Whether you're looking for something to watch with family or a place to hide out from the season's festivities (and early darkness) for a few hours, the holidays are a great time to take in a movie (or three). Our digital editor, Chase Burns, loved the furry freaks in Cats. He was, it seems, one of the very few critics with any affection for those horny humanimals (Portland Mercury critic Suzette Smith: "Cats is a horrorshow of computer-narrowed cat chins that can’t support singing, human-sized mouths"). Perhaps you'll feel the same way as Chase? Regardless, you should not miss Greta Gerwig's lovely Little Women and the Safdie brothers' harrowing Uncut Gems. (On the other hand, film critic Charles Mudede brands The Rise of Skywalker as "boring.") It's also a great time to see one-offs like Ingmar Bergman's glorious Fanny & Alexander or Norman Jewison's Fiddler on the Roof, or to catch up on Golden Globe nominees like Knives Out. See all of our film critics’ picks for the next week and a half below, and, if you're looking for even more options, check out our film events calendar and complete movie times listings.
Legendary screenwriter William Goldman once said of the film industry, “Nobody knows anything,” and this is still mostly true, with one exception: If cinematographer Roger Deakins shot the movie, that movie is worth seeing on the biggest screen possible. Even if 1917 were solely the most impressive work of Deakins’ remarkable career—which it is—I’d be recommending it. But the World War I movie is also one hell of a stunning storytelling experience from director Sam Mendes, co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and editor Lee Smith. “But wait,” you say, “isn’t the whole point of this movie that there aren’t any cuts? Why did they need an editor at all?” 1917’s hook (or less generously, its gimmick) is that it’s meant to unfold in a single, unbroken take. It’s one of the rare instances of a film’s marketing actually benefiting the finished film, because of the way this knowledge is both paid off... and then subverted. BOBBY ROBERTS
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
It’s unusual to witness real cinematic magic these days, but the Fred Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood absolutely has it. Director Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) wisely avoids the visual slickness one might expect from a Tom Hanks-centric melodrama, instead employing a lived-in style and scene transitions that consist of miniature cities harkening back to the opening of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Hanks is totally committed to Rogers’ appearance and manner, but A Beautiful Day is more about Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) a fictional journalist profiling Rogers. (Vogel’s work is based on a 1998 Esquire profile by Tom Junod; as is the case with the film, Junrod’s piece sketches a beautiful yet enigmatic image of Rogers.) Where Heller’s film becomes transcendent is in its cinematic pressure points: The striking slowness of the narrative (it’s meant to emulate the pace of Rogers’ show, and you get used to it), the mirroring of Rogers and Vogel in their interview styles and drawn-out reaction shots, and a profound moment of silence that grips your heart like, “Did that really just happen? Why was that so intense?” SUZETTE SMITH
Varsity Theatre & Regal Thornton Place
When Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, and Margot Robbie all link up, what have you got? Well, a sizeable chunk of the Fox Newsroom, as it turns out. In this movie adapted from real-life events, Bombshell follows three women who accused late Fox founder and CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, and the fallout when their accusations are made public. Kidman portrays former Fox host Gretchen Carlson, Robbie plays a fictionalized producer, and Theron seemingly fully transforms into Megyn Kelly. Announced in the months following Ailes’s death, the film will explore the toxic environment brewing over at the president’s favorite news channel. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Some people will never be able to enjoy a sung-through musical. Know going in that there is very little dialogue. Think of it as an opera that purrs. Many will also find humanoid cats with "digital fur technology" to be too freaky or sexy. I think this opinion is very suburban, even a tad snowflake-y, but also completely within reason. Andrew Lloyd Webber himself said Cats was a “suicidally stupid musical.” No one is under any illusion that this is Dunkirk. So, before you go and see Cats, which you should and will, I want you to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself: "What do I want from Cats?" Because I bet you will get exactly what you want. Or, perhaps, deserve. There continues to be a lot of pearl-clutching from critics and trailer-viewers around these kitties' bodies, and their lack of genitalia and buttholes, but I think these animated fur-bodies are respectfully similar to the stage musical's fur-bodies—except for one distinct, erect difference: their tails. Jason Derulo did not need to worry about his penis being erased in Cats' post-production, because his tail leaves little to the imagination. CHASE BURNS
