Karam, United States
The Humans is
the directorial debut from Stephen Karam and its based on his play.
Karam does an impressive job at making this cinematic - almost an
expressionistic horror piece. I love how Karam uses sound and especially
uses camera framing to express the apartment as another character.
The atmosphere is heightened by the films lack of natural sunlight,
overlapping dialogue and subtle sound design. There is such an unnerving
sense of doom that plays alongside the anxieties/fears of the flawed
characters who ultimately are striving to hold onto an unconditional
love that family often provides.
Paul Thomas Anderson, United States
Anderson is my favorite current American filmmaker and this is his
9th feature. Stylistically it is an interesting follow-up to Phantom
Thread but under the surface both share themes that have been reflected
throughout the filmmakers masterful career. While this film is not
as seemingly measured as Phantom Thread, make no mistake that Anderson
is in full control of everything here. If Phantom Thread was his
Vertigo, this hangout film is his Rio Bravo... but ultimately such
simplifications are not fair to any of those films, all of which
will stand as American treasures!
Hadaway, United States
your competition. This film is as good as I've seen in
psychologically examining compulsion and obsessive desire. Directed
by first time feature filmmaker Lauren Hadaway who delivers a creative
design of images and sounds with a powerful leader performance by
Mike Mills, United States
Mike Mills film
is filled with ideas and is very intelligent and honest. Credit
to Mills for avoiding directions this could have gone and the result
is touching, intimate and authentic, heightened by incredible performances
- Joaquin Phoenix, young child actor Woody Norman and Gaby Hoffmann.
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Japan
a seemingly effortless mastery by Ryûsuke
(one of Japan's best contemporary filmmakers) Drive My Car is patient
film full of senses. Using Chekhov's Uncle Vanya as a backdrop,
the film is concerned with the very idea of artistic creation or
more specifically art as form of personal access and emotion. The
film is best in the moments its reveals its quiet rhythm and tone
Power of the Dog
Jane Campion, UK / Canada / Australia / New Zealand / US
It's been 12
years since Jane Campion's last feature - 2009's masterpiece Bright
Star. The Power of the Dog is another remarkable achievement. A
film that features Campion's unique filmmaking style and camera
framing as expression of repressed sexuality - now from the male
Mia Hansen-Løve, France / Belgium / Germany / Sweden
latest film is a lighter tone and simplistic yet incredibly rich.
This is not for everyone but Bergman Island is a film-lovers film
in many ways.
Anthony Scott Burns, Canada
Come True is
a great work of atmospheric horror filmmaking. It has a unsettling
tone in the mode of great horror/scifi cinema. Its a film essentially
detailing dreams so it offers a depth that is philosophical and
thought provoking and confusing but always surreal. Maybe this wont
work for everyone but this has the intended look/feel of a dream/nightmare
while also thoughts and ideas it expresses and asks without simple
Todd Haynes, United States
The Velvet Underground
is my all-time favorite band and Todd Haynes seems like just the
right filmmaker for this material notably in how reflective the
influence is on Haynes himself. Haynes like the band has a very
experimental approach and one of the underlying joys of this film
is how this documentary subtly shows this all while going into great
detail of this greatly under appreciated band.
Bruckner, United Kingdom /
The Night House
is a film about grief and terror and David Bruckner and it carries
an underlying depth. It's visually engrossing while also providing
some clever narrative directions and a topnotch lead performance
from Rebecca Hall.
Spain / France
is one of beloved filmmakers Pedro Almodóvar best films in
years (to me his best since 2006's Volver, which is probably my
favorite Almodovar film) and Penélope Cruz gives another
incredible layered perfomance in this rich melodrama.
Quiet Place Part II
is clever, layered and incredibly tense. Credit to filmmaker John
Krasinski and this cast for a follow-up film that is able to stand
on its own.
Steven Spielberg, United States
While this is
Steven Spielberg's first official musical - yet in so many ways
the material seems such a fit for the master (look no further then
the Busby Berkeley inspired opening in Temple of Doom) and he delivers
a respectful, and refreshing adaptation for a new generation. This
is so well made and is made like a throwback but also feels so right
James Wan, United States / China
If you can get
on board with what visionary horror filmmaker James Wan is doing
with his latest film Malignant, you'll enjoy every minute of this.
Night in Soho
Edgar Wright, United Kingdom
I adore Edgar
Wright films and he's always embraced his many cinematic influences.
Last Night in Soho is his take on giallo horror and it is very evident
how much of a fan he is of those films. While this might not soar
with the heart of Wright's very best film, Last Night in Soho is
fun and pulls you into its 60s world and film influences.
