1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is everything you could ask for from writer-director Quentin Tarantino. It’s his 9th film, and it showcases a maturity in his filmmaking vision that’s one for the cinematic history books. Here is the work of a master at the top of his craft, showcasing his talent in the pure art of making movies.
Provocative and imperfect, the film meanders like a classic Western through the rocky evolution of late-Sixties Hollywood. Everything works here: the direction, the wardrobe, the soundtrack, the editing, the cinematography, the performances. If there’s a weak link, it’s the rambling, thin story — but even it eventually finds redemption.
The movie isn’t flawless, but it’s a work that showcases Tarantino’s brilliance. From the dialogue (including a particularly beautifully written piece of voice over narration about the end of a friendship on an international flight) to the overall vision (the driving scenes through neon-signed streets showcase the faded glory of Hollywood with a punch of poignant nostalgia).
Everything is overshadowed by the knockout performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, two men in what likely is the role of a lifetime for both. How fortunate we are to live during a time when DiCaprio walks the Earth. It’s staggering how talented he is, and his performance here is so phenomenal that it reached deep into my bones until it actually made me cry in disbelief from the beauty of his skill.
Pitt takes his role as aging stuntman Cliff Booth and turns it into an iconic character in the Tarantino universe. His movie star chemistry suits the film, and he and DiCaprio, as a now B-list actor Rick Dalton, feel like old friends who each are dealing with the realization that their glory days are nearing the end. The two men face what it’s like to come to terms with the death of a career in similar yet different ways, and their relationship is the real heart of the film.
“It’s official old buddy,” Rick says to Cliff. “I’m a has-been.”
Rick takes to the bottle and begrudgingly accepts roles on television shows and in Italian Spaghetti Western films. Cliff becomes intrigued with the young hippies he sees around town, decides to pick up a young hitchhiker (Margaret Qualley), and gives her a ride to what turns out to be the abandoned movie set home base of the Manson Family.
The friendship between the two men may provide the bulk of the story, but the film eventually intersects with the horrific events of August 8, 1969, where a group of Charles Manson’s followers went on a killing spree and murdered five people, including then-pregnant actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). It’s a fantasy tale based on a multiple murder, and that aspect of the film may feel tasteless to some. But Tarantino handles it in a way that all makes sense, and really drives home the mature themes of his story.
The controversy about the lack of screen time for the female lead is ridiculous, and should be stopped right now. The movie isn’t about Tate or her sad fate, but her grisly murder sets the stage for the culmination of Tarantino’s story. There’s nothing in this film (aside from the “honey” and “baby” comments from men that were considered appropriate for the period) that I would condemn as being misogynistic. Robbie’s supporting role embodies the sunshine, innocence, and blind hope of a rising starlet in Hollywood, and the sadness of her performance makes it stand out, even if only for a few brief moments in the film.
In true Tarantino fashion, the film is obsessively detailed, right down to the toys in Cliff’s trailer to the songs playing on the radio. Diehard fans of the director will find well-placed Easter eggs all over the place, so pay close attention.
Overall, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” shows a more restrained side of the famous filmmaker, but audiences can expect his signature violence and brutally insightful dialogue throughout. This is not only one of the best movies of the year, it’s one of the finest of his career.
2. The Dead Don’t Die
It’s a well-known fact in the world of cinema that Jim Jarmusch is an acquired taste, but fans of the director’s sarcastic wit and dark humor will love “The Dead Don’t Die,” a wacky, subversive, genre-blending zombie film that’s one of his best works in years. I am head-over-heels ecstatic about this movie, and it’s by far one of my favorites of the year.
The sleepy little town of Centerville is “A Real Nice Place,” just as the welcome sign suggests. That is, until the moon hangs low in the sky, surrounded by purple flames. It’s still daylight at 10 pm, and all of the town’s animals have run away. Scientists give ominous warnings as fracking has caused the Earth to spin off its axis, but nobody is prepared for the most dangerous repercussion of all: the dead rising from their graves.
If you’re expecting a typical, by-the-book zombie movie, prepare to be disappointed. There are plenty of scenes of the walking dead as they stumble around hungry and in search of human flesh, but think of this as more of a hipster style zom-com. It’s politically relevant, filled with social commentary, and packed with an arthouse cool that will delight brainy cinephiles.
