The 45 Best Movies on Hulu Right Now (September 2022) – Paste

What movie should i watch on hulu

Video What movie should i watch on hulu

hulu has been quietly expanding and updating its movie catalog since its deal with yardstick ended all those years ago, before filmstruck and the yardstick channel and before the vast, stifled landscape of streaming content became another sign of recent times now the best movies on hulu feature an unexpected array of classics, indie gems and recent blockbusters.

Although Hulu is known for its variety of TV shows, don’t be fooled into thinking its movie selection can’t metaphorically stand up head-to-toe with services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, especially since Hulu and Amazon seem to take advantage of anything that netflix recently dropped.

here are the top 45 movies on hulu right now:

1. parasite

year: 2019 director: bong joon-ho stars: song kang ho, lee sun kyun, yeo-jeong jo, choi woo -sik, park so dam, lee jung eun rating: r duration: 132 minutes

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“That’s so metaphorical,” exclaims the son of the Kim family, Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), dreamily holding up a large rock sculpture, a wooden base that solidifies its aesthetic and cultural value. the deliberately pleasant object is distinguished from basic memories in the kims’ rather dirty and cramped house, inhabited by the unemployed driver father, ki-taek (song kang-ho), the unemployed mother, chung-sook (jang hye-jin ) and daughter who is not in art school, ki-jeong (park so-dam). Brought to them by Ki-woo’s wealthy friend, the rock is supposed to portend great financial wealth for any family that keeps it in their home. Irritated by their own situation, by the lack of space, by the rock’s lack of immediate value, Chung-sook mutters, “He could have brought us food.” in bong joon-ho’s parasite, those who live with a clear awareness of inequality operate with a sense of cognitive dissonance. It is this paradox of thought that allows Ki-woo to be naively worshipful of what a rock sculpture could bring them, but also to understand, at other times, that wandering is not how one rises to power. At the behest of said rich friend, he becomes the English tutor to the daughter, Da-hye (Jung Ji-so), of the park’s grotesquely wealthy family: the cunning patriarch (Lee Sun-kyun), the dim-witted matriarch ( cho yeo-jeong), artistically manic son, da-song (jung hyun-joon), and sternly loyal housekeeper, moon-gwang (lee jung-eun). But as the Kim and Park families grow closer, both the differences and the similarities between them blur beyond discernment. bong’s interest in income and class inequality has spanned most of her career, examining the ways it impacts the justice system (memories of murder, mother), the environment (okja), and the institutions responsible for both exacerbating wealth inequality and failing to protect those most marginalized by that inequality (snowpiercer, the host). for parasite, bong takes a slightly different angle: he’s no less interested in the consequences of inequality, but here he sees how class manifests itself as performance, particularly when people are plucked from a rung of the ladder. society and placed in another. As we watch both families perform different but intersecting pieces of social/anthropological theatre, the bong traverses their mutual hunger and what ultimately and tragically separates them, with a sour eye and a sour sense of humor. laughing during parasite feels like choking on rust. (Cho, especially, finds the perfect amount of absurdity as the somewhat goofy mother, a true testament that rich ladies are easily brought down by a pen.) but bong is not interested in metaphor, and not the kind written on rocks. Even through his absurd and grimly satirical lens, Bong understands that social inequity is not just theater, but lived experience. sometimes the rock is just a shit-stained rock. —kyle turner

2. akira

year: 1988 director: katsuhiro otomo stars: mitsuo iwata, nozomu sasaki, mami koyama rating: r runtime: 124 minutes

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The sum total of anime cinema from the early 1990s to the present day is marked by the precedent of katsuhiro otomo’s akira. Adapted from the early chapters of Otomo’s landmark manga series, Akira was the most expensive animated film of its time and a cinematic benchmark that shocked the entire industry. Set thirty-one years after World War III was triggered by a massive explosion that engulfed the city of Tokyo, akira is set in the sprawling metropolis of neo-tokyo, built on the ruins of the old and teetering precariously on the cusp of social upheaval. The film follows the stories of Kaneda Shotaro and Tetsuo Shima, two young biker gang members whose lives change irrevocably one fateful night on the outskirts of town. While taking on a rival biker gang during a dispute over territory, Tetsuo collides with a strange boy and is whisked away by an underground military team as Kaneda and his friends watch helplessly. Thereafter, Tetsuo begins to develop terrifying new psychic abilities while Kaneda desperately tries to stage a rescue. Eventually, the journeys of these two childhood friends will meet and collide in a spectacular series of showdowns surrounding a sinister secret whose origins lie at the dark heart of the city’s catastrophic past: a power known only as “Akira.” Like the ghost in the shell that followed, akira is considered a cornerstone of the cyberpunk genre, though his inspirations run much deeper than paying homage to the neuromancer or ridley scott’s blade runner. Akira is a film whose origins and aesthetics are inextricably rooted in the history of postwar Japan, from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the “anpo” student protests of that time to the economic boom of the country and the then-nascent counterculture of bosozoku racing. akira is a film of many messages, the least of which is a coded anti-nuclear parable and tirade against unbridled capitalism and the hubris of “progress.” but perhaps the most moving, deep down, is the story of seeing your best friend turn into a monster. Akira is almost solely responsible for the rise of anime in the West in the early 1990s, his aesthetic vision spread across all major art forms, inspiring a whole generation of artists, filmmakers and even musicians in their wake. For these reasons and many more, every anime fan must at some point or another grapple with Akira‘s primacy as the most important anime film ever made. long live akira! —toussaint egan

3. sputnik

year: 2020 director: egor abramenko stars: oksana akinshina, fyodor bondarchuk, pyotr fyodorov, anton vasiliev rating: nr execution time: 113 minutes

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The good news is that, three years later, at least one of alien‘s descendants has discovered that borrowing from his ancestor makes much more sense than lazily imitating scott, which he explains in part why egor abramenko’s sputnik works so well: it’s alien, because any movie about governments and corporations using unsuspecting innocents as storage vessels for alien monsters to turn into weapons or monetizing them can’t help evoke aliens. Abramenko has that energy. sputnik‘s style lies somewhere in the realm of unnerving and unflappable: the film doesn’t flinch, instead making a candid and methodical attempt to make the audience shudder, contrasting the effects high-end creature specials against a lo-fi backdrop. Until the alien makes its first appearance by slithering out of prone Konstantin’s mouth, Sputnik‘s set decor suggests a lost relic of the 1980s. But the sophistication of the creature’s design, one thing slithering semi-diaphanous body covered in equally audible and visible layers of sputum, it anchors the film firmly in 2020. it lets the new dividing line of pop culture be drawn there. —andy crump

4. palm springs

year: 2020 director: max barbakow stars: andy samberg, cristin milioti, j.k. simmons, peter gallagher, meredith hagner, camila mendes, june squib, conner o’malley, jena friedman rating: r duration: 87 minutes

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Imagine living the same day of your life over and over again, stuck an hour and a half from Los Angeles, but so close to the bosom of paradise that the trip isn’t worth it. now imagine that “over and over” extends beyond a number that the human mind is capable of appreciating. paradise becomes a sun-kissed hell, a place endured and never escaped, where pizza floats are unnerving torture devices and crippling alcoholism a blessing rather than a disease. so goes palm springs by max barbakow. the movie never stops being funny, even when the mood changes from good times to low. this is the key even when the party ends and the characters realize the reality of the setting, palm springs continues to tell jokes at a steady pace, only now they have the right gravity for a movie about two convicted people. to maintain a holding pattern on someone else’s happiest day. nothing like a good old fashioned time loop to force people stuck in neutral to have a flashback of their personal states.—andy crump

5. portrait of a lady on fire

year: 2020 director: céline sciamma stars: noémie merlant, adèle haenel, luàna bajrami rating: r execution time: 119 minutes

