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Big-screen gems mark 2018

What a year it was for movies! Some critics are saying 2018 was the best film year of the 21st century, and it’s hard to disagree.

Check out this list of memorable films:

“Annihilation,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Ben Is Back,” “Boy Erased,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” “Creed 2,” “Eighth Grade,” “The Favourite,” “First Man,” “First Reformed,” “Green Book,” “The Hate U Give,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Love, Simon,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “A Simple Favor,” “The Old Man and the Gun,” “A Quiet Place,” “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” “Sorry to Bother You,” “Vice,” “You Were Never Really Here,” “Welcome to Marwen” and “What They Had.”

And yet each of the above movies fell just short of making my list of the best films of 2018. That’s how great the year was.

As for the best of the best: let the countdown begin.

10. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

I know it’s about Ethan Hunt, but this is one of the best James Bond movies ever made. Pure adrenaline, amazing action, a surprisingly deep, emotionally impactful script and some really strong performances. Few, if any, franchises have improved so much over the chapters as the “Mission Impossible” films.

9. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Just when I thought I was Spidey’d out, along comes this bold, brilliant, diverse, funny, cool and badass animated adventure. It’s such a screen-filling, pop culture-popping visual treat, I had to see it again just for fun after I filed my review – and it was just as much fun the second time around. It’s one of the best animated films of the decade.

8. “Blindspotting”

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal team up for a free-verse, hip-hop, consciousness-rattling, sometimes very funny, sometimes brutally honest and ultimately moving take on the classic buddy movie.

7. “Black Panther”

A landmark film for many reasons, from that amazing cast to the worldwide box office of more than $1.3 billion to the great action to the emotionally resonant moments to the fact this was the first time an African-American lead starred in a giant superhero franchise film. Wakanda Forever!

6. “A Star Is Born”

Turns out Bradley Cooper is an actor who can sing, play guitar and direct, and Lady Gaga is a singer who can truly act.

5. “Lean on Pete”

You might not have heard of this one, but trust me, it’s a small masterpiece about a 15-year-old boy and the horse that becomes his saving grace. If you watch this one and don’t tear up, you might be dead.

4. “Leave No Trace”

Another under-the-radar gem. This one starred the great character actor Ben Foster and future star Thomasin McKenzie as a father and daughter living in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. It’s gripping and powerful, and unlike anything else I saw this year.

3. “BlacKkKlansman”

Spike Lee is one of the best directors of the past 50 years, and he delivers another zeitgeist drama starring John David Washington as a black Colorado detective who manages to infiltrate the Klan, with more than a little help from his partner, played by Adam Driver. This is a bat-bleep crazy plot, but it’s all based on real events.

2. “Roma”

One of the most beautiful films you’ve ever seen, sure to win the Oscar for best foreign film and quite possibly the best picture overall.

And the best movie of 2018 is …

1. “Widows”

I’m still baffled by the indifferent box office for Steve McQueen’s epic, multifaceted heist film/political thriller/domestic drama hybrid. Filmed in Chicago and starring Viola Davis in an Oscar-worthy role, along with Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and many others, “Widows” is an instant classic. Twenty years from now, we’ll be wondering why it wasn’t more celebrated and acclaimed when it was first released.