Ford v Ferrari
If you’re a lover of car-racing movies, you should probably check out Ford v Ferrari—because this film is likely to be one of the last of its kind. A biopic about the late ’60s rivalry between failing racecar company Ferrari and the “wants to be sexy soooo bad” Ford Motor Company, F v F is about how corporations can’t help but crush the passion and innovation they so desperately need. In this case, the crushees are race car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driving phenom Ken Miles (Christian Bale), both of whom are forced to cajole, finagle, and manipulate the suits at Ford in an attempt to win the famed Le Mans road race. It’s impossible to ignore the two elephants in this room: The fetishization of white male toxicity and car culture, topics which society is trying to deal with and solve… not celebrate. This makes Ford v Ferrari a very good movie that, a decade ago, would’ve been considered great. Now it feels like a brand-new film that’s already an antique. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Regal Meridian 16 & Regal Thornton Place
It starts out with Young Elsa and Young Anna, and, I don’t know, this is just my opinion, but I didn’t think that part was very necessary, necessarily? I thought the story was good. I thought the parts were well thought out and they had some depth to them, if you know what I mean? Like some parts were really sad, and some parts could be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Also, you know how in the first Frozen, there’s like this main song that you know is the main song? In this one, there’s like three or four different songs that could be that main song. There were songs that like Elsa and Anna and Kristoff sang that could qualify for that position. I thought they were fine. SIMON HAM, AGE 12
Ip Man 4
In the finale to the Ip Man saga, the Wing Chun genius and his son fly to San Francisco to settle a feud and mentor the young Bruce Lee. There, he discovers that homegrown American classic: brutal xenophobia. Watch those thrilling fight scenes as Ip Man battles disgruntled kung fu masters and bigoted policemen.
AMC Pacific Place
It's a Wonderful Life
Shortly after It's a Wonderful Life's 1946 release, James Agee, one of the few American film critics of that era still worth reading, noted the film's grueling aspect. "Often," he wrote, "in its pile-driving emotional exuberance, it outrages, insults, or at least accosts without introduction, the cooler and more responsible parts of the mind." These aesthetic cautions are followed, however, by a telling addendum: "It is nevertheless recommended," Agee allowed, "and will be reviewed at length as soon as the paralyzing joys of the season permit." Paralyzing joys are the very heart of George Bailey's dilemma; they are, to borrow words from George's father, "deep in the race." The sacrifices George makes for being "the richest man in town" resonate bitterly even as they lead to the finale's effusive payoff. Those sacrifices are what make It's a Wonderful Life, in all its "Capraesque" glory, endure. SEAN NELSON
The latest from Taika Waititi starts off with a bright, Wes Andersonian whimsiness: Young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) joyously bounces about at summer camp, having the time of his life as he frolics and laughs with his second-best friend Yorki (Archie Yates) and his first-best friend, the imaginary Adolf (Waititi). Just one thing: Jojo is at Hitler Youth camp—their campfire activities include burning books—Adolf is Adolf Hitler, and World War II is winding down, with Germany not doing so great. Both because of and in spite of its inherent shock value, Jojo Rabbit—based on a book by Christine Leunens—is just as clever and hilarious as Waititi’s other movies, but as it progresses, the story taps into a rich vein of gut-twisting melancholy. There’s more to the complicated Jojo Rabbit than first appears, and only a director as committed, inventive, and life-affirmingly good-hearted as Waititi would even have a chance of pulling it off. He does. ERIK HENRIKSEN
AMC Pacific Place
Knives Out [is] Rian Johnson's phenomenally enjoyable riff on a murder-mystery whodunit. The less you know going in, the better, but even those familiar with mysteries will likely be caught flat-footed. Things begin in the baroque mansion of famed mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who is very, very dead. Through flashbacks, monologues, and the genteel but razor-sharp questioning of investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), we meet the rest of the Thrombeys—played by Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and more, with everyone clearly having a goddamn blast—and we hear about a billion motives and a billion alibis. Somebody killed Harlan, and while Benoit Blanc is on the case, Knives Out quickly spirals into unexpected territory. In a time when filmgoing is dominated by familiar franchises, seeing an original movie executed with as much care, glee, and skill as Knives Out feels like an experience that's entirely too rare. ERIK HENRIKSEN