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French director Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire revels in the powerful story of women: their relationships, their problems, the unrelenting bond that comes with feeling understood from unique way, while simultaneously dealing with the patriarchal forces inherent in determining social mores that ultimately constrain his agency. Set sometime before the French Revolution in the late 18th century, the film introduces us to Marianne (Noémie Merlant), an artist commissioned to paint the portrait of a young aristocratic woman named Heloïse (Adèle Hannel), who, once finished, it will be sent to milan, where her suitor will covet her until her fiancé arrives. Completely resistant to the idea of ​​marriage, Heloïse has sabotaged previous attempts, leaving Marianne with a difficult task. She must not reveal to Heloïse that she has been tasked with painting her, but rather she must pose as a fellow evening walker, memorize the details of Heloïse’s features, and secretly work on her portrait. the class distinctions between marianne and heloïse point to an interesting exploration of the power dynamics at play within the muse/artist dichotomy, but even more seductive about the relationship is that it is somewhat emblematic of sciamma’s relationship with hannel: the The two publicly announced their relationship in 2014, amicably parting ways shortly before the shooting of portrait. Take another recent film that is based on a director’s real-life romantic relationship, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Ghost Thread. Loosely based on Anderson’s marriage to Maya Rudolph, the film, while subverting many clichés of depicting artist/muse relationships, ultimately concludes with the power dynamic intact. sciamma has no interest in following the often petty conflicts between creative types and their romantic partners, instead choosing to present a larger picture of a relationship forged from the climactic act of meeting another person, not just being inspired by what What do they mean to you? art. —natalia keogan

6. let the right one in

year: 2008 director: tomas alfredson stars: kåre hedebrant, lina leandersson, per ragnar, ika nord, peter carlberg rating: r duration: 114 minutes

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Vampires may have become cinema’s most over-the-top, toned-down horror villains aside from zombies, but leave it to a Swedish novelist and filmmaker to bring back terrifying vampires by producing a novel and film that revolutionized the whole genre. let the right one in centers on the complicated friendship and quasi-romantic relationship between 12-year-old outcast oskar and eli, a centuries-old vampire trapped in the body of an androgynous (yet seemingly female) boy who He looks the same age. As Oskar slowly makes his way into her life, edging ever closer to the role of a classic vampire’s human “familiar,” the film questions the nature of their bond and whether the two will ever communicate on a human level. of genuine love. At the same time, it’s also a chilling and highly effective horror movie when it wants to be, especially in the absolutely spectacular ending sequences, which evoke Eli’s terrifying abilities with just the right touch of obstruction to leave the worst in the viewer’s imagination. . the film received an American remake in 2010, let me in, which has been somewhat unfairly derided by movie fans fed up with the remake game, but it’s another solid take on the same story that even can improve a few small aspects of the story. Ultimately, however, the Swedish original remains the superior film thanks to the strength of its two lead actors, catapulting it to become perhaps the greatest vampire film ever made. —jim vorel

36. discard

year: 2000 director: robert zemeckis stars: tom hanks, helen hunt rating: pg-13 execution time: 143 minutes

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for a full 75 minutes in the middle of cast away, tom hanks is the only character on screen, unless of course you count his now-iconic volleyball player wilson. Before that, the movie opens a fedex package that we’ll meet later and another that travels to russia, where we meet chuck noland, a fedex executive with a toothache, training employees in moscow and eager to get home to his girlfriend kelly (helen hunting) in memphis. The couple enjoy a busy Christmas party before trying to sync up their very busy schedules until the new year, where he plans to propose to her. But it will be the last time he sees her for years, when the plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean, some 600 miles south of the Cook Islands. Washed ashore on an uninhabited island, Noland must survive alone, and Hanks must keep the audience engaged with no one else on screen. His efforts earned him a Golden Globe and earned the film $430 million internationally. Without Hanks’ charisma, the slow-burning middle third of this one-man disaster movie, with Noland suffering from a toothache, his loneliness, and his withering grasp of sanity, wouldn’t have been nearly as gripping. —josh jackson

8. the act of killing

year: 2012 director: joshua oppenheimer rating: nr duration: 122 minutes

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the act of killing by joshua oppenheimer focuses on one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century, speaking with some members of the indonesian death squads who massacred hundreds of thousands of their countrymen in 1965 and ’66. however, these people do not live in the shadows; Instead, they are treated like royalty in their homeland, celebrated as heroes who helped “save” Indonesia from communism. the film is so shocking and depressing that its subjects’ complete disconnection from morality would almost be hilarious if it weren’t so terrifying. oppenheimer further amplifies those conflicting reactions by introducing a bold tactic: in the process of interviewing these butchers, who boast of raping and killing their victims (including the occasional beheading), the director asked if they would be interested in recreating their murders through fictitious, filmed scenes. The men, especially a gentleman named Anwar Congo, who was one of the leaders of the death squads, seized the opportunity. what follows is a literally sickening glimpse into the minds of men who have spent decades mentally escaping the inescapable.—tim grierson and dom sinacola

9. run away

release date: December 3, 2021 director: jonas poher rasmussen rating: pg-13 running time: 90 minutes

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“run away”. it’s an imperative, a one-word title that tells the audience what a person has to do to save themselves from cultural takeover by overly-armed barbarians: stop dodging. run for your life. run away. danish documentarian jonas poher rasmussen’s new film animates the truth of a man, rasmussen’s friend amin, who for the first time in his adult life (and in his relationship with rasmussen) has decided to come clean about the moment he and his family left town. when the taliban took kabul Being an ordinary non-fundamentalist in afghanistan is hard enough with those lunatics in charge. being both everyday and non-fundamentalist and a closeted gay youth is worse. sounds very gloomy! it is, of course, and that inevitable desolation is softened and sharpened through the film’s animated presentation. Using animation to recreate amin’s perilous journey from afghanistan to denmark, with stops along the way in russia and estonia, he has a way of layering the staggering cruelty amin endures and watches on the way to safety with electric glee: even the worse than real life the images take on a certain exuberance when recreated by hand. But the film encompasses Amin’s memories, and human memory being what it is, simultaneously faithful, blurred, and flawed, the random alchemical qualities so intrinsic to animation as a medium put those memories into stark relief. maybe this is the only way amin can face his past. animation also has a way of feeling more alive than live action, or alive in its own way, which makes the darkness of flee even darker. but rasmussen is not using amin to make suffering porn. he is letting amin tell his story his way. the animation ultimately only acts as an appearance. Even through the layers of artifice, what this film shows us may be one of cinema’s most harrowing refugee stories.—andy crump

10. its smell

year: 2019 director: alex ross perry stars: elisabeth moss, amber heard, cara delevigne, ashley benson, dan stevens, agyness deyn, gayle ranking rating: r running time: 134 minutes

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Her Smell chronicles the fall and rise of Elisabeth Moss’ Becky Something, a stand-in for Courtney Love and frontwoman of the punk rock band Something She; Becky talks like a character from Wonderland but acts like an animal without a cage. moss is an actress whose greatest asset is her eyes, and perry is a filmmaker who is obsessed with the human gaze, becky spends the film looking at other characters or at the camera. Her eyes burn like toxic twin moons. the first three quarters of the film light the match of her self-immolation. In the world of punk rock there are few things more stultifying than commercial success; Add a venomous personality and a rousing drug habit and Becky’s destruction, by her own hand, is assured. however, the film’s final act redeems her, as perry’s films redeem anyone. unlike her other works of hers, her scent of her is compassionate, even tender; Becky, later seen sober, washed clean and remorseful for her years as a monster fueled by abusing her ex-husband (Dan Stevens), his bandmates (Agyness Deyn, Gayle Rankin) and her mother (Virginia Madsen), sings a devastatingly moving version. from the “sky” of bryan adams to his daughter in a moment as tender as it is painful. even in the recovery phase, his smell of her of her delicately walks a dangerous tightrope and arrives at the other side as the showpiece of perry’s career. —andy crump

11. nomadic land

year: 2020 director: chloé zhao stars: frances mcdormand, david strathairn, linda may, swankie, bob wells rating : r execution time: 108 minutes

