The Lighthouse—emphatically the best movie of the year featuring cabin fever, a delirious Willem Dafoe, and human-mermaid coitus—is writer-director Robert Eggers’s first film since 2016’s The Witch. Co-written with Eggers’s brother Max, The Lighthouse is a flawed-but-memorable follow-up to a horror genre masterpiece.
First shared as a story on the radio show This American Life, The Farewell is the second feature-length film by writer-director Lulu Wang. The Farewell is a deeply personal, both cheerful and solemn film about identity, the immigrant experience, and the role of family.
Spider-Man: Far From Home marks the eighth time in 17 years that your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swung into theaters for a solo film. It wasn’t until the webhead’s sixth appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming that you could truly say Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios had perfected the Spider-Man formula. By following Homecoming with the jubilant animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and the European vacationing Spider-Man: Far From Home, it’s clear the studio giants understand that with great power there must also come great responsibility.
Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails, two San Francisco natives, met in middle school before working together on a short film and eventually a feature about the unprecedented changes facing their city. Launched as a Kickstarter campaign in April 2015, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is as unique as the story of its production.
With Booksmart, Olivia Wilde becomes the third rookie director in a year to kick her career off with a coming-of-age story. Wilde joins a list that includes Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade) and Jonah Hill (mid90s). Burnham and Hill, coming from comedy and acting, respectively, made the transition with ease. Wilde’s lively, pensive debut about female friendship and identity makes her the third new director to find success in the genre.
Damien Chazelle’s third feature film, First Man, salutes the ingenuity and sacrifice necessary to launch rickety spacecrafts into the great unknown. The film spends its 141-minute runtime as a cross between a Neil Armstrong biopic and a recounting of the Apollo space program. Despite Chazelle’s technical mastery and the intrinsic allure of the subject matter, the film is unable to replicate the feelings that inspired a generation of scientists.
With 2017’s Get Out, comedian-turned-filmmaker Jordan Peele burst onto the scene in a full sprint. With just one film under his belt, Peele was already dubbed this generation’s Alfred Hitchcock, setting expectations unreasonably high for Us, Peele’s 2019 sophomoric follow-up. Although Us isn’t Peele’s second masterpiece in as many tries, the ponderous plot and themes may make Us, not Get Out, the longer standing fixture in the cultural conversation.