into words what I love about this movie, but I think it’s down to this: I love that it’s both over-the-top indulgent pulp and piercingly well observed and executed. As symbolized by the iconic image of the fully arced phoenix still wearing a ridiculous pink earring in her one remaining ear.
1. The Favourite. The only film I saw twice in the theater. By the director of The Lobster, one of my most beloved recent films. Starring my ‘favourite’ actress. This film confirms what I’ve always suspected to be the case: once Rachel Weisz leaves, everyone is miserable.
Honorable Mentions: Eighth Grade, First Man, Hereditary, mid90s, Roma