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A devastatingly insightful look into the underbelly of the American dream, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland turns Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century (and some of its themes) into a complex folk song about survival, pride, and the beauty of getting ahead on the open road. Focusing on older Americans who have somehow abandoned or been forced to abandon their traditional stationary homes in vans and RVs, the film contemplates everything that brought them to this point (an ugly, cluttered Amazon warehouse looms over natural landscapes and panoramic views of the film). ) and everything that awaits them now that they are here. Some of Bruder’s sources appear in the film, threatening to steal the spotlight from the fictional Fern (Frances McDormand) at every turn, and McDormand turns in one of the best performances of the year. That’s how honest and convincing Linda May and Swankie are. as the migrant community disperses with the wind and reassembles wherever seasonal jobs appear, zhao creates a complicated mosaic of basic freedom. it’s the vast American landscape, a “wonderful backdrop of canyons, open deserts, and purple skies,” as our reviewer put it, and that American mythological promise that you can stand on your own in it. but you can’t, not really. The ties between the Nomads is a stark refutation of that individualistic idea, just as Amazon’s financial control over them is a condemnation of corporate dominance. Things are tough as Fern’s fellow travelers tell stories of suicide, cancer, and other ills at the campfire, but they’re doing the best they can. at least they have a little more control here. the optimism gained from a reclaimed sense of autonomy is delightful to behold (and crushing when in conflict with those seeking a return to the way things were), even if its impermanence is inherent. nomadland‘s majestic portrait shows in full the final failings of a country, its corrupting poisons and those who make the best of their position carving their own path together.—jacob oller

12. predator

year: 1987 director: john mctiernan stars: arnold schwarzenegger, carl weathers, jesse ventura rating: r execution time: 107 minutes

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a slasher movie where battle-hardened soldiers replace traditional nubile teens. Sounds like a recipe for a good time. And indeed, predator delivers on all fronts, from its corny approach to “masculine” dialogue (“I don’t have time to bleed”) to the dated but still impressive special effects to the abundance of violence. bloody and creative subsequent installments in the sci-fi franchise have never really caught on to the appeal of the original. Plus, as any frequent viewer of VH1’s I Love the ’80s can attest, the decade wouldn’t have been the same without him.—Mark Rozeman

13. prey

year: 2022 director: dan trachtenberg starring: amber midthunder, dakota beavers, dane diliegro, stormee kipp, michelle thrush, julian black antelope rating: r runtime: 100 minutes

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Filmmaker dan trachtenberg’s predator prequel predator succeeds by daring to embrace what previous sequels failed to do: simplicity. the basic concepts of predatory cinema are reduced to skull trophies and rival combat, but above all, to the thrill of a non-stop hunt. With brutal ease, writer Patrick Aison translates predator codes into hunter-gatherer dichotomies in Native American cultures. there is nothing more terrifying than the laws of natural hierarchies exposed in their most elemental forms, and that is what presa recognizes with a menacing gaze. trachtenberg understands what predator fans crave and executes it ruthlessly. Set in the northern great plains of 1719, prey pits a predator who challenges alphas of any species (wolves, bears, people) against a Comanche tribe. Taabe (Dakota Beavers) leads other children hunting while his sister Naru (Amber Half Thunder) secretly practices his deadliest skills. most dismiss her because of her gender, but not taabe. Naru’s chance to defeat a lion (thanks to Taabe) and win her warrior’s rite of passage fails when a predator’s alien technology distracts from afar, which no one believes. Only Naru can protect her family and tribesmen from the unknown threat of the Yautja as no one will listen, which will be the ultimate test for the would-be warrior. prey is hands down the best predator since the original. The film does a lot of things right, paying homage to John Mtiernan’s 1987 masterpiece, through cigars and direct quotes that will have fans screaming, and adding indigenous representation with real cultural punch. Trachtenberg and Aison keep things simple, and that’s the special sauce. the performances are tough as nails, the action sequences are absurdly gory, and the intensity is streamlined like a high-speed arrow. Going back to the beginning, prey sheds pounds of franchise deadlift for a leaner, meaner predator prequel with all the gut-wrenching, single-liner gladiatorial conquest that the fans wish, computer generated or not. —mate donato

14. in & of himself

year: 2021 director: frank oz stars: derek delgaudio rating: nr duration: 90 minutes

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how do you translate into & of self—a scenic meditation on identity and self that needs to be a deep, shared experience—into something someone passively watches on a screen? if you’re frank oz and derek delgaudio, you do it by pulling off another great piece of “magic”: discovering through performance, lens, and subtle editing how to transmute the heart of the show without sacrificing the emotion those two summoned 552 unique beats within of that black box theater. Like Oz, Delgaudio is a multi-hyphenate performer, writer, and magician, and the antithesis of what that last word often conjures up in the mind. he doesn’t wear jazz hands, nor does he sport flashy tattoos or flashy clothing. oz captures him as the play presents him: a low-key, sad-eyed everyman who knows how to tell a compelling story. and he does just that. in the same space and format as the stage show, he conjures up six wildly different stories/puzzles/tricks that take the viewer on an existential journey. each is deceptively simple, but the benefits are bold and depend on the participant being present and open to the gifts delgaudio bestows. miraculously, it all manages to translate across our seemingly impersonal screens.—tara bennett

15. Italian studies

release date: January 14, 2022 director: adam leon stars: vanessa kirby, simon brickner, david ajala, rosa walton , jenny hollingworth, annika wahlsten, neil comber rating: nr duration: 78 minutes

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the title refers to a collection of short stories by alina reynolds (vanessa kirby), a londoner lost in new york city, and seemingly in time, also rendered mute by a sudden bout of amnesia that robs her of her memory and leaves her stranded in a strange place. Leon films this key moment, where Alina’s amnesia of hers hits her in the knees, with casual aplomb. there is nothing special about it. It’s a day like any other in New York in the summer: Alina, looking chic and fashionable in a way so carefree it’s infuriating, takes her curly-haired dog for a walk, pulls up to a hardware store, ties the dog up outside, and the few minutes of scanning the halls he forgets who he is, where he is, and why the hell he’s leafing through wingnuts and pushing brooms. she leaves the store. she walks away from the dog, tail wagging expectantly. There is an unexpectedly harrowing cosmic cruelty to the sequence absent from Leon’s other films, though the cruelty is a byproduct of Alina’s stupor and not of intent. it’s sad. it’s also scary. Scariest of all is Kirby, who, very close to Leon’s camera (guided by his third cinematographer in as many films, Brett Jutkiewicz), somehow conveys Alina’s blackout by showing as little emotion as possible. we can see the instant her mind goes blank, flitting through her eyes. That kind of darkness just doesn’t take into account give me the loot or tramps, but Leon doesn’t deny his audience’s levity for long. compassion abounds. friendships are made. relationships flare up. Alina even gets together with her dog at the end. It’s a kind of weird travelogue that Leon and Kirby curate here, but the drifting and artistic quirks of italian studios make the 70 minutes fly by with palliative affection: for alina, for new york and for all the intersecting stories contained within its boundaries.—andy crump

16. the earth

year: 2016 director: damien chazelle

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la la land‘s exhilarating, almost relentless energy strives to inspire in viewers an equally bold appreciation of all the things it celebrates: the thrill of romantic love, of dreams within reach of the hand, of what we call “movie magic”. In this, Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash, an opening scene blossoms into an ambitious song-and-dance number set in the middle of a Los Angeles traffic jam. It is there that our protagonists, Sebastian and Mia (ryan gosling and emma stone), will have a brief encounter that will herald their destiny as lovers, but not before a flurry of acrobatic dancing and joyous singing erupts around them, as if foreshadowing their own flights of fancy. to come. cinematographer linus sandgren’s camera guides us through the excitement, weaving and twisting between drivers who have left their cars to execute a startling choreographed sequence that appears to have been performed in one long, uninterrupted take. The combination of song and visual is how Chazelle expresses the joy of being in love and the way love transforms the geography around those under its influence. —anthony salveggi

17. pig

release date: July 16, 2021 director: michael sarnoski stars: nicolas cage, alex wolff, adam arkin rating: r runtime: 92 minutes

