Viadoom is upon us! Hide in the movie theaters! Cinerama's Destruction, Disaster & Dystopia is serving up some appropriately themed flicks to accompany the death of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Also of note: a lovely new biopic of Astrid Lindgren of Pippi Longstocking fame (Becoming Astrid), a great new sports film about a gymnast's ordeal (Over the Limit), and a run of the Wes Anderson comedy The Royal Tenenbaums. Plus, we've noted all the Golden Globe winners still in theaters, like The Wife. Follow the links below to see complete showtimes, tickets, and trailers for all of our critics' picks, and, if you're looking for even more options, check out our film events calendar and complete movie times listings.
Aquaman is very goofy, and if it was an hour shorter, it would totally be worth your time. As the affably bro-y fishman, Jason Momoa punches CGI monsters and supervillains who wear stupid costumes; he also, in the film’s best moments, flips back his dripping hair and, angling his shirtless torso for maximum gleam, all but winks at the camera as an electric guitar wails. Eagerly and clumsily, Aquaman dispels the joyless grimdark that’s infested other movies based on DC Comics, and director James Wan delivers some genuinely great stuff—a horror-tinged encounter with dagger-toothed wretches from the deep, a psychedelic submarine chase through a fluorescent Atlantis. But he’s hampered by too much plot, dreary politicking that aims for Game of Thrones but lands at Phantom Menace, and a plasticky sheen that cheapens everything from the bad guys’ Power Ranger suits to the digitally de-aged faces of Temuera Morrison, Willem Dafoe, and Nicole Kidman. Aquaman’s super fun when it embraces its silliness—there’s an octopus who plays the drums! there’s an army of cranky crab-men!—but by the end, it just feels bloated and squishy. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Pernille Fischer Christensen's critically praised biopic about Astrid Lindgren, the author of the Pippi Longstocking series, reveals the Swedish writer as an unconventional woman who developed stories as a way to reconnect with a son she was pressured to give up for adoption. According to Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times, "In many respects, Becoming Astrid is your standard biographical drama, its familiar beats untroubled by narrative daring or stylistic surprises. But Erik Molberg Hansen’s relaxed camera movements and fuzzy-soft compositions are quite beautiful, and the performances—including the superb Trine Dyrholm as the baby’s Danish foster mother—are pitch-perfect." Alba August as Astrid is also reportedly superb.
SIFF Film Center
Ben Is Back
From Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Peter Hedges comes a film about a prodigal son whose return home causes some familial disruption. Will the former addict, played by Lucas Hedges, manage to stay clean? Julia Roberts, playing the boy's mother, was highlighted as one of the best actors of the year by A.O. Scott of the New York Times.
AMC Pacific Place & AMC Seattle 10
Why is it a good movie? Because it depicts and embodies the complicatedness of artistic collaboration, because it shows the downsides and the virtues of a brilliant person's out-of-control ego, because it dramatizes the way repression warps people, because it suggests what the world lost with an entire generation of gay artists who were wiped out (this was only one person, and yet the loss here alone is huge), because the music's fantastic (duh) and it was written by the characters we're seeing depicted on-screen, and because it manages to depict an artist who died of AIDS without ending with him on his deathbed succumbing to AIDS. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
*Golden Globe Winner:
Best Actor in a Drama (Rami Malek)
Here's a question prompted by the last 30 years of Transformers movies: "Is it even possible to make a good movie out of this shit?" Bumblebee is the answer, and it's a legitimately good one. Nothing about it ever threatens to edge into "great" territory, but it's winsome, earnest and good-hearted, and that's more than enough to make it easily the best movie in the series. The story is largely unimportant—alien-robot puppy-car has to stop a robot-alien car-plane and a helicopter-car alien-robot (voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) from Skyping the Decepticons to come burn Earth to a cinder—but most of what works in Bumblebee works on a character level, not a plot one. The novelty of genuinely liking a Transformers movie for its characters (!) might wear off pretty soon, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. BOBBY ROBERTS
This is a monument in film form: Wang Bing's eight-hour documentary, co-presented by Yellow Fish Durational Performance Art Festival, observes the survivors of a brutal Chinese prison camp in the Gobi Desert, to which they were condemned for "ultra-rightist" sympathies during the reign of Mao. Many of their fellow prisoners starved to death. Today, Wang Bing revisits the horrors of the past and their aftermath. Your ticket is valid for both days of screenings and you're free to come and go as you choose.
