Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

DC Film Girl’s Year In Review: The Best of 2018

Is it really almost 2019 already??? I literally feel like I was just writing my Best of 2017 last month! After seeing over 160 films over the past year, it’s that time again for my year in review! Of course I have my absolute favorites of the year but I always like to highlight the performances that stuck with me and the films that I recommend seeing if you haven’t had the chance to yet! And trust me, I’m just as surprised as you are that I have 3 “superhero” films on this list, but this was a year that pushed the superhero genre for the better! And you won’t be surprised to find that I can’t resist an immaculate Nicole Kidman performance, a killer Blake Lively performance, or Lady Gaga starring in her first leading role in a feature film. It’s been an exciting year between interviewing Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton and Francis Lawrence for Red Sparrow, Amy Schumer for I Feely Pretty, Viggo Mortensen and Peter Farrelly for Green Book, and Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer and my husband Justin Theroux for On the Basis of Sex! From covering the Toronto International Film Festival for the second year in a row and countless trips to LA, I honestly feel pretty lucky to do it and to continue to do it all next year!
Happy reading and see you at the theatre in 2019!
-Lauren
Bonus Video!: My husband Kevin McCarthy and I break down our Top 10 Films of 2018!

The Best Performances of 2018

In no particular order, with my favorites highlighted in red. 
Best Actor
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen – Green Book
Christian Bale – Vice
Ryan Gosling – First Man
John Cho – Searching
Sunny Suljic – mid90s
Michael B. Jordan – Creed II
Evan Peters – American Animals
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool 2
John David Washington – BlacKkKlansman
Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting
Lucas Hedges – Boy Erased
Lucas Hedges – Ben is Back
Robert Redford – The Old Man & the Gun
Chadwick Boseman – Black Panther
Tom Hardy – Venom
Timothée Chalamet – Hot Summer Nights
Steve Carell – Beautiful Boy
Nick Robinson – Love, Simon
Nick Offerman – Hearts Beat Loud
Jovan Adepo – Overlord
Ben Foster – Leave No Trace
Logan Marshall Green – Upgrade
Ed Oxenbould – Wildlife 
John Krasinski – A Quiet Place
Chris Pine – Outlaw King
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here
Tom Cruise – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Jason Clarke – Chappaquiddick
Tye Sheridan – Ready Player One
Taron Edgerton – Robin Hood
Lakeith Stanfield – Sorry to Bother You
Jason Momoa – Aquaman
Best Actress
Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
Toni Colette – Hereditary
Nicole Kidman – Destroyer
Olivia Coleman – The Favourite
Julia Roberts – Ben is Back
Glenn Close – The Wife
Carey Mulligan – Wildlife
Charlize Theron – Tully
Saoirse Ronan – Mary Queen of Scots
Anna Kendrick – A Simple Favor
Jamie Lee Curtis – Halloween
Viola Davis – Widows
Felicity Jones – On the Basis of Sex
Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
Eva Melander – Border
Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns
Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place 
Danielle Macdonald – Dumplin’
Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Amandla Stenberg – The Hate U Give
Keira Knightley – Colette
Jennifer Lawrence – Red Sparrow
Raffey Cassidy – Vox Lux
Sandra Bullock – Bird Box
Lana Candor – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Natalie Portman – Annihilation 
Melissa McCarthy – Can you ever forgive me? 
Rose Byrne – Juliet, Naked
Lily James – Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
Constance Wu – Crazy Rich Asians
Alicia Vikander – Tomb Raider
Lola Kirke – Gemini
Kiersey Clemons – Hearts Beat Loud
Thomasin McKenzie – Leave No Trace
Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Kindergarten Teacher
Dakota Johnson – Fifty Shades Freed
Dakota Johnson – Suspiria
Claire Foy – Unsane
Kristen Stewart – Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy
Shailene Woodley – Adrift
Olivia Cookie – Thoroughbreds
Anya Taylor-Joy – Thoroughbreds
Zoey Deutch – Set It Up
Zoey Deutch – Flower 
Gabrielle Union – Breaking In
Hailee Steinfeld– Bumblebee 
Kiki Layne – If Beale Street Could Talk
Amy Schumer – I Feel Pretty 
Best Supporting Actor
Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
Timothée Chalamet – Beautiful Boy
Sam Elliott – A Star is Born
Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Josh Brolin – Avengers: Infinity War
Josh Brolin – Deadpool 2
Trevante Rhodes – Bird Box
Sam Rockwell – Vice
Nicolas Cage – Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
Rafael Casal – Blindspotting 
Tim Blake Nelson – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Dominic West – Colette 
Wyatt Russell – Overlord
Gwilym Lee – Bohemian Rhapsody
Ben Hardy – Bohemian Rhapsody
Joseph Mazzello – Bohemian Rhapsody
Nicholas Hoult – The Favourite
Sylvester Stallone – Creed II
Henry Goulding – A Simple Favor
Henry Goulding – Crazy Rich Asians
Noah Centineo – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Jake Gyllenhaal – Wildlife
Tom Holland – Avengers: Infinity War
Dave Chappelle – A Star is Born 
Joel Edgerton – Boy Erased
Russell Crowe – Boy Erased
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Outlaw King
Armie Hammer – Sorry to Bother You
Mark Rylance – Ready Player One
Josh Duhamel – Love, Simon
Pablo Schreiber – Den of Thieves 
Best Supporting Actress
Blake Lively – A Simple Favor
Emma Stone – The Favourite
Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
Nicole Kidman – Boy Erased
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Elizabeth Debicki – Widows
Cynthia Erivo – Bad Times at the El Royale 
Claire Foy – First Man
Amy Adams – Vice
Nicole Kidman – Aquaman
Margot Robbie – Mary Queen of Scots
Cynthia Erivo – Bad Times at the El Royale
Michelle Rodriguez – Widows
Debra Messing – Searching
Lucy Boynton – Bohemian Rhapsody
Tessa Thompson – Creed II
Tessa Thompson – Sorry to Bother You
Michelle Yeoh – Crazy Rich Asians
Awkwafina – Crazy Rich Asians
Tilda Swinton – Suspiria
Charlotte Rampling – Red Sparrow 
Zoe Kazan – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Zoe Kravitz – Gemini
Danai Gurira – Black Panther
Letitia Wright – Black Panther 
Blythe Danner – What They Had
Zoe Saldana – Avengers: Infinity War
Maura Tierney – Beautiful Boy
Milly Shapiro – Hereditary
Laura Dern – Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy
Laura Herrier – BlacKkKlansman
Sissy Spacek– The Old Man & the Gun
Mathilde Ollivier – Overlord
Keira Knightley – The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Michelle Williams – I Feel Pretty 
Michelle Williams – Venom
Neve Campbell – Skyscraper
Judy Greer – Halloween
Dakota Johnson – Bad Times at the El Royale
Olivia Cooke – Ready Player One
Rebecca Ferguson – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Zazie Beetz – Deadpool 2
Mackenzie Davis – Tully
Jennifer Garner – Love, Simon 