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In the woods outside Portland, a man’s pig is stolen. Rob (Nicolas Cage) is a truffle-collecting warlock who we know used to be a chef, a Michelin-starred Baba Yaga, a gastronomic radagast, who sells the finds from his pig to support his secluded life. what follows is not a revenge thriller. this is not a pig taken. pig, the ambitious debut from writer-director michael sarnoski, is a restrained, understated treatise on the male response to loss. Featuring Nicolas Cage in one of his most successful recent permutations, evolving the silent force of nature from mandy to an extinct volcano of crusty pain, pig uncovers broad themes by sniffing the details of its microcosm. The other component that makes up this Pacific Northwest terrarium, aside from Rob and the golden-haired Brandy’s endearingly short connection, is the guy Rob sells his truffles to, Amir. Alex Wolff’s diminutive success-style business jerk is a jagged bundle of shortcomings, and only Rob’s callous wisdom can handle such a prickly thing. they are one-of-a-kind foils, classic tonal opposites that share much under the surface of age. Together, the pair search for the kidnapping victim, which inevitably leads them out of the woods and back into the city. There they collide with the most seedy sort of John Wick Kitchen Confidential industry you can imagine, in a series of confrontations, soliloquies and strange looks. it’s a bit elevated, but in a forgotten and reconstructed way that feels more secret than fantastical. the sparse and spacious writing allows his actors to fill in the gaps, particularly the cage. while some of cage’s most riveting experiments used to be based on manic deliveries and expressionistic faces, what seems to draw him now is the opposite: silence, stillness, realistic pain and downcast gaze. Cage can be heard scraping the rust off Rob’s voice, grinding interpersonal gears like the beat-up truck he tries (and fails) to bring into town. wolff, along with much of the rest of the cast, projects an intense desperation for validation: a palpable desire to win the rat race and be somebody. It’s clear that Rob was once a part of this world before his self-imposed exile, clear as much from the knowing glances and social cues as it is from the sets that lead pig finders through cellars and kitchens. part of pig‘s shocking and touching charm is his restraint. it’s a world only hinted at in 87 minutes, but with satisfying emotional thoroughness. we see this world rotate only slightly, but the full dramatic arcs of lives are shown. A sad but not unpleasant film, and certainly not a pessimist, pig puts its faith in a discerning audience to look beyond its premise.—jacob oller

18. together together

release date: April 23, 2021 directors: nikole beckwith stars: patti harrison, ed helms, rosalind chao, tig notaro , fred melamed, julio torres rating: r duration: 90 minutes

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Together Together is a gracious and successfully awkward surrogacy comedy-drama that also has the respectable distinction of being a terf’s worst nightmare. That’s just one of the small aspects of writer/director Nikole Beckwith’s sophomore feature, but the soft tapestry of intimacy between strangers who, for a short time, desperately need each other, certainly benefits from the meta-text of the comedy-horror of internet patti harrison. -acting starring layers. Packed with bombastic snippets from a roster of recent TV’s biggest comedic talents and casually incisive dialogue that shatters both media empires and preconceptions about women’s empowerment, the film is an unexpected and welcome antidote to the emotional isolation and toxic masculinity that weaves in and out of life lessons at a pleasantly inefficient pace. that the story of fatherhood and friendship is told through the sizzling chemistry of a rising trans star and her entrenched, anxious straight man (an endearing ed helms) only adds to the slight magic of together. .—shayna maci warner

19. I’m your man

release date: September 24, 2021 director: maria schrader stars: maren eggert, dan stevens, sandra hüller, hans löw rating: r duration: 105 minutes

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Whenever someone makes a concerted effort to shake up the rom-com formulas, I totally join in. while the bougie and hyperliterate may call the entire genre trite or cheesy, they either have no heart, or have never really seen a great rom-com hit the story’s admittedly rare sweet spot, actor chemistry and tonal execution. German director Maria Schrader almost hits that sweet spot with I’m Your Man, but she gets a little confused in her narration in the last few minutes. that doesn’t detract from his subtle and mature study of loneliness and intimacy through technology. Set in the very near future, Alma (Maren Eggert) is an expert researcher at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Running short of funds, he agrees to be part of a three-week research program in which he will provide his colleague with a detailed report advising for or against the ethics of a new technology: fully realistic robots programmed algorithmically to be the perfect partner. . For Alma, the tech company has programmed Tom (Dan Stevens), a handsome, intelligent, blond specimen who also speaks German with a slight British accent because she likes the exotic. eggert does a beautiful job of modulating the slow thaw of soul towards tom. Stevens is also perfect as she moves Tom away from his initial cloying programming and assimilates to the pragmatic needs of Alma. Watching him make that transition is like watching an expert racing driver change to achieve the most efficient driving possible; You didn’t know what was going on, but they sure did win that race. And it’s delightfully unexpected that the film doubles down on robot Tom as the romantic, stubbornly unflinching in figuring out how to be the best partner he can for Soul. i’m your man manages to breathe friendly life into the hackneyed genre by showing that, like tom, the perception of something’s worth may actually be hiding something surprisingly deep.—tara bennett

20. the dark knight

year: 2008 director: christopher nolan stars: christian bale, heath ledger, aaron eckhart, michael caine, maggie gyllenhaal rating: r duration: 142 minutes

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christopher nolan’s

batman begins (2005) deserves the collective sigh of relief it received in resurrecting the caped crusader’s cinematic reputation after joel schumacher’s 1997 nightmare disco neon on ice that it was batman & robin. And if Batman Begins represents the character’s tonal course correction, The Dark Knight provided an equally important act of rehabilitation: that of Batman’s archenemy, the Joker. (Let’s face it, while not a crime of Schumacherian dimensions, Jack Nicholson’s Prankster fell short of setting a standard for the character.) Though seemingly part of the stable of superheroes, The Dark Knight is, at its core, a true police saga, just as it originated, emerging from the pages of detective comics. >, less spider-man than heat, with a rather dramatic costume. Switching up significantly in the villain department this round, Heath Ledger’s performance as the Clown Prince of Crime is a force of nature, brilliantly written as a crime boss who wants nothing less than the soul. from gotham. Ledger’s Prankster is as chilling as it is darkly funny, and the most thought-provoking reminder yet of why he’s the world’s greatest detective’s most famous foe. —scott wold

21. the assistant

year: 2020 director: kitty green stars: julia garner, matthew macfayden, makenzie leigh, kristine froseth rating: r execution time: 87 minutes

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The nameless, faceless boss hiding behind closed doors in Kitty Green’s exceptional The Assistant can easily be read as an understudy for Harvey Weinstein. the truth is that harvey weinstein is not or, now that he is in jail, was not the only man in the movie industry with a habit of abusing his position and privilege to take advantage of women in his office, whether by coercion or brute force, is, or was, the most notorious of them. so yes, the assistant can be considered “the harvey weinstein movie”, but it really should be considered as the best contemporary film to represent the dynamics of patriarchal rape culture on screen. Regardless, remove Weinstein from his portrayal of The Assistant and the movie will still slowly strangle him, building suffocating pressure in each of its 87 minutes. green’s main tool here is stillness: static shots dominate the production, muffled frame after muffled frame, with the camera, manned by michael latham, often hovering over greens star julia garner as if wanting to make room for their silent unanswered prayers. to hang over her head. she plays the long-suffering assistant of the title, a silent witness to her boss’s bullying and unbridled lewdness, unable to stop it. she spends the film falling apart over the course of a day, confronting her complicity in her sexual predation with no tangible hope of ending the cycle. because there is no hope in the wizard, there is no chance that the film’s central evil will meet her punishment, or that the system built to facilitate her evil will collapse. what green has done here is brutal and unforgiving, but it’s also perfectly done and necessary. —andy crump

22. smart

year: 2019 director: olivia wilde stars: kaitlyn dever, beanie feldstein, jessica williams, jason sudeikis, lisa kudrow, will forte rating: r duration: 105 minutes

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booksmart, olivia wilde’s directorial debut, is another trip through the halls of a wealthy high school days before graduation, but it’s different enough to be endearing. Written by an all-female writing team Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman, it centers on lifelong best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) as they try to party once before. from the end of high school. Wilde and company take inspiration from a whimsical rainbow palate to explore friendship on divergent paths. feldstein and dever shine like an odd couple. Molly wants to be the youngest person ever elected to the Supreme Court, while Amy seeks to discover what possibilities life can open up for her. Easily feeding off each other’s energy, as Amy and Molly travel around town, skipping meetings, trying to get to the ultimate cool kid party, they come across a wide variety of students who are also trying to hide their painfully obvious insecurities. As the night progresses, those masks begin to slip, and the person each of these students strives to become begins to emerge. the pendulum of teen chick flicks typically swings from clueless—girl-driven, cheesy, high-fashion focused on first love—to thirteen, the wild, angry, depressed and running away from all kinds of genuine emotion movies. most of these films are in the heteronormative, white, middle or upper class, able-bodied representational space. Even in otherness-focused films like bend it like beckham, the white best friend gets equal space in the film’s publicity, and the original queer angle was dropped in favor of a love triangle. visit almost any segment of the internet visited by millennial, gen x, and gen z women, and the clamor for better representation is loud and clear. there’s a fresh batch of raw talent at booksmart begging to be a touchstone for the next generation of filmmakers. Like Wes Anderson’s Rushmore or Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides, BookSmart is an experience film enthusiasts will return to again and again. —joelle monique

