If you haven't yet seen Parasite, a Golden Globe nominee, what are you waiting for? Neon

This weekend, it's a perfect time to look back on the best films of the year, including Golden Globe nominees (which we've noted below) like Parasite and Knives Out, acclaimed documentaries like The Biggest Little Farm, and recently restored masterpieces like Babylon. Plus, don't miss new releases like Tremors (Temblores). See all of our film critics’ picks for this weekend below, and, if you're looking for even more options, check out our film events calendar and complete movie times listings.

Movies play Thursday–Sunday unless otherwise mentioned.

1917
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Motion Picture — Drama, Best Director — Drama (Sam Mendes), Best Original Score (Thomas Newman)

Advocate
This documentary is a personal portrait of Lea Tsemel, a Jewish Israeli lawyer who has spent her career defending Palestinians in court. For her dogged human rights advocacy, she has been cast as a villain by right-wing Jewish Israeli factions.
AMC Pacific Place

Get Tickets Now For A Virtual Bicycle Film Festival, Northwest Edition: October 23-25!
Bicycle Film Festival NW celebrates bicycles through art, film & music with 3 programs of short films!
Tickets are on sale now for The Stranger’s 1st Annual SLAY Film Festival!
Ghosts, zombies, slashers, witches, Eldritch beasts, gore-- SLAY has something for every horror fan!
Earshot Jazz Festival | Oct 16 – Nov 8
This week: Amy Denio, Tarik Abouzied, Johnaye Kendrick, Tarbaby, John Hollenbeck, and Eugenie Jones

American Factory
This feature-length documentary is the first work to emerge from Netflix’s partnership with the Obamas. The former president and his wife have a company, Higher Ground Productions, that finds and/or produces content for the California-based media distributor. American Factory is just amazing. It concerns a Chinese corporation, Fuyao Glass, that opened in Moraine, Ohio, a factory that makes glass for vehicles. The plant was abandoned by General Motors during the crash of 2008. In the Obama-produced doc, we not only see the comic and tragic clashes of two very different labor and management cultures, but a process that is actively shaping the world today. This is the American factory of tomorrow: lower wages, less benefits, higher production, no unions. Nevertheless, many of the American employees are just happy to have a job. As wages in China go up, wages in the US are going down. CHARLES MUDEDE
AMC Pacific Place
Friday only

The Apollo
For 85 years, Harlem’s Apollo Theater has essentially been a mecca for black American culture. So it makes perfect sense for a filmmaker of the stature of Roger Ross Williams (God Loves Uganda) to shoot a documentary about the 1,500-capacity palace, which has showcased the zenith of black musicians, comedians, and writers. From James Brown’s immortal 1963 Live at the Apollo LP to performances by Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, this venue has been an incubator and crucible for integral black expression in myriad forms. It’s past time to revel in the Apollo’s fascinating story. DAVE SEGAL
AMC Pacific Place
Sunday only

Apollo 11
Todd Miller's superbly edited new documentary on the Apollo 11 mission, which put Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the moon (and sent Michael Collins around its dark side), adds no narration or talking heads, other than contemporaneous sources. Although you know how things turned out, you're plunged into the suspense of the moment, when even the slightest miscalculation could have doomed the astronauts to a lonely or fiery death. Listen to that amazing sound design! JOULE ZELMAN
AMC Pacific Place
Saturday only

Aquarela
Movies are expensive, and going to theaters can be a pain, and “It’s a documentary... about water!” isn't the most rousing tagline—but Aquarela is worth every bit of effort to see on the biggest screen and with the loudest sound. Ranging from Russia to Miami to Venezuela, director Viktor Kossakovsky’s gorgeous, jarring film captures stunning sights and sounds: Massive, cracking icebergs lurch like breaching leviathans. Intricate blades of glacial ice slice the sky. Wind and rain whip through a devastated ghost-city, a hurricane screaming as Aquarela's camera cruises calmly through abandoned streets. Sailors are thrown by storms; flailing men plummet through ice; waves that seem the size of planets loom and loom and loom before exploding into chaos. The music, courtesy of Apocalyptica’s Eicca Toppinin, is thick with shuddering guitar riffs, underscoring Kossakovsky’s eye-widening, stomach-churning reminder of how, in comparison to a natural force like this one, the accomplishments and failures of humankind are laughably small and pathetically meaningless. Unspoken in Aquarela, but lurking behind each image, is another reminder: That, as we hurtle toward a changed climate, the water around us remains as beautiful and lethal as ever—and just as indifferent to our frail attempts to constrain it. ERIK HENRIKSEN
AMC Pacific Place
Saturday only