Northwest Film Forum
Destruction, Disaster & Dystopia Film Series
As the viaduct comes down and a traffic disaster looms over our quailing metropolis, the cinema will lighten the mood with some of the best dystopian and disaster movies ever made, like this weekend's RoboCop, Children of Men, The Terminator, and Titanic. Embrace the chaos!
Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes
Alexis Bloom's infuriating, fascinating documentary about disgraced Fox News titan Roger Ailes traces his influence on the administrations of Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush as well as his media empire. He transformed the news into a propaganda tool and ran a misogynist workplace, as multiple interviewees attest in the film. On Friday, after the film, art historian Emily Pothast will give a run-down of the history of propaganda from the Reformation on.
Northwest Film Forum
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos knows how to get under the skin of emotions and situations in a way that’s surreal, but it makes his observations feel closer to actual truth. The Favourite is a historical period piece that pulls less heady tricks than his previous efforts, its focus on the relationship between two cousins (played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) vying for the favor of Olivia Colman’s sickly Queen Anne in early 18th century England. The actresses churn out incredible performances, hysterically and humorously jockeying for control over each other, the palace, and themselves. Lanthimos still manages to throw in a few strange elements, like the use of a fish eye camera lens and silly dancing sequences, but in a way, it only heightens the characters’ believability. JASMYNE KEIMIG
*Golden Globe Winner:
Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy (Olivia Colman)
This highly praised, dizzying documentary reveals the heart-stopping journey of Alex Honnold as he conquered Yosemite's El Capitan wall without ropes or safety gear. You don't need to be a climber to be thrilled at this glimpse into human accomplishment.
AMC Pacific Place and Pacific Science Center IMAX
Green Book tells the supposedly true story of a Black jazz pianist, Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), and his white driver, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), as they go on a concert tour through the segregated South in 1962. Although they’re both from New York, they’re from entirely different worlds: Shirley moves through the rarified air of highbrow culture. Tony, on the other hand, is an Italian American stereotype made sentient, a “whattsamattayou” tough guy with a tenderly soft underbelly. Green Book’s biggest red flag is that it’s essentially another Driving Miss Daisy story about how to solve racism in three convenient acts. But the movie’s really nice, and it’s hard to get too mad at it. Ali and Mortensen are both awfully good, and the script, for all its familiarity, is kind of comforting in its shtick-y predictability. NED LANNAMANN
Golden Globe Winner:
Best Picture, Musical or Drama
Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali)
Best Screenplay (Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly)
If Beale Street Could Talk
The first English-language film adaptation of a James Baldwin novel, the Barry Jenkins–helmed If Beale Street Could Talk is set in 1970s Harlem. It follows the story of Fonny (Stephan James) and Tish (KiKi Layne), a young and deeply in love black couple torn apart after Fonny is falsely accused of raping a woman and thrown in jail. After learning that she's pregnant, Tish and her family race to clear Fonny's name and get him out of prison before the baby is born so their life together can continue. Okay, yes, I followed the story, and yes, I got teary-eyed and enraged at the appropriate moments. But as I made my way out of the Regal Meridian, I was thinking not about the movie I'd spent a good part of my afternoon watching but about my fucking groceries. Not love, not the carceral state, not actor Stephan James wearing nothing but his boxers, not the souls of black folk, but whether the cucumber in the back of my fridge had spoiled and if I'd need to buy another one. As a Baldwin fan and a Jenkins fan, it seems almost sacrilegious to admit to being unmoved, or worse, bored, by their work—this pairing should be a slam dunk. And although the film is beautifully shot and filled with great performances, ultimately If Beale Street Could Talk lacks that deep gut punch that makes a movie stick. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Golden Globe Winner:
Best Supporting Actress (Regina King)
The Magic Lantern of Ingmar Bergman
Swedish visionary film director Ingmar Bergman would have been 100 this year. His deeply introspective, unabashedly emotional, despairing yet strangely life-affirming oeuvre will once again be onscreen at Seattle Art Museum (in association with the Nordic Museum). The first film, showing Thursday, is the strange and absorbing circus drama Sawdust and Tinsel.
