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The Best Films of 2023 … So Far

For too much of film history, the first half of the year has often been forgotten as people make their top ten lists when the calendar actually turns over. It’s a product of studios scheduling high-profile projects in a season that’s often kinder regarding awards, along with that little thing called recency bias. But this might be changing. The last Best Picture winner was a March 2022 premiere, and 2023 has been rich with artistic quality over its first six months. This list was once going to be around 15 titles but easily expanded to 20 and then 25. Honestly, we had to cut some excellent films from it. So consider this just a sample of what the writers of have loved so far this year, with new capsule reviews, links to the originals, and information on where to watch them. Catch up with these 25 movies. And don’t forget them in six months. 


We all know how this story of rich people getting richer ends: Michael Jordan’s deal with Nike is almost as legendary as his career with the Bulls. Somehow, director and uncredited co-screenwriter Ben Affleck keeps it surprising with superb structure, impeccable casting, and performances. (Though Jordan does get some credit as his one request was that Viola Davis play his mother, Deloris, and of course, Davis is dazzling as always.) It’s also important to point out that 2023 is the year of movies about the art of the deal, with consumer product origin stories featuring Blackberry smartphones, Beanie Babies, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Tetris, and more. On the surface, “Air” is about sneakers named for a basketball player. But it has a subtle, deeper origin story, especially meaningful during a writer’s strike with the possibility of an actors’ strike. “Air” is the first film from a new company formed by Affleck and Matt Damon that promises to give a percentage to the people who work on films as Nike did for Jordan, giving cinematographers, designers, and sound technicians a share in the profits of the work they help to create. The medium is the message. (Nell Minow)

“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.”

Not only is Kelly Fremon Craig’s marvelous screen adaptation of iconic author Judy Blume’s 1970 masterpiece my favorite film of the year thus far, but it's also the first movie I’ve seen five times during its initial theatrical run. This resulted in me wanting to share the picture with as many friends and family members as possible, including my grandma—a lifelong movie buff—who told me as tears streamed down her face that this is the sort of film that can make the world a better place. For over half a century, Blume has busted stigmas regarding the female experience that the current governor of her home state appears hell-bent on reinforcing, and writer/director Craig has masterfully captured the timeless humanity of her work in every frame. The ensemble contains brilliant turns from Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and a revelatory Elle Graham, though it is Abby Ryder Fortson’s extraordinary portrayal of the titular heroine’s adolescent bewilderment and spiritual yearning that makes this film a cinematic gift for the ages. Indeed, Abby told me during our interview that the conversations sparked by this movie are ones “we need to have in order to let people know, if nothing else, that they’re not alone.” (Matt Fagerholm)

Asteroid City

In a time when people think they know Wes Anderson enough to develop AI systems that try to replicate his work, his “Asteroid City” proves not only that his voice and style can't be duplicated or recycled but that it keeps evolving. In this multilayered ensemble piece about an in-universe televised production of a play about an alien sighting at an astronomy convention in a deserted town during the ‘50s, Anderson reflects on life as an artist. “Asteroid City” is as inviting and quirky as most of Anderson's films, but the humor is consistently hilarious, swaying between upbeat and dark. The ensemble cast all pour incredible soulfulness into their immersive performances; Jason Schwartzman, Tom Hanks, Jefferey Wright, Scarlett Johansson, and Jake Ryan (who I can only imagine Anderson went giddy over that he found a miniature Schwartzman) are standouts. But the film's boldest quality lies in Anderson's existential exploration of life, asking how artists can continue to make art with purpose when processing a significant tragedy. It’s as if the pandemic had Anderson wrestling with an existential crisis, and writing this script was his only outlet. “Asteroid City” is as humanely complex and sincere as his best work. (Rendy Jones)

The Eight Mountains

The other day, while filling my car with gas, I was enjoying standing there in the cool misty morning, enjoying the quiet and peace. Suddenly the screen on the gas pump blazed into life with jingles and manic voices, all commercials. I was a captive audience. You can't "opt-out" of these. I resented this. I can't even have a minute alone to myself without being advertised to! This is all part of a larger cultural refusal to allow space for contemplation and stillness. Sometimes quiet and even emptiness leave room for depth of feeling and thought. Current movies sometimes act like that gas pump, afraid to allow the audience a moment to think. 

