In the Dark: That’s a wrap

In the Dark: That’s a wrap

There’s a big qualifier for my best and worst picks for 2018 — I haven’t seen some contenders yet. So let’s say this is my best and worst so far. It’s been a strong year for women in film with actresses and directors. The Best Actress category is bound to be a crowded field with veterans like Glenn Close for “The Wife” and most likely Lady Gaga for her debut in “A Star is Born.” But I’m getting ahead of myself lets recap the year with some hits and misses that I’ve seen:

Best Girl Power – “Widows” featured an almost all female cast led by Viola Davis with Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki falling in as a cobbled together gang of thieves forced to work together to stay alive. Put Debicki on your radar — she’s being singled out in this for her performance.

Worst Hair Cut – speaking of girl power “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” was a highly anticipated sequel in the Elisabeth Salander series. This time Claire Foy from “The Crown” took the honors in the leading role with decidedly mixed results, not to mention one of the worst haircuts recorded on film this year. Sure, the character is androgynous but really?

Best lip sync – “Bohemian Rhapsody” was a fantastic time trip to the days of Glam Rock with Rami Malek starring as Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant lead singer of Queen. Even if you didn’t care for the band’s music you had to love this movie.

Best use of mahjong tiles – “Crazy Rich Asians” took the summer by storm with its fresh take on the old theme of romantic comedies. Most will agree the best scene takes place in a face-off between intended mother in law (Michelle Yeoh) and possible daughter in law (Constance Wu) over a game of mahjong. It’s fascinating and insightful. 

Best Performance by a Dog – Of course, I’m going to say the French Bulldog in “Collette.” True to this writer’s life, her constant companion was a little Frenchie named Toby Chien, and, yes, he makes it into this biopic trotting faithfully behind Keira Knightley in many scenes just as the real Toby did. Great casting!

Tie for the Best Old Codger Award goes to Robert Redford for “The Old Man and the Gun” and Clint Eastwood in “The Mule.” Growing old gracefully on screen is not easy and yet these two gentlemen make it seem so. The edge goes to Redford for his sly, reserved bank robber over the more poignant portrayal by Eastwood as an elder whose moral compass leads him down the wrong road.

Tie for Best Sequel is between “Avengers: Infinity Wars” and “Mission Impossible-Fallout.” The Marvel heroes banded together to stop the evil Thanos from destroying half the world’s population —and failed. At least, for now. Part two is one the way in 2019 and will probably break all box office records with anticipation and near hysterical levels. And, who knew Tom Cruise could still bring the goods after so many MI sequels. “Fallout” will rank as one of the best with Cruise still in fine form for executing the difficult stunt work and for the film’s rather thoughtful plot that ties up loose ends by bringing together old characters.

Worst Use of Talent – Don’t hate but it has to be “Life Itself.” (insert huge groan here). It didn’t just tug at your emotions with its multi-plot leading to saccharine ending. No, it reached out and gut punched you with surprise suicides, character cross overs, terminal illness, infidelity and just about everything else that can evoke emotion. Annette Bening, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, and Oscar Isaac can’t be blamed, but they can make better choices in the future.

Best Use of a Bathtub – “A Quiet Place,” the riveting thriller written and directed by John Krazinski and starring his real wife, Emily Blunt, contains a scene where she is forced to give birth in a bathtub in total silence so as not to alert a nearby alien lifeform sensitive to sound. If you weren’t on the edge of your seat then it may take something like…

Best Horror Film – “Hereditary” was one continuous OMG moment from start to finish. Toni Collette was fantastic as a mother watching her family come apart at the seams as a result of some icky supernatural force. This was not your ordinary horror film and as a result it has found its way on to many Top 10 lists for the year. I don’t know if I could sit through it again.

Worst Use of Puppets – “The Happy Time Murders” featured Melissa McCarthy and a host of raunchy puppets. While there were some laughs in this, it was mostly an embarrassing display of puppets doing naughty things. Is there an X-rating for non-human actors?

Best Oscar hopeful – Glenn Close’s performance of a long-suffering wife to a best-selling author was simply searing. Watching her simmer for almost two hours and then unleash her rage in the movie’s finest scene is nothing short of amazing. Close has come so close to an Oscar win, and, yet, has never taken the prize. This could be her year — and should be, but it is a crowded field.

Finally, there were two more on my best list: “A Star is Born,” not just a remake, but a re-imagining of this classic with Bradley Cooper now established as a fine director and the discovery of Lady Gaga as a new acting talent. There will be nominations, if not wins, for this movie.

And, “Black Panther” one of the biggest hits of the summer season featuring one of Marvel Comics most fascinating super heroes, T’Challa/Black Panther. Starring Chadwick Boseman with back up from Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett this was highly entertaining and a visually stunning movie directed with flair by Ryan Coogler. Now cross your arms over your chest and shout with me, “Wakanda forever!”

 That’s it for 2018. I’ll see you “In the Dark” next year.

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