Babylon
Set in Brixton (which is to London what Harlem is to New York City), starring Rasta singer Brinsley Forde (the frontman of reggae band Aswad), and cowritten by Martin Stallman (who also wrote 1979 UK cult favorite Quadrophenia), Babylon is a feature-length outing about black life, black music, and black struggles in early 1980s Britain. The economy is in the toilet, Margaret Thatcher has begun her assault on labor, and city after city is becoming what the Specials classically described as "a ghost town." The film is simply amazing. Every minute is rich with cultural information of a period and milieu that's rarely seen on film. Babylon also has a dub score that's dark, crackly, and deep. Those echoes, those old Brixton buildings, the dreads, the factory smoke, the street markets, the old ladies, the thick accents—all of this and more is just utterly wonderful. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
Friday–Sunday

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 & Thornton Place
Nominated for: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Hanks)

The Biggest Little Farm
Skeptics might wonder whether a 90-minute documentary on farming is better used as insomnia remedy than a night out at the movies, but John Chester's gorgeous film has been snatching up audience choice and best film awards all over the place. He and his wife, Molly, spent eight years striving to create a farm in California that was perfectly in accord with nature—despite drought, poor soil, and wildfires. Ultimately, they have to accept that they're not in control of nature and life. Come for the lovely footage of wildlife and farm animals, stay for the inspiration to fight for sustainability.
AMC Pacific Place
Sunday only

Bombshell
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Performance by an Actress (Charlize Theron), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Margot Robbie)

Cats
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Original Song ("Beautiful Ghosts")

The Cave
The director of the devastating Last Men in Aleppo delivers a look into the lives of Syrian women doctors from 2016-2018. Despite danger and sexism, these women work to treat patients in an underground hospital under the city of Ghouta, near Damascus. This documentary won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival.
AMC Pacific Place
Sunday only

Cléo from 5 to 7
Agnès Varda's 1961 film tells the story of two hours in the life of a pop star, Cléo, as she waits to hear the results of an ominous medical test. It's a classic piece from the Left Bank of the French New Wave.
SIFF Film Center
Saturday only
Part of The Restless Curiosity of Agnès Varda

The Edge of Democracy
Petra Costa's sobering documentary tracks the Brazilian regimes of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff as they dissolve in a divided country, creating a void that fascism fills.
AMC Pacific Place
Sunday only

Fantastic Fungi
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
Varsity Theatre & Ark Lodge Cinemas

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
Meridian 16 & Thornton Place
Nominated for: Best Performance by an Actor - Drama (Christian Bale)

For Sama
This heartbreaking film by documentarists Waad Al-Khateab and Edward Watts chronicles young mother Al-Khateab's experiences in Aleppo during five years of the Syrian Civil War. For Sama was awarded the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at Cannes, among other prestigious prizes.
AMC Pacific Place
Friday only

Frozen II
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Animated Film, Best Original Song ("Into the Unknown")

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
Crest

A24

Good Time
This high-octane and gritty Josh and Benny Safdie brothers-directed movie will make you a believer in Robert Pattinson again. In Good Time, the British actor plays Connie, a New Yorker who takes his brother with special needs, Nick (played by Benny Safdie), out of care and convinces him to assist in a bank robbery. When the plan goes left and Nick ends up in jail, Connie finds himself increasingly desperate to get the funds in order to get his brother out of prison. This nervy, thrilling film will have you at the edge of your seat with its high-stakes plotting and Pattinson’s fantastic and believable performance. JASMYNE KEIMIG
The Beacon
Friday–Saturday

The Great Hack
Find out how Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have been using big data to sway elections and stoke political and social conflict. 
AMC Pacific Place
Saturday only

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 Uptown

Honeyland
Hatidze is living in a way that has all but disappeared. She subsists in the Macedonian mountains in much the same world as her ancestors hundreds of years ago: hut made of stones, no electricity, no running water, living off the land. She lives with her very old mother, surviving by harvesting honey and selling it in the town market. Much of documentary follows Hatidze as she takes care of her mother, does her beekeeping, and moves around the land. She exists in harmony with her environment, taking only what she needs. When a nomadic Turkish family with seven wild kids and a RV arrive and set up nearby with their herd of cows, they change the atmosphere drastically. The father is under heavy pressure to support the family, and he has little regard for the environment or engaging in sustainable practices. The doc is an interesting glimpse into a quiet, old way of life. Macedonia is a beautiful and ancient land with lots of rocks and few trees. The pace of the doc, however, is slow and there is little story, and the film can sag a bit while the people just hang out and go about their daily business. GILLIAN ANDERSON
AMC Pacific Place
Saturday only

The Hunger
Nothing beats the dark magic of seeing Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie and pre-Bernie-bonkers Susan Sarandon on a movie screen, nothing beats watching this erotic trio in the company of strangers. And then there is the beat of Bauhaus's gothic dub "Bela Lugosi's Dead." Are you feeling me? This is the 1980s in a state that's close to perfection. CHARLES MUDEDE
Central Cinema

