Over 100 new movies a year — which is my average — is certainly more than most people see. Still, I miss a lot. Every year, making the time to see the ones I most regret missing is my end-of-year resolution. Based on the recommendations of friends, colleagues and critics, these are the top five that I really need to catch to round out the films of 2018. I’m planning on knocking these out in the next month. In January, I’ll let you know how many of them lived up to my expectations — and how many I should have left unseen.
This flick caught my eye from the first trailer, but I couldn’t catch the press screening. I don’t think director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) has ever made a bad movie, and Viola Davis leading a bunch of women on a heist seems to be a surefire recipe for success — at least when measured by quality. While the critical buzz has been great, the box office has not. “Widows” didn’t have a strong opening weekend (it took in just over $12 million), but I’ll be throwing some money at it before the year is out.
Sci-fi? Eh. A February release date? Even more eh. I shrugged off director Alex Garland’s latest (though I loved his 2014 directorial debut “Ex Machina”) and apparently made a mistake. A mistake brought to my attention when a film critic friend of mine would not. Shut. Up. About. It. I kept seeing critics — mostly women — continually arguing for the movie’s greatness, its weirdness, its power. I’m still not sure what it’s about (It’s an alien planet? Or aliens? And there’s a bear?), but I’ll have it checked off the list soon.
I fully planned on seeing this at a press screening, but it fell during my vacation. Then I fully planned on seeing it in the theater, and continued planning on that until it was no longer in theaters. I’m not someone who rushes out to see Spike Lee’s work — he can be wildly uneven — but this one is supposedly his best in years. Plus, who can resist a movie based on the true story of a black cop who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan? I’ll see it soon. And maybe one day I’ll remember which K’s to capitalize in the title.
“The Death of Stalin”
A satirical comedy about the scramble for power after the death of Joseph Stalin, this film seemed destined to be one of the movies where I see the title on Netflix three years later, realize I always meant to watch it, then cue up “The Office” once again. It probably would have helped if I watched “Veep” (“Stalin” director and co-writer Armando Iannucci created the HBO show), but I don’t, so it didn’t. So I’m trusting friends and checking out the communist romp ASAP.
“Lean on Pete”
“The Rider,” about a rodeo competitor faced with a career-ending injury, was one of the best surprises of my year. And then I guess I decided that one horse-based movie was enough for me? I have no idea. Anyway, the latest from writer-director Andrew Haigh (“45 Years”), about a teenager who becomes pals with an aging racehorse, sounded gag-worthy. Again, friends have convinced me it’s more — much more — than a sappy cousin to “Black Beauty.” Apparently this horse can really run