Larraín, United Kingdom
/ Germany / United States / Chile
Spencer is to me a superior film to his previous historical figure
biopic (Jackie). It's a visually stunning achievement and the period
details are on point. Kristen Stewart delivers in the role of Princess
Diana. The films great strength is that even though not everything
here is based on true events, you really feel as if you are taken
into the space and you feel apart of the weekend.
Reinaldo Marcus Green, United States
So many films
like this true life inspirational sports story have been made and
failed, but King Richard really hits on its intended notes and even
overcomes the little biopic cliches. As a huge fan of the Williams
sisters from their very start I was skeptical how this would translate
into a feature film but credit to the filmmakers and of course the
Sciamma scales down to the more intimate tone of her best film (2011's
Tomboy) with Petite Maman. There is an intentional childlike yet
haunting vision to this film that really makes it caring.
Woman Who Ran
Hong Sang-soo, South Korea
continues to be one of the most prolific filmmakers in contemporary
cinema. The Woman Who Ran is told in three parts and it is a gentle,
unforceful film that I've enjoyed as much as any of Hong's films
in the last 10 years.
Amalia Ulman, Spain / United States
El Planeta is
bittersweet comedy with a very light and free. It's authentic in
emotions but stylistically its countered by a playfully made approach.
Worst Person in the World
Joachim Trier, Norway / France / Sweden / Denmark
The Worst Person
in the World is the fifth feature from Norwegian filmmaker Joachim
Trier. Renate Reinsve is tremendous in the lead role and the character
is one that you can easily connect and relate with even in the flawed
moments. The audience is truly with this character through the film
and the emotions/flaws/dialogue generates an authentic dynamic.
Its funny and heartbreaking and above all is daring in the way it
goes against formula expectation.
Wes Anderson, United States
are evident, Wes Anderson truly has a style of his own. Some films
work more then others and I found this one to be refreshing. Its
episodic so some stories work better then others but it is the right
kind of film from Anderson. I'd rank this somewhere 5th or 6th of
his 10 films.
and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Josh Greenbaum, United States / Mexico
of the film is the way it avoids spoof and that really develops
after the first 15 minutes (once they get to Vista Del Mar - a fictional
Florida vacation community). There is a genuine care for these characters
and it reminded me of an old-fashioned screwball comedy. It is silly
but the film embraces all of its silliness and it doesn't hold back.
Tragedy of Macbeth
Joel Coen, United States
been adapted on screen in many ways by some all-time great filmmakers.
Joel Coen (without his brother Ethan, who is currently taking a
break from moviemaking) brings a powerful adaptation with brilliant
sparse visual designs and tremendous performances (highlighted by
a showstopping Kathryn Hunter as the three witches!).
Enrico Casarosa, United States
Luca is a laid
back coming-of-age fantasy film from Pixar (the 24th film from the
studio). This one is not among the very best but I'd rank it high
on the overall Pixar list which is saying alot. It is definitely
a feel good film going experience.
of Soul (Or When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)
Questlove, United States
directional debut is a straightforward documentary features the
1969 Harlem Culture Festival, a series of free performances celebrating
Black music and culture in Harlems Mount Morris Park. Straightforward
in style yet so much depth and thoughtful ideas emerge and the music
acts lone are enough to cherish this powerful and relevant film.
of Fortune and Fantasy
Hamaguchi, United States
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is a collection of three short films
centered on real-time conversations and the intense depth of emotions
provoked by them.
Ivan Kavanagh, Ireland / United States / United Kingdom
The Son is a
slow-burn horror movie that while playing with formula still offers
some clever surprises and a building the paranoid tension. I really
liked this film and it has plenty to offer fans of horror.
Clint Eastwood, United States
Cry Macho seems
to be a reflection of many of Eastwood films yet has a gentleness
in its storytelling unique from anything hes ever done. Its
not at the level of say Million Dollar Baby (few films ever have
or will be!), but this is a charming and simplistic film from a
United States / Canada
is a film that raises alot of philophical ideas of memories and
its made honestly and with care. It was made Chad Hartigan and this
is the first I've see from him.
In the Earth is a timely film that seems to effectively blend several
different horror filmmaking styles.