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 & Thornton 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
Grand Illusion
Thursday only

Jojo Rabbit
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
Nominated for: Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy; Best Performance by an Actor - Comedy or Musical (Roman Griffin Davis), Best Screenplay (Steven Zaillian)

Judy
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
Crest
Thursday only
Best Performance by an Actress — Drama (Renée Zellweger)

Knives Out
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actor - Comedy or Musical (Daniel Craig), Best Performance by an Actress - Comedy or Musical (Ana De Armas)

Sony

Labyrinth
It’s the film that introduced the public to the yet-to-be-fully-dismissed theory that David Bowie is, in fact, a Jim Henson creation.
Central Cinema
Friday–Sunday

Little Women
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Performance by an Actress - Drama (Saoirse Ronan), Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)

Maiden
With all the depressing sexist crap going on in the world, you deserve an inspiring pick-me-up, and what better than a documentary on Tracy Edwards, the former charter boat cook who led the first all-female crew on the Whitbread Round the World voyage in 1989? By nearly all accounts, Maiden is a thrilling tribute to ambition and comradeship, a great contribution to the sports doc genre.
AMC Pacific Place
Friday only

Midnight Family
Both responding to a social need and out to make a buck, extralegal ambulance companies are essential in Mexico City, which only has 45 official ambulances. The Ochoa family strives to serve patients and stay afloat in the face of a corrupt police force.
Northwest Film Forum & AMC Pacific Place
Friday–Sunday

One Child Nation
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang's documentary takes a first-person look—namely, Wang's—at China's now-discontinued policy of requiring that parents only have one child. Revisiting China, Wang tracks down others who, like herself and her parents, remember what it was like to live under the decree. One Child Nation doesn't shy away from brutal realities: Xianwen Liu, a former "family planning propaganda official," clangs cymbals as he remembers the opera he wrote extolling the virtues of the one-child policy; Huaru Yuan, a now-84-year-old midwife who helped deliver Wang, estimates that in two decades of traveling to various villages, she particiapted in "between 50,000 to 60,000 sterilizations and abortions." "I counted all of this out of guilt because I aborted and killed babies," she tells Wang. "Many I induced alive and killed. My hands trembled doing it. But I had no choice: It was the government's policy."
AMC Pacific Place
Saturday only

Parasite
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Director (Bong Joon-ho), Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language, Best Screenplay (Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin Won)

Queen & Slim
Queen & Slim may be the best—and is almost certainly the Blackest—film of 2019, and is perhaps most poignant for its gorgeous, complex, and multifaceted portrayal of the Black experience, where sparks of joy and love exist alongside pain, struggle, and oppression. One of the reasons director Melina Matsoukas and screenwriter Lena Waithe's made the film with Universal Pictures was their guarantee that Matsoukas and Waithe would have say over the final cut—a choice Waithe says was to ensure the film wasn’t influenced whatsoever by the white gaze. They only did one test screening, with an all-Black audience; the result is a new American romance/drama written in the Black American language, told via a fully Black lens, and including a diverse array of characters who show that Black people are not a monolith. While there are definitely triggering parts (I cried twice), I also laughed a lot and, like many of the film’s characters, I genuinely enjoyed rooting for the criminalized, on-the-run protagonists. For 48 hours after seeing this movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. JENNI MOORE
Meridian 16

Richard Jewell
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Kathy Bates)

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
AMC Pacific Place & Thornton Place

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
Various locations

Tremors (Temblores)
Not to be confused with the 1990 film about giant tunneling worms. Jayro Bustamante, Guatemalan director of the critically acclaimed Ixcanul, returns with the story of Pablo, a beloved member of a rich Evangelical family who turns their lives upside down when he leaves his wife for another man. But the homophobic family is not about to give up their father/son/husband so easily—even if their efforts to keep him in their religious community ruin life his. Carlos Aguilar of TheWrap.Com writes that "the film isn’t kindly asking for tolerance but bluntly exposing the torment inflicted in the name of a prejudiced God."
Grand Illusion
Friday–Sunday

Uncut Gems
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
Various locations

Vagabond
In Agnès Varda's bleak story starring the brilliant Sandrine Bonnaire (who won a French Oscar for her performance), a ferociously independent woman wanders through French wine country in winter, slowing approaching a lonely death.
SIFF Film Center
Sunday only
Part of The Restless Curiosity of Agnès Varda

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael
Cinephiles will be interested in this documentary about the much-debated film critic Pauline Kael, who is both inspiring (she had to fight to be heard in a male-dominated trade) and irritating (she could be deeply contrarian). It features interviews with the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Quentin Tarantino, Camille Paglia, Molly Haskell, David O. Russell, Alec Baldwin, and Paul Schrader.
SIFF Film Center
Friday–Sunday

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