A new fierce woman protagonist storms into theaters this weekend: Captain Marvel! She's a lot of fun. For glimpses into the lives of real-life strong women, try out Brave Girl Rising and Mankiller. If you're in the mood for art films, watch The Wild Pear Tree, which Charles Mudede is hailing as "gorgeous" and "a masterpiece." 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.
Note: Movies play Thursday–Sunday unless otherwise noted.
The 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows
Celebrate the art of animation at the 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows, a six-day-long event that will feature 15 international shorts.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Alita: Battle Angel
I have never recommended seeing a movie in 3-D, let alone IMAX 3-D, because films should either succeed in 2-D or they aren’t worth seeing. But for Alita: Battle Angel, I will—for the first time—tell you to splurge on the IMAX. I can’t stop dreaming about the glimmering city in the clouds that hovers above the film’s sci-fi setting. The story (cyborg woman is found comatose in trash heap, makes heroic journey to rediscover her past and her martial arts skills) lovingly smooshes at least three story arcs’ worth of plot into a single 122-minute film. I have no idea how Alita could have been done better. I’ve read all the Battle Angel comics, which manga artist Yukito Kishiro started publishing in 1990, and I could rattle off all the differences and references in director Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation. But I’d rather talk about what this film is: a fun, exhilarating realization of a sci-fi story that, even now, audiences may not be ready for. Salazar’s sensitive portrayal—enhanced by Alita’s robotic limbs and oversized, anime eyes—only strengthens the focus on conflict and competition that makes Alita so exciting. From the very start, Kishiro’s Alita was a battle comic—a serialized story to entertain young people with artful fight scenes. SUZETTE SMITH
3D listings here
Adventure films don't have to be full of special effects and fast-moving action, as Joe Penna's first feature, Arctic, proves. Mads Mikkelsen plays a research explorer who survives an airplane crash, only to be stranded in the Arctic wilderness (the film was shot in Iceland, so you'll get an eyeful of gorgeous icy shots, if anything). As Owen Gleiberman put it in Variety, "The movie, in its indie way, is the anti-Cast Away. Yet that’s what’s good and, finally, moving about it. It lets survival look like the raw experience it is."
AMC Pacific Place & AMC Oak Tree
Based on retired police detective Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir Black Klansman, director Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman stars John David Washington (son of Denzel Washington) as the first Black cop on the Colorado Springs police department in the early 1970s. Answering a recruitment ad in the local newspaper—and a knack for talking on the phone using his best “white guy” voice—Stallworth gets in good with the local Klan in Colorado Springs. But his attempt to infiltrate the organization hits an obvious stumbling block when it comes time to meet in person. Enter fellow police officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), a nonpracticing Jew who agrees to pretend to be Stallworth in person. It’s difficult to know what to make of Lee’s latest joint. As with many of his other films, BlacKkKlansman constantly feels like Lee’s not sure what tone he wants to hit, so he hits them all, often with the subtlety of a brick to the face. It’s a solid work, albeit one that’s flawed in the same ways that nearly all of Spike’s best films are flawed. DAVID F. WALKER
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
Regal Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
Bound: Africans vs. African-Americans
Watch a screening of the documentary Bound: Africans vs. African-Americans, which explores the historic tensions between Africans and African Americans and offers ways to spark a dialogue between them. After the film, join your Langston Hughes hosts for a solutions-oriented discussion.
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
Brave Girl Rising
This co-production by the nonprofits Girl Rising and International Rescue Committee testifies to the power of one girl. Despite her difficult life in the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya, Nasro is determined to get an education. The film is written by poet laureate Warsan Shire and voiced by Tessa Thompson and David Oyelowo. Stay on afterward for a panel talk with the CEO of Girl Rising and the director of the International Rescue Committee.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
A 12-year-old boy, played by real-life Syrian refugee Zain Al Rafeea, sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life in this awful world. This film from director Nadine Labaki reportedly does an incredible job of dramatizing life for refugee children condemned to non-personhood by their lack of identity papers.