The film has an inspired, worthy-of-name-dropping, superstar indie cast, including Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, and Adam Driver as a trio of surprisingly competent town cops, Caleb Landry Jones as a supergeek gas station attendant, Steve Buscemi as a resident farmer (and Trump supporting racist), Danny Glover as a kind hardware store owner, Tom Waits as a wise hermit who lives deep in the woods, and perhaps the most inspired casting decision of them all: Tilda Swinton as an outrageously weird Scottish mortician who happens to be a master in the samurai sword. Each character is introduced in personal vignettes at the start of the film, with their story arcs intersecting by the end.
Jarmusch stuffs his tale with the deadpan comedic tone and irreverence that fans have come to expect. Many of the one-liners seem destined for a goofy cult status, and the self-aware characters throw horror conventions to the wind. This is the type of film that could have a long, prolific theatrical run at midnight screenings, once it finds its impassioned audience.
The story leans heavily towards the fun rather than the gory side of zombie movies, but there is a fair share of blood and guts to be found here. It’s not the type of film where you can shut off your brain and watch as the undead feast on the living, however. Jarmusch is consistent with his worldview as he sticks to what he does best: just plain, unadulterated weirdness with a tinge of social commentary.
The film starts to buckle under the weight of its themes as it gets a bit too heavy-handed with its rants on mindless consumerism near the end (yes, we know: many of us are simply going through the motions of life as near-comatose zombies), but this is one quirky, spirited, unforgettable ride.
Bong Joon-ho‘s “Parasite” is one of those films that no matter how many hours you spend reflecting on it, you’ll continue to find deeper meaning in the smallest details, be it a sewage-flooded basement, a gifted ceremonial rock, or a discarded packet of hot sauce. This is the type of movie you’ll want to see for the first time knowing nothing about it, so this review will be as vague and spoiler-free as possible.
The film is set in vastly different worlds, and the action mostly takes place in just two confined homes: the basement apartment of the economically challenged Kim family and the sleek, contemporary home of the wealthy Park family. The Kims have the spirit of hardworking grifters and when their son Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) senses a golden opportunity to make some money as an English tutor for the Park’s daughter (Ji-so Jung), he accepts.
Once he sees the potential to make even more money, Kim Ki-woo becomes a mastermind and invents characters for each of his family members to play in order to infiltrate the Park’s well-to-do home. Street smarts take over and soon, his sister (Park So-dam) is hired as an art therapist, mom (Jang Hye-jin) becomes the housekeeper, and dad (Song Kang-ho) is hired as the Park’s personal chauffer.
Writer / director Joon-ho Bong creates a disturbing tale of the symbiotic relationship, as the Parks provide luxury services and the Kims are able to support their entire household by “feeding” off each other’s wants and needs. The themes in “Parasite” don’t offer anything new, but it’s the storytelling, Joon-ho’s mastery of the filmmaking craft, and the blend of dark humor and emotional punch that make this film so unique.
The story is layered in the most brilliant fashion and is a web of timely social themes like wealth inequality and class warfare. One family is struggling to keep the other out, while the other family is so desperately trying to claw their way in. When the story takes a major surprise turn, a sudden battle for dominance breaks out. The war shifts to a savage rivalry not between the affluent and the poor, but it’s the downtrodden who eventually begin fighting each other.
It’s not as easy as you’d assume to pick sides in this story. Everyone is sympathetic in their own way, making any misfortunes hit hard emotionally. There’s a sense of desperation and disgust as the tone seamlessly shifts from funny to distressing to absolute heartbreak in a manner of minutes. The film is unsettling for sure, but there are certain scenes that are unforgettable and will stick with me for a lifetime.
“Parasite” is one of the most intriguing, intelligent, and disturbing films of the year. It’s also one of the best.
The razor-sharp focus of “Honey Boy” makes it too late for you to duck and avoid the hit as the film delivers its knock-out emotional blow. This heartbreaking and soul cleansing film is based on actor Shia LaBeouf‘s real-life experiences, creating a focal point of one seemingly minor moment in time that set the tone for the troubled life that followed.
