The 20 Best Movies of 2019

There are other lists that came out faster, but are any more accurate than this one? SportsAlcohol.com stands by its yearslong track record of delivering not the first best-of-the-year list, but the best one. No other list aggregates the sometimes-disparate, sometimes alarmingly-in-sync opinions of Marisa LaScala, Nathaniel Wharton, Sara Batkie, Jesse Hassenger, and Jeremy Beck. So I won’t take up a lot of time with a fancy intro. You want to see how right we are about everything, and who am I to hold you up? Let’s do it!

The Top 20 Best Movies of 2019

20. The Farewell

I went through a lot of big changes in 2019: I quit my job and moved away from New York, where I’d lived for almost eleven years, to attend a three-month writing residency in Orlando, Florida, followed by another move back to the Midwest, finally settling in Chicago. It was all a bit overwhelming, and in some ways still is, which is why I’m immensely grateful that The Farewell was the first film that I saw in my new city. On paper it has a plot that seems too contrived and cutesy to work at all: a Chinese-American family comes together to put on a fake wedding in an attempt to hide a terminal cancer diagnosis from their beloved matriarch. Except that something like this essentially happened to writer-director Lulu Wang; she already told it once for an episode of This American Life. To watch this film is to become a part of this family: to fall in love with Nai Nai; to feel your heart break for Billi as she struggles with the deception; to giggle and shake your head as the “groom” gets progressively more inebriated at his wedding banquet. Reminiscent of both the early work of Ang Lee and Edward Yang’s magnum opus Yi Yi but with a distinctly feminist spirit running through it, The Farewell feels like the announcement of a great talent, which is why it was so frustrating to see it go largely unrecognized by awards bodies. Perhaps in a year so dominated by stories of white, often angry, men, it was simply too quiet and unassuming, too “domestic” to get much notice. But I know I’ve been carrying its warmth with me since I saw it, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. It’s not as shiny as an Oscar, I suppose, but if Jared Leto can have one, are they really worth that much anyway? – Sara

19. Apollo 11

Released in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the initial draw of this documentary was the promise of previously-unseen-by-the-public footage of the Apollo 11 mission. What a joy, then, that it came in the form of such a beautifully assembled and exhilarating film. Cut together without voiceover or taking heads, it’s a thrillingly experiential look at a truly inspiring achievement. – Nathaniel

18. Luce

When you look at someone, what do you see? Julius Onah’s spry, slippery drama explores that question and many more, with an intellectual rigor that befits its academic environs. Yet while Luce is bracingly smart, it’s too urgent and suspenseful to ever feel like a cerebral exercise. The story of a brilliant young black man whose apparent saintliness is called into question—by both his wary black teacher (Octavia Spencer) and his adoptive white parents (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, the Funny Games reunion you never knew you wanted)—it grapples with implicit bias, white guilt, and due process, a swirling cocktail of issues that’s especially pungent amid the strained race relations of contemporary America. But like many of the movies on this list, Luce is far more than the sum of its political relevances. Based on a play by J.C. Lee (who co-wrote the screenplay with Onah), it’s a very talky film, but it moves like a thriller, the sharp cross-cutting and the unnerving score lending it inexorable momentum. At the center of everything is Luce himself, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. in a riveting performance, full of intelligence and guile and tightly wound fury. When you look at him—when you watch his eyes flash, and listen to his carefully modulated intonations—you see an awful lot of talent. – Jeremy

17. Booksmart

It’s hard to talk about Booksmart without someone throwing around the phrase “female Superbad.” The comparison isn’t even unfair, since they’re both movies about a pair of friends who experience a one-crazy-night scenario and process some things about their lives before heading out to college. They’re also both, you know, really funny. But people tend to forget that whatt separates Superbad from the teen-comedy pack is its focus on friendship. There are not that many movies that celebrate male friendship the way Superbad does, even though the leads’ closeness is almost played for laughs, aping the beats of a romantic comedy. And even more than 10 years later, it’s still an exception to find a teen comedy that focuses more on friendship than on some kind of high-school romantic quest (looking at you, Netflix, purveyor of the okay-enough Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before). So few movies try to highlight what’s so weird and funny about the intense female friendships that form in high school. In Booksmart‘s case, it earns a victorious grade for subject selection, and the jokes award it extra credit. —Marisa

