There is something about director Pablo Larraín and screenwriter Noah Oppenheim’s deeply fascinating character study Jackie that allows it transcended melodramatic conventions and become something far more potent and enduring. The level of searing, unflinching insight is extraordinary, all of it anchored to a performance by star Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy that might be the best work of her entire career.
With Rogue One, Edwards doesn’t attempt to redo what has come before, isn’t interested in any already established template. He and his team have crafted a film that exists inside a known universe yet still manage to plant their own idiosyncratic stamp upon it. This is a marvelous piece of entertainment, as wondrous as anything I’ve seen in 2016.
Moonlight is a masterpiece.
A breathless entertainment, as simple and as straightforward as it is austere and ephemeral, Certain Women is a tale of life, of how that life is lived and of the connections that are made as one travels down its mysterious road.
Under the Shadow cannily uses a fairly standard, if also expertly staged, ghost story to obsess over a character-driven story arc involving issues of marriage, motherhood, religious fundamentalism and feminism in ways that feel raw, visceral and altogether groundbreaking.
Not only is Hell or High Water just a great, character-driven thriller that busts through genre conventions, forcing the viewer to take notice of what is going on and why in the process, it also happens to be one of 2016’s best motion pictures. It is a masterful effort that grows in power and depth as it moves along, building to a shattering, hauntingly destructive conclusion that had me sitting on the edge of my seat breathlessly excited to discover what was going to happen next.
Lowery isn’t afraid of emotion, but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to let his version of Pete’s Dragon wallow in it, so when the tears ultimately flow, they do so with a luminosity so genuine the overall effect is positively miraculous. He’s crafted a movie that feels so of the moment, so of the now, walking out of the theatre I doubt I could have stopped smiling even if I had wanted to try.
From the early, eerie, unquestionably haunting images of a young nun traipsing through a barren, snow-covered Polish countryside going who knows where, to a moment of communal redemption hidden under the shroud of unthinkable secrecy and unimaginable sacrifice, The Innocents is a consistent triumph, achieving an overwhelming aura of brilliance that it manages to sustain first second to last.
The film’s 92 minutes pass by so quickly it’s all over almost as soon as it begins, everything building to a smashing conclusion that had me wanting to leap from my seat and give Stillman, his production team and his entire cast one long, rousing, vigorous cheer. Love & Friendship is magnificent, and anyone saying otherwise is in my eyes one gouty attack away from objectionable ignominy.