1. Little Women (Greta Gerwig)
2. Climax (Gaspar Noe)
3. Uncut Gems (Josh and Benny Safdie)
4. Midsommar (Ari Aster)
5. Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria)
3. Joker (Todd Phillips). Joaquin Phoenix is probably the best actor working, and his performance in this movie is justly admired, but the film itself is overlong and self-serious with severe pacing problems. I'm not as critical of whatever the "message" may or not be (a point of contention for many) as I am of the fact that I walked out of the theater feeling empty, and not in the way I like.
2. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers). Despite much to admire in the mise-en-scene and sound design of this film, which powerfully captures internal and external claustrophobia, I never bought the acting and felt it devolved into bloated self-parody at the end (in front of and behind the camera). A shame, because the director's previous film The Witch is among the best of the past decade. Were I to rewatch it now, I think I would like it less as I've seen all the director's tricks laid bare. Ghosts are always scarier away from the light.
1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino). The nadir of my film-going experience this year is summed up by the conversation I had with a friend in a Boston theater as the lights went up. Nudging her awake I sheepishly said "I'm so sorry, I wanted to ask you if we could leave after like 30 minutes, I was so bored". Her eyes widened as she exclaimed "Oh my God I wanted to do the same thing!" I love Old Hollywood, and I love the cinema, attitude and music of the late 1960's, but nothing connected for me in this interminable slog that felt really and truly as if it would never, ever end.