The Wind Rises
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
The Wind Rises is an animated historical drama based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi and Tatsuo Hori’s 1937 novel, The Wind Has Risen. The Wind Rises is an exceptionally great film. The animation is stunning, the music is delightful, and the story is thoughtful and affecting. The film is devastatingly beautiful.
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Phantom Thread is a period drama about a fashion house in 1950s London. It is a beautiful and very strange film. The acting, directing, and costuming are all self-assuredly excellent. The film defies category.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
The Post is a dramatization of The Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers. The Post is didactic, flat, and self-satisfied, but it’s still a fun film — and it’s too earnest a paean to its ideals to dislike very much.
Directed by Sofia Coppola
The Beguiled, an adaption of a novel of the same name by Thomas P. Cullinan, is a drama about a wounded Union soldier convalescing in a nearly abandoned girls school in Virginia. (A movie of the same name – directed by Don Siegel, starring Clint Eastwood, and also based on Cullinan’s novel – came out in 1971). The Beguiled is entertaining enough, and it’s very well-shot, but it feels hollow.
Midnight in Paris
Directed by Woody Allen
Midnight in Paris is an English language romantic comedy set in Paris. Midnight in Paris is a charming portrait of an imagined Paris, both of the 1920s and the early 2000s, filled with unabashed, but thoughtful, nostalgia and highly amusing caricatures of Lost Generation writers.
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Silence, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō, is an epic historical drama that follows two Jesuit priests who enter Japan in the seventeenth century. At a plodding 161 minutes, Silence would probably be more entertaining 30 or even 60 minutes shorter. But it isn’t entirely clear Scorsese is entirely or even primary concerned with the audience’s enjoyment of his film. Silence is an honest and fiery testament of sincerity, belief, pride, faith, and suffering. If nothing else, Silence is an experience, and, importantly, a film worth experiencing.
The Birth of a Nation
Directed by Nate Parker
The Birth of a Nation is a period drama about Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion. The ambitious title promises both forceful social corrective and aesthetic achievement. It succeeds in the first more than the second; the authorial voice is uncompromising and the film is well-made, but there are no significant artistic innovations and the limited budget can be seen in the needlessly constrained scope. The Birth of a Nation is a singular and searing vision.