2022 Ten Best Movies

Tilda Swinton: The Eternal Daughter (A24)

A link to my ten-best list at the Scarecrow blog.

2022 is finished and from this perspective, it feels like a down year for movies. I have no doubt that in the future some films that struck me as wanting will grow in stature, and I will discover as-yet unwatched titles of merit. Still: disappointing.

            Maybe at that future date, I will want to rank the films in order of preference. Having watched a huge number of them in the last month, this is challenging—it’s not like years past, when I had the chance to live with movies for a while before ranking ’em. Here are the good things, in different groups of urgency.

            Top tier:

            Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg).

            Happening (Audrey Diwan).

            The Eternal Daughter (Joanna Hogg).

            Tár (Todd Field).

            Second tier:

            The Quiet Girl (Colm Bairéad).

            The Banshees of Inisheran (Martin McDonaugh).

            Hit the Road (Panah Panahi).

            In Front of Your Face (Hong Sang-soo).

            EO (Jerzy Skolimowski).

            Watcher (Chloe Okuno).

            Third tier:

            Utama (Alejandro Loayza Grisi).

            The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg).

            Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

            Close (Lukas Dhont).

            Three Minutes: A Lengthening (Bianca Stigter).

            Murina (Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic).

            Benediction (Terence Davies).

The Friday 12/31/2021

What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?

My piece for the Scarecrow blog this week, and etc.

Top Ten of 2021. It’s provisional, given the weird year and the fact that I still haven’t seen a bunch of things. Here it is in list form, for the record:

  1. What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (Aleksander Koberidze)
  2. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  3. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
  4. Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
  5. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)
  6. Herr Bachmann and His Class (Maria Speth)
  7. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Radu Jude)
  8. The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes)
  9. The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier)

I include also-rans in the article.

I’ve got two new radio episodes of “The Music and the Movies” to catch up with. The current go is movie music related to New Year’s Eve.

And you’ve got a few days left to hear “West Side Stories,” in which I listen to the two film versions, and related music.

Last postings for 2021 at my other blog, What a Feeling!: reviews of Christopher Frank’s Year of the Jellyfish, a French film with Valerie Kaprisky doing a Bardot thing; and John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which maybe needs no introduction.

2021? So long.

2020 Ten Best Movies


Orion Lee, John Magaro: First Cow (Alysson Riggs/A24)

For the record: It’s been a weird year. Nevertheless, here’s my 2020 Ten Best list, with annotations, for the Scarecrow blog. And the titles below.

1. First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)

2. Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)

3. Gunda (Victor Kossakovsky)

4. Fourteen (Dan Sallitt)

5. Lovers Rock (Steve McQueen)

6. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman)

7. Ammonite (Francis Lee)

8. Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov) and Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)

10. French Exit (Azazel Jacobs)

2019 Ten Best Movies


Brad Pitt: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Columbia Pictures)

Here’s my Ten Best list for the Herald, the article linked here.

  1. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)
  2. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)
  3. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg)
  4. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho)
  5. Atlantics (Mati Diop)
  6. Midsommar (Ari Aster)
  7. Peterloo (Mike Leigh)
  8. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Celine Sciamma)
  9. The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent)
  10. Booksmart (Olivia Wilde)


2018 Ten Best Movies


Brady Jandreau: The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics)

Here’s my list for 2018. I didn’t have a single obvious, slap-in-the-face #1 for the year, so almost any of the top half-dozen here could have been on top.

  1. The Rider (Chloe Zhao)
  2. Support the Girls (Andrew Bujalski)
  3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel and Ethan Coen)
  4. Lean on Pete (Andrew Haigh)
  5. First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  6. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  7. Hereditary (Ari Aster)
  8. Zama (Lucrecia Martel)
  9. You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)/Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)
  10. First Man (Damien Chazelle)

Here’s a link to the full end-of-year article from the Herald, including a Bottom Ten. Here’s the link from the Seattle Weekly, which, weirdly, counts backwards rather than down.

I voted in the National Society of Film Critics awards, and the group ended up going for The Rider as Best Picture, a not-untypical offbeat choice for the NSFC. Here’s their list on their website, plus a link to the list at Variety.

