Call Me By Your Name
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Call Me By Your Name is a romance set in Northern Italy in 1983. Call Me By Your Name is a good film, but it is too impressed with its own importance — this itself is fine, except that the film appears more motivated by the desire for importance than an urgency to speak. Call Me By Your Name likes the idea of intelligent characters, but is bored by the details of their interests. It is a romance populated exclusively by ideas of people — there are no actual lives. The scenery is pretty and the story is moving, but Call Me By Your Name is entirely submerged in an ethereal emptiness.
The Shape of Water
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
The Shape of Water is a fantasy romance about a woman and a human-like amphibian. A kitschy but moving Cold War fairytale, The Shape of Water evinces passion and individuality without pretension — a highly entertaining movie.
Directed by David Lynch
Mulholland Drive is a surreal neo-noir mystery film. The plot is dream-like but compelling. The film is strange but still affecting.
Directed by Makoto Shinkai
Your Name is a Japanese-language animated film about a boy and a girl who swap bodies. The stakes of the movie are too uneven, and the plot becomes increasingly disconnected from the theme as the film drags on. Your Name is often entertaining but ultimately frustrating and easily forgotten.
La La Land
Directed by Damien Chazelle
La La Land is a romantic musical about a jazz musician and an aspiring actress who fall in love in Los Angeles. La La Land is a stirring defense of unjustified objects of condescension: musicals, nostalgia, and Jazz. The film is unreservedly romantic and unabashedly confident in the fragile, weak, transcendent power of art. La La Land, with ebullient bravura, basks in deep feeling and looks back with wistful longing.
Directed by Wes Anderson
Moonrise Kingdom is a coming-of-age film that follows a boy and girl who run away in 1965 New England. Moonrise Kingdom is an endlessly charming film. It ineffably captures the effervescent beauty of childhood. Wes Anderson’s style is mildly divisive, but it ought not be. Nothing in Moonrise Kingdom is frivolous affectation; the style invariably contributes to the substance. The film is meticulously crafted, but it is suffused with expansive feelings and casual insight.
Directed by Spike Jonze
Her is a romantic science-fiction drama about a man who falls in love with an intelligent computer operating system. Her is a first-rate film. The movie’s visions of the future, technology, and life are refreshingly free from cliché, deeply engaged, and moving. It is the rare science-fiction film that fully succeeds in using its premise to illuminate what it is to be human.
Directed by John Carney
Once is a musical romance film about two struggling musicians in Dublin, Ireland. The music is good, but not quite good enough to anchor a story about an unrecognized musical genius. The story is engaging, but a little slight.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Directed by Michel Gondry
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a science fiction film about a man, a woman, and a company that erases memories. The film’s eloquent, complicated writing and ambitious directing easily survive the uneven acting to result in a film that is both heartfelt and intelligent.
Directed by Woody Allen
Café Society is a romantic comedy-drama set in 1930s Hollywood and New York City. The film has occasional glints of ambition, but seems mostly content to be good enough. Like many of his recent films, Café Society is filled with contrived situations, stilted dialogue, funny one liners, and a multitude of Woody Allen stand-ins rather than differentiated characters. Café Society is an entertaining and occasionally thoughtful look at an idealized past and the pain of time’s passage.