A Thousand and One

Directed by A.V. Rockwell

A.V. Rockwell’s feature debut is as much a critique of the American dream as it is a portrait of survival, family, and change. Teyana Taylor gives a searing performance as Inez, an impoverished single mother working to overcome the hardships set by generational cycles, while reconnecting with her young son Terry. Chronicling a 10-year period of change and transition in their lives, with New York City’s own rapidly evolving landscape as a backdrop, the film is a search for identity and place in the world.


Directed by Greta Gerwig

Say what you will about the year’s #1 box office movie, but Greta Gerwig undeniably brings to life the pink-infused world of Mattel’s doll with an attention to detail and a knowing wink. Anchored by Margot Robbie’s and Ryan Gosling’s all-in performance as our Barbie and Ken, with Billie Eilish’s achingly beautiful “What Was I Made For?” serving as the heart of the movie, the film is a timely critique on gender, identity, and engineered fantasy. Filled with silliness and hysterical laughs, Gerwig delivers a film with as much meaning and purpose as Barbie herself is given in the film’s final life montage sequence.


Directed by Matt Johnson

“Blackberry” is the other “product biopic” of the year, documenting the rise and fall of Canada’s infamous smartphone. But unlike “Barbie”, this tragic comedy, part “Silicon Valley” and part “Wolf of Wall Street”, is a kinetic tale of geeks, losers, and bros seeking to subvert and manipulate each other in the name of fame and money. Fast-paced, suspenseful, and filled with witty dialogue, the film captures the frenzied excitement surrounding the revolutionary idea of embedding a computer inside a phone, and the corruption of the soul brought about by greed.

The Deepest Breath

Directed by Laura McGann

Laura McGann vividly portrays the extreme sport of free diving – humans free falling hundreds of feet into deep ocean darkness without oxygen supply, only to resurface minutes later on the brink of death. Profiling Alessia Zecchini’s pursuit of a world record, and her safety diver Stephen Keenan, “The Deepest Breath” is an otherworldly experience with stunning underwater photography that captures the triumphs and physical sacrifices involved, as well as the love and determination that drives this community of athletes.

The Holdovers

Directed by Alexander Payne

Alexander Payne’s comedy drama about lonely souls stuck at a New England boarding school over the holidays, is a blend of the crudeness and sweetness the director is known for. Centering around Paul Giamatti as the curmudgeon teacher selected to stay behind, and his relationship with one of the boys and the school’s cook who is in mourning, “The Holdovers” offers a heartwarming take on the messiness that makes us human, gift wrapped as a classic film made in the 70s.

Killers of the Flower Moon

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s “first Western” is not just a deftly crafted crime epic but a landmark film revealing an American injustice against the people of the Osage reservation. Grounded by powerhouse performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, and Robert De Niro, and told with the respect and sensitivity the Native American cause deserves, “Killers of the Flower Moon” easily rises as one of Scorsese’s finest works.


Directed by Bradley Cooper

Unless you’re interested in composer Leonard Bernstein’s story, it may be hard to consider Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro”, but the sweeping music and film aesthetics are a spectacular achievement and an experience in and of itself. Cooper masterfully conducts the film’s cinematography, costumes, and production design, elegantly evoking and evolving over the film’s 40-year period. Buoyed by incredible performances from Cooper who magically inhabits Bernstein, and Carey Mulligan as his wife, “Maestro” delivers an intimate portrait of a complicated man and an emotionally frustrated marriage.


Directed by Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan’s staggering biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, “the father of the atomic bomb,” is a dramatic story of genius, hubris, and politics. Encapsulating a lifetime of inner consciousness, the film brilliantly tracks Oppenheimer’s turbulent life as he helps research and develop the atomic bomb. The pacing is urgent, the dialogue quick, and the close-up framing intense. “Oppenheimer” is an absorbing cinematic feat and an accounting of a conflicted man and country.

Past Lives

Directed by Celine Song

Celine Song’s feature debut is a tender exploration of love and fate told through the story of Korean emigrant Nora, happily married in New York, who reconnects with a childhood sweetheart. A wistful love story spanning two decades, two continents, and two wonderfully nuanced performances from Greta Lee and Teo Yoo, “Past Lives” beautifully captures the emotional longing of what was, and the weight of what could have been.

Poor Things

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

After last year’s “WTF did I just watch” experience with “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, one wouldn’t expect to encounter another so soon. But enter “Poor Things”, Yorgos Lanthimos’ coming of age story set in a futuristic wonderland filled with pastels, kooky characters, and an aesthetic style one might find on a Hunter S. Thompson acid trip. Emma Stone is perfectly cast as Bella, an adult woman with the mind of an infant who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and female empowerment. This is peak Emma Stone, wide-eyed and childlike, seamlessly capturing all stages of human development in a career-defining performance in the year’s most outlandish film.