Going to the movies this weekend? Consider one of our film critics' picks, like the release of what will almost certainly be a Disney blockbuster (A Wrinkle in Time), one of two long-running fests (the Seattle Jewish Film Festival and the Animation Show of Shows), or one of last weekend's Oscar ceremony winners (like A Fantastic Woman). Find all of this weekend's noteworthy movies below, follow the links to see complete showtimes, tickets, and trailers, and, if you're looking for even more options, check out our complete movie times listings or our film events calendar.
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In director Agnès Varda's documentary, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, she joins forces with photographer and muralist JR, making use of his portable darkroom. The two journey through rural France together, capturing the people they meet through large-scale photo projects (and forming an unlikely friendship).
SIFF Cinema Uptown
This precursor to Bonnie and Clyde is necessarily less explicit, being from 1950 and all, but manages some pretty daring sexual innuendo in the story of a young couple of sharpshooters turned on by thievery and murder. Great B-cinema.
Even if Austrian director Michael Haneke's bad-boy iconoclast image may have taken a hit since he remade his own Funny Games with American stars, he's still made great recent films—and with his lurid misanthropy focused on the perverse complacency of wealthy Europeans, it was inevitable that he tackle the crumbling French establishment in the face of the migrant crisis. Happy End is his first feature film since Amour, his Oscar-winning film starring the legendary actors Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Isabelle Huppert. Riva has passed on, but Trintignant and Huppert have returned for a story of an upper-class patriarch with dementia and his daughter, who's frantically trying to keep the family together. Secrets, poison, negligence, and incest threaten this bourgeois dynasty's grasp of its own fate.
Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult begins with an accident: a drainpipe leaks dirty water from the balcony of Tony Hanna (Adel Karam) and splashes Yasser Abdallah Salameh (Kamel El Basha), the foreman of a construction company. It’s the kind of feud that could be easily resolved, if these were different men living in a different city at a different time. But they’re not: Tony is a Lebanese Christian who owns his own garage and watches fiery rallies on TV while he works. Yasser is an older Palestinian immigrant who used to be a civil engineer, but now, as a refugee, can only get hired for construction jobs. The setting is modern-day Beirut, still feeling the reverberations of the Lebanese Civil War that ended almost 30 years earlier. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the conflict, it’s recognizable: Two people are conditioned to hate each other, which allows a misunderstanding to snowball out of control. Things get ugly real fast—soon, the whole country is watching their fight play out in a courtroom. The Insult works best when Doueiri spends time examining the root system of hate. His characters are presented with hard questions: Is truth ever objective? Is it possible to separate the personal from the political? CIARA DOLAN
Fourteen brief chapters about the life and times of select residents of Coachella Valley, ranging from history-minded lifers to recently retired transplants. (Also, Shecky Greene!) The latest from Robinson Devor (Police Beat, Zoo) is gratifyingly, absorbingly odd, stocked with a cast of real characters who are all effortlessly off-kilter. (“What would my life be like if I died?” is just one of the wobbly, near-gnostic sayings on display.) Hypnotic viewing, with an eerily majestic use of drone shots and the goddamndest helicopter you’ll ever see. ANDREW WRIGHT
Winter Light: The Films of Ingmar Bergman
Charles Mudede says, "You can almost live forever on a diet of just films of the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman." The second-to-last film in this series is the great, surreal meditation on morbid angst, sexual mania, and loneliness far from home, The Silence.
Seattle Art Museum
Big Time is about the architect who replaced Rem Koolhaas in hotness. No one talks about the Dutchman who designed Seattle’s Central Library anymore, but they do go on and on about young Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (he is only 43). His best work is Mountain Dwelling, which is located in Copenhagen and was completed in 2008, when was only 33. He is now famous for the Via 57 West, a residential building in NYC that was completed in 2016, and is featured in this documentary. Ingle explains the thinking that went into this complex (it is a miniature of Manhattan). He also explains his next big project—the second part of the World Trade Center reconstruction. There is no joy, no celebration in this documentary. The architect has little or no time for fun. He is always thinking about death—how other famous architects died and left incomplete buildings and projects. As Peter Tosh once sang: “Let the dead bury the dead… I am a livin' man, I've got work to do.” CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center
Animation Show of Shows
Celebrate the art of animation at the 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows, a six-day-long event that will feature more than a dozen films from artists Quentin Baillieux, Lia Bertels, Pete Docter, and many others around the world.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Before We Vanish
Kiyoshi Kurosawa can't always be relied on to make a great movie—2016's Creepy was deeply flawed—but he is responsible for two of the best horror films of the 20th and 21st century, Pulse and Cure, as well as the unpredictable but never boring Tokyo Sonata, which won Un Certain Regard at Cannes. In Before We Vanish, he once again takes on a fruitful genre trope. Where Pulse used ghosts and Cure a serial killer to dramatize society's penchant for self-destruction, Before We Vanish adopts the alien body-snatcher narrative.
