Only Recommended Films (Rated 8-10)

[9] [This review contains spoilers.] Cate Blanchett stars as a fictional celebrated conductor whose life begins to unravel after an alleged affair with a music student comes to light. Her character, Lydia Tár, breaks the glass ceiling in the rarified world of classical music. Her accomplishments — including an Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy — are all the more newsworthy because she is a woman …

[8] Barbarian is about the worst Airbnb rental in the history of the universe. Writer/director Zach Cregger builds suspense from the get-go, with co-stars Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård giving convincing performances as strangers double-booked at a house in the middle of a highly sketchy Detroit neighborhood. They agree to share the house, but then strange things start happening. A secret door is discovered in …

[8] Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson lead an ensemble cast in this quaint but compelling drama/comedy about a ‘black sheep’ daughter (Holmes) who tries like Hell to host Thanksgiving dinner for her visiting family. Neither Holmes nor her estranged family really want to share the holiday together, except that the mother (Clarkson) is terminally ill — and this could very well be their last holiday …

[8] Norma Shearer (The Divorcee) fronts an all-star, all-female cast in George Cukor’s adaptation of Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women. Shearer plays a happily married woman of privilege who learns through the gossipy grapevine that her husband is having an affair with another woman, played by Joan Crawford. Shearer struggles under the dueling influences of her mother (Lucile Watson) and her so-called ‘friends’, which include …

[8] Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg star as brothers working on different sides of the law in this crime drama from writer/director James Gray (Ad Astra, The Lost City of Z). Wahlberg’s character follows in the footsteps of their father (Robert Duvall), recently being promoted to captain within the New York police. Phoenix is a nightclub manager who is reluctant to help his dad and …

[8] George Stevens (Gunga Din, A Place in the Sun) directs this romanticized tale of an American western legend — Annie Oakley, the woman sharpshooter who could beat any man at gunplay. While the real Annie Oakley was surely rougher around the edges, Barbara Stanwyck carries this first film adaptation of Oakley’s life with strength and compassion. The screenplay centers around Oakley’s romance with a …

[8] Director Tim Burton (Batman, Ed Wood) followed his debut feature, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, with this stylish fantasy-comedy about a young deceased couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) trying to haunt an annoying new family out of their quaint countryside home. When the new family ends up more amused than alarmed by their ghostly antics, they’re left with no choice but to summon the …

[8] Future Oscar-winner Laura Dern (Marriage Story) gives her first leading performance in this adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” the story of a fifteen-year-old girl who pursues male attention without considering the potential consequences. Dern’s character, Connie, lies to her family about her whereabouts, ditching the mall for the beach, or the movies for a bar across …

[8] Sally Field leads a spectacular ensemble in Soapdish, a comedy that lampoons daytime TV melodramas, or ‘soap operas’. Field plays an insecure soap star who fears her career may begin to wane as she enters middle-age. Little does she realize that her own life story is about to become more over-the-top than the scripts for her long-running program, The Sun Also Sets. Field is …

[8] William Hurt (Oscar-winner for Kiss of the Spider Woman) stars in this adaptation of Anne Tyler’s novel about a travel guide writer whose marriage crumbles after the death of his son. While recovering from a broken leg at the home of his sister and two brothers, he develops a relationship with an odd dog trainer, played by Geena Davis (The Fly). As he begins …

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