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Movie Review: A Different Kind Of Best-Of-The-Year List

It’s the end of the year… but it’s the end of this year, so rather than a usual best-of list, I bring you: the top five movies I saw this year—from any era—that gave me the most enjoyment. Because goodness gracious, we’ve needed to find that where we could.


All the way back on New Year’s Day, I watched the Aretha Franklin concert film Amazing Grace, made up of footage of Franklin and a gospel choir in 1972, but not released until 2018. It’s flat-out stunning, about as genuinely thrilling as a concert film can get.


Also in January, my dad and I went up to the Salina Art Center to watch 63 Up, the ninth installment in Michael Apted’s unparalleled documentary series that’s revisited the same set of people every seven years since they were all seven years old. Seeing those faces, getting older but still unmistakably the people I know, filled me with warmth. The Up Series is the greatest achievement in movie history.


In May, I saw a movie that I knew, instantly, was now one of my absolute favorite movies. It’s from 1937 and it’s called History Is Made at Night, and I’m not going to tell you what it’s about because it gets wild, but I will tell you it’s romantic, and funny, and tense, and sad, and surprising. It’s everything you ever wanted from a movie.


In September, I caught up with a small, but highly acclaimed, movie from 2018 called A Bread Factory—well, it’s actually two movies, but they’re supposed to be watched together. It’s about a performing arts center in a small town that’s being threatened by a ridiculous pair of famous artists who’ve moved in, and it’s a slyly funny, deeply human, joyous celebration of creativity. If you thought you couldn’t be riveted by a city council meeting, think again.


And then, a movie I mentioned a few weeks ago: Steve McQueen’s gorgeous, invigorating song of freedom, Lovers Rock. If ever there were a year that just needed to let loose with a house party, this is the one.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.