16. Official Secrets

Truth is stupider than fiction. There it was, last September: a genuine scandal involving a troubled intelligence officer blowing the whistle on Donald Trump’s corrupt geopolitical behavior; meanwhile, sitting in theaters at that very moment was a major motion picture, starring multiple Oscar nominees, about an intelligence officer blowing the whistle on her government’s shady international dealings. The serendipity was astounding. Nobody cared. Nobody saw it. If the legacy of the Trump whistleblower will involve spawning an impeachment that has proved, shall we say, polarizing—dividing Congress (and the country) into camps of, “Look at all of this irrefutable evidence of corruption!” pitted against, “Yeah but still”—the lasting impact of Official Secrets boils down to, “Oh, that was a movie?”

Look, I won’t pretend that I would have been as transfixed by this film if I’d seen it during the reign of a different, less contemptible administration; its topicality is just too great to ignore. But the alarming relevance of Gavin Hood’s elegantly streamlined procedural shouldn’t overshadow its cinematic achievements. It’s a considerable challenge, energizing a movie that’s so heavily rooted in document distribution and legalese; two key set pieces—one involving the clandestine use of a Xerox machine, another the inadvertent use of spell-check—don’t exactly scream suspense. Yet Hood and his crack cast—led by the reliably superb Keira Knightley, with strong supporting turns from Matt Smith, Ralph Fiennes, and some splendid character actors—somehow make this dry material dynamic and exciting, building a Kafkaesque world full of treachery and absurdity. Still, while I certainly wish more people had seen this fleet and entertaining thriller, the American public’s collective shrug in response to it actually feels appropriate. The artistic success of Official Secrets is just what we needed; its commercial failure is precisely what we deserved. – Jeremy

15. Her Smell

Apparently this year I had a thing for abrasive protagonists that filmmakers trap us with for a very long run time (see #7 on this list for another.) I also have a thing for the collaborations between writer-director Alex Ross Perry and Elisabeth Moss; it’s tough to say these two bring out the best in each other when the characters they create are so emotionally draining, but Her Smell stands as the pinnacle of their artistic partnership (so far, at least, though I fear whatever they come up with next might kill one of them.) Like Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems, Becky Something, the riot grrrl front woman of a Hole-esque band, is an addict, one whose addictions are tied into her successes so completely that it’s difficult for those around her to extricate themselves from her orbit, no matter how much she belittles or endangers them. Perry’s work often riffs on a specific filmmaker or genre (see Queen of Night‘s fun house mirror take on Polanski) and Her Smell, structured in five acts set mostly in enclosed spaces, feels like his John Cassavettes moment, not least because Moss seems to be channeling the ferocious DGAF energy of his frequent leading lady Gena Rowlands here. Becky’s not just genuinely irritating but potentially irredeemable, which still feels like a brave thing for an actress to take on when even “difficult” women in mainstream cinema follow a pretty circumscribed blueprint. Those who need their heroines to follow a clear path to recovery should probably steer clear. Those who know life often doesn’t work like that, strap yourself in for the roller coaster ride of 2019. – Sara

14. Midsommar

It seems strange to dub Ari Aster a humanist. After all, his first two movies—the ghastly, gripping Hereditary, and now the even more ornately chilling Midsommar—have been almost punishing in their formal discipline, full of ghoulish images and unnervingly steady compositions. But while Hereditary is most memorable for its relentless dread, it drew its true power from its depiction of a woman’s slow unraveling. For its part, Midsommar is less a horror film than a break-up picture, coolly but sympathetically chronicling the disintegration of an already-rickety relationship. In empirical terms, Aster’s follow-up is far less scary than his debut; there are no demons lurking in the shadows, no supernatural forces intent on possessing our hero’s soul. Yet that relative normalcy allows him to pay greater attention to character, lending more weight to the crucible of terrors that he presents with such vivid flair. Beauty is brutality in this movie, which conjures a luminous pastoral commune full of cheerful natives dressed in blinding white gowns, then watches as their bucolic bliss slowly curdles into the stuff of nightmares. All the while, the sun keeps shining, and so does Florence Pugh. Of the three terrific performances the actor delivered in 2019, this is her biggest swing, and her most essential; Aster’s exquisitely demented antics simply wouldn’t work if they weren’t tethered to such a fiercely human center. The final image of Midsommar is haunting, but it’s also fitting; watching Pugh imbue Aster’s outré flourishes with such heartfelt feeling, it’s impossible not to smile. – Jeremy

