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A Haunting Year

A roundup of this year's best

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1. Twin Peaks: The Return: I'm throwing a bit of a curveball for the top pick this year. Yep, that's right, something that is considered a TV series is getting my vote for Best Movie of the Year.

David Lynch kept me riveted to the screen for every minute of his triumphant return to Twin Peaks. The original TV show was far more cinematic than any TV show to come before it, and it set the stage for far more adventurous TV shows in the years it was absent from the landscape.

Twin Peaks: The Return, which I still can't believe even happened, was one of the all-time great entertainment experiences I have had on this planet since watching movies. It is, without a doubt, the best thing Lynch has ever done, and this is the guy who made Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart.

Lynch himself called it an 18-part movie and, I assure you, those parts come together as one magnificent journey into insanely beautiful dreamscapes. Now, I thought I was all cool suggesting this was a movie, but it turns out there's been somewhat of a movement to consider Peaks as a film. I'm not that special after all.

Kyle MacLachlan, returning to the role of Dale Cooper after a quarter century had gone by, is also my pick for Best Actor. I know it's an unorthodox choice, but this feels like a movie to me.

2. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri: Martin McDonagh is, perhaps, one of the more underrated directors in modern cinematic history. Before 2017, he made two movies (In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths), both masterpieces. Still, huge accolades have averted him, his unapologetically dark tones keeping him out of the mainstream.

That seems to be changing this year with this brutal gem featuring Frances McDormand as a super-pissed, foul-mouthed mom seeking justice for her murdered daughter. Not a wrong note is hit in this film, which is remarkable being that some pretty horrible stuff is said and done. It also manages to be really funny and fiercely heartbreaking throughout its running time.

3. Colossal: A movie where Anne Hathaway's angst manifests in a giant Kaiju destroying Tokyo, Japan? Sign me up! One that transitions from such a brilliantly funny setup into something honestly scary about controlling males (personified by a creepy Jason Sudeikis) and the danger they pose to people everywhere? Well, you have one of the year's very best, and strangely ignored, movies.

4. Logan: Hugh Jackman says goodbye to his signature character by taking things into the super violent, nasty territory that was always meant for the steel-clawed one. He and Patrick Stewart combine for what is quite simply the best X-Men movie yet.

5. The Big Sick: Director Michael Showalter hits his stride with this unorthodox spin on the modern romance. While there is a plenty of buzz about co-writer and star Kumail Nanjiani, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are the ones who stick in your head after watching.

6. Lady Bird: There were some great directorial debuts this year, but Greta Gerwig gets my nod for the year's best first timer. Saoirse Ronan (whose name I have finally learned to spell right on the first try) will be in the Oscar hunt again.

7. Maudie: Sally Hawkins will break your heart as real-life, physically challenged artist Maud Lewis, and Ethan Hawke matches that power as her grumbly husband. This is one of those under-the-radar films you should make a note of and check out.

8. Hostiles: Scott Cooper reteams with Christian Bale (after Out of the Furnace) for one of the darkest, starkest takes on the American frontier you will ever see in a cinema. What the brooding Bale does here makes Batman look like Mr. Party Pants on happy pills.

9. A Ghost Story: One of the film year's more daring ventures featured Casey Affleck (and some stand-ins) under a sheet traveling through time, his character's spirit trying to find a way to move through stages of death and let go. Rooney Mara ate a lot of pie in one sitting (and delivered one of her best performances yet as a grieving wife). Such a beautiful movie.

10. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected): I thought this comedy from director Noah Baumbach and costarring Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman was going to be an awards player. Then those nasty stories about Hoffman started surfacing. The film dropped off the radar in recent weeks. Too bad...it's very good.

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