What does this have to do with "The Eight Mountains"? The film's slow rhythm, its quietness, and gentleness, and its resistance to high-pitch emotions or even conflict took an attitude adjustment at first, even for me, who watches all kinds of movies of every pace imaginable. The film forces you to slow down. I was captured by the visuals, the cinematography, the music, and the way it told the story of a 40-year friendship between two very different men (Luca Marinelli and Alessandro Borghi). Co-directed by Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix van Groeningen, based on a best-selling novel, "The Eight Mountains" has the patience to allow for things in the audience, giving us space and time to be with our own thoughts. This "allowing" space is all too rare. I see a lot of films, and some are forgettable, others are terrible. Some are flawed but likable, and some are very good. It's rare that a film expands in your consciousness after you've seen it, sticking with you, images floating by, a part of you already. "The Eight Mountains" is one of those films. (Sheila O’Malley)

Full Time

Laure Calamy delivers a powerhouse performance in “Full Time,” a sharp observational drama set in and around Paris. Her force of presence in the role of Julie Roy, a stressed single mother of two who travels each day from the city to the suburbs, is essential to writer/director Éric Gravel’s breathless, furiously focused strain of social realism; both actor and filmmaker achieve an astonishing intimacy and credibility in their depiction of not only the quotidian rhythms of Julie’s domestic and working-class life but the social, psychological, and moral tensions that its economics impose. Entirely reliant upon public transportation to get to the five-star hotel where she works as the head chambermaid, and also to an interview for a job at a marketing firm that would better suit her skill set, Julie faces a hectic week even before a transit strike shuts down the city’s trains and buses, making her day-to-day existence even more fraught with obstacles. The film’s supply-chain drama informs Julie’s increasingly frantic movements—her all-consuming initiative and inner life governed by a sense of pressurized individualism—while remaining at its periphery; in Gravel’s cutting social analysis, her political and personal considerations of labor are suppressed by its constancy.

(Isaac Feldberg)


In "Godland," writer/director Hlynur Pálmason uses the history of Iceland's colonial past to craft a transfixing meditation on life's many oppositions. At its center is the relationship between Danish priest Lucas, on a mission to build a Lutheran church in a rural southeast settlement, and his soulful Icelandic guide Ragnar (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson), who the colonizers continually belittle. As they make their journey together, cinematographer Maria von Hausswolff captures the beauty–and the harshness–of this unspoiled land, capturing its raging ocean waves, peaceful waterfalls, and glowing lava in richly textured 35mm shot in Academy ratio. This framing choice adds both intimacy and distance to the film as if it were composed of thousands of vacation slides. This same sensation is echoed in the way Pálmason films his actors, often centering their bodies, positioning their faces to look squarely at the camera, as if they too were about to be photographed by Lucas. Through these two characters, Pálmason contemplates the complex tension between Denmark and Iceland, the Church and the natural world, life and death. The title, “Godland,” is presented at the beginning and end of the film in Danish and Icelandic, probing the audience to contemplate these ever-present dualities of life in a colonized state. (Marya E. Gates)

How to Blow Up a Pipeline

Daniel Goldhaber’s thriller is relentless because it has to be. It conveys the urgency of its creator that he felt on reading the non-fiction book of the same name by Andreas Malm. Working with writers Ariela Barer and Jordan Sjol, Goldhaber took the study of extreme action to stem environmental trauma and fictionalized it into a riveting story of eight people drawn together by their extreme desire for change. Working back and forth to unpack a complex story of young people with different motives but similar goals, Goldhaber has made a film that simultaneously works as a character study, cultural commentary, and intense thriller. It’s not a movie that preaches; it pulses and hums with the understanding that we are long past the time when talking will save the future. It’s reductive to label this film as a call to violent action. Goldhaber isn’t interested in that kind of exact moral supposition. He merely understands that people need to do something more than talk about change that never comes. We don’t need to literally blow up anything to understand that lack of some kind of action will doom us. And we need to start asking ourselves what this kind of dread is doing to young people in this country, who are so increasingly frustrated by the world around them that something feels like it might explode inside them. (Brian Tallerico)

