‘Black Pan­ther’ picked as best movie of 2018

The tech­no­log­i­cal and fi­nan­cial mar­vel nudges out “A Star is Born” to head the top 10 list.

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Truitt

It may not feel like it, but “Black Pan­ther” came out this year. And it was a lengthy and tax­ing 2018 where the es­capist na­ture of the movies was needed as much as ever. While there were only a cou­ple of truly great films, it was none­the­less still a good year spent sit­ting in a dark­ened the­ater and boot­ing up the Ap­ple TV (with the oc­ca­sional in­ti­macy of watch­ing a movie on a lap­top). We learned it’s hard to ig­nore loud chew­ers and candy wrap­pers dur­ing the ex­treme quiet of “A Quiet Place,” that disco may never die thanks to an­other “Mamma Mia!” and, as ev­i­denced by “Solo,” the “Star Wars” fran­chise can have an off year and still make se­ri­ous bank. Here are the very best films Hol­ly­wood had to of­fer in 2018, ranked:

10. ‘Hered­i­tary’

Ari Aster’s com­pletely freaky de­but edges out sci-fi flick “An­ni­hi­la­tion” as the year’s top scare-fest, plus un­leashes the full pri­mal power of an awards-wor­thy Toni Col­lette. Fea­tur­ing oc­cult mad­ness and a dra­matic fam­ily im­plo­sion, “Hered­i­tary” is an un­nerv­ing, un­shak­able night­mare about not be­ing able to trust your loved ones and a warn­ing to maybe not dig too deep into your back­ground, lest you risk find­ing out a rel­a­tive to­tally had a thing for de­mon wor­ship.

9. ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

In any other con­text, an op­u­lent wed­ding scene with the bride walk­ing down a wa­ter-filled aisle sur­rounded by abun­dant plant life and some­one croon­ing “Can’t Help Fall­ing in Love” would be eye-rolling. But by the time it ar­rives in Jon M. Chu’s wholly charm­ing movie, it’s earned ev­ery tugged heart­string. Con­stance Wu and Henry Gold­ing im­press as leads in a film that’s both a win for Asian rep­re­sen­ta­tion and the best ro­man­tic com­edy in years. (You might also feel the need to play Mahjong after­ward, but go with it.)vi

8. ‘Three Iden­ti­cal Strangers’

In a year full of ex­cel­lent doc­u­men­taries (“RBG,” “Won’t You Be My Neigh­bor?”), the one that’s truly stranger than fic­tion is tops. “Strangers” chron­i­cles the story of three iden­ti­cal triplets raised sep­a­rately who find each other as col­lege-age young men and de­velop a close bond, but that feel-good nar­ra­tive turns into a very dif­fer­ent film as they and loved ones dis­cover the dark truth be­hind their sepa­ra­tion.

7. ‘Cold War’

There’s one black-and-white for­eign pe­riod piece this year that’s a must­watch – and it’s not “Roma.” The bit­ter­sweet Pol­ish love story tracks the post World War II on-again, off-again love af­fair be­tween a quiet mu­si­cal di­rec­tor (To­masz Kot) and the tem­pes­tu­ous young singer (Joanna Kulig) he dis­cov­ers while re­cruit­ing for a folk-mu­sic troupe. They break up of­ten, usu­ally hav­ing to do with pol­i­tics or per­sonal is­sues, only to find their way back to each other in a grip­ping and gor­geous take on the can’t-live-with-them, can’t-live-with­out-them dy­namic.

6. ‘Spi­der-Man: Into the Spi­der-Verse’

A pa­rade of Spi­der-Peo­ple from var­i­ous di­men­sions come alive via vi­brant, trippy an­i­ma­tion and a clever plot that posits any­one is ca­pa­ble of be­ing the type of hero who could wear a web slinger’s mask. Come for the OG Spi­der-Man, Pe­ter Parker – in this, a schlubby guy who’s all about pizza and early su­per re­tire­ment – but stay for the amaz­ing jour­ney of his de facto stu­dent Miles Mo­rales, the mixed-race teenager who learns how to be Spidey on the job.

