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ERNEST HARDY'S FAVORITE FILMS OF '98:   The best film of the year: Happiness (Todd Solondz, U.S.)   The rest in alphabetical order: Babe: Pig in the City (George Miller, Australia); The Butcher Boy (Neil Jordan, Ireland/U.S.); The Cruise (Bennett Miller, U.S.); Dakan (Mohamed Camara, Guinea); Full Speed (Gael Morel, France); High Art (Lisa Cholodenko, U.S.); Live Flesh (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain); Love and Death on Long Island (Richard Kwietniowski, U.S.); The Opposite of Sex (Don Roos, U.S.); Out of Sight (Steven Soderbergh, U.S.); A Simple Plan (Sam Raimi, U.S.); Steam: The Turkish Bath (Ferzan Ozpetek, Italy-Turkey-Spain); Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes, U.S.).   Cinematic hate crimes: The Avengers, Godzilla, Patch Adams, The Players Club, What Dreams May Come.

HAZEL-DAWN DUMPERT'S TOP 10 (IN LOOSE ORDER):   Fireworks (Takeshi Kitano, Japan) A Simple Plan (Sam Raimi, U.S.) Affliction (Paul Schrader, U.S.) Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes, U.S.) Beloved (Jonathan Demme, U.S.) War Zone (Maggie Hadleigh-West, U.S.) There's Something About Mary (the Farrelly Brothers, U.S.) Buffalo '66 (Vincent Gallo, U.S.) Men With Guns (John Sayles, U.S.) The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, U.S.)   Honorable mentions: Rushmore (Wes Anderson, U.S.) He Got Game (Spike Lee, U.S.) The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark) Hilary and Jackie (Anand Tucker, U.K.) Gods and Monsters (Bill Condon, U.S.) The Decline of Western Civilization, Part III (Penelope Spheeris, U.S.) The Saltmen of Tibet (Ulrike Koch, Germany)

F.X. FEENEY'S FILMS OF THE YEAR:   Here, for my money, are the 11 best films of 1998. Number 11 -- which signifies "genius" in numerology -- neatly balances the black & white timelessness of selection number one.   1. The General (John Boorman, Ireland) 2. The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark) 3. Affliction (Paul Schrader, U.S.) 4. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, U.S.) 5. The Butcher Boy (Neil Jordan, Ireland/U.S.) 6. The Truce (Francesco Rosi, Italy) 7. Os Mutantes (Teresa Villaverde, Portugal) 8. See the Sea (François Ozon, France) 9. Happiness (Todd Solondz, U.S.) 10. Shakespeare in Love (John Madden, U.K.) 11. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, U.S.)   Os Mutantes, which knocked me out at Cannes, is a haunting study of Portuguese teenagers living at civilization's ragged edges. First-time writer-director Teresa Villaverde has a rigorous, concentrated style. Her sensitivity with actors yields a luminous performance from 16-year-old Ana Moreira. A movie this good fills me with hope for 1999, and beyond.

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