2017 Ten Best Movies


Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks: The Return

For 2017, I have an annotated list at Seattle Weekly, and a list that includes a Ten Worst at the Herald.

  1. Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch)
  2. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  3. Get Out (Jordan Peele)
  4. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
  5. A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies)
  6. The Lovers (Azazel Jacobs)
  7. Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow)
  8. The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)
  9. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas)
  10. Logan (James Mangold)

Ten Lion Elle (This Week’s Movies)



Isabelle Huppert: Elle

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Elle. “It’s provocative, and Huppert is indeed fantastic, but I’m not convinced.”

Lion. “A generic feel.”

And a Top Ten for 2016. The Weekly link is here; the Herald link includes ten worst, if that’s your idea of fun.

The shorthand version, as of today:

  1. Aquarius
  2. Our Little Sister
  3. The Fits
  4. Cemetery of Splendor
  5. Things to Come
  6. Everybody Wants Some!!
  7. Sully
  8. Paterson
  9. Green Room
  10. Aferim!

Hateful Home Carol-ing (This Week’s Movies)


Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

The Hateful Eight. “A slyly anti-romantic Western by a filmmaker who loves Westerns.” (In case of Herald paywall, Weekly link here.)

Carol. “The twist on Brief Encounter is that these characters do not have to be martyred on the altar of propriety.” (Weekly link here.)

Concussion. “Respectable to the point of stuffiness.” (Weekly link here.)

Daddy’s Home. “Ferrell hasn’t exhausted the comedy of emasculation just yet.” (Weekly link here.)

And a Weekly list of Ten Best for 2015; slightly longer version appears in the Herald.

Here’s the list, in short:

  1. 45 Years
  2. Son of Saul
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. Experimenter
  5. It Follows
  6. Clouds of Sils Maria
  7. Ex Machina
  8. The Assassin
  9. Spotlight
  10. The Duke of Burgundy

At the Overlook Podcast, Steve Scher and I find four essential things to note about Star Wars: The Force Awakens; listen here.

2014 Ten Best Movies (and etc.)

L'Air de Panache: Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

L’Air de Panache: Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Winter Sleep. “How small incidents can open up an entire world.” (In case of Herald paywall, Weekly version here.)

Rocks in My Pockets. “It’s a rare movie that makes you want to check in on how the filmmaker is doing since completing the project.” (Weekly version here.)

And a top-ten list for 2014, for Seattle Weekly. For the Herald, there’s also a ten worst. Click on the links for details, but here’s the ten:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

2. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)

3. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)

4. Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

6. Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier) and The Rover (David Michôd)

8. Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund)

9. The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones)

10. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)

There’s more Top Ten excavation at the 2014 Critics Wrap, where the discussion involves Jim Emerson, Richard T. Jameson, Kathleen Murphy, and me. It has one more broadcast on the Seattle Channel on Saturday January 3 at 9 p.m., and is watchable online here.

At the Overlook Podcast, Steve Scher and I talk about The Interview, does have some laughs and some political satire, layered in amid the raunch. Listen here.

I dropped by KIRO radio’s “Mark Rahner Show” again last week, where we talked about The Gambler and Into the Woods and other stuff. Listen here.

Selfish Ride (Weekly Links)

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, Ride Along

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, Ride Along

Links to reviews I wrote this week for the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Ride Along. “Mostly you get the impression that Hart was allowed to improvise through each scene on whatever subject was at hand.”

The Nut Job. “Animation’s rebuke to Atlas Shrugged.”

The Selfish Giant. “Whether she’s honoring those thick accents, finding the proper pitch for the boys’ tussling friendship, or pausing for eerie shots of the town’s nuclear towers shrouded in fog, Barnard rarely sets a foot wrong.”

Don’t forget to catch the 2013 Critics Wrap, available at the Seattle Channel website. Perhaps some of our observations will seem newly piquant in the wake of the Oscar nominations.

The Broadcast Film Critics Association held their Critics Choice awards last night; Gravity got seven wins, American Hustle took four, and 12 Years a Slave had three, including Best Picture. Hey, I voted for Inside Llewyn Davis – but poor Llewyn is never going to be a winner. And hey, Blue is the Warmest Color got Best Foreign Film – take that, Oscars. The results are here.