Seattle Art Museum
Mary Poppins Returns
Undisputed, inarguable fact: Emily Blunt is an international treasure. If the makers of Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns did nothing else right, the casting of Blunt as the “practically perfect” magical nanny was a stroke of inspired genius. Unfortunately, it’s a fool’s game to try to force lightning to strike in the same place twice, which is why Blunt’s performance—which is easily equal to that of the great Julie Andrews—is the best thing about Mary Poppins Returns. That isn’t to say the film is a poorly considered waste of time. The story of a now grown-up Michael Banks (played by an excellent and heartbreaking Ben Whishaw), who’s raising his three children (played by bland bars of soap) following the death of his wife while desperately trying to hang on to his childhood home adds an affecting layer not seen in the original. The problem lies in slavishly trying to re-create something that’s practically perfect—if one aspect isn’t right, magic just ain’t gonna happen. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots is the latest effort to bring 16th-century British historical drama into the millennial age, and for better and worse, it bears many of the hallmarks of such an effort: It's got two legitimate movie stars at its core, with Saoirse Ronan as the titular monarch and Margot Robbie as her cousin Elizabeth I. Maybe it's just Westeros withdrawal talking, but I got a consistent sense that Mary and Elizabeth's rivalry compares to the one between Daenerys and Cersei on Game of Thrones. Mary, despite (or because of?) her Catholicism is the warmer, more progressive ruler, while the famously virginal, always tense Elizabeth, pox-afflicted and slathered in white face paint, resembles no one so much as a meth-addicted Harley Quinn in RenFaire garb. Toss in some hipster-worthy facial hair, a dollop of rough sex, and some nontraditional casting, and, even without dragons, Mary Queen of Scots should help tide you over until Game of Thrones returns in April. MARC MOHAN
Ponoc, the studio that produced Mary and the Witch's Flower last year, is back with another feature boasting work by many Studio Ghibli alums. Kanini & Kanino, Life Ain’t Gonna Lose, and Invisible make up Modest Heroes, an anthology film focusing on heroes in everyday and fantastic realms.
Thursday & Sunday
Mysterious Doctor Satan
The cinema's pulpy Saturday programming, which aims to resurrect the tradition of the serial matinee, is starting up again. This time, it's going to be The Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940), shown, as always, on 16mm. The serial involves a mad genius, an army of robots, and a hero known as "the Copperhead." But that's not all! After the episode, there'll be a secret cult, adventure, sci-fi, or art house film.
On Her Shoulders
Filmmaker Alexandria Bombach is behind this documentary about Yazidi genocide survivor Nadia Murad, who was taken prisoner by ISIS at age 19, while upwards of 600 fellow villagers (including six of her brothers and stepbrothers) were rounded up and killed. She was forced into slavery, along with 6,700 Yazidi women, though she ultimately escaped and has since become an outspoken activist and champion of her people, sharing her story and bringing awareness to the Northern Iraqi plight. It’s a heavy burden to bear—hence the title of the doc— but one that has earned her recognition: In 2018, she and Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” LEILANI POLK
Northwest Film Forum
Over the Limit
Marta Prus’s documentary follows the amazing Russian gymnast Margarita Mamun as she endures grueling training and psychological punishment meant to push her to the Olympic Games. An utterly nerve-wracking but superb film: Guy Lodge of Variety even ranks it among "among the great modern sports docs." Go see it, whether or not you're a gymnastics fan.
Northwest Film Forum
Ralph Breaks the Internet
The sequel to Wreck-It Ralph is Disney's strangely savvy and grown-up (but still fun-for-kids) take on the viruses, ads, social media networks, videos, and snake pits of idiocy on the web. Charles Pulliam-Moore of i09 wrote, "In its accurate depiction of the highs and lows the internet has to offer, Ralph Breaks the Internet also casually, and perhaps unavoidably, draws attention to something else about the ever-flattening global culture we’re all swimming in—and how Disney owns the rights to way, way too much of it."
The Royal Tenenbaums
Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray (rocking a Professor Barnacle beard) are an extended family of neurotic geniuses whose bastard of a patriarch (Hackman) wants to bring them closer together. Too bad they hate his guts. The film is hilariously funny, dryly tender, and impeccably designed. SEAN NELSON
SEA X SEA Film Festival
The SEAxSEA Film Festival highlights underrepresented South Asian communities through youth-produced programming. This year's event features 15 films, each of which is followed by a discussion.