The Most Underrated Film of 2018

Red Sparrow  I almost listed Bohemian Rhapsody here – because I do think that film should have been rated much higher among most critics, but most audiences loved it. So in the end, I am choosing Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling and directed by the great Francis Lawrence. I actually do not understand how this film was not better received with critics. J. Lawrence and F. Lawrence (no relation!) have worked together before in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 & 2, which gives the two a strong working relationship and years of trust that has been built up. Jennifer Lawrence pushed herself in directions where we have not yet seen her go in her career and I loved watching her go from a prima ballerina to badass killing machine. Yea, I am a J Law fan, but she is just so freaking great in this! A lot of critics/audiences compared this to 2017’s Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron, another film that I enjoyed! Critics and audiences also didn’t particularly like 2017’s mother!, also starring Jennifer Lawrence and also one that I absolutely loved. Because of those two reasons, I think this film was overlooked and passed on like a side dish you didn’t want at Thanksgiving and many really did not give it a fair chance. Red Sparrow is filled with drama, lust, passion, action, everything you want from a female-led spy thriller. Watch it!
Underrated Runner Ups: Bohemian Rhapsody, Den of Thieves, Fifty Shades Freed, The Strangers: Prey at Night, The Spy Who Dumped Me, Tomb Raider, Venom 

The Most Overlooked Film of 2018


Overlord – My husband Kevin and I went to the theatre to watch a pleasant double feature of The Grinch and then Overlord…and I’m so glad we did! I never saw one trailer, one TV spot, one marketing promo for this film and I went into the theatre knowing that the story had to do with Nazis and zombies. Yep, that’s it! Set in 1944, a group of American soldiers find a lot more than they bargained for behind enemy lines in France during WWII. The first half of the film is an hour of war brutality that feels as real as any other war film I’ve seen over the last decade and the second half of the film turns into a zombie apocalyptic nightmare! But its amazing! Nazi zombies…what more could you want out of a historical war drama!?! Produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Julius Avery, Overlord is a film that was pretty well received from critics, but a film that not a ton of people saw! It’s still playing in select theatres and will be available to stream and on blu-ray soon!
Overlooked Runner-Ups: American Animals, Hot Summer Nights, The Wife 
 
