Movies to See Right Now

Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

The Oscar nominations are out, and I recommend some (not all) of the nominated films. I’ve also written If I Picked the Oscars – before the nominations were announced. The best movies of the year are in theaters right now, and here are the very best:

  • Steven Spielberg’s docudrama on the Pentagon Papers, The Post, is both a riveting thriller and an astonishingly insightful portrait of Katharine Graham by Meryl Streep. It’s one of the best movies of the year – and one of the most important. Also see my notes on historical figures in The Post.
  • Pixar’s Coco is a moving and authentic dive into Mexican culture, and it’s visually spectacular.
  • The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro’s imaginative, operatic inter-species romance may become the most-remembered film of 2017.
  • Lady Bird , an entirely fresh coming of age comedy that explores the mother-daughter relationship – an impressive debut for Greta Gerwig as a writer and director.
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri a powerful combination of raw emotion and dark hilarity with an acting tour de force from Frances McDormand and a slew of great actors.
  • I, Tonya is a marvelously entertaining movie, filled with wicked wit and sympathetic social comment.
  • Phantom Thread, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, is Paul Thomas Anderson’s rapturously beautiful story of a strong-willed man and two equally strong-willed women; unexpectedly witty.
  • The Florida Project is Sean Baker’s remarkably authentic and evocative glimpse into the lives of children in poverty, full of the exuberance of childhood.
  • Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman brings alive Winston Churchill in an overlooked historical moment – when it looked like Hitler was going to win WW II.

Don’t forget what is sure to be one of the best Bay Area cinema experiences of 2018 – the Noir City festival of film noir in San Francisco.

Here’s the rest of my Best Movies of 2017 – So Far. Most of the ones from earlier this year are available on video.

Other current choices:

  • The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s hilarious docucomedy about the making of one of the most unintentionally funny movies of all time.
  • Diane Kruger’s award-wining performance in the German thriller In the Fade.
  • The Final Year, a wistful inside documentary about the Obama Admistration’s foreign policy during his last year.
  • The ambitious satire The Square.
  • Call Me By Your Name is an extraordinarily beautiful story of sexual awakening set in a luscious Italian summer, but I didn’t buy the impossibly cool parents or the two pop ballad musical interludes.
  • Murder on the Orient Express is a moderately entertaining lark.
  • Novitiate, the tediously grim story of a seeker looking for spiritual love and sacrifice, with a sadistic abbess delivering too much of the latter.

My DVD/Stream of the Week are recent Oscar winners for Best Documentary: Amy, Searching for Sugar Man and Undefeated. Follow the link for their availability on DVD and streaming platforms.

On January 28, Turner Classic Movies presents All the King’s Men, one of the best political movies of all time, from the novel based on the saga of Huey Long. Broderick Crawford stars as Willie Stark, the fictionalized Kingfish. Watch for the brilliant, Oscar-winning supporting performance by Mercedes McCambridge. (Note: this is the 1949 version, NOT the lousy 2006 Sean Penn remake.)

Broderick Crawford, John Ireland and Mercedes McCambridge in ALL THE KING’S MEN
Broderick Crawford in ALL THE KING’S MEN

And on January 31, Turner Classic Movies plays Angel Face, the 1953 film noir from director Otto Preminger, This movie has it all, the droopy-eyed magnetism of Robert Mitchum, the fragile beauty of Jean Simmons, and (along with They Won’t Believe Me) the most shocking ending in film noir.

Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum in ANGEL FACE