23. plan b

year: 2021 director: natalie morales stars: kuhoo verma, victoria moroles, michael provost, myha’la herrold, jolly abraham, jay chandrasekhar rating: na duration: 108 minutes

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The meeting of past and present is shown in its entirety in plan b, which puts a new spin on one of the tried-and-true plotlines of the genre: the road trip. sunny (kuhoo verma) is a responsible student who tries to do everything right. Ella’s best friend Lupe de Ella (Victoria Moroles) seems to walk more on the wild side, but it’s really just bravado that hides some inner insecurity. When Sunny’s mom, Rosie (Jolly Abraham), is out of town for a real estate convention, Lupe convinces Sunny to throw a party to get Hunter’s (Michael Provost) attention. “Who plays hockey in a cardigan? he’s like an athletic librarian,” sunny sighs. But after one too many shots of a highly questionable alcoholic punch (pickle juice in between), Sunny has sex for the first time with super religious, super geek Kyle (Mason Cook from the late great TV series speechless). the next morning, to her horror, sunny discovers that the condom and its contents have been inside her all night. she begins the search for the plan b pill. all movies require a voluntary suspension of disbelief and plan b needs its viewers not to ask too many questions. suffice it to say that many of sunny and lupe’s problems could have been solved with a simple google search on their phones. but once lingering doubts are put aside, the film is a delight. That’s due in no small part to first-time director Natalie Morales. Morales, known for her roles in parks & amp; recreation , the middleman and dead to me , she clearly understands these characters and the emotional anguish of high school. Perhaps because Morales is an actress, she is even more conscientious about making sure female leads are treated with the respect they deserve.— amy amatangelo

24. ingrid goes west

year: 2017 director: matt spicer stars: aubrey plaza, elizabeth olson, o’shea jackson jr., wyatt russell rating: r duration: 97 minutes

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in her post parks and recreation career, where the crux of her acting was rolling her eyes, and relegated to typecast roles like life after beth and mike and dave need wedding dates, aubrey plaza has gone as far as she can with that kind of material. but in ingrid goes west she finds the seed of something much more complicated, her talent is able to elevate the script to a new plane. Playing Ingrid, whose mental illness allows her social media activity to consume her life and the lives of those around her, Plaza discovers curious and complicated gradations in the character, one that could easily be dismissed as an oddball. what plaza feels in ingrid, as the character desperately tries to become something else, hiding her vulnerability under layers of (media) social performance, is the seemingly monstrous transformed into the profoundly human. plaza’s facial contortions alone, swooning with desperation and desire, elevate his performance and the film into the ranks of great queer personality-swap movies like ingmar bergman’s persona and >mulholland drive. —kyle turner

25. the blair witch project

year: 1999 directors: eduardo sánchez, daniel myrick stars: heather donahue, michael williams, joshua leonard rating: r execution time: 81 minutes

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where scream reinvented a genre by pulling back the blinds to reveal the inner workings of horror, the blair witch project took the opposite path by creating a new presentation style. and especially promotion. sure, people had already been making found footage movies; just watch the last broadcast a year before. But this was the first to get a wide theatrical release, and the artisanal entertainment distributor masterfully took advantage of the lack of information available about the film to run a mysterious online ad campaign in the booming days of the internet age. otherwise reasonable human beings seriously entered the blair witch project believing that what they were seeing might be real, and the grainy aesthetic of home movie captured an innate terror of reality and “real people” that had not been seen before in the horror genre. it was also proof positive that a well-executed micro-budget independent film could become a huge box-office hit. so, in that sense, the blair witch project reinvented two different genres at the same time. —jim vorel

26. fight club

year: 1999 director: david fincher stars: brad pitt, edward norton, helena bonham carter, meat loaf rating: r execution time: 139 minutes

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Based on the amazing novel by Chuck Palahniuk, the movie version of Fight Club improves upon its source. Thank you David Fincher. Both Brad Pitt and Edward Norton can score their performances as “Best Role” material. is a gritty thriller that presents violence as a tool to deal with the mundanity of life and the dangers that come with that line of thinking. most people who didn’t read the book were probably as surprised by the ending as when the meatloaf appeared in the movie. fight club is one of the best movies of the 90s. period. If you have a problem with that, maybe we should hang out. —shawn christ

27. foreigner

year: 1979 director: ridley scott stars: sigourney weaver, tom skerritt, john hurt rating: r execution time: 116 minutes

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Ducts, Gutters, and Sewer: Ridley Scott’s ode to claustrophobia leaves little room to breathe, cramming his blue-collar archetypes through spaces too small to maintain any kind of sanity, and too ruthless to survive. That the alien can also make space (the capital “s”) in its vastness feel as suffocating as a coffin is a testament to Scott’s control as a director (arguably absent from much of his later work, including his insistence on inflating the mythos of this near-perfect first film), as well as the purity of horror as a film genre. alien, after all, is tension as a narrative, rape as a matter of fact: when the crew of the mining spaceship nostromo is prematurely awoken from cryogenic sleep to attend to a distress Called from a seemingly lifeless planetoid, there is no doubt that the small group of working-class foot soldiers and their dashing science officer Ash (Ian Holm) will discover nothing but a growing, otherworldly doom. obviously, iconically, things go awry from there, and as the crew comes to understand both what they’ve brought onto their ship and what their fellow crew members are made of, in one instance, a hero literally emerges from the catastrophe: ellen ripley (sigourney weaver), the platonic ideal of the final girl who must fight a slimy phallic grotesque (beware master of the phallic grotesque, h.r. giger) and a crew member who is basically a walking vessel for a disturbing amount of seminal fluid. as ripley crawls through the ship’s steel organs, between dreams (the movie begins with the crew waking up and ends with a return to sleep), alien becomes a psychosexual nightmare , an indictment of the inherently male act of colonization, and a symbolic treatise on the trauma of assault. in space, no one can hear you scream, because no one is listening. —dom sinacola

28. taking care of the gap

year: 2018 director: bing liu rating: nr duration: 93 minutes

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In a snippet-rich year of the ever-changing pubertal life of arrested skateboard crew development, mind the gap is arguably the best of its cinematic class, not because it’s “real,” but because it’s clearly focused on questioning the toxicity that keeps these kids from truly growing up. in rockford, illinois, a little too far from chicago to matter, three kids use liu’s camcorder to chronicle the days who spent avoiding the responsibility and economic devastation suffered by so many such Rusty Belt towns: Zack, a cute and reckless old man of the crew, about to embark on fatherhood with his (remarkably younger) girlfriend Nina; Keire, a seemingly ever-smiling black kid who stays stiffly silent whenever zack claims he’s allowed to use certain racial epithets, or when another kid insists white trash kids have the same thing as him. s black children; and Bing, the director himself, one of the few in his group of friends able to escape from Rockford. Uniting nostalgic images of his time skating with time-sensitive documents from his burgeoning adult life, Liu constructs a portrait of modern man in Central America, interweaving ostensibly jovial parties and hangouts with shots of Rockford billboards vilifying absentee fathers and pleas for nina so they don’t tell zack that she admitted on camera that he hit her. As Liu discovers more and more about the indelible abuse in the young lives of his two friends, he reveals his own story of fear and pain at home, terrified of his stepfather until the man’s death, prompting him to confront his mother. in the film. climax about what has not been said about their mutual tormentor. everyone breathes with nerve-rattling relief to finally have these burdens exposed, though liu is careful to ground these moments with the harsh reality of rockford and cities like it: billboards beg men not to leave, not to hit your relatives, don’t take out your deep-seated emotional anxiety on your loved ones, because it will happen anyway. Zack, who was abused, will pass on that abuse. we hope he doesn’t, because we see simultaneously how he skates, how all his friends skate together, the act less about being great at skating (although a sponsorship might help his pockets), and more about finding respite from the shackles of his worlds. That Liu shoots these scenes, especially the opening of the film, with such a moving classical score, with such lightness and beauty, with such kinetic freedom, only ensures that as much as Crystal Moselle and Jonah Hill love their subjects, Liu live with them. he has shared the weight of that. —dom sinacola