 
 

The Top 10 Films of 2018

Honorable Mentions: Annihilation, A Quiet Place, Beautiful Boy, Ben is Back, BlacKkKlansman, Boy Erased, Creed II, Crazy Rich Asians, Eighth Grade, Far From the Tree, First Man, Hereditary, Hot Summer Nights, Love Simon, mid90s, Overlord, Red Sparrow, Ready Player One, Roma, Searching, Thoroughbreds, Three Identical Strangers, Tomb Raider, Tully, The Wife, Widows
10. Green Book One of the most enjoyable, sweet and funny films I’ve seen this year! I saw this at the Middleburg Film Festival, going in and expecting it to be a pretty good film, but I was absolutely in awe watching the relationship between Tony (Viggo Mortensen) and Dr. Shirley (Mahershala Ali) form and blossom. Based on the true story of a friendship no one expected to happen and set in the 1960s, Green Book is a film that everyone should see and perfect for the holiday season! From director Peter Farrelly, who has directed Dumb & Dumber and There’s Something About Mary – yes you read that right, Green Book is a drama but combines comedic elements that flow into the story so flawlessly! I did not expect the movie to be as funny as it was! And fun fact – when the movie was over, I went straight to KFC for dinner. Viggo eats so much in the film, including KFC, that I was dying for the fried chicken afterwards!
 
 
 
 
9. Destroyer – I will praise Nicole Kidman until the day I die! I went into the premiere of Destroyer at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, knowing Nicole was going to be pretty great, but not knowing she was going to be so unrecognizable! From director Karyn Kusama, Destroyer is a story about worn police detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman), who reconnects with people from her past when she was on an undercover assignment. The use of score and slow-motion builds tension throughout the film and the editing going back and forth between past and present is gripping. We’ve seen stories of female police detectives before, but it’s Nicole’s performance that carries this story in its entirety. But above all, this story is about love, love a mother has for her daughter and love a woman has for her other half! The cast is amazing including Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell and Tatiana Maslany. Destroyer is the holiday film you didn’t know you needed!
 
 
 
8. Black Panther – It’s no secret there are tons of superhero films on my list this year but Black Panther pushed the superhero film world for the better! A perfect ensemble of actors including noteworthy performances from Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira. We were first introduced to T’Challa/Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War and we see him again later in the year in Avengers: Infinity War. Director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) gives the viewers exactly what they want and more here. From the opening scene featuring Sterling K. Brown, to the ending scene with Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright set in the same town of California, Black Panther added culture and diversity to the Marvel Studios world, while also giving us just a perfect superhero film to be watched over and over!
 
 
 
 
7. A Simple Favor – I feel like this movie was made for me. Based on the novel by Darcey Bell, A Simple Favor is a story of an unlikely friendship with a mix of Gone Girl, lots of Aviation Gin martinis and some seriously sick outfits worn by Blake Lively. When mommy vlogger Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) realizes her BFF Emily (Blake Lively) has gone missing, she will stop at nothing to find out what happened to her! Director Paul Feig (2016’s Ghostbusters and Bridesmaids) is the perfect choice to direct this dark comedy and there is not two better actresses in the world to fit these wild women more perfectly than Anna and Blake. I’ve seen the film twice now and savor every moment of it! It also stars breakout star of the year Henry Goulding (Crazy Rich Asians), who is perfect in the role, as Emily’s aloof husband. Anna gives an exceptional leading performance here, and Blake absolutely kills it as Emily, who can deliver a one-liner so perfectly your head will spin, most likely from having one too many martinis! Speaking of, I’m headed to make myself a gin martini to finish writing this essay. Cheers to everyone involved in this film, absolutely adore it!
 
 
 
6. Bohemian Rhapsody – Rami Malek is life you guyssss!!! For all the negativity this film got, I really do not understand, Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the most enjoyable films of the year! A wonderful crowd pleaser that highlights a little of the late great Freddie Mercury’s (Rami Malek) life while also giving insight into each Queen band member who contributed to their hit songs and music. The opening credits to the end scene where we see Queen perform live at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium is amazing. I must have listened to the soundtrack 20 times since I’ve seen the film, which I’ve seen three times now. Mind blown tip: After you finish watching Bohemian Rhapsody, go watch the live footage here on YouTube. The performances and setting is exact!
 