Infinity Pool

“Infinity Pool” wouldn't really work as a black comedy or a horror movie if its creators weren't so committed to their depraved vision of bougie privilege run amok. This sort of eat-the-rich satire requires a full head of teeth and an appetite to match, and writer/director Brandon Cronenberg thankfully brought both. Set at a tacky vacation resort in the imaginary third-world country of Li Tolqa, “Infinity Pool” seems more like a natural extension of the to-the-molars style that Cronenberg previously established in both the hypno-hypochondriac psychodrama “Antiviral” and then the body-mod bloodbath “Possessor.” In “Infinity Pool,” “The Northman” star Alexander Skarsgard delivers another all-in turn as James Foster, a violently hungover and creatively blocked writer who stumbles into the wrong crowd, led by Mia Goth's femme fatale out-of-towner Gabi Bauer, and then gets stuck with them after he commits manslaughter, and then pays top dollar to clone himself to avoid the death penalty. The numbing bender that ensues wouldn't be as compelling if Cronenberg—and cinematographer Karim Hussain, and production designer Zosia Mackenzie, and special makeup artist Dan Martin—weren't so maniacally focused on representing James's physical and spiritual bottoming out. Many try, but few succeed at being this fanatically vicious. (Simon Abrams)

John Wick: Chapter 4

In almost any other circumstance, beginning a film with a direct visual homage to one of the most famous moments of “Lawrence of Arabia” might come across as wildly cheeky at best or an act of insane hubris at worst. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” however, proves itself more than capable of covering that particular check. In this continuation of this saga about the enormously resourceful hitman on the run (Keanu Reeves, whose laid-back soulfulness continues to mesh beautifully with the insane violence he deals out), director Chad Stahelski takes us around the world, brings in an impressive supporting cast of series regulars (including Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, and the late Lance Reddick) and newcomers (such as the legendary Donnie Yen in a scene-stealing turn) and offers one knockout set piece after another over two solid hours. That is all prelude for its extended Paris-set finale, the most astonishing burst of sustained action to hit the screen since “Mad Max: Fury Road”—an orgy of pure cinema that pays homage to the likes of De Palma and Keaton and manages to continually top itself. And it does so in such a seemingly effortless manner that when it's all over, you may resent most other new action films—even the good ones—for a long time to come for their comparative lack of ambition and execution. (Peter Sobczynski)

Judy Blume Forever

At first glance, “Judy Blume Forever” is your typical bio-doc about the life of a person whose name you might recognize from your old summer reading list. But this documentary blossoms into something poignant for today as well as a celebration of its subject, beloved author Judy Blume. The film is a nostalgic trip back to those awkward tween years normalizing the questions kids may have about God and periods, it’s a time capsule of when women had to struggle to pursue their own careers separate from their husbands, and it’s a call to fight book censorship, which Blume has done so for decades. With the recent release of the movie adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Davina Pardo & Leah Wolchok’s colorfully-illustrated documentary is an ideal companion piece, rich in heart, a revealing story time with the author on her sources of inspiration. Readers and fans of all ages will be delighted to learn Blume is a kid-at-heart, now eager to share personal memories and rally against the increased calls to prohibit kids from reading what they want. (Monica Castillo)

Knock at the Cabin

Lots of people understandably take issue with M. Night Shyamalan’s latest, a moody, claustrophobic apocalypse thriller liberally adapted, let’s say, from Paul G. Tremblay’s novel. After all, it’s a film that posits, at least on its surface, that our salvation from a very Christian-looking apocalypse comes from the ritual killing of a queer person. But contrary to that (quite surface, in my estimation) reading, “Knock at the Cabin” feels like a thought experiment testing the purity and strength of queer love and resilience—fighting to stay ourselves in a world that hates us and what we’ll do to save the little corners of happiness we find. If that read doesn’t move you, consider it one of Shyamalan’s leanest and most stylish genre exercises to date. Jarin Blaschke’s cinematography turns a humble woodland cabin into a tesseract of skewed perspectives, and Dave Bautista and Ben Aldridge give impressive performances that constantly teeter between sensitivity and savagery. (Clint Worthington)