5. ‘First Re­formed’

A holy war­rior ques­tions the bat­tles he fights in this thought-pro­vok­ing ef­fort by “Taxi Driver” screen­writer Paul Schrader. Rev­erend Toller (Ethan Hawke) is the trou­bled, heavy-drink­ing priest of a small church with a shrink­ing fel­low­ship, and his ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis deep­ens when he meets a woman (Amanda Seyfried) who asks him to help her en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist hus­band. Is­sues of cli­mate change and re­li­gion add ex­tra heft to a deeply per­sonal and af­fect­ing char­ac­ter study.

4. ‘The Favourite’

Imag­ine the Three Stooges as a trio of ac­tresses giv­ing their all for the glory of art-house slap­stick. The far­ci­cal cos­tume drama pits Emma Stone’s scullery maid and Rachel Weisz’s royal con­fi­dante in mud-sling­ing, book-throw­ing, pi­geon-shoot­ing con­flict to be the res­i­dent “favourite” of Queen Anne (an in­spired Olivia Col­man). There’s no bet­ter film to find a mashup of hi­lar­i­ous wicked­ness, power-hun­gry drive and hor­ren­dously bad man­ners.

3. ‘BlacKk Klans­man’

Prov­ing he’s as fiery as ever, Spike Lee tack­les the real-life story of African Amer­i­can cop Ron Stall­worth in­fil­trat­ing the Ku Klux Klan with a sense of timely rel­e­vance, con­nect­ing that 1970s sit­u­a­tion with race re­la­tions in mod­ern Amer­ica. It’s also a vi­ciously funny take on a buddy cop com­edy that po­si­tions its star John David Wash­ing­ton (son of Den­zel), bran­dish­ing loads of charisma and a mon­u­men­tal Afro, as Hol­ly­wood’s next big thing.

2. ‘A Star Is Born’

It’s about 40 min­utes into the mu­si­cal drama, when Lady Gaga war­ily walks out on stage for one of cinema’s most goose­bump-in­duc­ing mo­ments in 2018, where you say to your­self, “Wait, Bradley Cooper’s never di­rected a movie be­fore? That’s crazy­pants.” Cooper mas­ter­fully han­dles du­ties be­hind the cam­era and in front (as a coun­try rocker on a ca­reer down­swing) while Gaga is a belt­ing force of na­ture in an ab­so­lutely fab­u­lous reimag­in­ing of the fa­mil­iar Tin­sel­town tem­plate.

1. ‘Black Pan­ther’

Nei­ther its cul­tural im­por­tance nor fi­nan­cial suc­cess can be un­der­stated. It’s a won­der of tech­ni­cal majesty, from Afro-fu­tur­is­tic land­scapes to im­pec­ca­bly de­signed cos­tumes. Prob­a­bly no other su­per­hero film has the nerve to take on colo­nial­ism and global re­source-shar­ing. But here’s the thing about “Pan­ther”: It’s just an end­lessly en­joy­able film. The per­son­al­ity lineup is so strong, you’ll have a new fa­vorite char­ac­ter ev­ery time – maybe Leti­tia Wright’s ge­nius Shuri, then Michael B. Jor­dan’s cap­ti­vat­ing an­tag­o­nist Kill­mon­ger the next – with Chad­wick Bose­man an­chor­ing the whole thing with win­ning grav­i­tas. Noth­ing was the com­plete pack­age this year quite like di­rec­tor Ryan Coogler’s Wakan­dan trea­sure.

MAR­VEL

NULL MAR­VEL

T'Challa (Chad­wick Bose­man) ad­dresses the United Na­tions in “Black Pan­ther.”

A24

Toni Col­lette stars as a fraz­zled mom in “Hered­i­tary.”

WARNER BROS.

Wu, Gold­ing in “Crazy Rich Asians.”

WARNER BROS.

Jack­son (Bradley Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga) in "A Star Is Born."

LUKASZ BAK

To­masz Kot and Joanna Kulig play on-again, off-again lovers in “Cold War.”

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