SIFF Cinema Uptown & Ark Lodge Cinemas
What you need to know is that Captain Marvel is a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and MCU movies are generally good-to-excellent, and Captain Marvel is no different. It’s smart, funny, and deliriously self-aware, and there’s a bunch of cool explosions. There’s also a young Agent Coulson, an explanation of how Nick Fury lost his eye, and a goddamn kitty-cat named Goose. It is an all-around successful comic book movie, like the 5,000 MCU movies that came before it. “But wait,” you say. “It is different. Aren’t you going to mention… [points at boobs, from one to the other, back and forth, maintaining eye contact, making things weird]?” Ugh, FINE. I'll say it. Yes, Carol is a woman, and this is the first Marvel movie centered on a woman. I’ve really enjoyed my Bruce Bannerses and Steve Rogerses, but I liked my Carol Danvers even more. It was great to see someone who looked like me straight-up destroy alien bad guys. ELINOR JONES
With Climax, controversy-courting director Gaspar Noé—the enfant terrible behind Irreversible, Enter the Void, and Love—does everything within his power to fuck with viewers’ perceptions. But here, the jarring visuals and strange interruptions serve a greater narrative purpose, embedding viewers deep within the mindset of a modern dance troupe led by Selva (Sofia Boutella). Chaos ensues when the troupe is unwittingly dosed with high-octane LSD, with the psychedelics unleashing the dancers’ underlying tensions. But the biggest mindfuck in Climax is how Noé creates what's easily the most entertaining and palatable film, in spite of his usual predilections for both pretension and forcing his female characters to suffer constant violence and abuse. Free of the fantastical elements found in other trippy horror stories—Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, for example—Climax ends up being a lot harder to easily shake off or dismiss through an ironic remove. If you can stomach Noé’s worst tendencies, this one will stick with you. ROBERT HAM
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
There are two films that critics can’t stop singing about today: Roma and Cold War. These films have the air not of cinematic originality, but cinematic importance or grandeur. Cold War is set in the heart of the Cold War, the period in the 20th century when all nations had two main geopolitical choices: to side with either the Eagle (the United States) or the Bear (the USSR). Poland was close to the Bear, and so was caught in its political and military orbit, but it somehow managed to develop its own distinct, non-socialist realist cinema. Post-Soviet Cold War is certainly a part of that rich cinematic tradition. CHARLES MUDEDE
AMC Seattle 10
Shevaun Mizrahi's internationally acclaimed documentary peers into the lives of senior citizens in a rest home in Istanbul as they maintain the spark of creativity and life despite their failing bodies.
Northwest Film Forum
Asghar Farhadi first gained international notice with his intense drama of interrelational alienation, About Elly, which he followed up with the Oscar-winning A Separation. His follow-up, The Past, won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, and his next film, The Salesman, netted him a second Academy Award. But he did not come to the United States to receive the award, given that Donald Trump had just signed an executive order barring Iranians (among others) from entering the country. Our country's loss, but you can still see his latest film, Everybody Knows, starring Penelope Cruz as a woman returning from Buenos Aires to her Spanish hometown and reuniting with her lover (Javier Bardem). When Cruz's daughter goes missing, past secrets start overshadowing the present.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
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
AMC Seattle 10 & Meridian 16
Festival of (In)Appropriation #10
Found footage, collage films, and other types of cinematic works that incorporate appropriated materials will be screened at the 10th iteration of this festival. See mashups, mixes, and digital experiments from Spain, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the USA that reference the myth of Persephone, the male gaze, the perception of mental illness by law enforcement among women and queers of color, and more.
Northwest Film Forum
Fighting with My Family
It’s really weird to look back at The Office now, knowing that Ricky Gervais would become an insufferable vial of smug poured into a bag of loose skin, Martin Freeman would end up being both John Watson and Bilbo Baggins, and Stephen Merchant would end up directing a Dwayne Johnson-produced biography of WWE superstar Paige. By many accounts Merchant’s directed the best film about rasslin’ since The Wrestler, but without all the unrelenting, leathery misery that film trafficked in.
This highly praised, dizzying documentary—an Oscar winner—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.
Funny Ha Ha
The generally agreed-upon first film of mumblecore, Funny Ha Ha follows recent grads as they attempt to make sense of their situations and settle into the reality of life. Andrew Bujalski's film was shot in Boston on 16 mm, but it's presented here in 35 mm.
The Gold Fish Casino
The Gold Fish Casino, a "splashy queer musical about Salmon migration" adapted from the play by poet and theorist July Hazard and directed by Sarolta Jane Vay, deals with the threat of "Water Wars." After this screening, join Vay, Hazard, and performer Cleo Woelfle-Erskine for a conversation.
