Forget Rogue One and the latest Marvel face-off: The last scene of Moonlight rivals both for intensity and suspense. Without giving everything away, we watch two men circling each other, nothing exchanged but conversation and a cup of tea. Plenty of things feel unspoken. They haven’t seen each other in years; each became someone the other didn’t expect. And we can’t […]

Here’s my final ballot for this Sunday’s Academy Awards. I predict La La Land will clean up with 9 wins, meaning this will be the most boring Oscars since Gravity swept the tech awards. Still, only one acting category is a sure thing (here’s looking at you, Ms. Davis!), so I’m ready for a good surprise or two.   […]

It’s always instructive who merits an Oscar campaign and who doesn’t. The three ladies of Hidden Figures would have had better odds if their highly successful movie had premiered earlier in the season. As it played out, there was only one vulnerable slot in Supporting Actress, and Octavia Spencer snuck in. Similarly, with so much talent in Moonlight, […]

With the 89th Academy Awards a week from today, I’m thinking back about the 2016 season. And yes, I’m still catching up on last year’s movies! It’s always a scramble to see all the major nominees…

There are two movies in Hacksaw Ridge: the well-meaning tale of good-natured pacifist Desmond Doss; and the brutal, otherworldly days he spent at war. These two pieces feel so disparate in tone and entertainment value that it’s easy to conclude the filmmakers are more fascinated by the battle story. A few critics have credited the director […]

We watched 20th Century Women after the Women’s March on January 21, and it was an inspiring second bill. Despite its title, Mike Mills’ movie doesn’t pretend to capture all women from the last century, or even all women from Santa Barbara, 1979 (where he sets his story). His movie looks to understand three very specific […]

Leave it to the French. I doubt anyone will call Elle a feminist film, though it features the great Isabelle Huppert as a woman seeking revenge after she is raped in her home. The plot twists are as lurid as what we’d expect from director Paul Verhoeven, whose previous films include Basic Instinct and Show […]

THEATER REVIEW: The Present Ethel Barrymore Theater, New York, January 15, 2016   The curtain rises on Cate Blanchett with a pistol in her hand. She looks out at the audience, then at the pistol with a grim, steely countenance. It’s a gift she’s received for her fortieth birthday. As the adage suggests, we know […]

A loving homage to Old Hollywood musicals, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is like a crisp sip of Champagne, a charming throwback that’s neither revolutionary nor fully developed. But I still enjoyed it. It’s a contemporary twist on an old-fashioned: the two main characters carry out a screen romance pieced together from countless classic films. Chazelle has […]

Denzel Washington’s Fences is a good exercise in separating the merits of a stage work from its adaptation. It’s one of the more acclaimed plays in August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle, his ten-part chronicle of black life in each decade of the last century, and it’s sure to outlive any re-interpretation. Using the movie as my […]