By Mark Fields
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Laura Poitras’ documentary follows the personal history and social activism of New York photographer Nan Goldin. The film deftly connects Goldin’s present-day pursuit of truth and accountability within the opioid crisis to her lifelong effort to understand the suicide death of her sister decades ago.
Two troublemaking friends — one white, the other black —come of age in 1980s Brooklyn, but one’s privilege sends them down two very different paths. Director-screenwriter James Gray crafts this poignant tale from his own childhood experiences.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Colin Ferrell and Brendan Gleeson play longtime drinking buddies in an isolated island community in 1920s Ireland whose routines are disrupted when one decides he no longer wants anything to do with the other. A very Celtic comedy — both wistful and brutal — from Martin McDonagh (In Bruges).
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
A moving cinematic tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman and his iconic portrayal of T’Challa is the launching point for a resonant, affirming new chapter in the Black Panther mythology, one refreshingly centered on women characters. Less effective when it succumbs to the tropes of most MCU superhero sagas.
Empire of Light
Roger Deakins’ luminous cinematography and Sam Mendes’ fluid direction undergird this quietly powerful character study featuring Olivia Colman. Hilary, a manager of a seaside English movie palace, seeks and finds genuine human connection, but its possible loss has devastating consequences for her.
Steven Spielberg’s largely autographical family drama follows young Sammy’s aspirations to become a filmmaker, even when his home movies unintentionally uncover a painful family secret. Both Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy and Michelle Williams as his fragile mother Mitzi are stand-outs in an excellent cast.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
The second installment in writer-director Rian Johnson’s comedy mystery series. Again centered on eccentric detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), Glass Onion features another all-star cast — Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, etc. and a handful of celebrity cameos — in a riotously entertaining whodunit.
Three Thousand Years of Longing
Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba display their acting chops in this curious story from the always-surprising George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road, Babe). A thoroughly modern contemplation on the importance of devotion, the movie blends whimsy with a tribute to the power of storytelling.
Disney-Pixar’s 2022 release tells the story of 13 year-old Meilin, an overachieving Chinese-Canadian girl who’s just discovered her mystical family trait of transforming into a giant red panda when agitated. The movie is both a celebration of Asian immigrant culture and also a sly metaphor for teenage angst, while remaining classic Pixar: frenetic, funny, and relatable.
The Woman King
Viola Davis, who is transcendently good in virtually every one of her film performances, is again fierce and unforgettable as a female warrior in historic Dahomey Africa. Of note, the film was directed, co-written, and photographed by women artists (Gina Prince-Bythewood, Dana Stevens and Maria Bello, and Polly Morgan respectively).
A group of women in a modern-day but regressive sect must put aside their own conflicts to act against their abuse at the hands of the group’s men. For this tense, claustrophobic drama, Sarah Polley (herself a former film actress) has assembled a powerful cast: Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Frances McDormand.
The Worst Person in the World
This coming-of-age dramedy from Norway, which was released in 2021 but didn’t play locally until 2022, follows four years of young-adult wandering in the life of Julie. Her lack of focus in both her personal and professional lives strikes a chord while avoiding any pat resolution at film’s end.
Everything, Everywhere All At Once
Difficult to describe, impossible to resist, the film is ultimately a wonderful showcase for the many talents of Michelle Yeoh.
Jordan Peele again explore the boundaries of horror through his unconventional lens, starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and something very strange behind the clouds.
Top Gun: Maverick
Loyal readers know I’m no fan of Tom Cruise, but this military saga/video game is a thrill ride in part because of his undeniable moviestar charm.
Worth Waiting For (still on my to-see list)
Baz Luhrmann’s biopic takes a frenetic approach to the singer’s life and legend.
This unusual film from Poland provides a fresh perspective on modern Europe through the eyes of an adventurous, expressive donkey.
Director S.S. Rajamouli describes his audacious film as “an imaginary friendship relationship between two superheroes,” set during the 1920s Raj period of colonial India.
Danielle Deadwyler’s searing portrayal of the mother of lynching victim Emmett Till and her quest for justice and respect.
The subject of excessive 1920s Hollywood in the hands of Damien Chazelle could have made a good film. This bombastic, lurid and overly long movie isn’t it.
Bones and All
Strong performances from a talented cast can’t redeem this seemingly serious exploration of the lives of flesh-eating humans. Whose idea was this?
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
The latest lurching, ponderous entry from the Potterverse actually manages to make magic dull and boring, even to a fan.