13. Portrait of a Lady on Fire

I have a personal weakness for films that depict in sumptuous detail how artists make something (I watched all four hours of Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse in one sitting, AMA.) I’m also a sucker for a romance that takes its time with the feelings its protagonists are developing for one another. So Portrait of a Lady on Fire was cinematic catnip for me, as it luxuriates in both of these things. The film rewards the viewer who watches with as much patience as the two women at its center; it’s as interested in the quotidian as it is in passion. I’d seen and enjoyed director Celine Sciamma’s previous effort Girlhood but this feels like a great leap forward, more ambitious in emotional scope and spectacle, and also more personal. As a female artist working in a largely male-dominated industry, Sciamma likely has first-hand experience with being thwarted or underestimated and she infuses Portrait with a subtle but defiant reclaiming of history. It’s not just a story of two women in love but of women creating in their own image, when the very act of looking too closely or feeling too deeply made you suspect. It’s why of all the cries I had at the movies this year, the one I experienced during the closing moments of this film felt the most cathartic: an almost-meta long take of a character so overwhelmed by a piece of art that she can’t help but openly weep. Not yet ready for the film she was a part of to end, I was right there with her. – Sara

12. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla has accumulated a broad spectrum of metaphorical meanings over the course of his 65-year career, but it is still very easy for filmmakers and audiences alike to approach him with a vague notion of “anti-nuclear” symbolism. The biggest achievement of the folks behind this latest American-made version of the big guy is not in the dazzling disaster movie spectacle they were able to summon, or the fascinating science fiction world they have created around the monsters, or the respectful adaptations of some of the most iconic elements of the original films. No, the most impressive thing they did was to create an action-packed monster mash that still does something new with all that metaphorical freight. Continuing the thematic exploration of human impact on the natural world that runs through Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island, King of the Monsters links a story about a family dealing with a personal tragedy caused by a force truly outside their control and a broader story of a mankind confronted by its own powerlessness in the face of the natural forces it has unleashed on itself. There is something truly fascinating in the ways that the film uses (and inverts) elements that might initially just seem like references or Easter eggs, like Dr. Serizawa’s fate or the use of a WMD called the oxygen destroyer, exploring notions of surrender or forgiveness in ways that interact movingly with the films it references.

Also, this movie takes the title literally in a way that made its final moments and cut to credits the kind of moment that makes me want to leap to my feet just thinking about it. – Nathaniel

11. Transit

Christian Petzold’s movie is like some sort of hybrid mythical beast; it has the head of an allegory, the body of a thriller, and the heart of a love story. That it excels in each of these genres independently while still feeling like a cohesive work is a testament to the fluidity of Petzold’s screenwriting, the way he weaves rich emotions and gripping suspense into a complex tapestry of dystopian terror. One of his boldest strokes is to set Transit seemingly out of time; its electronics and flat-screen monitors suggest the present day, but its setting—a fraught Paris occupied by a faceless tyrannical regime—recalls the war-torn haunts of Casablanca. This epochal ambiguity lends a political charge to a film that’s already teeming with intrigue and incident. Franz Rogowski is quietly vulnerable as a savvy loner scrambling for his freedom, while Paula Beer is mesmerizing as his… seducer? Sucker? Co-conspirator? Transit toys with mysteries of identity and duplicity in ways that are legitimately surprising, but it amounts to far more than an elaborately constructed piece of cinematic rug-pulling. Rogowski’s stricken hero just wants to flee, but with a movie this hypnotic—this full of drama, deception, and longing—there’s no escape. – Jeremy

10. The Last Black Man in Fan Francisco

Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails begin their movie The Last Black Man in San Francisco with such lyricism that it’s easy to imagine that they’re making a gorgeous prologue before the movie must settle into more familiar rhythms. But this story of, uh, Jimmie Fails (playing a version of himself) trying to keep a foothold in gentrifying San Francisco (via the beautiful old house he claims as a birthright) never settles in the least. It stays up on that tightrope of poetry for the whole goddamned running time, producing a kind of bittersweet dream state, foregrounding the friendship between Jimmie and his playwright buddy Montgomery Allen (Jonathan Majors, who really deserved awards attention). The Last Black Man in San Francisco is moving, but still funny; mournful, but not without hope; dreamy, but somehow unsentimental. I can’t remember the last time a movie so earned its city-as-a-character bona fides. – Jesse