The Great Muppet Caper
The film that gave a new meaning to "gonzo journalism." Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo investigate a jewel heist and try to exonerate Miss Piggy, who's been framed for the crime. Diana Rigg has great fun as the aristocratic Lady Holiday.
Follow Estonian director Rainer Sarnet's vision across a hallucinatory black-and-white landscape of forests, mud, ancient churches, and huts in a sinister, alluring story of a wild peasant girl, Liina, who's determined to marry her fellow villager Hans. But Hans becomes fascinated with a visiting German baroness, and Liina's desire begins to take extreme, magical forms.
Set It Off
In Set It Off, four black women are squeezed into crime. One loses a job and her only way out of the ghetto; another loses her child to the state because she cannot afford childcare while she works for low wages; another is battling to keep her brother off the streets and on the path to college; another wants to buy the freedom to express her love for a woman (the last is convincingly played by Queen Latifah). These are not bad people. They are everyday women in the hood. Their transformation from law-abiding citizens to villains is not simple, but accumulative. The numerous steps leading to their crime spree are clear and understandable. Indeed, the best and most touching scene in the movie happens right after they rob a bank for the first time and are splitting the loot. One of them is told by another that she doesn't deserve a cut because she got cold feet before the heist and split. But pressure from the other two women makes Frankie submit and agree to give Tisean her undeserved cut. At the end of the day, she is one of them. She needs the money badly. She is a loving mother. This is ghetto love. If that scene does not make you feel all warm inside, you are a monster. CHARLES MUDEDE
Frances (a fantastic Greta Gerwig) is 27 and decidedly does not have her shit together. She bounces from job to job and apartment to apartment, barely scraping by while trying to make it as a dancer. Her friends are either better at life or just luckier, she’s not sure which. Her feelings of alienation and failure don’t stop her from making impulsive decisions and she probably drinks too much. It’s hilarious and touching, and you definitely know someone like Frances. MATT LYNCH
Saturday Secret Matinees
Grand Illusion and the Sprocket Society will continue their tradition of pairing an adventure serial with a different secret matinee movie every week. This year, the serial is Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, and the theme of the feature film will change every fortnight (maybe they stole the idea from the Stranger's new printing schedule. Though probably not). The remaining themes include "Atomic Monsters (this week's theme)" and "Widescreen Thrills." The coolest part, from a film buff point of view? Everything will be presented on 16mm.
Seattle Jewish Film Festival
This annual film festival explores and celebrates global Jewish and Israeli life, history, complexity, culture, and filmmaking. The festival showcases international, independent and award-winning Jewish-themed and Israeli cinema, and the audience votes on their favorites. This year, the theme is "isREEL Life" in celebration of Israel's 70th anniversary. On opening night, see Maktub, a mob comedy by Oded Raz, and attend a Tom Douglas-catered dessert party. There will also be an Eastside opening featuring the documentary Shalom Bollywood about Jewish Indian performers. Other highlights will include the excellent documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story and a ceremony honoring filmmaker Tiffany Shlain (The Tribe).