29. the beach bum

year: 2019 director: harmony korine stars: matthew mcconaughey, snoop dogg, isla fisher, martin lawrence, zac efron, jonah hill rating: r duration: 95 minutes

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witness matthew mcconaughey, transcend. enjoy it, because this has to be as loud as possible. as moondog, the opposite, perhaps the archenemy, of the matthew mcconaughey of the lincoln commercials—on television, the shark of the interstitial pool and indifferent and connoisseur of fine leather, a man to whom one whispers politely, reverently between programs of the net—mathew mcconaughey realizes the complete flat circle of his essence. The actor leads crowds, and they all converge on the dazed Moondog, the consummate inhuman wanderer and headliner of the southern sands of these United States. One could argue that Moondog’s hedonism represents a moral imperative to consume all that is truly beautiful in life, and Moondog says so even if he is plagiarizing D.H. lawrence (which admits to his best friend, lingerie, that she has had a long-time affair with moondog’s wife, and is played by snoop dog in the best performance of her career). Speaking of Lawrence, Martin also gives the best performance of his career as the wacky, dolphin-loving Captain; the film slides effortlessly into the absurd. one could claim, too, that moondog’s petite but self-destructive addict was somehow given a free pass to eschew basic human responsibility altogether. One could argue that director Harmony Korine doesn’t believe in basic human responsibility anyway. he doesn’t claim much in the way of explaining the moondog way of being, he doesn’t reserve any judgment for the mantra of the man and the marvelous lurch into oblivion. or annihilation. the uniform he’s casual for, including the jnco jeans, brandished by flicker (zac efron), with whom moondog escapes court-ordered rehab that seemingly does nothing to pierce the armor of intoxication moondog spent a lifetime of he reinforcing. whether he’s shielding himself from any serious human connection or the gross hellscape of capitalist society, whether he’s deeply grieving a tragedy that occurs in the middle of the beach bum, the masterpiece harmony korine of feeling good versus feeling the worst, or avoiding all feelings altogether: still a bad parent. or he is an artist. or a saint. or is he from a different dimension, as his wife (isla fisher) explains to their daughter, as he probably always has, in front of a breathtaking view followed shortly by a harrowing sunset, both photographed by benoît debie, in miami of all places, all magnificent and hollow, the film a hagiography for the end of history. —dom sinacola

30. the social network

year: 2010 director: david fincher stars: jesse eisenberg, andrew garfield, justin timberlake, armie hammer, max minghella rating: r duration: 128 minutes

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The social network follows the evolution of one of the most financially successful and problematic institutions of the 21st century. The film opens with a break-up scene between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), a young man completely devoid of social skills, and his girlfriend Erica de El (Rooney Mara). Zuckerberg confuses Erica with his literal and automatic translations of her every word, while occasionally throwing in a sarcastic quip. Throughout the movie, this kind of pun goes back and forth with comedy and tragedy. After Erica dumps him, a drunken Mark returns to his Harvard dorm and blasts Erica with slurs about her character and bra size on the school’s social page for all to see as he creates a new social website that , with the help of a few friends, eventually becomes facebook. Most of the film takes place as a series of flashbacks based on testimony from two lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg. The first is from a trio of Harvard seniors who claim to have hired Zuckerberg to create the network, and who also belong to an elite club that Mark wants to be a part of. The other suit comes from his best friend and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), whose story in the film is as central as Zuckerberg’s. The disintegration of their relationship begins when Napster creator Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) jumps on the bandwagon of the rising company while driving a wedge between the co-founders. Garfield is wonderful as the insecure saverin who wants to carefully guide facebook into his future while zuckerberg and parker go full steam ahead. Just like Oliver Stone’s 1987 Wall Street movie, greed is still king and the wolves are at the door. —tim basham

31. aliens

year: 1986 director: james cameron stars: sigourney weaver, bill paxton, jenette goldstein, paul reiser, lance henriksen, michael biehn rating: r duration: 138 minutes

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james cameron colonizes ideas: every beautiful and impressive show he puts on functions as a pointillist representation of the genres he inhabits (sci-fi, horror, adventure, suspense), his many wonderful world-building pieces and details swarm , combining to grow exponentially, to inevitably overshadow the lack at its heart, the doubt that maybe all this great moviemaking is hiding a lack of substance at the core of the stories Cameron tells. An early example of this pilgrim privilege is Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s horror masterpiece, in which Cameron ditches Scott’s figurative (and uncomfortably intimate) interrogation of male violence to transmute that impulse into bureaucracy that only served as a shadow of authoritarianism in the first film. cameron ends scott’s world, but also neutralizes it, never quite connecting the lines from the aggression of the weyland-yutani corporation to the masculinity of the military industrial complex, but never condoning that masculinity, or that complex, either. ripley’s (sigourney weaver) story about what happened in the nostromo in the first film is doubted because she is a woman, of course, but mostly because the story portends a disaster for the nefarious plans of the corporation. soldier vasquez’s (jennette goldstein) place in the colonial marine unit sent to lv-426 to investigate the elimination of a human colony is teased but never fully questioned, her strength compared to her peers quite obvious from the beginning. Instead, by transforming Ripley into a full-fledged mother figure/action hero, whose final boss battle involves protecting her surrogate daughter from the horror of another mother figure, Cameron isn’t playing into themes of rape or the role of the mother. woman in an economic situation. hierarchy, she is placing women by default at the forefront of humanity’s future war. it’s a terrific box-office hit and one of the first movies to redefine what a franchise can be within the confines of a new director’s voice and vision.—dom sinacola

32. hard to die

year: 1988 director: john mctiernan stars: bruce willis, alan rickman, reginald veljohnson, bonnie bedelia, alexander godunov rating: r duration: 114 minutes

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hard to die may be the “stickiest” movie of its decade. How many best-laid plans have been derailed by meeting John McTiernan’s masterful action actor on cable TV? as officer john mcclane and hans gruber, bruce willis and alan rickman, respectively, steal the limelight in roles that define their careers, but even henchman #10 (asian man who eats chocolate bar, or uli, to his friends ) seems more accomplished than most leading roles in today’s run-of-the-mill action movies. Heavily plotted with wit to spare, die hard welcomes the scrutiny of multiple views without losing humor or heart. yippie ki-yay, actually. -michael burgin

33. love & mercy

year: 2015 director: bill pohlad stars: paul dano, john cusack, paul giamatti, elizabeth banks rating: pg-13 execution time: 121 minutes

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There is a curious, often transcendent, harmony in the dissonance at the heart of love & mercy. Taking a page from the life and music of his theme, director Bill Pohlad (best known for producing credits like 12 Years a Slave and Into the Wild) rejects in heavily sentimentality in narrating a reluctant pop star who wants to create more than just bright, happy hooks. (In one scene, Wilson discusses the Beach Boys’ true credibility as “surfers” with his bandmates, knowing better.) Sure, that’s the story, at least on the surface, but his approach uncovers layers of Wilson’s genius and torment. Seemingly simple classics like “in my room” and “wouldn’t it be nice” take on new meaning as the scope of their fights shifts into devastating focus. (read the full review here). —amanda schurr

34. meek cut

year: 2011 director: kelly reichardt stars: michelle williams, shirley henderson, paul dano, bruce greenwood, zoe kazan rating: pg duration: 104 minutes

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let kelly reichardt reclaim the western for women. Western films tend to be seen as “man’s” affairs, less so now in 2017 than in previous years; they’re manly products about manly men doing manly things and pondering manly ideas, though that’s an oversimplified critique that blurs the impact women have had on westerns in front of and behind the camera. what reichardt does in meek’s cutoff is sidetrack the men and confront the bullshit macho stance that’s such an integral component of western grammar (the only man here worth a damn is stephen meek [bruce greenwood ], and even he is kind of incompetent, entitled scum). So it’s up to Emily Tetherow, played by the great and luminous Michelle Williams, to challenge her self-proclaimed authority and take responsibility for the people in the caravan that she has led so far out of her way. meek’s cutoff is a stark, minimalist film, which means it’s a kelly reichardt film. the naked and latent austerity of his aesthetic blends perfectly with the sensibility of Western cinema. —andy crump

