Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Screenplay: Luke Davies & Felix Van Groeningen based on Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff & Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff
Cinematography: Ruben Impens; Editing: Nico Leunen; Production Design: Ethan Tobman; Art Direction: Patrick M. Sullivan Jr.; Costumes: Emma Potter
Stars: Steve Carell (David Sheff), Timothée Chalamet (Nic Sheff), Maura Tierney (Karen Barbour), Amy Ryan (Vicki Sheff), Kaitlyn Dever (Lauren), Andre Royo (Spencer), Stefanie Scott (Julia), Amy Forsythe (Diane), Jack Dylan Grazer (Nic Scheff at 12), Timothy Hutton (Dr. Brown)
Critical response to it has ranged from lukewarm to rapturous, and there were high hopes built into Beautiful Boy prior to release. It seemed like surefire stuff. The story was timely, given the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic, and it was expected to be a major Oscar player during awards season. But despite respectable reviews, it has hit theaters with little fanfare, doing only modest business.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Cinematography: Dan Laustsen; Editing: Sidney Wolinsky; Production Design: Paul D. Austerberry; Set Decoration: Jeffrey A. Melvin & Shane Vineau; Costumes: Luis Sequeira; Score: Alexandre Desplat
Stars: Sally Hawkins (Elisa Esposito), Michael Shannon (Richard Strickland), Richard Jenkins (Giles), Octavia Spencer (Zelda), Michael Stuhlbarg (Dr. Robert Hoffstetler), Doug Jones (Amphibian Man), David Hewlett (Fleming), Nick Searcy (General Hoyt), Stewart Arnott (Bernard), Nigel Bennett (Mihalkov), Lauren Lee Smith (Elaine Strickland), Martin Roach (Brewster), John Kapelos (Mr. Arzoumanian), Morgan Kelly (Pie Guy), Marvin Kaye (Burly Russian), Brandon McKnight (Duane)
The Shape of Water is indispensable in furthering understanding of director Guillermo del Toro‘s sprawling, shared multiverse of fantasy films. It’s a fulfillment of his artistic aspirations, clarification of the obsessive themes and surreal subject matter dispersed throughout his cinematic diaspora. Moreover, the movie is a genuinely sincere and loving homage to the sort of flicks the director himself adored as a kid and which wielded the strongest impact on him as an artist, inspiring him to eventually immigrate to America’s moviemaking mecca.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Liz Hannah & Josh Singer; Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski; Editing: Sarah Broshar & Michael Kahn; Production Design: Rick Carter; Art Decoration: Kim Jennings & Deborah Jensen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo; Costumes: Ann Roth; Score: John Williams
Stars: Meryl Streep (Katharine Graham), Tom Hanks (Ben Bradlee), Sarah Paulson (Tony Bradlee), Bob Odenkirk (Ben Bagdikian), Tracy Letts (Fritz Beebe), Bradley Whitford (Arthur Parsons), Bruce Greenwood (Robert McNamara), Matthew Rhys (Daniel Ellsberg), Carrie Coon (Meg Greenfield), Jesse Plemons (Roger Clark), Jessie Mueller (Judith Martin), Michael Stuhlbarg (Abe Rosenthal)
Some movies are so timely they seem to have their finger on the political pulse of the republic. Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool was like that back in the ‘60s, The Conversation in the ‘70s, Wag the Dog in the ‘90s. But I’m surprised to be discussing Steven Spielberg, who has become one of the screen’s most reserved classicists of late, in the same breath with these other films. Irradiated by some Industrial Light & Magic effect, he seems to have hologrammed into the prescient screen prophet of our times, a clear-sighted Nostradamus, predicting Russiagate several years before the fact with his Bridge of Spies. That movie may have seemed a tad musty at the time of release, a Cold War artifact, but little did we know.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenplay: James Ivory; Based on the novel by André Aciman
Cinematography: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom; Editing: Walter Fasano
Production Design: Samuel Deshors; Art Direction: Roberta Federico; Set Decoration: Muriel Chinal, Sandro Piccarozzi & Violante Visconti di Modrone; Costumes: Giulia Piersanti
Stars: Timothée Chalamet (Elio Perlman), Armie Hammer (Oliver), Michael Stuhlbarg (Samuel Perlman), Amira Casar (Annella Perlman), Esther Garrel (Marzia), Victoire Du Bois (Chiara), Vanda Capriolo (Mafalda), Antonio Rimoldi (Anchise), André Aciman (Mounir), Peter Spears (Isaac)
Summer of love films set in sunny, foreign locales have been a hallmark of coming-of-age cinema for so long, at least as far back as movies like Three Coins in the Fountain, Roman Holiday, Summertime, Holiday for Lovers, and relatively more recent titles like A Little Romance, Enchanted April, Stealing Beauty, Under the Tuscan Sun, A Good Year, Mamma Mia! and Eat, Pray, Love, they’ve become somewhat passé. So much so that these stick a pin in the map movies now feel like displaced, modern descendants of E.M. Forster and Henry James. Americans abroad entries of more integrity, like The Talented Mr. Ripley, had to twist variations out of the theme in order to pull off the same premise.
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Screenplay: Gary Dauberman, Cary Fukunaga & Chase Palmer; Based on the novel by Stephen King
Cinematography: Chung-hoon Chung; Editing: Jason Ballantine; Production Design: Claude Paré; Set Decoration: Rosalie Board; Costumes: Janie Bryant; Score: Benjamin Wallfisch
Stars: Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom), Sophia Lillia (Beverly Marsh), Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley Uris), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise), Nicholas Hamilton (Henry Bowers), Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie Denbrough)
Consisting largely of extended flashbacks to the Eisenhower era, Stephen King’s novel IT was such a colorfully jumbled calliope of atomic age sci-fi (It! The Terror from Beyond Space, It Came from Outer Space, It Came from Beneath the Sea, It Conquered the World), and ‘50s creature features (like Them!, Tarantula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon), there’s poetic justice in the author’s hair-raising tale having wormed its way back into the sort of summer movie popcorn fare that originally inspired it, courtesy of director Andrés Muschietti’s big screen adaptation.
Director: Peter Jackson
Screenplay: Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh based on King Kong by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace
Cinematography: Andrew Lesnie; Editing: Jamie Selkirk; Production Design: Grant Major; Set Decoration: Simon Bright & Dan Hennah; Costumes: Terry Ryan; Score: James Newton Howard
Stars: Naomi Watts (Ann Darrow), Jack Black (Carl Denham), Adrien Brody (Jack Driscoll), Andy Serkis (Kong/Lumpy), Kyle Chandler (Bruce Baxter), Jamie Bell (Jimmy), Evan Parke (Ben Hayes), Colin Hanks (Preston), Thomas Kretschmann (Cpt. Englehorn), John Sumner (Herb), Lobo Chan (Choy), Craig Hall (Mike), William Johnson (Manny)