Stroum Jewish Community Center, SIFF Cinema Uptown, AMC Pacific Place
Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action and 2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animated
If you aren’t going to see both programs, don’t miss the live-action films, which are suspenseful and deeply tragic. Reed Van Dyk’s DeKalb Elementary—set in an elementary school office during a hostage crisis—is bone-shaking in its empathy and realism. The tension that emerges between a substitute receptionist (Tara Riggs) and a mentally unstable young man (Bo Mitchell) simultaneously asks relevant societal questions and showcases the talents of both actors. Another standout is My Nephew Emmett, Kevin Wilson Jr.’s film about the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Told from the perspective of Till’s uncle, Mose Wright (L.B. Williams), My Nephew Emmett explores the weighty silence of a good man living in Mississippi under Jim Crow laws. Wilson spools the audience’s affection around Mose, then breaks him down before our eyes. In that heartbreak, the film offers an important lesson: We need to remember our past, and continue fighting for a better future. SUZETTE SMITH
SIFF Cinema Uptown & Ark Lodge Cinemas
Annihilation could squeeze into just about any label you give it: a horror film; a science-fiction flick that toys with the possibility of extraterrestrial life; a wilderness adventure; a romantically yearning character study; a chilling, painfully suspenseful mystery; a “message” film about either the environment or male toxicity, depending on where you feel like directing your anger; an abstract, allegorical art piece with long stretches of dialogue-free visuals. The most accurate label is probably just to call it an Alex Garland film. After his stunning 2015 debut as director, Ex Machina, and now the gorgeous, terrifying, and spellbinding Annihilation, we’re starting to get a sense of what that is. These are films that use the tools of genre—science fiction and horror, predominantly—to explore the liminal space between what is human and what isn’t. Annihilation is the best kind of cinematic experience, one that floods the senses without battering them into submission, and one that moves the mind and heart without manipulating them. It’s a staggering thing to witness. NED LANNAMANN
Because I do not want to spoil the experience of this movie, I will not describe the path of the film's plot to its core problem, which concerns the unification of black Africa with black America. Out of a comic book, director Ryan Coogler crafted an important concept about how, from the unification, a post-pan-Africanist global Africanism can emerge. It comes down to this: black Africans and black Americans have to admit their respective failings. (My feeling is that Coogler is much harder on black Americans than black Africans.) As a whole, Black Panther is lots of fun and will excite a lot of discussion and strong opinions. But the most revolutionary thing about Black Panther is its city. The capital of Wakanda has skyscrapers, a monorail, sidewalks of grass, green buildings, farmers markets, and no cars. The whole idea of private transportation is foreign to this fictional society. If this black African capital has anything to share with the world, it's its city planning. CHARLES MUDEDE
Call Me By Your Name
Recently, The Stranger published a review of this film by noted heterosexual Sean Nelson, who couldn’t seem to shake his impression that Armie Hammer had never been near another man’s penis in his life. That may be, but focusing on that fact is beside the point, because the film holds out the possibility that these two characters (whom we also see having sex with women) are simply, inexplicably attracted to each other, “identity” be damned. Maybe they’re even straight, and it was just a charge in the air, a tension that had to be resolved, a mystery. This movie is a masterpiece and you should see it before Timothée Chalamet wins his Oscar. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
A Fantastic Woman
A trans woman and an older man fall rapturously in love—but he dies suddenly during their torrid night together. The bereaved Marina struggles to maintain equilibrium and dignity in the face of her lover's intolerant family. This film by Sebastián Lelio is an Oscar winner and has won a jury prize, a Silver Berlin Bear, and a Teddy at the Berlinale, as well as numerous other awards and nominations. And—for once in an Oscar-winning movie—the film boasts an actual trans woman, Daniela Vega, in the role of a trans woman.
