Scott’s Favorites (Rated 9-10)

[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 …

[9] Writer/director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) serves up this intimate horror/thriller about a woman (Oscar nominee Jessie Buckley) who escapes London for the English countryside after the death of her ex-husband. Once there, however, she encounters several strange men who make her increasingly uncomfortable. First there’s the cottage owner who seems disappointed she is unmarried. More alarming is the nude man who chases her …

[9] Before seeing The Northman, I already considered director Robert Eggers the most exciting director working today. His debut film, The Witch, is my favorite film of the 21st century thus far, and The Lighthouse is a fascinating follow-up. With The Northman, Eggers is three for three. Based on the same Scandinavian legend that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Northman offers the director a broader canvas …

[9] Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a television actor and his care-taker stunt-man. The men are close-knit and more dependent on each other than either are able to admit. During the span of just a few days in 1969, they come to terms with the mortality of life and careers while unwittingly stumbling under the shadow of the infamous …

[10] In picturesque Italy, 1983, a seventeen-year-old boy falls in love with an older man who is working as his father’s research assistant. That’s it. That’s all Call Me By Your Name is about. And it’s marvelous. So many other coming-of-age, coming out, and gay-centered love stories focus on outside forces exerting pressure on the characters. But James Ivory’s (Maurice, The Remains of the Day) …

[9] Not since 1980’s Ordinary People have we had such a genuinely affecting movie about loss and mourning. In Manchester by the Sea, a man with a tortured past discovers he is the legal guardian of his late brother’s teenaged son. Casey Affleck is remarkable and nuanced in the lead role, playing a character who has repressed his feelings for so long that the mere …

[9] When a movie’s main title is preceded by a lonely man riding a farting corpse off a desert island and across the ocean, you either leave the theater immediately, or settle in for a cinematic experience like no other. Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) plays the lonely one, and Harry Potter himself (Daniel Radcliffe) plays the flatulent one. Dano’s about to hang himself …

[9] Director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings) sticks with his good luck charm, casting Jennifer Lawrence as the title character in Joy. Russell has said that his film career started to disinterest him several years back, and that he became reinvigorated when he decided to start telling stories about very specific people in very specific places. If you watch The Fighter or Joy, you …

[10] I’ll come right out with it: The Witch is my favorite horror film of the last ten years. Newcomer writer/director Robert Eggers serves up a masterfully creepy tale that’s equal parts psychological and atmospheric, elegant and restrained, but not without some visceral imagery that will haunt you for years to come. The story centers around a New England family circa the 1630s. Having just …

[9] Birdman swoops into cineplexes offering the antidote to superhero hysteria, CGI migraines, and Hollywood’s usual hackneyed, formulaic bullshit. It’s goddamned original, a showcase for skill and craft, and a breath of fresh fucking air. Michael Keaton turns in a career-best performance as a one-time popular film actor who is risking it all to put on a Broadway play. In the span of hours leading …

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