Starring: Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Andre Benjamin, Jodie Turner-Smith, Don Cheadle, Lars Eidinger
Many films have been made throughout the years about the American Dream, but what about the American Nightmare? Noah Baumbach’s latest, White Noise, is a film that’s obsessed with impending doom at nearly every minute, filtered through the lens of the American condition. It’s the first time he’s working from previously-available material, adapted from Don DeLillo’s novel – long thought to be unadaptable – and it’s Baumbach’s most ambitious project to date. It’s also a thrilling, often messy film that exists on its own wavelength, and is liable to lose casual viewers because of it, but is no less enticing.
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Joseph Mydell, Carly-Sophia Davies
Joanna Hogg made an international splash with her two semi-autobiographical Souvenir films, as she reevaluated her days in film school and a formative romantic relationship. Those films felt like a faithful collection of memories, not unlike this year’s cinematic memoirs from auteurs like James Gray and Steven Spielberg. Hogg’s latest, The Eternal Daughter, similarly pulls from her own experiences, but takes a much more experimental route. While the results may not be as groundbreaking or profound as her previous works, the film continues to establish Hogg as a creative force that knows how to craft an engaging story.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Kate Hudson, Edward Norton, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom, Jr., Kathryn Hahn, Madelyn Cline
Rian Johnson knows you’ve done your homework. He knows you’re familiar with the murder-mystery genre and he knows what you will and will not be expecting. He also knows you’ve seen his last film, Knives Out, and knows that you’ll be keyed into what tricks he has up his sleeves for its sequel, Glass Onion. But rather than change the game entirely and do something bigger and more outlandish, he mostly hews closer to what worked so well the first time around. You can only reinvent the wheel once, after all.
Take yourself back to a treasured memory from when you were younger. Better yet, take yourself back to a memory from a pivotal time in your life. What comes flooding back to mind first probably aren’t the bigger moments like the actual events that happened, but how those moments made you feel. How they impacted you and changed your worldview, even though you may not have fully realized it at the time.
Writers: Elizabeth Sanders, Luke Goebel, and Ottessa Moshfegh
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond, Jayne Houdyshell, Stephen McKinley Henderson
The recovering soldier genre is one that’s produced plenty of memorable films, and likely just as many – if not more – flops. It’s hard to say exactly where Causeway will ultimately land; much as it strays from the genre’s formula, it doesn’t contain enough drama to make it an instant classic.
Writer: Henry Selick, Clay McLeod Chapman, Jordan Peele
Starring: Lyric Ross, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Angela Bassett, James Hong, Ving Rhames
Henry Selick may not be a household name in the same way that Hayao Miyazaki or Pete Docter or Brad Bird are, but his contributions to animated films can’t be denied. I still remember a room full of shocked faces when the answer to a trivia question announced that Tim Burton did not direct The Nightmare Before Christmas. Whenever Disney gets too cutesy with a few too many animal sidekicks, Selick manages to come back with something of a polar opposite. That he does so by pushing the stop-motion animation medium forward each time just goes to show how different the animation world would be without him.
Writer: Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, and Ian Stokell
Starring: Felix Kammerer, Daniel Brühl, Albrecht Schuch, Moritz Klaus, Aaron Hilmer, Edin Hasanovic
War is hell. It always has been, and it always will be. Whether you’re a Spartan fighting against the Trojans, or a colonialist seeking your independence from the British, or a German slumming through the trenches in France, one thing remains constant in war: those that fight always lose. You don’t need a multi-million dollar Netflix production to tell you that. You don’t necessarily need to remake Erich Maria Remarque’s novel – a version of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1930 – either. Indeed, it’s the biggest question for director and co-writer Edward Berger: why did All Quiet on the Western Front need to be made?
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ethan Hawke, Maribel Verdú, Sophie Okonedo
Remember how it felt the first time you watched The Hangover? It was the type of comedy where anything was possible, where the screenwriter was free to make up whatever kooky shenanigans they could think of simply because the action had unfolded off-screen. Raymond and Ray feels like the dramatic equivalent of that kind of storytelling, a free-for-all experiment where everyone simply talks about someone we never actually meet first-hand. It feels like an acting exercise, and an empty one at that, where its primary cast mostly makes it out unscathed.
Women Talking may be the simplest film of the year in terms of its concept, but it undoubtedly one of the most complex of the year, and it’s that conflicting push-pull that makes it one of the best of the year. Its simplicity lies in its setup: it takes place mostly over the course of a day or two, in and around a barn. But where it shows its complexity is in the discussions its characters have, the fascinating way its characters are written, and the conversations it will surely elicit after the credits roll.
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Gang Dong-won, Lee Ji-eun, Lee Joo-young, Bae Doona, Im Seung-soo
They say that you never truly know what love feels like until you’ve had a child, so what happens when you have a child that you don’t love? This is the central question to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker, the Japanese auteur’s first film set in Korea, which still manages to feel of a whole with his filmography at large.