I loved Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird so much that I went into Little Women with trepidation. Making a follow-up to a movie everyone loved is tricky! And every hater on my block asked why we needed another Little Women movie when the 1995 version is “perfectly fine” and “has Winona Ryder in it.” The answer: You don’t know how good you can have it! You don’t know how good Little Women can be, you poor fools! Gerwig’s Little Women is Romance-era-oil-painting gorgeous, but it’s also realistic, thanks to the performances of the film’s star-studded cast of March sisters: Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth. Directing her actors to talk over each other, Gerwig turns family scenes into rampaging rivers of voices, while also making sure nothing is lost in the chaos. We see the Marches as we see many families: A force bursting into a room. Laura Dern—for the first time in cinematic history—gives the girls’ mother a full personality. And when the girls’ father turned out to be universally beloved Bob Odenkirk (!) my friend straight-up punched me in the arm because she was already crying and couldn’t talk. SUZETTE SMITH
Parasite is director Bong Joon-ho at his very best. It's a departure from the sci-fi bent of his recent movies, though it's no less concerned with the state of society today. Set in Seoul, South Korea, the families and class issues at play reflect our global era, in which the disparity between the haves and have-nots seems to be widening. Parasite follows the Kim family, who secretly scam their way into the lives of the wealthy Park family. Slowly and methodically, the Kims begin to drive out the other domestic workers at the Park residence, each time referring another family member (who they pretend not to know) for the vacant position. And so the poorer family starts to settle comfortably into the grift—until a sudden realization turns their lives upside down. The resulting film offers an at turns hilarious and deeply unsettling look at class and survival, its essence echoed in the environments the characters inhabit. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Only Cloud Knows
If you're feeling like a sticky-sweet, emotional, and perhaps rather manipulative romance about a widower looking back on his relationship, Xiaogang Feng's drama is for you.
Regal Meridian & AMC Seattle 10
Clint Eastwood directs this based-on-a-true-story movie about an amateur security officer who, despite his heroic actions saving lives at the Olympics, is accused of terrorism. It's being called "a decent portrait of an injustice" (Gary M. Kramer, Salon.com) and "the most Clint Eastwood-y Clint Eastwood movie imaginable" (Bill Goodykoontz, the Arizona Republic), but has been marred by its false portrayal of a real-life journalist, Kathy Scruggs, as a devious and sexually manipulative woman, notably showing her offering to trade sex for a news tip. Scruggs is dead and can't defend herself. Not cool. JOULE ZELMAN
Meridian 16 & Thornton Place
Spies in Disguise
I thought Spies in Disguise was very excellent. The plot device of someone turning into a pigeon through genetic manipulation was unique, to say the least. I think it may have been a little too complicated for some younger kids who may have been the target audience. I think some of it may have gone completely over their heads. Although that might not be true in any way. I’m almost definitely sure there’s going to be a second one of these. SIMON HAM, AGE 12
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I found The Rise of Skywalker, the last film in the Skywalker saga, boring. And it was not even a long movie, and I'm a fan of the director's (J.J. Abrams) work (particularly Mission: Impossible III—the best in that franchise), and many of the visual effects are impressive—particularly the haunting business of bringing the late Carrie Fisher back to life. But all together, the film is burdened by too much sentimental family stuff (you are my granddaughter, you are my son, you killed my parents, and so on), and its end did not know how to end for a very long time. CHARLES MUDEDE
As Howard Ratner, a professional jeweler and asshole in Manhattan’s Diamond District, a great Adam Sandler rarely leaves the screen in Uncut Gems, and the plot is basically Howard and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. That isn’t a shock, considering the film comes from brothers/writers/directors Josh and Benny Safdie, who party-crashed the arthouse scene with 2017’s Good Time (in which Robert Pattinson was the one playing an asshole having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day). Uncut Gems is larger in scope, but like Good Time, it has a moral vacuum at its center—it takes place in the no-man’s-land where society’s walls crumble, and where those who look out only for themselves can best navigate the rubble. The Safdies aren’t interested in morality tales but amorality tales, and their stories’ no-holds-barred recklessness, at first freeing, steadily grows exhausting. Thankfully, the Safdies also know how to shoot, cut, and score like nobody else. There’s a twitchy, addictive energy to Uncut Gems, and the Safdies’ choppy, rapid-fire cuts coalesce into a surreal, exhilarating landscape of prismatic hues, blaring fluorescents, and sharp LEDs, all while the analog synth score by Daniel Lopatin (AKA Oneohtrix Point Never) adds to the lurid beauty. ERIK HENRIKSEN
