Ballots and Best-of Lists


About Daniel Barnes

By Daniel Barnes

In addition to all of my other freelance writing work, I penned over 150 movie reviews in this calendar year.  Whatever you think of the results, I worked on hard on that shit, so before all this output gets swept into the dustbin of yesteryear, I have compiled my best-written movie reviews from 2018.

MY 10 BEST PRINT REVIEWS (click title to read my full review)

*Isle of Dogs (Sacramento News & Review – published 3/29/18)
The mot juste: “If Anderson’s blend of clinical skill and warming sadness has always hit you in that Nick Drake sweet spot, the stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs is another elaborately embossed tchotchke for your cinematic shelf.”

*Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (East Bay Express – published 5/16/18)
The mot juste: “No matter how good the intentions, Boom for Real too often plays like white people contextualizing and defining Basquiat within the lines of their own white scene. ”

*Deadpool 2 (EBE – published 5/23/18)
The mot juste: “Disconnected pop culture references once again pass for humor here, as though the mere mention of dubstep, LinkedIn, gluten, Justin Bieber, Sharknado, the McRib, or any other recognizable pop culture buzzword was sufficiently hilarious. ”

*The Rider (SNR – published 5/24/18)
The mot juste: “In Chloé Zhao’s The Rider, the slightest twinge of emotional conflict sends the lead character outside to stare blankly into the sunlight, the twilight, the moonlight or even the “friscalating dusklight,” to borrow a phrase from Eli Cash. To be fair, that dusklight friscalates over the forbiddingly beautiful badlands of South Dakota, which Zhao shoots to occasionally stunning effect.”

*Solo: A Star Wars Story (EBE – published 5/30/18)
The mot juste: “Original Solo directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were booted from the project well into production and were replaced by career hack Ron Howard, who never met a property he couldn’t drain of personality. As ever, Howard’s concept of visual cinema is hopelessly flat and punishingly literal. Call it old-school Hollywood craftsmanship if you insist, but I wouldn’t trust the guy to build a stairway to nowhere. ”

*Mountain (EBE – published 5/30/18)
The mot juste: “If I didn’t know any better, I would think that Willem Dafoe wants to literally fuck a mountain.”

*Her (SNR – published 7/26/18)
The mot juste: “Samantha sets out to organize his life, but Theodore’s disorganization is largely emotional, and she starts learning and growing from their interactions so efficiently that she develops messy emotions of her own.”

*The Sisters Brothers (SNR – published 10/4/18)
The mot juste: “Phoenix is very good as the hot-tempered Charlie, but Reilly steals the show as the comparatively gentle Eli, providing this rough-edged film with a soulful center.”

*Suspiria (SNR – published 11/1/18)
The mot juste: “Guadagnino’s flavorless film is less a straight remake than a dreaded “homage,” with subtext becoming text, the unspoken getting spoken and tantalizing assumptions transforming into leaden story points. It’s like listening to an endless lecture on Suspiria delivered by someone with a tenuous grasp of the subject.”

*If Beale Street Could Talk (SNR – published 12/27/18)
The mot juste: “The gorgeous Nicholas Britell score that Jenkins slathers across almost every scene of If Beale Street Could Talk offers the perfect summation of why the film both does and doesn’t work–the music is unspeakably beautiful but also slightly suffocating, both perfectly restrained and a bit much.”

MY 5 BEST DARE DANIEL EXCLUSIVE REVIEWS (click title to read my full review):

*Gemini (published 4/4/18)
The mot juste: “Gemini essentially blends together the character dynamics from the last two Olivier Assayas films, then filters them through a sun-dazed, borderline apathetic sensibility, resulting in a film that always seems to be studying the backs of its own hands”

*Godard mon Amour (published 4/26/18)
The mot juste: “I had the same reaction watching Hazanavicius summon Godard-ian images and tropes that I had to Zack Snyder’s slavish recreation of specific panels from Watchmen: he understands everything except for the entire fucking point.”

*Cold Water (published 5/2/18)
The mot juste: “Don’t get the idea that Cold Water is a completists-only piece of juvenilia – this is a mature, fully formed work, seductive and bewildering in a way we have come to expect from Assayas, with his curious camera always moving, always searching, always wondering, always asking. ”

*Generation Wealth (published 7/27/18)
The mot juste: “Greenfield’s thematic leaps from teens with eating disorders to sex-tape celebrities to Icelandic stockbrokers often come off as exploitative yet judgmental, and the scenes focusing on her family feel disconnected and slightly egomaniacal.”

*Madeline’s Madeline (published 8/24/18)
The mot juste: “Madeline’s Madeline crackles with strange and unpredictable energy from the first moments and rarely lets up, forcing us to determine from scene to scene and shot to shot whether we’re watching a fantasy or a documentary, an acting exercise or an exhibition of mental illness.”

Read more of Daniel’s reviews at Dare Daniel and Rotten Tomatoes, and listen to Daniel on the Dare Daniel podcast.