Kenneth Branagh, United States
Belfast is a
crowd pleasing film that most audiences can find something to connect
with. Strong ensemble cast and you can feel that it is a very personal
film for Kenneth Branagh who is usually known for directing Shakespeare
Ridley Scott, United States / United Kingdom
latest epic film The Last Duel is told in three points of view,
which can be a bit too much but it also helps builds out lots of
details with the characters. Credit to Ridley Scott for allowing
the actors to speak without fake accents as often found in these
Sian Heder, United States / France / Canada
A smashing hit
at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival (where it won more awards then
any other film in the festivals history) CODA is a caring film with
great performances. There are formula cliches but the film is at
its best when dealing with the small family dynamics and some moments
Rebecca Hall, United States / United Kingdom / Canada
feature directiorial debut is beautfully shot in black and white
photography and deals with strong racial messages. It raises some
strong conflicts and its strength is the way it avoids being preachy
in its messages.
Paul Schrader, United Kingdom / United States / China
follows up his best film (First Reformed) with another strong work
here. Oscar Isaac helps propel the rhythm and intensity of the film
with his strong lead performance.
Lana Wachowski, United States / United Kingdom / Australia
Not the groundbreaking
impact of the original and lacking the great action choreography
that made that film so memorable, but this one does offer a surprising
depth in its melodrama and romance as well as a refreshing reboot
Sean Baker, United States
follow-up to The Florida Project finds the filmmaker in another
poor American community with a big money industry as the backdrop
(now Texas and big oil). Baker again avoids judgment and the film
features some terrific performances from Simon Rex and Suzanna Son.
Nia DaCosta, United States / Canada / Australia
1992 Candyman is an underrated horror film and this remake co-written
by Jordan Pelle with director Nia DaCosta. This film is not on par
with the original but this film is respectfully is trying to stand
on its own, specifically for a new era. DaCosta has a skillful touch
with visual compositions adding a layer of mood to this film.
Tsai Ming-liang, United States
filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang
made some of my favorite films of the 90s and early 00s. He's made
very few feature length films in the last 15 years (though he's
done many shorts). Days is a typical minimalist film from Tsai and
again dealing with alienation - heightened in trademark long extended
takes and minimal dialogue.
Leos Carax, France / Belgium / Germany / United States
Known for some
of the most bizarre films Leos Carax's latest, Annette is his first
musical and it will not disappoint fans of his work. This one is
also insane and challenging and completely unique. Bold performances
from the always wonderful Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver. Intense
and messy Annette is not a film for everyone but it is going for
Lowery, Ireland / Canada /
US / UK
sixth feature is a fantasy epic that does a good job of taking you
into its world. As expected from Lowery its a slow building film.
Visually stunning, this is a film I can see having a strong audience
of high praise.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Colombia / Thailand / France / etc
Memoria is directed
by the great Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul and this film
will be enjoyed by his fans. Starring Tilda Swinton and mostly in
English this is still very much in the mode of Apichatpong's distinctively
unique vision - with slow, long takes and skillful sound design.
Like many of Apichatpong's films I admire this but don't love it
on initial viewing.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, United States / Greece
debut feature from Maggie Gyllenhaal. The Lost Daughter feels very
European and its the kind of film that can probably be seen in different
tones. I'm curious what I'll think on repeat viewings.
Mamoru Hosoda, United States
filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda is responsible for two of the very best
animted festures (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars).
Belle is his eighth feature and while to me its not the level of
his two best films Belle does recall much of the style and themes.
Rodo Sayagues, United States / Serbia
The first Don't
Breathe film felt more like what it was - a great short film concept
that the filmmaker tried to make a feature length. Now here with
some more freedom and a different tone this sequel is probably superior
to the original.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, United States
A terrific energetic
lead performance from Andrew Garfield and a couple beautiful shot
sequences (notably a cleverly shot scene where a pool turns into
music notes). I was never invested into this fully but I respect
the film as a well made/performed achievement.
Shawn Levy, United States
Kudos to the
filmmakers and cast for making this solid material work. This could
have been a good idea gone wrong but this film keeps the many elements
going on very simple at its heart. I'm not a gamer at all but I
still had fun with this film and I appreciate the films title which
is clever and subtly offers multiple interpretations.
Need To Do Something
Sean King O'Grady, United States
We Need to Do
Something takes place in a confined space and it creates a strong
claustrophobic vibe. The film just keeps throwing out more crazy
madness as it goes and its a bit all over the place but I could
see this film getting some cult following over time.
Bill Benz, United States
Inn is a mockumentary style film that blends all types of emotions.
It is a clever film and maybe sometimes is overly clever that will
not be for everyone but this is an interesting film.
Karen Cinorre, United States
Mayday is a
bit heavy in its metaphor but it does a very strong job of taking
you into its fantasy world.
Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, Italy / Brazil
This film is
best when at it most simple, which is mostly in the first half.