THURS DEC 19
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Beasts of the Southern Wild—an emotionally and visually gorgeous film that’s full of newcomers, from its director, Benh Zeitlin, to its tiny star, Quvenzhané Wallis—is set in the Bathtub, a modern-day Southern swamp community populated with eccentrics who drink together, play music together, paddle boats made from household appliances and spare lumber, and throw boisterous parties, and where 6-year-old Hushpuppy (Wallis) lives with her father. When the inevitable big storm comes, the residents have to fight nature and forced community-shattering evacuations by the government. The film smartly and delicately blends reality with fantasy, tracking Hushpuppy’s childlike way of seeing and coping with her world as it breaks apart. BRENDAN KILEY
Northwest African American Museum
In 2005, Noah Baumbach wrote and directed The Squid and the Whale, a movie that dug deep into what it feels like to be a kid in a family that's pulled itself past its breaking point. Almost 15 years later, Baumbach's written and directed Marriage Story, a movie that digs deep into what it feels like to be a husband and a wife in a family that's pulling itself past its breaking point. As was the case in Squid and the Whale, the specifics are aggressively upper class: Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) is a big-deal actress, Charlie (Adam Driver) is an acclaimed theater director, and along with their young son Henry (Azhy Robertson), they spend much of Marriage Story at either a bougie apartment in Manhattan or a bougie house in West Hollywood. But once again, Baumbach—within the film's opening seconds, even—drills down to unearth the singular combination of grief, fury, melancholy, and pain that can only come from divorce. Marriage Story is brutal and sharp, but it's also funny and sweet, and captures something that's impossible to put into words: The feeling of life as it changes, and the feeling of stories as they come to an end. ERIK HENRIKSEN
A Smoky Mountain Christmas
We can't really beat the Beacon Cinema's description and we're not going to try: "This movie is about how easy it is to adopt 27 children. It stars Dolly Parton as a country rock star who is sick of all the Hollywood headaches. Lee Majors plays a forest demon who will stop at nothing to win the hearts of those around him. There's a real witch with huge 80s hair who spills everybody’s glass of milk, and wants to kill Dolly Parton. And John Ritter is the best judge in the world."
In which Will Ferrell plays a grown man who has spent his entire life laboring under the delusion that he's one of Santa's elves. The side effects of this include a deeply ingrained sense of whimsy and a proclivity for concentrated sugars. Zooey Deschanel sings.
Scarecrow Video (Dec 19 only) & Central Cinema
FRI DEC 20
Krampus operates like a feature-length Twilight Zone episode: Take some lightly sketched stock characters (Adam Scott as drinky dad, Toni Collette as uptight mom, David Koechner as Randy Quaid), thrust them into slowly escalating supernatural peril, and watch the dramatic gears grind out a morbidly satisfying conclusion. While it lacks the zany spark that animates Gremlins or the deconstructionist bent of something like Cabin in the Woods, Krampus is a solid exercise in form and function. Also, the creature designs are super creepy (and mostly teeth). If you see one movie this winter about a goat-hoofed anti-Santa, make it Krampus. BEN COLEMAN
OPENING DEC 20
A Hidden Life
The first half of Terrence Malick's A Hidden Life stacks up with some of the best work the legendary filmmaker has ever done—right up there with Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, and Tree of Life. The second half, though, feels a lot more like... uh, what's the term for Malick's more recent movies, like Knight of Cups, and that one about music, and that one with Ben Affleck? Nü-Malick? Let's go with nü-Malick. Nü-Malick movies aren't bad—even at their worst, they're generally better than many arthouse efforts, and there's never a shortage of the director's striking soundscapes and achingly beautiful visuals—but compared to Malick's best stuff, they rarely compare. (To be fair: Not many movies can.) Which is what makes A Hidden Life so frustrating: For a good chunk, it is that good, and then for another chunk, it's not. And it'd be a lot easier to justify the second half's nü-ness if A Hidden Life wasn't three hours long. ERIK HENRIKSEN
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
DEC 20–21 & 24
Carol is set in the 1950s, which was not a great time for gay people getting to live the lives they actually deserved. That makes it all the more remarkable that the film doesn't punish its characters by dooming them to misery or early death, like most of the nonhetero narratives Hollywood offers up. If creativity thrives within limits, Carol makes a pretty good case that love can, too—although it certainly shouldn't have to. ALISON HALLETT
DEC 20 & 24
A Very Beacon Christmas
The Beacon will present an evening of Christmas-themed animated films, from stop-motion to hand-drawn to puppets.