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Remember to be grateful for the little things. But on the upside: Sharon Horgan has a small part in a halfway decent, big-budget Hollywood comedy! And so does Lamorne Morris! And hey, there’s Kylie Bunbury! They’re part of an overachieving supporting cast that makes the perfunctory Game Night a much better movie than it should have been. Outliers like Girls Trip and The Big Sick notwithstanding, the comedy-movie genre is probably in its worst shape ever, so when Game Night achieves the bare minimum—making you laugh—it’s downright refreshing. The plot, not that it matters, involves Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams and a group of friends trying to solve a puzzle mystery that may or may not include Bulgarian gangsters, Fabergé eggs, and the kidnapping of Bateman’s brother (Kyle Chandler). Is it all a game? Is any of it real? I 100 percent guaran-fucking-tee you will not care. Look—Game Night isn’t worth a lot of deep thought, and it’s not going to provoke any type of cultural conversation. But it’s got some laughs, and that feels like a lot right now. NED LANNAMANN
AMC Pacific Place & AMC Seattle 10
Tonya Harding was considered a freak, even though she was arguably the most technically skilled skater of her time. In the wake of the infamous 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan (which she may or may not have had a hand in), Harding was further ostracized, transformed by the nascent 24-hour news cycle into a white-trash demoness—so it’s important that any fictional depiction of her life acknowledge that she was also a real person who suffered. I, Tonya, is a solid attempt, largely thanks to Margot Robbie’s portrayal of a very human, very sympathetic Tonya. Without sugarcoating Harding’s personality (which could be caustic) or her tragic life (which was full of abuse and abandonment), I, Tonya tells a familiar story of a woman whose life was ruined by hapless, cruel men and sexist gatekeeping. It has been criticized for its stylized, darkly comic depiction of abuse, but it’s also one of the only portrayals I’ve seen that presents Harding as a person, and that acknowledges she was abused. It’s hard not to root for her in the film—she's a talented weirdo surrounded by bad men, whose raw determination can’t be blunted by an equally abusive and narcissistic mother (an excellent, unnerving Allison Janney) who teaches her to conflate being loved with being hit. It’s impossible not to empathize with Harding, and to imagine what her career and life might have looked like had she been able to make a clean break from her abusive family. MEGAN BURBANK
AMC Seattle 10 & AMC Pacific Place
Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan, never better) is a teenage girl striving to find a self she can live in while stranded in moribund, lower-middle-class Sacramento, "the Midwest of California." Her efforts begin with that name, which she bestowed upon herself—Christine was too normal—and loudly demands that everyone call her at all times. The crusade also manifests in the form of hair dye, petty crime, habitual lying, sexual experimentation with unworthy boys, and musical theater. Though Lady Bird will perform for anyone, the only audience she truly wants is her exasperated, judgmental, sharp-tongued mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf, almost certainly the greatest living actress). It's an exquisitely observed portrait of a mother and daughter so intractably at war that they can't see how close they are until it's too late. SEAN NELSON
Meridian 16 & Majestic Bay
Sally Potter’s eighth feature film is The Party, a 71-minute black-and-white movie that was, admittedly, panned by the best film critic in the US, Manohla Dargis, who, though comparing it to Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, Rope, Rear Window, and Dial M for Murder, called it “brittle.” But it is still by Sally Potter, the director who gave the world two masterpieces in the 1990s Orlando and The Tango Lesson. She is almost 70 but has not made that many films. The fact that she completed a new one justifies watching it. The Party is set in London. And it stars an actress discovered by the late Prince, Kristin Scott Thomas. CHARLES MUDEDE
AMC Seattle 10 & SIFF Cinema Uptown
The alleged news that this will be Daniel Day-Lewis’s final outing as an actor would only be reason enough to see this film if you actually believe he truly won’t ever act again once he’s finished cobbling or whatever he’s doing this time. But really, all you need to know is that he’s in it. Boom, it’s a don’t miss. But then you see the trailer, in which obsessive jealousy burns slowly, causing terrible damage as it mounts, and you see the makings of a Paul Thomas Anderson gem, and another brilliant performance by Day-Lewis, one of the finest actors who ever drew breath. SEAN NELSON
AMC Seattle 10 & SIFF Cinema Uptown
