Kent’s Top Ten: (Alphabetical)
“Dick Johnson Is Dead” — One of the most unusual and heartfelt documentaries you’ll see. Dick Johnson’s filmmaker daughter enlists her father to make a film about his death — he graciously accepts. Their film is hilarious, poignant, real and bursting with love.
“The Father” — A most effective way to show Alzheimer’s, this film follows Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) as he falls down the rabbit hole. Beautifully written, acted and filmed. Emotional, effective and a top pick.
“I’m Your Woman” — Dark, brutal and cool, viewers are kept in the dark as the main character Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) struggles with motherhood, marriage and her husband’s life of crime. A great period piece and a fantastic soundtrack with a brutal edge.
“Kajillionaire” — Odd, offbeat and funny, this quirky film follows a crazy family of grifters. Although this film tests the definition of family, it is the definition of memorable entertainment.
“The King Of Staten Island” — Based on Pete Davidson’s real life, this Judd Apatow film grows on you. Davidson is perfect because he is playing himself, but don’t let that fool you; this is a complex film. Marisa Tomei is wonderful as his mother as she struggles to rein in her adult child.
“The Last Vermeer” — A period piece following WWII, as Belgium faces its own reflection and the role it played in the war within the context of stolen Nazi art. Nice twists and a beautifully emotional story.
“News Of The World” — This western follows a Civil War veteran (Tom Hanks) as he travels from town to town reading newspapers to locals. His journey literally and figuratively veers when he stumbles upon a young girl who has endured worse than him. Who doesn’t like a good western?
“Nomadland” — Frances McDormand is at her best and it’s going to be difficult for anyone to beat her in this beautiful film about community, trust and the shrugging off of societal bonds. Touching, forceful, memorable.
“Pieces Of A Woman” — A tough film to watch, Vanessa Kirby gives a remarkable performance. Martha (Kirby) and husband Sean (Shia LeBeouf) struggle with differing feelings and approaches to grief after they lose their baby in childbirth. A powerful film with emotions laid bare, raw, unflinching.
“Promising Young Woman” — This film will be described as dark, vengeful, funny, charming and absolutely genius. Carey Mulligan is perfect as both victim and vengeful agent as she confronts rape culture head-on. One of the most unusual films this year and one of the most memorable.
“The Trial Of The Chicago 7” — Another period piece with a great ensemble cast lead by Sacha Baron Cohen as Abby Hoffman. This film is frustrating, enraging, hilarious and moving. Perfectly paced and directed by Aaron Sorkin, this film crackles with the energy of the time.
Lynn’s Top Ten: (Alphabetical)
“Collective” — A timely thriller about truth, accountability, and the value of an independent press in partisan times. As the documentary unfolds, we learn of corruption and a larger scandal, all thanks to investigative journalists.
“Da 5 Bloods” — Spike Lee’s most complete film tells a gripping tale of a brotherhood forged by the Vietnam War. Smartly filmed, with outstanding cinematography and editing, a mournful score by Terrence Blanchard and a soundtrack of all Marvin Gaye songs.
“Hamilton” — The cultural phenomenon met its moment as a film, and Americans are richer for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical masterpiece on a Founding Father. What we may have missed in live energy we got in emotional waves because of the close-ups.
“Minari” — A gentle, intimate portrayal of an immigrant family and the American dream. Based on writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s childhood in Arkansas, a series of genuine moments resonate. Youn Yuh-jung is a gem as the grandma.
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” — A quietly devastating film without a false move, its documentary-like realism hits like a velvet hammer. A familiar tale of young blue-collar girls stuck in a rut in a dead-end town is not ordinary at all.
“Nomadland” — An ode to the open road and a nod to the fierce, resilient, independent senior citizens who chart a second or third act for themselves, “Nomadland” is a film of remarkable grace and wonder. The stunning American West landscapes are beautifully framed.
“Promising Young Woman” — A powerful in-your-face rant on toxic masculinity in the #MeToo era. Writer-director Emerald Fennell’s impressive debut is anchored by an acting tour de force for Carey Mulligan as a former medical school student avenging her best friend’s traumatic experience.
“Soul” — Oh, so clever and profound, Pixar’s latest tackles life’s Big Questions with whimsy and warmth. An inspiring take on mentors and finding our ‘spark.’ The music score is glorious, with hypnotic other-worldly compositions by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and jazz compositions and arrangements by eternal optimist Jon Batiste.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” — A civics lesson for the ages, writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s riveting account of the 1969 courtroom circus examines injustice during a politically charged time of civil disobedience. An extraordinary ensemble emphasizes the cultural revolution and political theater.
“The Vast of Night” — Director Andrew Patterson has crafted a confident UFO science fiction tale that is a throwback to 1950s “Twilight Zone” episodes. He builds an eerie tone and intriguing rhythms with fluid camera movements while screenwriters James Montague and Craig W. Sanger have crafted interesting blocks of dialogue.