SAT DEC 21
The Beacon Holiday Party + Mystery Movie
Celebrate the Beacon's five months of existence (with 203 movies screened!) at this free party featuring a special surprise movie.
DEC 21 & 23
The last film in the Beacon's The Jewish Soul: Classics of Yiddish Cinema series, The Dybbuk is a 1937 supernatural drama based on the early 20th-century play of the same name. A young woman is possessed by the soul of a kabbalah student with whom she fell in love before his death. Filmed in Warsaw and Kazimierz Dolny, Poland, The Dybbuk draws on German Expressionist influences to create some truly spooky imagery.
Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka
For fans of Russian folklore and wintry witchcraft, this fantasy by the director of Viy — Spirit of Evil stars a flying witch, a moon-stealing devil, and a lovelorn blacksmith. Also vodka. And snow.
SUN DEC 22
This Terrence Malick-produced documentary focuses on Gustav Ahr, aka Lil Peep, a rising star just breaking into the mainstream when he died from an overdose at age 21.
Northwest Film Forum
Fanny & Alexander
In Ingmar Bergman’s breathtaking turn-of-last-century tale, the eponymous siblings grow up in a loving and unorthodox household until their father, an easygoing man, dies young. Their mother remarries, making the mistake of choosing a martinet clergyman who clashes with the free-spirited children. This beautiful film, universally hailed as a masterpiece, captures the essence of childhood and its hunger for love, play, and autonomy in the face of authoritarianism. Also important to know: The version the Beacon's showing is five hours long. JOULE ZELMAN
Three homeless friends—an alcoholic, a trans woman, and a teenager—find a lost baby in the trash and set out to find the child's parents in Satoshi Kon's weird and touching film about chosen family at the margins of the city.
THROUGH DEC 22
We weren't supposed to see this documentary about Yves Saint Laurent. Director Olivier Meyrou's doc on the famed French fashion designer was filmed in the early 2000s, over the course of two and a half years, while Saint Laurent worked on his final collection. His longtime business partner (and former romantic partner) Pierre Bergé invited Meyrou to produce the doc, but when it premiered, Bergé was apparently shocked by what he saw. What Bergé didn't know was that the documentary would end up being less about Saint Laurent and more about him. Bergé appears as the central figure—the man behind the curtain, assisting and controlling Saint Laurent's hand. He tightly monitors every aspect of Saint Laurent's life, from his meetings with models to his birthday dinners. While Saint Laurent watches his garments move down the runway, the documentary's camera watches Bergé watch Saint Laurent. The New York Times reported that Bergé particularly did not like "the parent-child way the two interacted" in the film. It is not a flattering portrait. CHASE BURNS
Northwest Film Forum
DEC 22 & 24
Ghost Stories for Christmas
Much beloved among ghost story enthusiasts, the BBC's seasonal literary adaptations aimed to add a pleasurable chill to evenings around the telly. The Beacon is screening two favorites from the series: a screen version of M.R. James's terrifying Oh Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad (the TV movie's a little less frightening than the story, but still plenty atmospheric) and one of Charles Dickens's thoroughly eerie, fatalistic The Signalman.
MON DEC 23
Black Christmas (1974)
The 1974 Christmas-themed flick starring Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey, more or less regarded as the grandmother of the slasher film—and a surprisingly feminist one at that. Directed by the guy who made A Christmas Story. If you like the currently-playing remake—or even if you don't—check out the original.