9. Under the Silver Lake

“I’m a white male, aged 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are!” That is a quote from one Homer J. Simpson, who is forever canonically 39 years old, which is also how old I am; I do not labor under the delusion that Under the Silver Lake‘s straight-shot appeal into my ’90s-raised heart is any kind of rare occurrence. Yet David Robert Mitchell’s rambling, sometimes free-associative neo-noir cultural respective does have some tricky, clever things to say about the very pandering I felt in the deepest, warmest recesses of my soul during much of this R.E.M.-scored, consumer-culture-saturated, reference-heavy mystery trip. The protagonist (Andrew Garfield), called “Sam” by the credits but almost no one in the movie, parlays his creepy obsession with his neighbor (Riley Keough) into a paranoid investigation when she disappears with barely a trace into the Los Angeles underbelly, but Mitchell’s case study has more to do with Sam’s pathology. The former Spider-Man is playing something of a Tarantino wannabe without talent or direction, which makes it all the more miraculous that Under the Silver Lake is also terrific fun; it understands how seductive it can be to get lost in our stupid little pop-cultural obsessions (and don’t think Mitchell excludes himself here; he stages a whole scene where his first feature, The Myth of the American Sleepover, screens in an L.A. graveyard, at one point composing a split-diopter shot with the screen and Sam’s “real”-world face). At a time when popular culture seems hell-bent on giving certain audiences more and more and more of what they want, or at least what they remember wanting, Mitchell has composed a detailed, funny, disturbing portrait of misguided desire. – Jesse

8. Us

Jordan Peele had the sort of experience with the critical, financial, and audience reception of his first film, Get Out, that all but guaranteed his next effort would be met with cries of “sophomore slump” by comparison. But Us might just be even better than its predecessor. The film is a less straightforward collection of themes than Get Out, but it is so stuffed with ideas and references and memorable images that it offers new discoveries and opportunities for interpretation on each viewing (is it about economic inequality? impostor syndrome among minorities? America’s history of colonization and exploitation?). And all those considerations come along with a truly iconic new horror villain and two genuinely spectacular performances by Lupita Nyong’o. It’s more visually ambitious, scarier, and chewier thematically than his great first feature. Good luck topping this one next time, Mr. Peele. – Nathaniel

7. Uncut Gems

It’s only fitting this film begins by tunneling through a clenched asshole. It’s as apt a visual metaphor as any for what it’s like to spend time in the company of Howard Ratner, which lucky viewers get to do for the next two and a half hours. By now it’s a cliche to note that the best dramatic Adam Sandler performances make potent use of the incipient rage of his comedic turns, but familiarity with the explosive personalities of Happy Gilmore and Barry Egan won’t entirely prepare you for what the Safdie Brothers have in mind here. If Good Time, their previous hyperkinetic collaboration with Robert Pattinson, was like watching a video game character level up, Uncut Gems is like watching someone repeatedly mash all the controller buttons when they realize they’re losing, throwing everything and everyone around them into chaos. Howard is a distinctly belligerent presence, and not always an easy one to be around (“You’re about the most annoying person I’ve ever met,” his wife tells him right before she leaves him and at least a few audience members at my showing were ready to go with her.) Yet Sandler and the Safdies compel you to keep watching him every sweaty, expletive-filled step of the way. The way this film moves is a thing of beauty, as precious as the gems Howard obsessively hawks. That we only truly enter his head at the very end of the movie makes sense. It’s the only time he’s still enough to let us in. – Sara

