As credulous — or con-artist cheaty — as its demon-hunter protagonists, but lacking their charm. Worse, it can’t even be bothered to justify and satisfy the procedural approach to its mystery.
Come on down for a gen-u-ine American dystopia at the crossroads of end-of-empire and late-stage capitalism. Chloé Zhao’s outsider’s eye is hugely sympathetic but unhindered by knee-jerk patriotism.
The brilliantly unsettling “Two Distant Strangers” is not only the most important of the nominees but one of the movies of the year, of any length. Its surprises are more brutal than mere plot twists.
An electrifying philosophical fantasia that imagines four towering figures of 1960s America arguing over how to navigate racism as Black men. Enraging, but also thrilling, bursting with cinematic joy.
I don’t see how the astonishing “Opera,” by Erick Oh, doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Animated Short. This is a stupendous achievement, a cartoon clockwork depicting life, the universe, and everything.
As stuffed with soap-opera clichés as its cinematic precursors, but this is nevertheless a solid and diverting rescue procedural… and it’s somehow even more shocking for how mundane its disaster is.
A deeply compassionate, deeply unnerving portrait of a man suffering from dementia and losing his grip on reality. The empathy machine of cinema has rarely been put to such uncomfortably intimate use.
A complete upending of the western, about not wide open spaces but close-in intimacy, with an unusual female gaze and a hugely provocative dare to gender expectations. Both ironic and transformative.
A fictional version of a story we know in the abstract, told with hushed reserve and brutal unsentimentality. An incisive, nontitillating female gaze on sexual abuse that never sensationalizes horror.
Washington and Pattinson have palpable charisma, but this cold puzzle offers no incentive to solve it. Throw in damsel-in-distress crap, and both my geek sensibilities and my feminism are offended.