Top Ten Movies of 2018 — Number Nine

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The instigating action of the plot is so small and unassuming that it almost seems like a cheerful memory rather than a cinematic plot point. A little bear named Paddington (voiced marvelously by Ben Whishaw) longs to purchase a vintage pop-up picture book so he can give it as a gift. From there, director Paul King lofts Paddington 2 into giddy spins of colorful invention. The humor is gentle and the emotions are warmly insightful. And in Hugh Grant’s turn as egotistical thespian Phoenix Buchanan, the film boasts a springy example of the joy to be found in freeing a gifted performer to ham it up. What’s most impressive, though, is King’s relentless skill for crafting images that convey epics in a moment or two. In the meticulous visuals, King demonstrates an artistic kinship with the likes of Wes Anderson, Edgar Wright, and Paul Thomas Anderson. With Paddington 2, King outpaces all of them in his capacity for conjuring pure wonderment.

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