LaBeouf wrote the screenplay about his own stormy childhood, and the story jumps around in two points of time in his career: the rocky start of his Hollywood actor life and his extended stays in rehab as a young adult. Otis Lort (Noah Jupe) is a twelve year old boy who is on the cusp of becoming a breakout star. He and his ex-rodeo clown, felon dad James (LaBeouf) live in their garden court motel home. Mom’s mostly out of the picture and dad, who continues to battle with drugs and alcohol, pretends to be his son’s biggest cheerleader (but Otis surmises that he really just hangs around for the money).
The film seems to take place over just a few weeks, and is cut with flash-forwards and flashbacks of Otis as a twenty something (Lucas Hedges) with serious emotional and drinking problems of his own. He is a broken man, in and out of rehab facilities, who is struggling to reconcile with his father.
LaBeouf gives one of the finest performances of his career. The fearlessness he displays by taking on the role of his father is astounding both professionally and emotionally. LaBeouf manages to expose the man’s most awful flaws and still remains sympathetic, which is one of the most difficult things to master. The same can be said for Jupe, who brings a delicate and devastating sadness to Otis, a boy who endures unimaginable emotional cruelty yet never loses his desire to please his dad. This is a painful film that demands impassioned performances, and these two deliver tenfold.
Director Alma Har’el handles this material with a sensitivity that’s commendable. Her vision matches the story, and the seamless narrative is beautifully told through visuals that look and feel like nostalgia that’s been directly plucked from a person’s actual memories. The dreamy illusions as an adult Otis reflects on his relationship with his father are a somber reminder that there’s still beauty that can be salvaged from the ugliness of the past — even when confronted with disgust when he looks in the mirror.
The indie-heavy symbolism is piled on a bit too thick (with chickens and swimming pools making too many unwelcome appearances), but the limited, sharp focus of both the storytelling and visual style is the ideal complement to LeBeouf’s original screenplay.
Most everything about this movie feels therapeutic, like riding a wave of emotions that eventually ends with forgiveness as the key to exorcising all of Otis’s demons. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a primal scream or a prolonged cry, and the idea of art as a method of healing never resonates as greatly as it does here.
This is not a feel good film, but it offers an intimate and highly personal exploration of one turning point in a child’s life that makes you understand, if only for a brief moment, the reason a person turned out the way he did.
The big-hearted indie drama “The Peanut Butter Falcon” does just about everything right. Here is a sentimental, heartwarming journey that manages to stay out of the groan-and-eye-rolling territory due to its universal story, timeless feel, Southern charm, and terrific chemistry between the lead actors.
Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, runs away from a residential nursing home to pursue his dream of attending the professional wrestling school run by his idol, Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). Zak crosses paths with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a local outlaw on the run, and the two embark on a modern Mark Twain style adventure journey down the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Tyler becomes Zak’s wise instructor of life, teaching him the ways of the world and becoming his trusted best friend. Together the men traverse deltas and encounter a series of threats and random misadventures, until Zak’s kind guardian Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) eventually discovers their whereabouts and insists that he must return to his normal life.
The low-budget film benefits from not only from the compelling small scale story, but also from the earnest performances of the entire cast (including small supporting turns from John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, and Jon Bernthal).
LaBeouf is in elite form, bringing a rugged authenticity to his character. He gives one of my very favorite lead performances so far this year, and it’s some of the best work he’s ever done. Not letting the heaps of criticism from her roles in the “Fifty Shades” series keep her down, Johnson is also absolutely terrific here and should stick to indie work like this. Even if you think you don’t like her, this film may very well change your perception of her talent and screen presence.
And don’t worry about Gottsagen’s performance being gimmicky or played in a mean-spirited manner. It isn’t at all, and Gottsagen brings a sweet, contagious purity to his character. All three actors work so well together that I would love to see them star in another film sometime in the future.
The intimate writing and direction (both by Tyler Nilson, and Michael Schwartz) is spot-on, especially for a small-scale tale of kindness and acceptance. The rambling adventure aspects of the story work well as a buddy drama, and the film flows with an independent spirit that’s smart and actually treats the audience like intellectuals. It’s an authentic take on what it means to be a good friend and the steps you can take to create your own unlikely family. While it’s sweet and touching, this (thankfully) isn’t a dumb movie.
