by Rob DiCristino
Honorable Mentions: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (Dir. Josh Greenbaum), Titane (Dir. Julia Ducournau), Shiva Baby (Dir. Emma Seligman), Benedetta (Dir. Paul Verhoeven), The Card Counter (Dir. Paul Schrader).
10. Last Night in Soho (Dir. Edgar Wright)
9. The French Dispatch (Dir. Wes Anderson)
8. Spencer (Dir. Pablo Larrain)
7. Red Rocket (Dir. Sean Baker)
6. Dune: Part I (Dir. Denis Villenueve)Jodorowsky’s Dune. David Lynch took the first successful shot in 1984, crafting an unwieldy epic that, while certainly unique, stumbles over itself trying to cram reams of politics, palace intrigue, and mythology into a 137-minute runtime. The oft-forgotten 2000 Sci-Fi Channel mini-series fares a bit better, with a three-part structure more able to carry the narrative weight. While no one has quite cracked it yet, Denis Villenueve has come the closest. His Dune is a sleeker, stripped-down tonal exercise that centers on Paul Atreides’ (Timothee Chalamet) tormented path toward a destiny for which neither he nor the galaxy may be entirely prepared. The first half of Villenueve’s two-parter captures Dune’s essential energy in engrossing, pulse-pounding fashion, setting up what is sure to be a grand finale.
5. No Time to Die (Dir. Cary Joji Fukanaga)just as revolutionary as his first. We often forget that Casino Royale was a bold continuity reset that presented a newly-minted 007 struggling to be more than a blunt instrument in an unforgiving world. Later came Skyfall, a meditation on death, rebirth, and loyalty that tested Bond’s principles and reaffirmed his position as the most important weapon in Her Majesty’s arsenal. No Time to Die takes that arc to its natural conclusion, presenting Bond as a man now fully capable of love, trust, empathy, and sacrifice. It’s a turn sure to upset folks who come to the Bond franchise for testosterone-fuelled escapism, but it’s the one Craig’s been building to all along. It’s proof that cinema’s longest-running franchise is still willing to take risks and explore new avenues. It’s proof that a character once dismissed as a Cold War relic is still worthy of our attention. It’s proof that Daniel Craig’s Bond is a singular entity, the most complex and rewarding interpretation we’ve ever seen.
4. Licorice Pizza (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
3. The Last Duel (Dir. Ridley Scott)
2. Pig (Dir. Michael Sarnoski)earlier this year, I noted that Pig is an exercise in constructive vengeance, a roaring rampage of empathy in which former celebrity chef Robin Feld (Nicolas Cage) rectifies the theft of his beloved truffle pig by tracking down her captors and forcing them to interrogate their actions rather than pay for them. Robin’s personal affections aside, the pig herself is largely immaterial — what bothers Robin is the culture that corrupted her value so thoroughly that black market gangsters would be compelled to commit such petty violence. What has changed since Robin’s self-imposed exile? What have we forgotten? “We don’t get a lot to really care about,” he tells a former protege, and far too much time is spent on a performative rat race that dutifully separates artists from their talent as they wade further into a lukewarm pool of mediocrity. In Pig’s chilling climax, Robin disarms a dangerous man with just a poignant memory. Sometimes that’s all it takes: A reminder of what we really care about.
1. The Worst Person in the World (Dir. Joachim Trier)