 
 
 
 
5. The Favourite From director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Lobster) is The Favourite, starring the best majorly female cast of the year including Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Set in 18th Century England, a very fragile Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman), relies heavily on her #1 Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) for counsel, friendship and comfort; that is, until Abigail (Emma Stone) comes into the pictures and major competition stars happening. The Favourite is unlike any period drama I’ve seen; it transcends the genre and combines humor, horror and comedy all into one. Olivia Coleman is our star, but all three actresses equally take part in making this story unlike any we’ve seen so far this year. The ending scene is one of the most deserving, gut-wrenching and memorable scenes I can recall watching this year.
 
 
 
4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before I promise this summary won’t be a major gushing of newfound onscreen boyfriend crush Noah Centineo. In fact, I’ll do my best of trying not to mention his name multiple times. Noah Centineo. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the romantic comedy that shocked everyone – including its own people at Netflix! I don’t think anyone knew how much its stars Lana Candor and Noah Centineo would blow up after the film was released on Netflix. This is the film on this list that I’ve seen the most… five times and counting? To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is based on the novel by Jenny Han and reminded me of my personal favorite rom-coms growing up like She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About YouCan’t Hardly Wait. Lana Candor and Noah Centineo have unspeakably great chemistry you guyssss! They do not make rom-coms like this anymore, but I wish they did! A coming of age story about a high-school girl Lara Jean (Lana Candor) who’s never been popular and struggling with middle child syndrome and the fact that her sister (Janel Parrish) is going away to college and being tortured by her longtime crush (Israel Broussard) who lives next door who also happens to be her sister’s ex-boyfriend and being raised by a single dad and oh yeah, that little thing about her love letters to every major crush in her life being *accidentally* mailed out….there’s all of that going on! And I am so looking forward to the sequel that was just announced! Noah Centineo….
 
 
3. Deadpool 2 – Just as good if not better than 2016’s Deadpool. I will watch Ryan Reynolds play Deadpool until the day I die! Josh Brolin as Cable, Zazie Beetz as Domino absolutely crush it in this movie! A superhero film that has countless F-bombs, bloody action scenes, tiny legs, and a beautiful song performed by Celine Dion in the opening credits, Deadpool 2 is all about the heart and family. Seriously! The soundtrack is amazing too. “Ashes” by Celine Dion better be nominated for an Oscar. It also has the best end credits scene I’ve ever seen in a film. It’s epic and hilarious in pure Ryan Reynolds fashion, making the film a 5/5 in my book!
 
 
 
 
 
 
2. A Star is Born – Excuse me while I go cry in another room and listen to this soundtrack over and over! If you follow my husband and I on social media, you know that we absolutely love and adore this film, so much so that we dressed as Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga) for Halloween! This story has been told three times before and first-time director Bradley Cooper has made it his own in his telling of this beautiful and tragic love story. A story about a successful musician (Bradley Cooper) who falls in love with an up-and-coming singer/songwriter (Lady Gaga). Cooper and Gaga have the best chemistry I’ve seen in a film since the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan days. These two are fire hot and their duets and singing continue to have me moved. The rest of the ensemble including Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Andrew Dice Clay are lovely and the cast feels like a real-life family. This is a film that I will show my future kids one day because it’s going to be a classic that will be watched for years to come.
 
 
 
1. Avengers: Infinity War – Not exaggerating when I say that this is the best superhero movie I have ever seen. I was absolutely blown away by the Russo Brothers’ follow up from Captain America: Civil War, making Avengers: Infinity War not just the best superhero film ever made, but one of the finest films of the year. There’s not really one leading character in Infinity War and if I had to pick a lead it would be Thanos, played remarkably through performance capture by Josh Brolin. Our villain had just as much screen time as our heroes and his backstory was so well written that the audience actually understands why he wants to take out half of the world. Not saying he’s not insane! But the point is that he is a well-rounded character and not just a villain who wants to wipe out most of the world, which is sooo overdone in other superhero films. I saw Infinity War three times in theatres and have seen it twice on blu-ray since then. This is an ensemble of amazing performances with Josh Brolin really stealing the show, but also memorable performances from Tom Holland, who plays Spider-Man, and Zoe Saldana, who plays Gamora, both of which have really stuck with me during the year. It also features Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) most badass moment the character has ever had on screen. The editing from Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt makes it so that not one character is left not on screen for too long and each story flows throughout. A two-and-a-half hour long film feels like 45 minutes. I’m thinking most people have seen the film by now – and if not – you must have been spoiled somehow, but if you haven’t this is one to watch on the highest quality 4K screen you can find. And if you have watched it, watch it again and again. It’s no secret that Avengers: Endgame is my most anticipated film of 2019!

 
 
 



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