In the end, the film provides gentle encouragement to break out and start living your best life. In one memorable scene, Tyler says it best: “You’re gonna die, it’s a matter of time. The question is, will they have a good story to tell about you when you’re gone?”
The third installment in the “John Wick” franchise, “John Wick 3: Parabellum,” is a near perfect action movie. The story may not be as strong as it could be, but none of that will matter to fans looking for a fist-pumping thrill. It’s the kind of movie I wish I hadn’t already seen just so I could experience it for the first time all over again.
The story picks up where part 2 left off. We find super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) with one hour left before he’s officially excommunicado with a $14 million price on his head. Once the seconds tick away, Wick doesn’t hold back when confronted with an army of bounty hunting killers hot on his trail. Wick is a natural born hunter / killer, so you can guess how it ends for the other hit men and women.
The non-stop barrage of violence and brutal merriment is accompanied by slick, candy-colored visuals I like to describe as “neon-noir.” The glowing lights of the big city are frequently covered in a driving rain, creating a lush, modern landscape that fits the tone just right. The last film I saw with cinematography that looks as good as this one was “Blade Runner 2049.” This is mature filmmaking from director Chad Stahelski, with every scene well framed and edited so you can see the fights.
For action fans, this film deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as “The Raid” and “The Raid 2.” “Parabellum” is the best thing to come out of the genre since Gareth Evans showed the world how to make a great action movie. The film follows what I call “‘The Raid’ Rules”: first, you can easily follow everything that’s going on in the well-paced action scenes, and second, if you see a room full of glass, somebody is going to go through it. Yee haw!
The realistic fight choreography that may feel slow to those who are accustomed to seeing rapid-fire cutting. Thankfully there’s none of that hacksaw editing here, with Stahelski content to use his camera like a static eye that observes while the brutality unfolds onscreen. The stunt choreography is breathtaking, featuring classic mano y mano combat and gunplay, but there are more inventive set pieces involving bloody violence with attack dogs, knives, and even horses. The piece de resistance is a jaw-dropping final confrontation in a building made of glass walls. It’s not just a visual feast of color and texture — it’s an all you can eat buffet.
The stunts are flawless. Absolute perfection. There’s an unforgettable knife fight in an antique store that will go down as one of the classic action scenes in modern cinema. If there ever has been a clear case for creating an Oscar category for Best Stunts, this is it. Just hand over an Academy Award already.
The film’s few stumbles are mostly related to the script, which is a half-hearted plot that’s sandwiched between sweet action scenes. It’s difficult to criticize the writing too much when the unrestrained riot of brutality is done so well and is so enjoyable to watch. The overuse of knife and swordplay becomes repetitive and the fight scenes tend to jumble together near the film’s halfway point, but just when you think they’re out of creative stunt ideas, along comes another sword and knife fight — on motorcycles.
“Parabellum” is a cut above normal mindless entertainment, especially when it comes to big budget action films. I’ve never felt as happy at the end of a movie than this one because not only does it over-deliver on what it promises, it sets the story up (in grand fashion) for another rowdy sequel. Bring it on!
Creative types will likely relate to “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” the big screen adaptation of Maria Semple‘s 2012 novel. I felt an almost spiritual attachment to the titular character Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett), a star architect who is desperate to reconnect with her visionary passion after years of putting her other true love on the backburner.
Bernadette loves her family, including adoring husband Elgie (Billy Crudup) and quirky teenage daughter Bee (Emma Nelson), but loathes just about everyone else on the planet. They have a pretty cool life in dreary Seattle, where mom spends her time rehabbing an old house and terrorizing the busybody neighbor (Kristen Wiig), but something is missing. When Bee requests a family trip to Antarctica, the trio decide to take an epic adventure that may just jump-start Bernadette’s life and send her down the road to rediscovery.
Blanchett brings a charming neurosis to her sophisticated, complex character, a wisecracking, part cynic who suffers from a severe form of artistic depression. She’s unhappy and unfulfilled, but not in the human relationship elements of her life. Bernadette is a no-nonsense antihero dealing with her own creative drought.