Its does a nice job of using landscapes and at its best moments
has some of the Hitchcock wrong man vibes.
Woman in the Window
Joe Wright, United States
The Woman in
the Window is an obvious nod to Hitchcock (especially Rear Window)
and while nowhere near the depth of that layered masterpiece, this
is still effective for what it is and Joe Wright is an intelligent
Jason Reitman, United States
While it loses
some energy towards the final act, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a
fun reboot of the franchise and its definitely nostalgic of its
M. Night Shyamalan, United States / Japan
M. Night Shyamalan's
films are usually at their best when they fully embrace the silliness
and Old succeeds at this more then some of his other recent films
(most notably The Visit and the Split films).
Justin Chon, United States / Canada
Overdone a bit
to me yet this film feels very personal to the filmmaker and that
is admirable, and its a timely film with great setting and solid
Guillermo del Toro, United States / Mexico / Canada
love the 1947 original and while this has some fine qualities, it
is a disappointment. Guillermo del Toro shifts a bit from his monster
movies, but I think he may be too in love with the noir style he's
attempting to make, because this one lacks the soul that usually
define his work.
Nathalie Biancheri, Ireland / United Kingdom / Poland
Lots of metaphors
here makes this feel a bit too serious but its a good film that
I may enjoy more with repeat viewings. The cast is strong.
Care A Lot
J Blakeson, United States / Canada
film that is engrossing for much of the way but looses interest
in the final act and the ending feels lazy. Its an intentionally
cruel movie and I'm not sure if this films wants us to root for
this protagonist (well performed by Rosamund Pike in a role the
seems to be a version of her performance in Gone Girl).
Kitao Sakurai, United States
Bad Trip is
the latest entry in this seemingly growing new genre of improv comedy/pranks
within the unsuspecting public. My expectations were very low so
this surprised me with its laughs and credit to the three main actors
for truly committing to these characters with bold performances.
The bits don't all work for me but this will find a wide fan base
Miguel Sapochnik, United KIngdom / United States
Many will compare
this is another Tom Hanks film Cast Away but that is unfair as this
is not on the same level. Finch is a charming but not a lasting
World to Come
Mona Fastvold, United States
The World to
Come is a film I admire and is worth watching but I can't really
say its an enjoyable film expirence.
Harder They Fall
Jeymes Samuel, United States
Not much of
a story here to this western but it attempts to offer some fresh
ideas and is mostly a fun, stylish film in Tarantino-influenced
mode. I didn't love this film yet I understand what its going for
and if you get behind what the cast and filmmakers are doing, it
can be a fun ride.
Sorkin, United States
has penned some work but with Being the Ricardos he may have bitten
off a bit too much as this feels snooty and his direction is unfocused.
Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are strong and I will give the film
credit for some of it subtle layered moments.
Paul Verhoeven, France / Belgium / Netherlands
value from Paul Verhoeven this uneven film has some playfulness
on initial viewing but I'm not sure what if any depth will come
upon repeat viewings.
Ridley Scott, Canada / United States
A mostly fun
and good looking film with fine performances, but Ridley Scott's
House of Gucci lacks depth and failed to ever connect.
and the Hole
Pascual Sisto, United States
and is well shot to help build the atmosphere this one. Its a cold
and distance film which also hurts it in some ways.
Argyris Papadimitropoulos, United Kingdom / United States / Greece
soild romantic comedy from Greek filmmaker Argyris Papadimitropoulos.
Scott Cooper, United States / Mexico / Canada
this and the delay in the release due to Covid might have hurt as
I went in with higher expectations. I am hopeful repeat viewings
John Lee Hancock, United States
A very (very)
familiar narrative with obvious debt towards David Fincher's Seven.
Its not as cinematic or as clever as a film like that and its a
film that is not all that memorable once the credits roll, but I
found it still watchable formula.
George Clooney, United States
A mixed emotional
tone between first and second halves makes this a fine but shortly
forgettable film. It does offer plenty of warmth which is endearing
but it is at its best when we are following the young JR.
Nora Fingscheidt, United Kingdom / Germany / United States
is often heavy in its message and avoids taking any daring chances
with its easy cop-out ending reveal but there is some good intentions
here and the melodrama is mostly effective.
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Michael Chaves, United States / United Kingdom
I admire the
first two Conjuring films but the franchise (now without its visionary
James Wan directing) may be wearing thin with the spinoffs and this
third entry. This is still watchable but you can see/feel the difference
Eyes of Tammy Faye
Michael Showalter, Canada / United States
shines as expected in this otherwise standard biopic. The film never
is consistent in its tone but Chastain carries it along.