Jackson School of International Studies
The family in Shoplifters lives in a small home in some forgotten quarter of Tokyo. The father is unable to work because of an accident at a construction site. The mother was laid off from a crummy job at a factory. The mother's sister works in the sex industry. The children shoplift to make ends meet. The family's only sure source of income is the grandmother's pension transferred to her from her dead husband. (The grandmother also has a taste for gambling.) One day, the family adopts a stranger—a girl from an abusive home. She is a runaway. She joins the family and soon also learns the art of shoplifting. There is a good reason why Shoplifters won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. It is a carefully and beautifully crafted work that appears to be about one thing (the strong bonds of family life), but is really about something else—the way a city forces us to invent our lives. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Cinema Uptown & AMC Seattle 10
Sicilian Ghost Story
The film, which received a 10-minute standing ovation at last year's Cannes Film Festival, and is set in the mid-1990s, is really about a 12-year-old girl, Luna (Julia Jedlikowska), who falls in love with a 13-year-old boy, Giuseppe (Gaetano Fernandez). The girl comes from a middle-class family. The boy comes from an upper-class family. Then he disappears. He stops coming to school or riding his dark horse near the Sicilian village. Where is he? Luna loses her mind looking and longing for him. Her heart is broken. She throws herself into a lake. But there is more to the story. The missing boy's father is tied to the Mafia. And so, on the surface, Sicilian Ghost Story is just another crime movie. But the work was filmed not like a thriller but like a terrifying fairy tale. It is the fairy-tale mood that makes this movie special. There is the old and twisted tree deep in the woods, where all that shines is a sinister sun. There are the pagan ruins by the sea with all of their monster-sized bones and long-forgotten dead. There is the wizard-like man fucking the witch-like woman in a crumbling house that has a basement filled with funereal water. Even the girl's mother seems evil, emerging sometimes from a sauna like a bride of Satan emerging from a room in hell. CHARLES MUDEDE
Thursday & Sunday
*Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
Mashing up the bombast of Marvel with the glory days of Pixar, Spider-Verse feels decidedly different—funnier, weirder, more daring—than most American animated movies. This is almost a meta, post-modern take on Spider-Man: Instead of being all about Peter Parker, Spider-Verse stars Miles Morales (excellently voiced by Shameik Moore), a kid who also gets bit by a creepy spider and also gets creepy spider-powers. But Miles—a Afro-Latino teenager who, for all his cleverness and heart, feels out of place at his fancy Brooklyn school—not only has a different perspective on the whole "great power, great responsibility" thing, but has his own obstacles to becoming a hero. Luckily for Miles, a whole slew of other spider-people from alternate dimensions show up to help him out. This is a big, fun blockbuster, but it's also the rare big, fun blockbuster that dares to have a strong point of view and a fresh, exciting personality. As Spider-Verse dazzles and twists, thumping to a hip-hop soundtrack and glimmering with every color in the universe, it captures the thrill, smarts, and irreverence that mark Spider-Man's best stories. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Golden Globe Winner:
Best Picture, Animated
The last in the VOYEUR series of weird and surprising cult classics, Sudden Fear stars notorious screen diva Joan Crawford as a playwright who begins to suspect that her charmingly sinister husband (Jack Palance) is conspiring to murder her.
A Throw of Dice
Rival kings use a game of chance to compete for the love of a woman named Sunita, the beautiful daughter of a hermit, in the 1929 Rajasthan-shot film A Throw of Dice. This screening, part of Tasveer South Asian Litfest, features all-new music.
Seattle Art Museum
A damning, decades-spanning portrait of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Vice is a far cry from the genial comedies Adam McKay used to make, like Anchorman and Step Brothers. Instead, it’s an angry, messy, overbearing, and frequently brilliant film—one that's indulgent in ways that are simultaneously admirable and irritating. At worst, it feels like a mashup of Oliver Stone's and Michael Moore’s worst tendencies. At its best, though, Vice is an elaborate juggling act of ideas and techniques, including broad comedy, documentary footage, propaganda, fourth-wall-busting, vicious satire, expository narration, and reworked Shakespeare. It’s impressive. It’s also exhausting. NED LANNAMANN
Golden Globe Winner:
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Christian Bale)
Based on a novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer, the wife, in this case, is Joan Castleman—played by a brilliant Glenn Close, in perhaps the most captivating role in her career. Joan is married to Joe Castleman, a much lauded novelist who has just found out he's won the Nobel Prize. When Joe receives the good news, Joan celebrates and quietly simmers at once. The undercurrent of Joan's anger plays throughout the film, and the viewer doesn't know why, exactly, she can't fully indulge in her husband's big win. He's been selected to replace Bill Clinton on the cover of TIME (this, along with ample smoking indoors, is one of the few reminders that the film is set in the early '90s). Why can't she just be happy for her man? The Wife sticks with you. Watch it with a friend—or, even better, your spouse—so you'll have someone with whom to discuss this Oscar-worthy work of art. KATIE HERZOG
AMC Pacific Place
Golden Globe Winner:
Best Actress, Drama (Glenn Close)
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.