Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
Tom Cruise’s reliable paycheck took a big financial hit this time round, earning almost $200 million less than its predecessor, but due to no fault of its own. Dead Reckoning dropped right when the infamous Barbenheimer was storming the box office. Who knew that a historical biopic and a Barbie movie could blow a solid spy action movie out of the water.
Tom Cruise continues to deliver big thrills and practical stunts alongside director Christopher McQuarrie who pulled out all the stops to do some stupid big set pieces while the going was still good. Tom wanted to shoot the motorcycle jump on the first day in case it killed him; you can’t say he isn’t a gentleman about wasting everyone’s time, and McQuarrie almost bit off more than he could chew with the train scene.
“No one else in the world is doing this level of practical filmmaking, and it may never be done again,” he said of the endeavour.
Dumb Money tells the incredible David vs. Goliath tale of how the subreddit group Wallstreetbets flipped Wall Street upside-down when it pumped the over-shorted GameStop and tumbled multiple hedge funds. It doesn’t stand up to its forebears like The Big Short or The Wolf of Wall Street, but it still delivers a fun ensemble cast of people staring at their phones going, “Oh sh*t” as fortunes are made and dashed. Perhaps not the hottest movie on this list, but perhaps one of the most zeitgeisty.
Romance movies worth actually watching are hard to come by, so when you find one, it hits you like a lightning bolt. Past Lives was released by A24, so you know it’s going to be good. The movie follows two Koreans as they grow up and go their separate ways before reuniting at a different stage in their lives and wonder what could have been. It’s an intimate story with all the trappings of a modest normal life with flashes of emotion that will leave your heart yearning, wondering how your life could have been if things had turned out differently. Tears will be spilled if you let ‘em. Some herald this as the best film they saw all year, and it has multiple Golden Globe nominations to prove it.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves
I never thought a good Dungeons & Dragons film could ever be made, but it turns out if you get a bunch of idiots to go on an adventure together, you can have yourself a pretty great time. This is a fantasy film that is more interested in having a great entertaining time with clever set pieces based on D&D lore than about taking itself seriously.
Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the film was a bomb at the box office despite the buddy chemistry of Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez, but still ranked highly with both the audiences and critics who bothered to give it a chance.
If you’re in the mood for some light dumb fun on a Friday night, then this is the film for you.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Martin Scorsese is firing on all cylinders as he brings his regular collaborators to make a brooding emotional gut-punch of a film. Based on the 1920s murders of the oil-rich Native American tribe slowly getting murdered by the barons who want their stuff, Killers of the Flower Moon sets a new bar for movies about the Wild West. The most unexpected performance comes from Lily Gladstone whose acting easily outshines veterans, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.
If you like some historical crime drama with the grimness of reality setting in from all sides, then Killers of the Flower Moon is a must-watch.
Anatomy of a Fall
A mother and a father argue. The father dies after falling off the balcony. The only witness of the event is their blind son. The son then struggles to reconcile with either the suicide of his father, or the murder by his mother. Starring Sandra Hüller, this French film has won numerous awards and was also nominated at the 81st Golden Globe Awards. Primarily a courtroom thriller, the movie feels more real than real with expert camera work and actors who bring the raw emotions boiling to the top. The movie has a satisfying yet lingering ambiguity.
Now that you can watch it at home at your leisure, you’ve run out of excuses not to watch one of the surprise breakouts of the year. The movie is an intimate portrait of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who has been dubbed the “father of the atomic bomb”, making him one of the 21st century’s most influential figures. Christopher Nolan knocked it out of the park, making a film that gave us the full emotional impact of what it took to become the destroyer of worlds, as well as the personal victories and failures along the way. Cillian Murphy does a standout performance with a herd of A-listers following close behind such as Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, and Emily Blunt.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
It’s a good time to be a Spidey fan. This animated feature picks up where Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ends and goes gangbusters. Miles is coming off the high of his last adventure and is getting lonely now that his crush has gone back to her alternate reality. Fortunately, their universes are about to collide again, but not in the way he was expecting.
This film earned acclaim from audiences and critics alike, cementing it as one of the best Spider-Man films ever released, and well above any of the Marvel live-action films.
It’s a visual spectacle that’s best served on the big screen, but seeing it any way you can now is fine too.
Heralded as director Alexander Payne’s (Sideways, The Descendents) best film, The Holdovers is a period film starring Paul Giamatti giving the performance of his life. It co-stars Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa playing three characters stuck at a boarding school over the Christmas holidays. The trio have deep flaws that allow the others to understand more about themselves and become an unlikely found family during a time when being alone in the world is most keenly felt. It’s funny, superbly shot and feels like it was filmed in the ’70s when it takes place. Watch the trailer – it even comes with that trailer guy narrator voice.
Make this your new Christmas film after you’re done watching Die Hard.
The Monk And The Gun
Western values crash against centuries-old traditions as Bhutan transitions from monarchy to democracy, and Western pop culture floods the scene. Set in 2006, the country is bracing for a mock election as an American gun collector enters the country looking for a rare rifle that has fallen into the hands of a monk who is preparing for the country’s uncertain future. It’s an amusing satire of American culture as well as a window into a fascinating world we barely ever get to see. This is director, Pawo Choyning Dorji’s second film. His first earned him a Best International Feature Film nomination at the Academy Awards and this latest film could well earn him his second.
the borders of the culture war are expanding. Now you can’t even be a dumb movie without becoming a political football.
Sound Of Freedom
Sound of Freedom is a middle-of-the-road crime thriller with some pacing issues fronted by The Passion of the Christ actor Jim Caviezel. It’s primarily based on the exploits of Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Fed who handed in his badge to go hunt child traffickers in Colombia. Not super-controversial at first blush, but the film picked up a massive fan base from QAnon truthers based on Ballard’s own views of Q. The film had sat in Disney’s vaults for years doing nothing, seemingly a waste of $10 million. It was turned down by both Netflix and Amazon. QAnon supporters believed this was the mainstream media stopping us from seeing the truth of child trafficking, a practice apparently nobody had ever heard of until this movie was released, or something.
One of them maybe should have picked it up because it managed to make a massive return when it was independently released.
While the film was rolling out, Ballard quietly left his anti-trafficking group for reasons unknown. It has now been revealed that this was due to allegations of sexual assault from multiple co-workers.
Bill Burr does his thing poking fun at intergenerational conflict and how the world has moved in such a way to alienate the old dogs. Much like Sound of Freedom, it’s neither completely terrible nor anything worth really writing home about. Personally, I found it enjoyable enough with only a little teeth grinding here and there. It earned a 26 percent score from reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes who maybe felt like this was a personal attack and 86 percent from audiences who thought so too. Personally, I think the film’s value lies squarely between these two numbers. Another victim of the culture war, but one that picked that fight itself when it poked fun at woke white people.