Master Gardener

With his motif of men journaling, journaling, journaling, Paul Schrader has long chased a movie adapted from a book that didn’t exist, a book whose careworn spine they could feel in their hands, annotated, pages bent to make communing with its best passages all the easier. I would argue he’s succeeded twice; once in his script for “Taxi Driver,” his perverse revision of Catcher in the Rye, and now with “Master Gardener,” his tale of a white supremacist whose external humanity and fascist tattoos have to vie for conclusive proof of his soul’s true direction. Joel Edgerton plays Narvel Roth, a perfect literary name and fittingly a construct, a man that a neo-Nazi invented to escape his past. He has shaved himself to a fine point, a man who exists to say “yes” when people ask him for anything and ensure that acres of flowers don’t die on his watch. Schrader has found a vessel for his lifelong spiritual agony that’s genuinely on the precipice of something risky and dangerous. (Scout Tafoya)

Past Lives

Woven from delicate whispers of truth, Celine Song’s debut feature summons an incandescent yearning for the paths untraveled, for the versions of ourselves lost to the passage of time in order to give birth to who we were meant to become. Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), the central childhood sweethearts turned strangers over many decades and across thousands of miles, are not involved in a love triangle of dueling suitors. Instead, they reunite to mourn a precious shared past that didn’t bloom into a future together. But whether the hand of destiny or the randomness of circumstance is to blame for their multiple separations, the distant memory of who they once were to each other remains alive within them. For Nora, however, this bond exists not as romantic interest but as an anchor that holds together all the moving parts of her identity. The miracle of Song’s debut and the swoon-worthy performances within it is that they give a cinematic body to sentiments so layered and ambivalent they could seem nearly impossible to articulate on screen with such emotional precision. Thankfully for our hearts, the film’s tear-inducing conclusion brims with empathy for every character’s resolution. (Carlos Aguilar)

Polite Society

“Polite Society” begins and ends with a spin kick. The feature debut from “We Are Lady Parts” creator Nida Manzoor explodes with energy, color, and movement, telling the story of a martial arts-obsessed British-Pakistani teenager named Ria Khan (Priya Kansara) who shifts into action-hero mode after her older sister Lena (Ritu Arya) gets engaged to a wealthy doctor who’s too perfect to be real. The obvious touchstone here is Edgar Wright and “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” with whom Manzoor shares a knack for heightening familiar situations with bold, stylized filmmaking. But Manzoor’s sensibility leans more feminist and punk—dig that X-Ray Spex song over the end credits—giving her take on the coming-of-age action comedy an infectious sense of rebellion and fun. (Katie Rife)

Rye Lane

Raine Allen-Miller's incredibly enjoyable feature debut proves the power of likable leads. It's such a simple formula, and Hollywood keeps failing to get it right. Two people that viewers not only want to spend time with but want to see end the film happy. It's that simple. And from nearly the first frames of this film, we find ourselves rooting for the happiness of Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah). As they walk through the vibrant neighborhood around Rye Lane Market, their backstories become clear, mostly how they still suffer from broken hearts. They make each other stronger. Yas helps Dom confront his toxic ex-girlfriend; Dom helps Yas do the same. It's an incredibly lean film in terms of plot, but we feel the growth in these characters that needed someone to help them get over the latest speedbump in their young lives. Jonsson and Oparah are charming, funny, and clever in ways that people only really are in movies like this, but it doesn't matter. We take the journey with them. Because we want to see where they're going next. (Brian Tallerico)

Sam Now

Built from home movies and family interviews spanning 24 years, director Reed Harkness' documentary tells the engrossing true story of how he and his younger stepbrother Sam, a frequent subject of his backyard filmmaking experiments, set out to find Sam’s mother Jois, who had disappeared without explanation. The movie’s opening section makes viewers squirm in anticipation of a tragic murder story. But “Sam Now” deftly moves on to a more mundane but still wrenching question: What happens when a parent decides they no longer wish to be a parent and would prefer to become a pariah by pursuing their own happiness? Steven Spielberg told a version of this tale in his semi-autobiographical family story “The Fabelmans,” but Harkness achieves comparable complexity and power on a much smaller scale, using a mix of consumer-grade and semi-professional equipment to record sensitive questions and honest answers, and set competing narratives against each other without telling that any of them are morally correct. The most remarkable thing about this film isn’t the filmmaking itself, which is extraordinary, but the tough yet empathetic way it presents the feelings of everyone involved as being equally valid, though impossible to reconcile to everyone’s satisfaction. (Matt Zoller Seitz)


