Shuffling the top 10 deck was difficult this year, simply because there were so many excellent films to choose from. I seriously feel that many of my 11-20 list could easily be considered for higher standing. But, as they say, you have to be prepared to kill your darlings.
19 Beauty & the Beast
17 Baby Driver
16 Gerald’s Game
15 The Big Sick
14 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
13 Brigsby Bear
11 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
5 – THE DISASTER ARTIST
Based on the making of the 2003 “Citizen Kane” of bad movies, The Room, James Franco deep dives into the persona of eccentric writer/director Tommy Wiseau and the calamity that surrounded the production of his cinematic oddity. Watching The Room is highly recommended before jumping into The Disaster Artist. Having that context greatly enhances the appreciation for what Franco achieved…..Oh, Hi, Mark!
4 – A GHOST STORY
A deeply moving look at grieving and loneliness, A Ghost Story will not be for everyone. Each scene is a haunting portrayal of loss, shown from both sides of the equation- the living that must move on, and the dead that cannot. This is a deeply emotional and affecting film, shot in a way that can often be uncomfortably slow of pace. Those with a lack of patience may struggle, but if given a chance, this is a film that will resonate on a deep level.
3 – THE FLORIDA PROJECT
Having worked for Disney for nine years, this story felt very close to home for me. Knowing there were pockets of people living far beneath the poverty line mere minutes from the front gates of the Happiest Place on Earth make me feel equal parts ignorant and culpable. This film is an unflinching look at people living day to day in the shadow of a world that has essentially left them behind. Yet, in all of its squalor, the spirit of six year old Moonee (Brooklyn Prince) and her friends is rooted in an innocence that is often as hopeful as it is bleak.
2 – I, TONYA
Margot Robbie is fantastic as figure skating’s bad girl, Tonya Harding. Director Craig Gillespie shoots the film in a way that accentuates the zany humor of the scandal surrounding the 1992 olympic games, but he never cheapens the awful abuse levied against Harding by her family and her on again / off again love interest, Jeff Gillooly (here portrayed by Sebastien Stan). Harding, while not completely innocent, is treated mostly as a product of her environment, unable to free herself of the bad influences in her life, and she comes away here as a mostly sympathetic figure. Allison Janney, as Harding’s Mom, is a stand out.
1 – LADY BIRD
In what seems to be a renaissance of coming of age films, Lady Bird raises the bar even further, perhaps to a place unaccessible for whatever comes next. Greta Gerwig’s scriptwriting is so tight, it’s difficult to find any flaw in the narrative of high school senior Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, all at once head strong and in search of an identity. Her contentious relationship with her mother Marion (an award worthy Laurie Metcalf) provides the crux for everything happening on screen. The result is a heartfelt and sometimes difficult look at love and familial relationships, told in a refreshingly honest way.
Steve’s first cinematic experience dates back to 1972, when his Aunt took him to see Dumbo at Buffalo’s historic North Park Theater. With the seed planted, his love for movies has blossomed into a full time obsession over the years, and he will happily engage in conversation about all things film related, especially the works of Richard Linklater and Quentin Tarantino. He also manages to find time to keep current on the plethora of great television shows and comic book series, and build upon his retro vinyl collection.
He lives in South Portland, Maine with his wife and a menagerie of small furry pets. When not engaged in the latest pop culture phenomenon, he spends time working on creative writing projects or updating his personal blog, popcornconfessional.com. Follow him on social media at facebook.com/popcornconfessional/ and Twitter@woosterbbb.