From Letitia Wright's breakout performance in "Black Panther" to Patrick Wilson's disappointing turn in “Aquaman,” here are some of the highlights and lowlights of the 2018 movie year.
Carrying on a tradition begun by my honored and beloved predecessor, longtime Seattle Times movie critic John Hartl, my last word on 2018 will be a roundup of some of the year’s dubious achievements in cinema. With some help from fellow movie reviewer Soren Andersen (who saw a few more action movies than I did), here we go …
Best performance in a lost cause: Jude Law, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”; Vera Farmiga, “The Front Runner”; Michelle Williams, “I Feel Pretty”; Ruth Wilson, “The Little Stranger” (only a lost cause because nobody saw it); Jodie Foster in “Hotel Artemis” (ditto); Rowan Atkinson in “Johnny English Strikes Again“; Kristin Scott Thomas, “Tomb Raider.”
Best chemistry: KiKi Layne and Stephan James in “If Beale Street Could Talk”; Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy in “The Bookshop”; Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams in “Disobedience”; Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti in “Private Life”; Viola Davis and Liam Neeson in “Widows”; Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce in “The Wife”; Constance Wu and Henry Golding in “Crazy Rich Asians”; Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in “A Star Is Born”; Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”; Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek in “The Old Man & the Gun.”
Best chemistry, head start division: Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, married off-screen and on-screen in “A Quiet Place.”
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Worst chemistry, emeritus division: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in “Fifty Shades Freed.”
Best solo: John Cho, who delivered nearly his entire performance in “Searching” gazing wearily — and mesmerizingly — into a computer screen.
Best breakout: Lana Condor, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”; Elsie Fisher, “Eighth Grade”; Henry Golding, “Crazy Rich Asians” and “A Simple Favor”; Letitia Wright, “Black Panther”; Elizabeth Debicki, “Widows.”
Most swoonworthy costumes: “A Wrinkle in Time” (designed by Paco Delgado), “Ocean’s 8” (Sarah Edwards), “Mary Poppins Returns” (Sandy Powell), “The Favourite” (also by Powell), “Colette” (Andrea Flesch), “Crazy Rich Asians” (Mary E. Vogt), “Black Panther” (Ruth E. Carter).
Best potential double feature: One of these nights, when I’m feeling particularly brave, I’m going to do a back-to-back screening of “A Quiet Place” (which I’ve seen) and “Hereditary” (which I haven’t) while alone in a creaky house. Then again, maybe not.
Most sensible footwear: Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, appropriately ridiculed for fleeing dinosaurs in high heels in “Jurassic World” (did she not realize that it’s possible to kick them off?), showed up in sturdy dino-tending boots in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”
Best villain in a good movie: Hugh Grant, whose deliciously vile thespian in “Paddington 2” was one of the year’s happiest surprises, and Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice” — cold, calculating, and by movie’s end (literally, though briefly) heartless.
Best villain in a bad movie: Hugo Weaving, smooth as silk as the lead evildoer in “Mortal Engines.”
Most disappointing villain: Sylvia Hoeks as Lisbeth Salander’s ice-queen tormentor in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.” Soren writes, “Look into those eyes. There is no there there.” Also a disappointment: Patrick Wilson as King Orm in “Aquaman,” snarling bad dialogue in a one-note performance.
Best twist: I didn’t see the one in “Tully” coming; did you? There’s also a pretty decent one in “Vice.”
Best action sequence: Well, yes, everything in “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” comes to mind, but I’m particularly partial to that Jack-Jack vs. the raccoon sequence in “Incredibles 2.”
Most impressive physical feat: Most of us, if we jumped from a construction crane high in the sky, would fall. Not Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who demonstrated in “Skyscraper” that the laws of gravity are nothing to him. NOTHING. (Spoiler alert: Apparently he can fly.)
Best line: I quite liked this one, from “The Meg”: “I am proceeding toward the enormous killer shark.”
Best cameo: Oh, it was in “Mary Poppins Returns,” and if there’s even the teeniest chance that you might not know about it yet, I’m not going to tell you. (But it’s glorious and I’m still weeping.)
Best wallpaper: The glorious peacock pattern that festoons the walls of Amy Schumer’s character’s apartment in “I Feel Pretty.” As I noted in my review of the film, how anyone living with that wallpaper could be depressed is beyond me.
Slyest scene-stealing: Awkwafina in “Crazy Rich Asians” (and, to a lesser extent, “Ocean’s 8”); Christine Baranski in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”; Jason Statham in “The Meg”; Blake Lively in “A Simple Favor”; Winston Duke in “Black Panther.”
Most welcome sight: See “Best cameo,” and I’m still not going to tell you.
Best apple-doesn’t-fall-far-from-the-tree performance: John David Washington, doing his father Denzel proud in “BlacKkKlansman,” and Annie Starke, smoothly playing the younger version of her mother Glenn Close’s character in “The Wife.”
Saddest goodbye: There may not be any crying in baseball, but a lot of us definitely felt tearful upon hearing of the December death of Penny Marshall, director of “A League of Their Own” (as well as “Big,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and others). I re-watched “League” a few weeks ago; it’s a joy.
Best reasons to look forward to 2019: Something for everyone — a year that includes “Captain Marvel,” Jordan Peele’s “Us,” “The Goldfinch,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Toy Story 4,” the “Downton Abbey” movie, and Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers (“You Are My Friend”) sounds promising, no? Happy new year!