This isn’t a bleak film at all, it’s actually quite heartwarming. There’s a very realistic mother-daughter bond that is reminiscent of “Lady Bird,” and it’s refreshing to see a dedicated, loyal workaholic husband character that’s supporting his wife instead of stepping out on his family. The story is so good and the dialogue so effective that the writing is one of the strongest elements of the film. The impassioned performances leave their mark too, as everyone (and everything) feels authentic.
Director Richard Linklater is at his best when he tells smaller scale stories about real human relationships, and he’s the perfect match for this material. Linklater treats his leading character with a respect and gentle understanding that will make you root for her success on her quest for self-discovery. This is one of my favorite films he’s ever done.
Another big win for the film is the way the story is told in unexpected ways, be it through the eyes of a teenage daughter, through private therapy sessions, by watching internet videos, or catching up with an old friend at a restaurant. It’s clever yet never feels quirky, and the sarcastic wit keeps things grounded. “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is a very funny, touching, and poignant film that explores what happens when an artist stops creating.
Just as the wildly original “Anna and the Apocalypse” created its own holiday / musical branch of the zombie genre, “Little Monsters” forges a path into the new sector of the feel good movie about the undead. This unrestrained, hilarious exercise in absurdity truly is something special.
Street musician Dave (Alexander England) is having a rough go of it. After an inspired extended opening sequence of a nonstop argument between the man and his live-in girlfriend, the couple initiate a bad breakup. With nowhere else to go, Dave moves in with his sister and his five year old nephew. Dave spends his days teaching the young boy all sorts of bad habits, from choice curse words to playing hyper-violent video games. It may be love at first sight when Dave drops his nephew at school and meets the sunny kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o). Jumping at the chance to impress her, Dave volunteers to help chaperone the class field trip to a petting zoo.
Things, of course, don’t go as planned.
There’s an Army base conducting experiments on the walking dead next door, and the zombies get loose and begin terrorizing everyone. There are dozens of other schoolchildren at risk, as well as Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad), an obnoxious children’s television personality who happens to be filming on location on the very day of the incident. Miss Caroline, Dave, McGiggle, and the kindergarten class become trapped in the gift shop with no way out, and must rely on their resourcefulness to survive.
The premise is absolutely uproarious in itself, and the witty film is packed with a very funny blend of inspired and low-brow humor. Gad brings comic relief in the form of his drunken, foul-mouthed host, and England has a laid-back McConaughey vibe with flawless comedic timing. N’Yongo is delightful as the sweet-natured educator who becomes a zombie-slaying badass when it comes to saving her class from being devoured. The supporting cast of kiddos have oodles of personality too, rounding out an incredibly charming bunch of characters.
Writer-director Abe Forsythe doesn’t slow down and keeps the jokes coming. There’s a frenzied energy and brisk pace to this well-made film, including several unexpected, uproarious, applause-worthy scenes to keep the audience involved. These are characters you’ll want to actively root for. And yes, there’s even a ukulele solo to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
For fans of the zombie genre, this low budget comedy has outstanding horror effects. Although the story is campy, the makeup never looks cheesy. It helps that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. (Case in point: when one of the Army guys asks if they’re the “slow or fast?” kind when he learns zombies are on the loose).
“Little Monsters” is the irresistible, touching, big-hearted zom-com we’ve all been waiting for. It has cult classic written all over it, and is one of the highlights of the Sundance Film Festival this year.
The fear of aging can sometimes feel crippling, but for Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow), getting old means getting prepared for an uncertain future. Ed is a self-proclaimed “prepper” who spends his days chatting online with fellow doomsdayers and stocking his private bunker for the inevitable end of the world. He is so focused on what’s to come that he neglects to foster what should be important, including a healthy relationship with his estranged adult son (Derek Cecil) and granddaughter. Things change when he meets the widowed and eccentric Ronnie (Blythe Danner), a woman with emotional baggage of her own. The two quickly hit it off and become fast friends, sharing a similar outlook on life and love.