The Post is Spielberg’s clear and passionate ode to the adversarial press, and not only is it a refreshing departure from his past work, it also turns out to be a good fit for his slick storytelling style. Spielberg is, at his core, a populist—a guy who wants to make crowd-pleasers so badly that his name has become synonymous with them. With The Post, Spielberg’s skills are put to a purpose. Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the chain-smoking, gray-suited editor of the Washington Post. Hanks is the perfect choice for a character who’s juuust enough of a salty old sumbitch to keep things from turning into mushy hagiography. In one of the first scenes, Bradlee tells Katharine “Kay” Graham—the owner of the newspaper, played by grand dame of cinema Meryl Streep—to “keep your finger out of my eye.” It’s 1971, and the drama of the day concerns the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret history of the United States’ disastrous involvement in Vietnam and the lies the government told the American people along the way. Daniel Ellsberg (The Americans’ Matthew Rhys, who has a great cloak-and-dagger face) has started leaking the report to the New York Times, which gets slapped with an injunction. With the New York Times silenced, The Post follows the Washington Post’s journey to (1) acquire the Pentagon Papers and (2) decide whether to publish, risking lawsuits and jail time. The story has obvious contemporary parallels, with the press risking it all to check the president’s power—and Spielberg, surprisingly, rises to the challenge. In a lot of ways, The Post is the movie Oliver Stone wanted Snowden to be. VINCE MANCINI
Big Picture & Admiral Theatre
The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water is strange, sweet, and wonderful, and easily the greatest film ever made about a mute cleaning lady who falls in love with an amphibious fish man. A fairy tale set in 1962, it finds Elisa (Sally Hawkins) working the graveyard shift at the Occam Aerospace Research Center—a cold institution that marks a time, del Toro says, “where America is looking forward. Everything [is] about the future... and here comes a creature from the most ancient past.” That creature—wide-eyed, gilled, and played with strength and inquisitiveness by Doug Jones—is imprisoned at Occam. Locked in a tank and chained in a pool, he’s prodded by a reverent scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) and tortured by a dominating military man (Michael Shannon). When Elisa finds him, she recognizes a kindred spirit—and feels an attraction that’s met with varying degrees of enthusiasm from her dubious coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her artist neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins). Whether they’re human or... whatever the hell the creature is, The Shape of Water’s characters are played by some of the best actors working today—all of whom give whole-hearted, nuanced performances, anchoring a story that can feel bigger (and weirder) than life. The characters’ depth is reinforced by del Toro: his stories are marked by an earnest affinity for outcasts—which, in the falsely idealized America of the 1960s, includes the mute Elisa, the closeted Giles, and the Black Zelda. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
One way you know a film is written by a playwright is when everything everyone says in it is clever and wise and perfect. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, written and directed by Martin McDonagh, never fails on this score. The dialogue, particularly when given life by actors Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell, is hilarious and provocative. But the biggest indicator that you're watching the work of a playwright is the sense that there's no way the story is what the film is really about. The three billboards in Three Billboards are signifiers and catalysts, but they're also red herrings (literally red, in fact). The billboards are taken out by Mildred (McDormand) as a way to publicly shame Ebbing's police chief (Woody Harrelson) for having failed to catch the man who raped and murdered her daughter. They also keep her grief alive and present tense. McDonagh depicts graphic violence and hateful language flippantly, in a style people like to call Tarantinoesque. But McDonagh is not a shock artist, not satisfied milking the disjunction of liking the bad cop or the mean lady. He's making the case that humans are complex, that "sympathetic" is relative, and that whatever horrible things people are capable of doing to each other (and they are indeed horrible), we still have to live together when we're done. SEAN NELSON
Valeska Grisebach's homage to an American genre was a hit at Cannes and has picked up praise from the New York Times. A German industrial laborer toiling at a Bulgarian dam finds himself in a mire of nationalism, international water struggles, and latent violence.
Northwest Film Forum
A Wrinkle In Time
A Wrinkle in Time is an engrossing fantasy about a teenage girl, Meg, who—despite her anxieties and faults, and with the help of some friends and three extra-dimensional beings named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which—embarks on a cross-dimensional adventure to save her missing father from a terrifying monster of darkness and conformity named IT. Disney’s new blockbuster isn’t the A Wrinkle in Time I read as a child. Director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) has updated the story and placed it squarely in the now: There’s an extended roller coaster-esque flight scene over otherworldly landscapes, a multiracial cast, instructions for self-care, and Oprah. DuVernay doesn’t cut the weird without adding wonder. Her update to the three Mrs. W’s is particularly spectacular. Rather than the beak-nosed ladies they were in the book, these Mrs. W’s are luminous, ever-changing chameleons in couture gowns. There’s an informal pairing off—one child for each extra-dimensional being—and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) is predictably charged with the anxious Meg (Storm Reid), who, like many of Oprah’s followers, just needs a little boost of self-confidence before she’s ready to stand up to a universe-devouring evil. SUZETTE SMITH