Henry Art Gallery
The Gospel of Eureka
The reason to watch this documentary is its clever juxtaposition of Christian kitsch and drag queen culture. A sincere reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, for instance, turns into camp when it's preceded by a scene featuring the deliberate campiness of drag queens. The film is also helped by an expert narrator: the cabaret performer Mx Justin Vivian Bond, best known for being one half of cabaret duo Kiki and Herb. The best moments of the doc don't come from the drag, which is all pretty standard fare, but from the town's epic Christian pageantry. And there's a lot of it in Eureka Springs. CHASE BURNS
Northwest Film Forum
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
The latest from Neil Jordan (The Borgias, Breakfast on Pluto, The Crying Game), this thriller has critics united in admiration of stars Isabelle Huppert, Gallic queen of sociopathy, and her co-star Chloë Grace Moretz. But viewers warn that the plot is a little, well, silly: A widow (Huppert) lures a sweet young innocent (Moretz) into friendship, only to slowly reveal sinister motives.
Happy Death Day 2U
Two years ago, horror writer and director Christopher Landon (of Paranormal Activity fame) debuted Happy Death Day, a film that paired the time-looping premise of Groundhog Day with college students, creepy single-toothed baby masks, and classic slasher tropes. It was wildly popular, grossing $125 million from a $5 million budget, and had fans clamoring for a sequel. Happy Death Day 2U is the latest installment, and contrary to my expectations, it’s one of the best Blumhouse movies I’ve seen. In Happy Death Day 2U, fear and existential angst intersect with nonsensical science-fiction (at one point, a nerd uses a napkin to explain the multiverse) to create a perfectly serviceable, surprisingly feel-good horror movie. CIARA DOLAN
Meridian & Thornton Place
The Image Book
Yes, you have to watch The Image Book. Why? Because it is by Jean-Luc Godard. Even if the film is a bit odd and abstract and heady, it matters not. The movie is not about the movie. It’s about Jean-Luc Godard, the director, the cinema geist. And if you do not know who Jean-Luc Godard is, then you should just sneeze, because that’s about as much as you know about cinema. CHARLES MUDEDE
A young Ojibwe boy faces abuse and the erasure of his culture in a Catholic Residential School in Ontario in the 1950s, but finds a haven in hockey in Stephen S. Campanelli's adaptation of Richard Wagamese’s novel. This film, presented as part of Indigenous Showcase, is currently sold out.
Northwest Film Forum
Isn't It Romantic
In Isn’t It Romantic, Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is unlucky in love... until she suffers a blow to the noggin that transforms her world! Natalie’s brain injury transforms the world around her to a glossy romcom version of New York City, complete with Adam DeVine as her platonic (?) male friend, Priyanka Chopra as her stunning competition, Brandon Scott Jones as her gay bestie, Betty Gilpin as her office nemesis, and Liam Hemsworth as Natalie’s impossibly handsome love interest who deserves some sort of trophy for his performance (or, at the very least, a kiss on the mouth from me). The film mocks every cliché of the romcom while simultaneously delivering a flawless execution of the genre, something that's both brilliant and entertaining. And it checks my "Is Liam Hemsworth Playing a Saxophone Bare-Chested?" box, which is just the icing on the cupcake. ELINOR JONES
A Hungarian doctor discovers that his young refugee patient can levitate. He offers to help the lad escape the refugee camp—but not for nothing—in this Palme d’Or-nominated magical realist thriller by Kornel Mundruczó (he directed the dazzlingly ambitious, Un Certain Regard-winning fable White God).
Legend of the Demon Cat
The great Chinese director Chen Kaige’s first masterpiece is Farewell My Concubine, which in the 1990s helped launch a new league of Chinese directors. His second is The Emperor and the Assassin. After these art-house successes, he directed an American thriller, Killing Me Softly, and a bunch of films for mainstream Chinese audiences, the latest of which is Legend of the Demon Cat. It’s set in the Tang Dynasty and concerns a very, very evil pussy. No matter what the subject, Chen’s visuals always stand out. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Lego 2 picks up immediately where the first film left off: The Lego universe faces invasion from the girly Legos of Bianca (Brooklynn Prince), the younger sister of Finn (Jadon Sand). Lisp-laden challenges are uttered, glitter is thrown, and a battle of clicking plastic ensues until the toy metropolis of Bricksburg resembles a post-apocalyptic landscape. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part squarely occupies (sorry!) a middle ground between the first The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie: The premise is played, but there's still some fun to be had, and you can see it with your kids. The bold messaging of the first film isn't present here, and the morality slides off after 15 minutes so. But it's nice that Maya Rudolph tried to teach me how to share, even though the message probably won't stick. SUZETTE SMITH
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 second-to-last feature is the mother-daughter drama Autumn Sonata, starring Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullman.