The strength of the film stems from the wonderful performances from the two leads. They have a beautiful chemistry and a believable romantic friendship. I can’t imagine any other actors stepping into these roles. It’s refreshing to see a romance between an over 60 couple, a growing segment of society that’s underrepresented in films. The supporting cast lends an authenticity too, especially Eve Harlow as Ronnie’s younger coworker who dishes out remarkably sage relationship advice.
Major credit is due to writer / director Noble Jones too, as he has created two truly delightful characters. Jones is incredibly skilled behind the camera, with a good eye an accomplished flair for visual storytelling. (Jones is also serves as the film’s cinematographer). It’s a great story that’s translated well onto the screen, and it feels wonderfully universal yet personal.
“The Tomorrow Man” is sweet but never cloying, and has its share of little surprises. What starts out with a senior citizen meet-cute at the grocery store ends with a bittersweet yet hopeful bang, and this low-key, charming, and unique film is the perfect reminder that we should all live in the moment and stop worrying so much about our future.
Perhaps you’d expect the Disney machine to milk its “Toy Story” franchise to death, especially with the arrival of “Toy Story 4.” Most animated films can take no more than a second installment before they jump the shark.
Somehow, the ongoing and updated tales of a group of toys has managed to avoid those pitfalls and turn out a quality series of films, due in large part to the talented cast, hardworking crew, imaginative animators, and earnest writers. Part four explodes with the very thing on which Pixar built its foundation: a goldmine of creativity.
The sweet-natured adventure finds Woody (Tom Hanks) and gang living with their new kid, Bonnie. When Bonnie’s homemade spork-with-googly-eyes craft project Forky (Tony Hale) becomes her new favorite, Woody takes it upon himself to show the new guy the ins-and-outs of being a good toy. On a family road trip, Woody unexpectedly reunites with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) after Forky is taken captive in an antique store. Soon after, a rescue mission is underway.
Beloved favorites including Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn), and Hamm (John Ratzenberger) are back (if mostly in limited roles), and there are a few new introductions that range from genuinely funny (Keanu Reeves as Canadian stunt cyclist Duke Caboom is hysterical, as is the slightly neurotic Forky) to a bit out of place and annoying (Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as stuffed carnival duo Bunny and Ducky, but they grow on you; Ally Maki‘s grating Giggle McDimples never does) to downright creepy (Christina Hendricks as a vintage ginger doll with a broken voicebox, Gabby Gabby).
Even the worst characters have accomplished actors bringing them to life. The pitch-perfect voice talent ranks right up there with the animation, and may even be the main reason this film succeeds. It’s a rare occurrence when a movie character becomes truly iconic, and even more so when it’s a character in an animated film. But such is the case with Sheriff Woody — this could become the role for which Tom Hanks is most remembered.
The animation is terrific, with a fully realized world of toys brought to life. Just when you think the craft of animation can’t get any better, something like this comes along and it just blows your mind. I’d give this one a re-watch solely for the sheer beauty of the coloring and detail. It’s handsome in a way that casual moviegoers will recognize, but animation nerds will savor with glee.
The same can be said for the original score by Randy Newman. The music is absolutely wonderful, capturing a world full of curiosity, wonder, and whimsy. I’ve already downloaded the soundtrack, and it should be a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.
What really makes the movie tick is the simple, heartwarming story of friendship that’s tinged with a hint of the bittersweet reality of growing up and moving on. There’s a sincerity here that can’t be faked. It’s also laugh out loud funny and never once takes the lazy way out when going for a sight gag or joke. (Stay around for the closing credits or you’ll miss even more belly laughs). Writers Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom stick to a basic outline, but their script is funny and genuine, even if the emotionally rich themes will likely resonate more with adults than little ones.
The care that was put into making this film leaps off the screen and, despite a few minor flaws, it’s almost everything you’d ever want in an animated movie. As Buzz himself would say, “Toy Story 4” soars “to infinity and beyond.”
LOUISA’S BEST MOVIES OF 2019: HONORABLE MENTION
One of the better movies of the year, and should be embraced as a modern instant classic by fans of “The Shining.”
It’s horrifying in a way, because you have to keep guessing if Luce is a saint or a monster — and you will likely be wrong.
It’s alarming that “The Art of Self-Defense” isn’t as shocking as you’d think, which perhaps says it all.