THROUGH DEC 23
At its worst, Fantastic Fungi gets too woo-woo wacky for its own good (when the film’s discussion turns to magic mushrooms, the visuals turn into what is, as far as I can tell, just a psychedelic screensaver from Windows 95), but at its best, the doc pairs fantastic time-lapse imagery with a good dose of actual, mind-blowing science. Affable, passionate mushroom researcher Paul Stamets is joined by talking heads Michael Pollan, Andrew Weil, and narrator Brie Larson to examine everything from massive fungal networks that carry signals between disparate, distant plants to the psychological benefits of psilocybin. It’s an uneven trip, but a good one. ERIK HENRIKSEN
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
A biopic about the last months of famed entertainer and Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland, Judy features an uncanny, spot-on performance from Reneé Zellwegger that’s unfortunately paired with a script that veers from affecting to eye-rollingly ham-fisted. Bouncing back and forth from Judy’s famed London Palladium gigs six months before her death and her childhood that was crushed under the abusive thumb of Louis B. Mayer while filming The Wizard of Oz, Zellwegger gives an honest, raw performance that lays bare Garland’s crippling depression and addiction. However her valiant attempts at subtlety are betrayed by a shallow script that relies too heavily on emotional manipulation. That aside, Zellwegger’s gloriously accurate hair and makeup is almost reason enough to see this film, and when she belts out “The Trolley Song,” you'll long for the days when consummate pros like Garland pushed past their personal demons to bring audiences to their feet. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
WED DEC 25
Fiddler on the Roof
Join SIFF’s holiday tradition of belting along with Tevye and family in Norman Jewison’s 1971 adaptation of the beloved musical. It’s a bittersweet story of a poor shtetl milkman as his daughters come of age and fall in love—and anti-Semitic feeling rises. Your ticket will include Chinese takeout from Leah’s Gourmet Kosher Food and pre-film klezmer music by Orkestyr Farfeleh.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
The Good Liar
The Good Liar is likely the most bonkers film I will see this year. What begins as a cautionary tale about the dangers of grandma’s online dating unfolds into a baffling series of reveals, all of which support the twist that we already gleaned from the trailer: Roy (Ian McKellen) is trying to double cross Betty (Helen Mirren) and take her money... but she's not that easy to trick! How all that happens, though? I could never have predicted it. What a septuagenarian mine cart ride! SUZETTE SMITH
THROUGH DEC 25
The Two Popes
Popes Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and Francis (Jonathan Pryce) argue over doctrine and politics in 2013 in this film by acclaimed director Fernando Meireilles (City of God).
Director Paul Thomas Anderson, who is brilliant with visuals but a middling writer, teams up with Adam Sandler to create a decidedly wacked love story centered around anger, phone sex, pudding, and a harmonium. The result is a near-empty sonnet called Punch-Drunk Love, which, though vastly entertaining for the bulk of its lean 90-minute running time, immediately vaporizes upon exit of the theater. Co-starring Emily Watson and the always brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman, Punch-Drunk Love tells the confused story of Barry Egan (Sandler), a small-time business owner (his specialty: decorative toilet plungers) who is meek on the outside, but filled with gathering venom within. Enter Lena (Watson), who for some reason finds herself immediately attracted to Egan. Their blooming love is the pin upon which Punch-Drunk Love rotates, but, like everything Paul Thomas Anderson creates, there is oh so much more. Hence: phone-sex blackmail, frequent-flier miles via the purchase of pudding, and the aforementioned harmonium—a strange, beautiful piano/accordion-like hybrid that mysteriously appears in front of Sandler following a bizarre car wreck. BRADLEY STEINBACHER
My Neighbor Totoro
Hayao Miyazaki's famed Japanese animation film studio, Studio Ghibli, has been pointedly unstreamable in the US for forever. If fans wanted to watch beloved favorites like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, they had to either buy them or go see one of Ghibli's regular theatrical showings. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the entire Ghibli catalog will be available on the new streaming platform HBO Max in May. So, relish this chance to see My Neighbor Totoro in theaters. Opportunities like this may be rare in the future. CHASE BURNS
SAT DEC 28
I don’t know about you, but the saccharine nature of Christmas makes me want to lock obnoxious children up in an attic, rob a few stores, and fuck some drugged-out hippies. As luck would have it, John Waters’s Female Trouble is the Christmas movie that delivers all of these desires—along with murder, Divine jumping on a trampoline, and more murder. It’s a teen girl’s fantasy as envisioned by an acid-riddled homosexual in the 1970s. It’s also the best Christmas movie ever made—and if you don’t agree, you can go eat shit and die. CHASE BURNS
TUES DEC 31
SIFF will continue its tradition of ringing in the New Year with Baz Luhrmann’s ode to 19th-century Paris and 20th-century pop. You'll get a "bling ring," a drink, and the satisfaction of belting along with Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, and company.
SIFF Cinema Uptown