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Richard Roeper’s best movies of 2018: an instant Chicago classic tops them all

In "Widows," Viola Davis plays a woman who loses her husband (Liam Neeson) and sets out to finish the heists he had begun.

In "Widows," Viola Davis plays a woman who loses her husband (Liam Neeson) and sets out to finish the heist he had begun. | 20th Century Fox

What a year it was for movies! Some critics are saying 2018 was the best film year of the 21st century, and it’s hard to disagree.

Check out this list of memorable films:

“Annihilation,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Ben Is Back,” “Boy Erased,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “Creed 2,” “Eighth Grade,” “The Favourite,” “First Man,” “First Reformed,” “Green Book,” “The Hate U Give,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Love Simon,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “A Simple Favor,” “The Old Man and the Gun,” “A Quiet Place,” “Sicario II: Day of the Soldado,” “Sorry to Bother You,” “Vice,” “You Were Never Really Here,” “Welcome to Marwen” and “What They Had.”

And yet each of the above movies fell just short of making my list of the very best films of 2018. That’s how great the year was.

As for the best of the best: let the countdown begin.

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in "Mision: Impossible — Fallout."

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in “Mision: Impossible — Fallout.” | Paramount Pictures

10. ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

I know it’s about Ethan Hunt, but this is one of the best James Bond movies ever made. Pure adrenaline, amazing action, a surprisingly deep, emotionally impactful script and some really strong performances. Few if any franchises have improved so much over the chapters as the “Mission Impossible” films.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as Spider-Man in Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” | Sony Pictures Animation

9. ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

Just when I thought I was Spidey’d out, along comes this bold, brilliant, diverse, funny, cool and badass animated adventure. It’s such a screen-filling, pop culture-popping visual treat, I had to see it again just for fun after I filed my review — and it was just as much fun the second time around. One of the best animated films of the decade.

Rafael Casal (right) and Daveed Diggs star in "Blindspotting."

Rafael Casal (right) and Daveed Diggs star in “Blindspotting.” | Lionsgate

8. ‘Blindspotting’

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal team up for a free-verse, hip-hop, funny, consciousness-rattling, sometimes very funny, sometimes brutally honest and ultimately moving take on the classic buddy movie.

Chadwick Boseman plays the title role in "Black Panther."

Chadwick Boseman plays the title role in “Black Panther.” | Marvel Studios

7. ‘Black Panther’

A landmark film for so many reasons, from that amazing cast to the worldwide box office of more than 1.3 BILLION dollars to the great action to the emotionally resonant moments to the fact this was the first time an African-American lead starred in a giant superhero franchise film. Wakanda Forever!

Bradley Cooper directs and stars in the latest remake of "A Star Is Born," co-starring Lady Gaga.

Bradley Cooper directs and stars in the latest remake of “A Star Is Born,” co-starring Lady Gaga. | WARNER BROS.

6. ‘A Star Is Born’

Turns out Bradley Cooper is an actor who can sing, and play guitar and direct, and Lady Gaga is a singer who can truly act. I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Charlie Plummer plays a boy who develops an attachment to an aging racehorse in “Lean on Pete.” | A24

5. ‘Lean on Pete

You might not have heard of this one, but trust me, it’s a small masterpiece about a 15-year-old boy and the horse that becomes his saving grace. If you watch this one and don’t tear up, you might be dead.

Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster play daugher and father in "Leave No Trace."

Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster play daugher and father in “Leave No Trace.” | Bleecker Street

4. ‘Leave No Trace’

Another under-the-radar gem. This one starred the great character actor Ben Foster and future star Thomasin McKenzie as a father and daughter living in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. Gripping and powerful, and unlike anything else I saw this year.

Adam Driver (left), and John David Washington in a scene from "BlacKkKlansman." | Focus Features via AP

Adam Driver (left), and John David Washington in a scene from “BlacKkKlansman.” | Focus Features via AP

3. ‘BlacKkKlansman’

Spike Lee is one of the best directors of the last 50 years, and he delivers another zeitgeist drama starring John David Washington as a black Colorado detective who manages to infiltrate the Klan, with more than a little help from his partner, played by Adam Driver. This is a bat-bleep crazy plot — but it’s all based on a real events.

Marco Graf as Pepe (from left), Daniela Demesa as Sofi, Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marina De Tavira as Sofia, Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño and Carlos Peralta Jacobson as Paco in "Roma."

Marco Graf as Pepe (from left), Daniela Demesa as Sofi, Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marina De Tavira as Sofia, Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño and Carlos Peralta Jacobson as Paco in “Roma.” | Netflix

2. ‘Roma’

One of the most beautiful films you’ve ever see, sure to win the Oscar for best foreign film and quite possibly the best picture overall.

And the best movie of 2018 is …

1. ‘Widows’

I’m still baffled by the indifferent box office for Steve McQueen’s epic, multi-faceted drama/heist film/political thriller/domestic drama hybrid. Filmed in Chicago and starring Viola Davis in an Oscar-worthy role, Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and the list goes on and on, “Widows” is an instant classic. Twenty years from now, we’ll be wondering why it wasn’t more celebrated and acclaimed when it was first released.