35. happiest season

year: 2020 director: clea duvall stars: kristen stewart, mackenzie davis, mary steenburgen, victor garber, alison brie, mary holland , dan levy, burl moseley, aubrey plaza rating: r duration: 102 minutes

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the grounded sobriety of the happiest season lasts long enough to give a reprieve to the still-present cornball holiday melodrama, which director/co-writer clea duvall delivers with the delight of someone who appreciates that melodrama in spite of themselves. but frankly, if all hallmark movies were this hilarious, they could at least be seen as background noise, but then we’d have less reason to appreciate duvall’s appropriation of the main components of it in the happiest season. Still proving her wrong with all the smug comments about her one-dimensional toughness from 2008, Kristen Stewart is still a treasure. she’s lively, charming and has wonderful fun vibing with mackenzie davis. The latter ends up enduring juicier theatrical speeches and nervous breakdowns as her character, Harper, unravels under the double pressure of being the daughter she thinks her parents want and being the girlfriend she wants to be for her. Stewart’s Abbey. The ensemble keeps things fresh throughout these conventional plot beats, with Mary Holland coming out ahead as Duvall’s friction-seeking SRBM. Whenever the atmosphere gets irritated, Holland flies into the room and annihilates it with adorable, well-meaning awkwardness. she’s a gift, but the entire cast shines in this holiday fare. They’re all tuned into Duvall’s wavelength, touching on the human side of her while keeping the mood appropriately hammy and gooey, sweet enough without killing the pancreas. And that’s the movie’s secondary message: It’s okay to like Christmas schmaltz. the bigger message, of course, is that it’s okay to struggle with the sometimes painful process of coming out. Duvall fits the seasonal mush with her characters’ pain, treating it like salve for her emotional stings. The message is not just about liking Christmas. the message is that everyone deserves a christmas movie.—andy crump

36. the fifth element

year: 1997 director: luc besson stars: bruce willis, gary oldman, ian holm, chris tucker, milla jovovich rating: pg-13 duration: 113 minutes

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in one of the first scenes of the fifth element by luc besson, there is a subtle but very revealing exchange between the two protagonists of the film. Taxi driver Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) has his daily routine interrupted when Leeloo (one of Milla Jovovich’s first leading roles) crashes through his roof. she speaks an ancient language, so the two can’t communicate, until she says the word “boom”, that is. “I understand ‘boom,'” Korben replies. Immediately, they point out to us the limits of Korben’s worldview, mostly restricted to macho action. This is also the first hint we’ve gotten that this is a self-reflective role for Willis, taking a look at her tough-guy star persona and delving into exactly what makes it such a reliable “man’s movie” centerpiece. . For all his typical manly heroism, Korben is a misfit in the film’s extravagant space operatic future. he’s an alpha male, tailor-made for the ’80s or ’90s, but, after finishing his time in the military, he’s adrift. the 23rd century has no place for him: he’s living alone after a failed marriage, he’s having trouble keeping his job (and his driver’s license), he can’t quit smoking, and he has no friends outside of his old platoon. . When the mysterious Leeloo literally lands in Korben’s life, he automatically assumes the role of protector. It turns out that Leeloo is a supreme being, sent to Earth to protect humanity from an ancient force that threatens the planet every 5,000 years. There is a contradiction at the heart of The Fifth Element, with Korben’s manly heroism at odds with his social ineptitude. The film doesn’t try to reconcile them, but instead lets Korben find his own way. he learns to work with others and accepts the more sensitive side of him, even when he’s getting wiser and kicking ass. In the end, it is Leeloo who has the power to save Earth from an apocalyptic alien attack. she is the supreme being sent to earth for that purpose. But she still needs Korben, and at the last minute, he discovers her role. It’s hard to tell how intentional this was all, as Besson still gives us a stoic tough guy who saves the day. but with besson he does not replace the male action hero, but rather complicates it. —frederick blichert

37. amazing grace

year: 2019 director: n/a stars: aretha franklin, c.l. franklin rating: g runtime: 87 minutes

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A few years after the Apollo 11 mission, a different kind of cosmic event occurred at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Over two nights in January 1972, Aretha Franklin (just turning 30) recorded what would become the best-selling gospel album of all time, and possibly her best album, period. The Amazing Grace record has been with us ever since, but that night’s record, shot by a young filmmaker named Sydney Pollack, has been kept out of the public eye for myriad reasons. Sadly, it took Franklin’s death last year at the age of 76 for that movie to finally come to light. although amazing grace was probably destined to be one of those “lost” movies that were so widely rumored that they could never live up to their legend once the world saw it, it’s a titanic vision of an actor whose extraordinary gift is evident, and the film simply allows him to be himself. Uncredited to any director but completed by music producer Alan Elliott (and photographed by Sydney Pollack), Amazing Grace is an unassuming presentation of archival materials without context or contemporary ideas. But that’s enough, because the story comes alive in this movie, especially every time Franklin opens his mouth and that amazing voice comes out. And, among her many attributes, Amazing Grace brings back young Aretha Franklin, who is a human being rather than the totemic figure she became. she’s poignantly vulnerable, hesitant, normal between songs, like she’s just living her life, not consciously delivering an iconic album. And while the music critic in me will note that it’s a bit disappointing that the film peaks early, with its excellent cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Wholy Holy” serving as the opening song of the night, amazing grace hums with the excitement of lightning captured in a bottle, an emotion that is a delight to the eyes as well as the ears. —tim grierson

38. possessor

year: 2020 director: brandon cronenberg stars: andrea riseborough, christopher abbott, tuppence middleton rating: r execution time: 104 minutes

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the barren, lonely and unassuming cityscapes of brandon cronenberg’s possessor reflect a familiar perspective. Brandon is, as you already know or have probably guessed, the son of David; he shares his father’s interest in bodily grotesqueness, the physical transformation that mental transformation represents, and a troubling topical concern with viruses. however, brandon cuts deeper than dad, if not (still) with the same incisiveness, then with a clinical precision that only intensifies the dreamlike weirdness that irretrievably cuts through possessor. This unsettling horror/thriller follows Tasya (Andrea Riseborough), an assassin working for a shady organization that carries out her attacks through a remote brain link between the killer and the unwitting host, in this case Colin (Christopher abbott). Cronenberg traces a horrifying journey from mind to mind, traced along neural pathways but predictably expressed along physical routes. he deviates into an arterial journey, the narrow vessels that contain the stuff of life and death in a larger body. the film has the feel of a sci-fi extravaganza reduced to a dark and dirty miniature; its stark efficiency contrasts with the potency of cronenberg’s musings on the subject of a foreign invader corrupting a wayward soul in a poisonous society.—paddy mulholland

39. good luck to you, big lion

year: 2022 director: sophie hyde stars: emma thompson, daryl mccormack genre: comedy, drama rating: r duration: 97 minutes

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If you thought the “sex worker with a heart of gold” genre had completely died out, then director Sophie Hyde’s latest effort may surprise you. Thrilling hearts and other body parts, she and screenwriter Katy Brand have created a delicate, horny and hilarious two-handed movie between a retired widow (Emma Thompson) and the skinny toy-boy of her very modest dreams (Daryl McCormack). ). good luck to you, big leo may shake up the more dramatic elements of the couple’s professional and personal relationship, but their feel-good story satisfies to the end. Nancy plans everything. the ex-religious education teacher never comes unprepared and is prepared never to come. and yet he arrives early at his precisely booked hotel room, prepared with a list of sexual tasks. leo grande (what a great name for a gigolo), in his own way, does the same. he arrives with his backpack full of sex toys and ambient music, armed with captivating conversation techniques to put his clients at ease. Over the course of their encounters, good luck big leo reveals how this level of intimacy, not inherently sexual, but with sexual availability acting as a gateway to vulnerability, can be therapeutic. In this supposed secret world, confined to assumed names, block furniture, and the sterile familiarity of a hotel room, you can be more honest than in real life. an achingly cheesy penultimate scene gives way to a glorious launch, once again highlighting the film’s best features and boldest choices. Thompson and McCormack’s potent bond elevates the humble film, its talkative core giving both the rich foundation of a play. they make the smart movie smarter, the sexy movie sexier, and the funny movie funnier. they even use the word “lust” in a sentence. repeatedly! Even if it takes some negotiation to figure out where your comfort zone lies, good luck to you, a big leo still finds a sweet spot. —jacob oller