Seattle Art Museum
Celebrate indomitable women at this screening of a documentary about Wilma Mankiller, the first modern female chief of the Cherokee Nation. The film screens with shorts about other strong women.
SIFF Film Center
Mysterious Doctor Satan
Grand Illusion'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.
Never Look Away
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck made the Academy Award-winning The Lives of Others some years ago; then-Stranger writer Annie Wagner called it "the best German film I've seen in years." His new film may be even more ambitious: It's an emotional look at the upheaval German history seen through the eyes of an art student. As a child, he witnesses the rise of Nazism; as a young man, he falls in love with a fellow student in repressive East Germany—the daughter of a professor with a terrible secret. Incidentally, while critics have been appreciative, Gerhard Richter, on whose life this film is loosely based, is reportedly very unhappy with the film.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
This documentary on the Duwamish and the Chinook and their fight for treaty rights in the Pacific Northwest will be screened, followed by a discussion with filmmakers Vasant and Sarah Salcedo and some tribal members.
Scarecrow Academy 1959: The Greatest Year in Film History
The video rental library's new series contends that 1959 was the best year in film history ever. It saw "a high point of Hollywood studio filmmaking, the rise of new independent cinema, the great flowering of international movies, and the beginning of the French New Wave." Film critic Robert Horton will delve into the highlights of this landmark year, including this week's Some Like It Hot, which Charles Mudede called "one of the greatest comedies in human history."
Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Fest
SIFF and MoPOP bring you the somewhat less pronounceable acronym SFFSFF. The mini-fest is composed of nearly two dozen new sci-fi and fantasy short films judged by a nationally assembled jury.
SIFF Cinema Egyptian & Uptown
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
Regal Meridian 16 & Thornton Place
'Stealing Cars' Screening with William H. Macy
The wonderfully expressive, melancholic William H. Macy will present the 2015 film Stealing Cars, along with producers Rachel Winter and Sean Lydiard. This event will raise money for TheFilmSchool and its programs at homeless shelters and prisons.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
The reason why John Carpenter’s They Live is so important today (it was made in 1988 and concerns a working-class man who discovers sunglasses that when worn reveal the world is ruled by aliens that want humans to mindlessly consume and pollute their planet—yes, just like the rich people in the real world) is it presents us with the big question: Do people really want to know the truth? Does Donald Trump’s America even care about the truth? Would wearing special sunglasses that expose Trump to be a liar and exploiter even change their minds? By the look of things, the answer has to be no. They Live is still a great film, though. CHARLES MUDEDE
This Magnificent Cake!
The title of this animated film comes from a proclamation of King Leopold II of Belgium about the Congo: "I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake." Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels use wire and textile figures representing Belgian merchants and servants to tell their story of greed and imperialism. The film screens with two shorts, one by De Swaef and Roels and one by Niki Lindroth von Bahr.
SIFF Film Center
The plot: An Orthodox Jew becomes so obsessed with his wife’s death that he makes a science teacher at a local community college show him how the human body decomposes. He wants to see what death is actually doing to the one he (still) loves. Fine. But here is the thing. The science teacher is none other than the great Matthew Broderick, the husband of Sarah Jessica Parker. I honestly feel Broderick is an American giant that only the future will fully appreciate. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center
Former Stranger critic Jen Graves wrote, “When I watched Torrey Pines for the first time all by myself on a private Vimeo link, I actually felt loved. Clyde Petersen's debut feature film, clocking in at a rich hour, is about being a trans kid with a schizophrenic mom, but it's also about being able to survive by making connections.“ We agree; it’s an irresistible DIY-animation classic that doesn’t need words to beguile. Kimya Dawson and Petersen will kick off the evening with a musical performance.
Bellevue Arts 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
The Wild Pear Tree
The Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has finally made a masterpiece. It’s also a comedy—not the kind that makes you belly-laugh, but one that rouses a small smile now and then. The Wild Pear Tree is about a young man, Sinan, who has just finished college and wants to become a writer of literary or serious novels. But his small town, his father and family, and his community keep holding him back. Sinan reads a lot, and flirts with a local girl who is also oppressed by small-town life. As expected, there are sequences in this movie that break with the plot and enter the region of pure cinematic poetry. Ceylan’s movies are always gorgeous. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.