Onward, an ode to the nerdy teenager, is the latest grown-up kids movie from co-writer and director Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) and Pixar. The animation giant recently celebrated the nuclear family in Coco, Incredibles 2, and Inside Out. In Onward, the central Lightfoot family is as uniquely shaped as the centaurs that inhabit their fantastical world. By journey’s end, it’s clear that unconventional isn’t lesser. Grab a d20, your favorite cheese-dusted salty snack, and a box of tissues.
Gentle, even brushstrokes grace every frame of writer-director Céline Sciamma’s balletic Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The film’s late 18th-century setting shrouds Portrait’s central couple in secrecy. Secluded sea caves and daily walks replace traditional courtship for its passionate lovers. Sciamma’s love story is set at a comfortable simmer without ever boiling over.
Two years after the release of the pulse-pounding Good Time, Josh and Benny Safdie return to the theater with Uncut Gems, their second respectable genre outing in as many years. Led by Adam Sandler giving the performance of a lifetime, breakout talent Julia Fox, and former NBA MVP Kevin Garnett, Uncut Gems is a modern thriller shot by vintage filmmakers. Fair warning: you’ll be using your jeans to dry your sweat-slicked palms.
Co-writer and director Sam Mendes entrusted his frequent collaborator and cinematographer, Roger Deakins, with an ambitious one-shot war epic. The 70-year-old director of photography delivered a cinematic achievement fitting of his visual genius.
After 11 months of dull blockbusters unlikely to inspire you to do more than check your watch, Ford v Ferrari zips into theaters to finally quicken your pulse. James Mangold, writer-director of Logan and director of 3:10 to Yuma (2007), delivers the blockbuster of the year in a prestigious, Gulf Oil blue alloy chassis.
In contrast with director Martin Scorsese’s last two gangster epics, Casino and Goodfellas, The Irishman is director Martin Scorsese’s first effort in the trilogy without the aid of non-fiction crime author Nicholas Pileggi. Pileggi, the scribe of the books and screenplays behind Casino and Goodfellas, was replaced by author Charles Brandt and veteran screenwriter Steve Zaillian. Zaillian’s script is masterful, but the heavily disputed source material raises questions that The Irishman declines to ask.
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.