The Oklahoman’s Brandy McDonnell shares her top 10 movies of the past year



If the old adage that art reflects life is true, then it’s probably no surprise that 2018 was a weird year in film.
It was the year that Aquaman surfaced as the most popular member of the Justice League, that family favorites The Incredibles, Mary Poppins and The Grinch all returned to theaters in new iterations, and that eight different versions of Spider-Man swung into one movie — and one of those was a pig.
Against that bizarre backdrop, here are my picks for the top movies of 2018:
1. “Wildlife”: Primarily filmed in Oklahoma, the 1960s family drama marked the directorial debut of one of my favorite actors, Paul Dano, with a script from Dano and his partner Zoe Kazan, another personal favorite. Their elegantly relatable adaptation of Richard Ford’s novel is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Oscar nominees Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal excel as expected, but child actor Ed Oxenbould supplies unsuspected depth as a teenager watching his parents’ marriage unravel.

2. “BlacKkKlansman”: Based on the outrageous true story of a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s, Spike Lee’s latest “joint,” as he calls his films, veers wildly between hilarious and harrowing, thrilling and appalling, smart and stylish. For better or worse, it also remains undeniably relevant, although most of the events it chronicles happened 40 years ago.
3. “Leave No Trace”: After achieving acclaim with her 2010 thriller “Winter’s Bone,” which introduced Oscar-winning superstar Jennifer Lawrence, director Debra Granik makes her long-awaited feature film return with an empathetic and engrossing drama about a widowed military veteran (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) living in a tent in a nature preserve. When the enigmatic pair is caught and cast out of the public park, father and daughter go on a fraught journey to find a new home. (The film is playing Friday-Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.)
4. “The Mule”: Among multiple Academy Award-winning auteurs, arguably no one has a more hit-and-miss filmography than Clint Eastwood. But when the “Unforgiven” helmer is on, he’s on, and that’s the case with this unusual road movie in which he plays a 90-year-old horticulturist, estranged from his family and strapped for cash, who unwittingly becomes a drug mule for a Mexican cartel. It’s based on someone else’s real life, but it’s Eastwood’s willingness to make it a personal story about grappling with aging and attempting to right old wrongs that gives the “The Mule” even more wistful resonance.
5. “Roma”: Meticulously directed, written, produced, shot and edited in black and white by two-time Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaron, the poetic semi-autobiographical drama quietly features some of the scariest, strangest and most shattering movie moments in recent memory.

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