6. The Irishman

It’s a movie filled with actors who almost anyone can caricature: the “little bit” squint of Robert De Niro, the grandiloquent theatricality of Al Pacino, the pugnacity of Joe Pesci. Director Martin Scorsese has not just filmographies to contend with (his own, and his actors’) but a thousand comedy sketches and party tricks and weird misunderstandings from anyone who dismisses his work as a bunch of samey gangster movies (and that’s the last I’ll say about that for now, I promise). Maybe that’s why I’m forgiving of the imperfections in The Irishman‘s much-hyped de-aging technology, the way it can bring De Niro and Pacino and Pesci back in time, sure, but maybe not so far back as their characters would prefer, and not with the spry step they might have enjoyed in their relative youth. Scorsese is giving us something deeply familiar and uncannily different; when we see union man/hitman Frank Sheeran in his younger years, we are not seeing the actual young De Niro, nor are we seeing the Pacino of Sea of Love or Heat (much less Serpico or The Godfather) back to life when he plays Jimmy Hoffa. This is something else: men with more weariness in their steps, men who do as they’re told (except Hoffa, who just as reliably does the opposite), men who do not appear on dorm-room posters. It’s not that Scorsese’s other crime movies glamorized his characters so much as this one lays bare their trudging, never-articulated sadness. It features the pleasures of great De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci performances, while still managing to take those familiar personas someplace new, and sometimes scary. On top of all that, The Irishman is a stunner on the level of screenplay and direction: digressive, hilarious (multiple instant classic scenes!), and, eventually, deeply melancholic. There’s a fullness to the experience, even when the last shot is chilling enough to run your blood cold. To quote Pacino’s character in another great 2019 movie: What a picture. – Jesse

5. Marriage Story

You might have expected it to be miserable. Here’s Noah Baumbach, our poet laureate of discord and dysfunction, delivering a 137-minute opus that examines the agony of divorce in excruciating detail. Yet while Marriage Story in no way skimps on the pain and anger that attend the grueling process of marital dissolution—the climactic (and heavily memed) fight between its principals is epically brutal, full of resentment and regret and fury—it also proves to be a film of startling tenderness. Baumbach has always harbored empathy for his selfish and broken characters, but Marriage Story is more than his usual assemblage of acerbic wordplay and stylistic quirks. It’s an excavation: a headlong dive into the flaws and desires of two people whose simmering incompatibilities—personal, professional, sexual—have slowly swallowed their love. That it’s also a sharply detailed and wryly funny legal procedural is a bonus, and a testament to Baumbach’s recognition that life is too messy and hurtful and joyous to be reduced to a logline. Anchored by magnificent turns from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver (plus some righteous rage from Laura Dern), Marriage Story doesn’t pull any punches, but it’s Baumbach’s genuine affection for his characters that hits the hardest. – Jeremy

4. Knives Out

Of late, our most common mode of pop-culture detective is the gone-to-seed (Terriers, Inherent Vice), the bumbling amateurs (Cold Weather, movie #9 Under the Silver Lake, Wild Canaries), or the underdog, meddling with powerful forces they are powerless against  (Veronica Mars). The decks are stacked against the shamuses, and they have to fight from being a pawn in the games played by The Powers That Be.

Knives Out flips the formula. Benoit Blanc, with his smooth and never-riled accent, is the Powers That Be, and the pawns fall over themselves to survive his game. You don’t worry for a moment that Blanc is going to end up like a Dashiell Hammet or Raymond Chandler detective, someone who solves the mystery but still ends up on the losing out in the end. And what makes this movie such a hoot is the family of characters (and dream team of actors) Rian Johnson has assembled to play the game with Blanc: It’s like the cast of Clue if everyone lived their whole lives too rich and comfortable to actually become functional adults. Blanc, the enforcer with the Foghorn Leghorn accent, gets to toy with the rich and all their cable-knit sweaters and blond highlighted hair; I admit that there’s something cathartic about seeing those people get their comeuppance in 2019 just because of, well, gestures at everything in the world. —Marisa

3. Little Women

The four sisters of Little Women are like the Hogwarts houses, except everyone wants to be a Jo. (If the Sorting Hat can really read your thoughts and takes your desires into account, then, sorry, the world is devoid of Beths.) Greta Gerwig deserves credit for being the only director who makes a good, strong case for the other three houses. Sure, her Jo is amazing — and Gerwig’s muse, Saoirse Ronan, imbues her with all of the strength, drive, ambition, and life of the best Jo Marches out there. But it’s easy to make Jo all of these things, since the character is drawn that way. Most of the films can pull off a great Jo. What separates the wheat from the chaff in Little Women film adaptations is the Megs, the Beths, and the Amys. (Especially the Amys. As a little sister, I have a high standard for Amys.) Gerwig is able to each sister a worldview of her own, and not just because they need to feel a certain way for Jo to react to. How she’s able to do this, and gin up empathy for each sister, without turning the whole thing into a 10-hour limited series on your favorite streaming service is beyond me. It’s a combination of keeping the Little Women Greatest Hits — the hair-burning, the manuscript-burning, the burning-down-of-the-dance-floor that Jo and Laurie do on the porch together — while adding just enough to get to the “why” behind each of these iconic moments. Plus, you get a little meta-commentary about happy-marriage-endings as a cherry on top. —Marisa

2. Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood

I’m lucky that this is one of my blurbs, since we already talked about it extensively in our Quentin Tarantino podcast (and again in our upcoming podcast about this list). That means I don’t have to worry about capturing this movie as a whole, and instead I can go deep on something we just briefly touched upon in our conversations.

I ranked this as my #1 movie because of the way it bled over into my real life. I made Jesse buy the soundtrack, for example, so that when I drove us all to Saratoga for a weekend, I could feel like Cliff Booth. And I did, because the soundtrack had little bits of radio commercials and DJ talk layered over the songs. It reminded me of the big movie soundtracks of the ’90s, many of which were also Tarantino’s. My friends bought them, knew their covers, memorized the track lists so that one song still feels like it’s going to segue into the next, even if it’s being played independently of the album. There are fewer of those, these days: fewer soundtracks that people all know collectively, as soundtracks. Fewer radio commercials that everyone has memorized, because everyone listens to the radio while driving. Pop culture unites us for big, blockbuster events, but, as audiences become more fragmented, there’s less ephemera that unites us.

So one thing I love about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the way it revels in the throwaway bits of culture, everything from the between-song filler on the radio to the interstitials that play during drive-in movies to the neon signs that illuminate mid-century fast-food joints. Almost everyone in the movie, at some point, talks about watching F.B.I. on Sundays — not TV powerhouses like Gunsmoke or Bonanza, which were also on at the time. Even the movie’s central figures, Rick Dalton and Sharon Tate, aren’t the stars of the era. They headline (made-up) spaghetti Westerns and lesser-known (real) Dean Martin comedies.

And yet, to Tarantino, these things aren’t unimportant. They’re essential, because these are the things that tie people together. Everyone watches F.B.I. — from the actors in the Hollywood Hills to the Manson family on Spahn Ranch. There are still things that unite us in similar ways, but their numbers are dwindling. No TikTok video will have the same presence as an earwormy commercial. But movies are pretty much the one cultural delivery system that hasn’t changed. We still tend to interact with them in the same way, together. And Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood made me step back and appreciate that. —Marisa

1. Parasite

There’s a question I’ve been turning over in my head ever since this film pinned me to my seat back in October: who exactly is the title referring to? I’ve asked a few friends this as well and nobody has quite the same answer. The obvious candidates are the Kim family, a pack of scrappy strivers who slowly infiltrate the home of the wealthy, oblivious Parks throughout the first half of Bong Joon Ho’s diabolical film. But could it be the Moons who, in a brilliant second act twist, are revealed to have literally burrowed their way into the Parks’ lives? Or maybe it’s the Parks themselves, who leech off those around them in more insidious but socially-approved ways, relying so much on the invisible labor of others that they’ll insult their providers right in front of them without a thought. It’s the genius of Bong’s creation that it could be any, or all, of these characters. After all, capitalism wouldn’t work if the haves couldn’t build their lofty constructions on the backs of the have-nots. We need each other, even as the system we live in consistently puts these needs at odds; it’s why Ms. Park can afford to be so “nice” while a tossed-off slight drives Mr. Kim off the deep end. But I don’t think Parasite ranked as SportsAlcohol’s #1 film of 2019 (and won the Palme d’Or, only slightly less illustrious a prize) just on the strength of its cultural critique. It’s because it’s the most complete entertainment package of the year: part Hollywood blockbuster, part upstairs-downstairs farce, part Hitchcockian nail biter, a juggling act where the pins aren’t just on fire, they’re Swiss Army knives with all the tools open at once. It’s the work of a filmmaker at the height of his dazzling powers, who achieves greatness not by compromising his genre bona fides but amplifying them. There’s something in it for everyone, which in the real world feels vanishingly rare. – Sara

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