Blog | Best of the 2018 Philadelphia Film Festival
Best of the 2018 Philadelphia Film Festival
November 03, 2018
By: Movie Critic Dave
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The Philadelphia Film Festival is always a treasured look into the cinematic year's most notable Oscar contenders. Year in and year out the programming team does a phenomenal job of securing the hottest titles, many of which are fresh off their world debuts, and the 2018 slate was no exception. Many of the performances, screenplays, directors and films listed below will be the ones you hear about throughout the awards season's race to the Oscars. And the ones that don't make it into the end of the year foray still deserve your viewing pleasure, so be sure to seek them out. So here they are, the best of the best from this year's Philadelphia Film Festival:

NOTE: All honorable mention selections are in alphabetical order, not numerical.

Best Screenplay

Honorable Mention: The Front RunnerThunder Road, Widows and Wildlife

#5. If Beale Street Could Talk

#4. The Favourite

#3. Boy Erased

#2. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

And the winner is ... 

#1. Green Book 

While Peter Farrelly's Green Book isn't necessarily a crowning achievement for its safe approach and soft conflicts, the comedic energy dowsed throughout the pages of its script make for an extraordinary ride. And as Green Book continues to impress audiences and makes a big end-of-the-year splash, I don't anticipate many statues for its screenplay, but as a major Oscar player it should sneak into the final mix.

Best Supporting Actress

Honorable Mention: Linda Cardellini (Green Book), Elle Fanning (Galveston), Vera Farmiga (The Front Runner) and Emily Mortimer (Write When You Get Work)

#5. Natalie Portman (Vox Lux)

#4. Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased)

#3. Emma Stone (The Favourite)

#2. Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)

And the winner is ... 

#1. Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Regina King's performance in If Beale Street Could Talk is getting massive amounts of buzz, and rightfully so. However, when it was decided that both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone were going into the Supporting Actress category, it created almost an unfair imbalance. Their screentime dwarfs King's and, consequently, provides a much larger platform to work their talents. In The Favourite, the Weisz vs Stone battle becomes the backbone of the film and it could very well continue until Oscar night. Yet, I have to give the edge to Weisz whose character stoich demeanor perfectly unravels as her privilege becomes threatened by a new arrival.

Best Supporting Actor

Honorable Mention: Jake Gyllenhaal (Wildlife)Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite)Jay Klaitz (Empathy, Inc.) and Jude Law (Vox Lux)

#5. Pedro Pascal (Prospect)

#4. J.K. Simmons (The Front Runner)

#3. Russell Crowe (Boy Erased)

#2. Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

And the winner is ... 

#1. Mahershala Ali (Green Book)

Former Oscar winner Mahershala Ali appears to be in the driver seat for exclusive company if he can secure a second statue for his role as a world class African American pianist traveling the unwelcoming deep south in Peter Farrelly's Green Book. In many ways Ali's onscreen prowess in Green Book towers over his previous award-winning work in Moonlight. The roles are quite different, though, but his facetime in this latest film bountiful and rarely wasted. Mahershala Ali makes the most of his handful of Oscar-quality scenes and cements himself as one of the most accomplished, and unjustly unrecognizable (from a mainstream sense), stars in Hollywood.

Best Actress

Honorable Mention: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Madeline Brewer (Cam), Julia Roberts (Ben Is Back) and Molly Shannon (Wild Nights with Emily)

#5. Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk)

#4. Viola Davis (

#3. Carey Mulligan (

#2. Olivia Colman (The Favourite)

And the winner is ...

#1. Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

As someone who has regularly been on the offensive in criticizing Melissa McCarthy's recent string of horrid role choices, I will also be the first to eat crow and admit that her performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me? is simply sensational. McCarthy transform into Lee Israel, the real-life best selling biographer who fell on hard financial times in the 80s. And after discovering a valuable market for personalized notes from famous authors, she embarks on a string of forgeries that not only help her pay the bills, but also make her feel a sense of accomplishment again as a writer. The depth to Israel's character is manifested by more than just the words in the script, McCarthy captures the embattled author's emotional struggles to perfection and delivers an Oscar-bound performance that will find staunch competition as the cinematic year closes out, but one that should at least emerge as a finalist when all is said and done.

Best Actor

Honorable Mention: Jamie Bell (Donnybrook)Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk)Michael Kelly (All Square) and Calum Worthy (Bodied)

#5. Ben Foster (Galveston)

#4. Hugh Jackman (
The Front Runner)

#3. Jim Cummings (
Thunder Road)

#2. Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased)

And the winner is ...

#1. Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

The Best Actor field happens to be thinner than usual this year, but don't let that downplay Viggo Mortensen's brilliant turn in Green Book. He's the heart and soul of this year's finest film (so far) and he does it with a dim-witted charm that's unlike anything we've seen from Viggo before. I adored him in Captain Fantastic and he even outdoes himself here as Tony Lip, a Brooklyn native who escorts his African American boss through the Jim Crow era south. Don't be fooled though, Green Book is nothing like the other Civil Rights films that repetitiously get pushed into production by studios, and Mortensen is unlike any character you've seen. His jolly demeanor and knockout sense of humor bring smiles to every scene and it's an absolute pleasure watching Viggo do his thing in the film.

Best Director

Honorable Mention: Bradley Corbet (Vox Lux)Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)Jim Cummings (Thunder Road) and Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk)

#5. Joel Edgerton (Boy Erased)

#4. Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

#3. Peter Farrelly (Green Book)

#2. Steve McQueen (

And the winner is ... 

#1. Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

He's a truly unique voice, but I have a feeling he's only getting started. Yorgos Lanthimos is just as crafty in the director's chair as he is with a pen, delivering masterful imagery along with a cunning and gripping tale in The Favourite. His constant toying with focus and clarity ushers in a bizarre atmosphere and its something Lanthimos yearns for in his filmmaking. He boldly embraces the bizarre and it's risky but he fulls it off with such a natural ease. It makes viewing his films such a memorable experience and that continues to be the case in The Favourite. I'm sensing some Oscar recognition in Yorgos Lanthimos' limitless future but, for now, let's enjoy what he's concocted with his latest tour de force.

Best Picture

Honorable Mention: The Front Runner, If Beale Street Could Talk, Widows and Wildlife

#5. Thunder Road

#4. Boy Erased

#3. The Favourite

#2. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

And the winner is ...

#1. Green Book 

Look, by this point there isn't much left to say about this year's darling bro-mance comedy Green Book. Artsy types will lift their noses at the film's safe direction and the script's refusal to dive deeper into the racial animosity serving as a backdrop to its story. Sure, I'll admit that Green Book is imperfect. But I'll also offer up a staunch defense that it's one of the funniest, heartfelt and magnificently acted movies in quite some time. The lifelong friendship between these starkly contrasting individuals is well-earned and Green Book is a refreshingly uplifting film when we so desperately need one.