40. napoleon dynamite

year: 2004 director: jared hess stars: jon heder, efren ramirez, jon gries rating: pg execution time: 94 minutes

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napoleon dynamite was never intended to become a mid-2000s pop culture touchstone. made on a shoestring budget of $400,000 (star jon heder originally received just $1,000 for her performance), this was only meant to be a quirky, award-independent novelty, not a spawner of countless memes and catchphrases that would persist in the high school lexicon for years to come. but as we all know, the movie took on a life of its own and became a huge sleeper hit. this had the effect of making it much better known to the general public, yes, but at the same time it somewhat obscured the film’s brilliance in terms of its critical appraisal. because with success and overexposure, came a certain level of ridicule. napoleon dynamite, its main character and their quotes were used as shorthand for “goofy comedy”, but the truth of the film is a rather cutting satire of American non-exceptionalism. Napoleon and the residents of his idaho town are an exceptionally pathetic bunch, and Napoleon Dynamite is a comedy that dares to present an entire universe of ugly personalities, fragile egos, and social ineptitude. the lonely rich guy character, best captured in his never-ending, masturbatory, self-photographed football videos, is someone you’d normally expect to appear in a tragedy rather than a comedy, given how overwhelming his characterization is. heck, the most popular kid in napoleon’s school looks like a young jake busey, for crying out loud. The film’s unusual sense of Midwestern boredom may have gone unnoticed by some audiences, but it’s the element that makes Napoleon Dynamite more than just weekend afternoon comedy central. —jim vorelresists through it all, on the battlefield and beyond. —shannon m. houston

41. collective

year: 2020 director: alexander nanau rating: nr duration: 109 minutes

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alexander nanau’s documentary proceeds so efficiently, its access so surprisingly free, one can’t help but begin to doubt the horrors on display. Like three seasons of the wire doctored into two hours, collective opens with the aftermath of a 2015 bucharest nightclub fire that killed 27 people and injured nearly 180, as parents of the victims, both those who perished that night and (many of) those who died in hospitals soon after, begin to meet and question how the Romanian government, from top to bottom, seems to be at the center of a dysfunction so tragic Nanau shows us a startlingly clear video of that night, unflinching and terrible, and then continues without looking away as a group of journalists begin to uncover the corruption that led to so much suffering. meanwhile, nanau follows survivors and activists, and then the newly appointed minister of health (after the other resigned for gross incompetence), young and idealistic, as the system crushes every moral step he tries to take, whipped from all sides by conservative propaganda and the bourgeois class, which has long benefited from so much death and misery. The ruthlessness and perversion of the Romanian ruling class should come as no surprise, nor should the election results that close the film, but Nanau does not frame his drama around explaining misdeeds and punishing such miscreants. he eschews interviews and talking heads for incisive observation, sometimes so intimate it seems empathetic; he returns again and again to the vulnerable people they must endure: their courage, their fear, and the marginal hope they give the rest of us simply by doing their jobs. it is a testament not to the power of journalism, but to its necessity, one of the last bastions civilization has against the normalization of this nightmare here at the end of history. —dom sinacola

42. me, tonya

year: 2017 director: craig gillespie stars: margot robbie, sebastian stan, allison janney, caitlin carver, bobby cannavale, paul walter hauser rating: r runtime: 119 minutes

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the triple axel was tonya harding’s biggest stunt, and making the audience think it’s some kind of comedy is i, tonya‘s. Craig Gillespie’s infuriatingly brilliant biopic puts its subject in control, and with fury, glibness, regret and a smirk, Tonya (Margot Robbie) and many others in his life tell their story, detailing the ways in which the trauma (and class marginality) has affected and shaped her. the abuse scenes, in which tonya is routinely beaten by both her mother (allison janney) and her husband, jeff (sebastian stan), are terribly awkward, but sarcastically cut, and the movie has the nerve to ask you why. you may be laughing at something so horrible. i, tonya dares to embody a camp aesthetic and immediately berates her, making sure everything from her skating scenes was shot at breakneck speed as if her skill should be admired, but without detail the technical aspects. from what it’s doing, such as to mimic white gay men and how they talk about character actresses, to its gender packaging (part wannabe gangster movie, part confessional documentary), it stains the ironic quotes on its frame with blood, sweat and tears: a roar and a growl and a declaration of defiance. —kyle turner

43. jiro dreams of sushi

year: 2012 directors: david gelb

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jiro dreams of sushi is about one of the culinary world’s greatest masters, one that casual foodies have never even heard of. although jiro’s work, literally the dishes he effortlessly prepares, and then the act of watching him as he watches his customers eat the dishes, is apparently the focus of the film, the story is really driven by the chef’s relationship with his Two sons: the youngest opened his own restaurant, and the oldest, at the age of 50, continues to work with his father, training to one day take over Jiro’s infamous restaurant. devoid of the typical familial jealousies one might expect (and thus possibly devoid of much conflict), jiro dreams of sushi is just a beautifully shot documentary about three men who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of perfection. which in itself is conflict enough, as the film airily asks: where do style, art, practice and perfection meet? —emily kirkpatrick

44. fantastic mr. fox

year: 2009 director: wes anderson stars: bill murray, owen wilson, willem dafoe, meryl streep, george clooney, jason schwartzman rating: pg duration: 86 minutes

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wes anderson’s trademark wry eccentricity and roald dahl’s vaguely menacing yet thoroughly playful surrealism combine to form fantastic mr. fox, Anderson’s first animated effort, which uses the same maddeningly traditional stop-motion techniques as isle of dogs. It’s apparently a children’s movie (Mr. Fox and his family and friends try to outrun the evil farmers), but it’s transparently aimed at their parents, who probably read Dahl’s books in grade school, remember the stop-motion when it didn’t feel old. And I have followed Anderson’s work for years. but fantastic mr. fox is broader and more direct than any of anderson’s other films. The story has been greatly expanded from the original Dahl to cover Anderson’s familiar themes of family, rivalry, and feeling different. And with its lush autumn palette and antics worthy of Max Fischer or Dignan, the result is a film only Wes Anderson could have made.—alisa wilkinson

45. summer of soul (…or when the revolution could not be televised)

year: 2021 director: questlove rating: pg-13 duration: 117 minutes

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The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival is the subject of Ahmir Khalib “Questlove” Thompson’s documentary debut, Summer of Soul (…or when the revolution could not be televised). More specifically, the documentary examines how this six-week summer festival, which featured many of the most revered black musicians of all time, including Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, and Gladys Knight, went largely unnoticed. measure in the cultural consciousness of the united states. . With an immense catalog of material that sat in a virtually untouched basement for 50 years, summer of soul acts as a questioning of what the absence of these materials has meant for the next generation of black artists, including questlove. the same. Despite the apparent cultural amnesia that followed the event (at least among non-black Americans), the Harlem Cultural Festival easily overshadowed an ubiquitous moment in American history: the 1969 moon landing. Archival interviews with several attendees reveal that For many African-Americans, the moon landing was not seen as a boundary-pushing event worth celebrating. Catching the Stevie Wonder set, on the other hand, was. considering the undeniable essence of colonialism that space travel entails, who can blame them? 300,000 music lovers flocked to mount morris park that summer, a hardly negligible number, especially when compared to the 500,000 attendees at woodstock. While Woodstock may have been emblematic of the power of the counterculture, the predominance of white spectators in the crowd cemented the event as an artistic awakening. Meanwhile, the equally publicized Harlem Cultural Festival was relegated to the fringes of historic preservation due to its predominantly black audience and stage-focused black acts. summer of soul was easily one of the most successful films at sundance this year, winning the grand jury prize and the audience award in the documentary section. but questlove was never interested in acclaim, a sentiment made evident in some of the first words the filmmaker uttered during his remote acceptance speech: “I didn’t even know this was a competition, me!” The documentary was quickly picked up by Searchlight, with a streaming release on Hulu imminent. Whether you’re interested in unraveling a shadowy cultural event or eager to experience breathtaking performances by beloved artists at their best, summer of soul is sure to not disappoint.—natalia keogan

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