Playful in its beginning and sobering in its final moments, Zachary Wigon’s feature film debut is one for the ages. It couldn’t come at a better time, since Hollywood appears to be deterred by sex, kink, and anything in between. “Sanctuary” oozes with tension, with Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott lighting up the screen with a chemistry lost on most modern on-screen couples. “Sanctuary” is a tightrope walk of a battle of the sexes, with Qualley playing a dominatrix and Abbott playing an heir to a hotel conglomerate who desperately seeks to break off their relationship. The two play off each other marvelously, dodging earnest admissions of what could be called love for quick jabs meant to hurt the other player in the sick game they’ve cultivated for themselves. In the wrong hands, the film's one-location setting could quickly become a gimmick, but here it allows Qualley and Abbott to fully delve into their characters, leaving them bare upon the screen. They’re pressed so tightly against mirroring hotel walls that it feels like they may crawl through the screen to get away from each other, but by the end of the ordeal, they fall back into each other's embrace. What begins as an erotic thriller slowly unravels into a fine romantic comedy and shapes into one of the best films of 2023. (Kaiya Shunyata)

Showing Up

From the housewife trapped in a malaise in “River of Grass” to two strivers in the American West in “First Cow,” the people who live on the margins of the margins have long fascinated Kelly Reichardt. It would therefore seem odd that her newest film, “Showing Up,” set in the cozy confines of a Seattle art school, would take notice of a part-time sculptor and arts administrator. What makes the distant Lizzy (Michelle Williams) so interesting? Through Reichardt and Jon Raymond’s taut script, buoyed by one of Williams’ most idiosyncratic performances, “Showing Up” reveals how this woman subsists on a kind of margin: Her pleasant artist parents are ignorant of the pains felt by their children; her brother (John Magaro) is battling mental health issues. But it’s the economy that diminishes creatives to the point of turning them into landlords, and which demonstrates how the interpersonally rigid Lizzy deserves our time and empathy. As does Reichardt’s quiet, observational eye. She courses through this world—the grounds of the art school, the meditative community that populates it—with the nimbleness of Lizzy’s fingers. The wonderful calibration by Williams and Reichardt in “Showing Up” makes it their most intense, richest, and thematically modern collaboration. (Robert Daniels)

Sick of Myself

The big laughs from Kristoffer Borgli’s “Sick of Myself” are select, knowing, and usually followed up with a sinking gut feeling. They’re all from the fantasy of Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp), who wears our need for spectators in the facial skin disease she has knowingly given herself. When not bandaged up, her mug is colonized with freakish red veins and bulbous sores; Signe hopes these side effects from an illegal Russian drug will get her pity, attention, and real estate in people’s minds. Writer/director Borgli (whose next project is an A24, Ari Aster-produced film starring Nicolas Cage) doesn’t follow up these acts with scenes of her posting updates on Twitter—that would be too on-the-nose for this tactful movie that’s kind of horrific, kind of funny, and mighty Scandinavian about a cultural hunger within us all like Alex’s psychopathy in “A Clockwork Orange.” Borgli’s plotting is too high-minded to simply punch down, and Thorp creates an essential compassion, making us feel every little victory that comes in Signe’s body-destroying, wish-fulfilling journey. To match its shock and awe, cinematographer Benjamin Loeb often embraces slow zooms, as with one of its biggest gag-inducers: Signe, surrounded by art in a museum, is finally the subject of a photo shoot that could make her an iconoclast. The camera gets closer and closer. And then she starts bleeding from the head. (Nick Allen)

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse”

The Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was a blast of pop-art cleverness, rattling the prematurely ossified bones of big-budget Hollywood animation, which seems increasingly stuck in a Pixar-DreamWorks witty-bobbleheads rut. The bigger, wilder, more propulsive sequel builds on the original’s innovations, sending teenage hero Miles Morales on an interdimensional adventure that doubles as a tour of Marvel comics art styles (and textures; some of the characters even seem to have been cut from paper) and offers a clever series of thought prompts for young viewers who may not have considered how comics art relates to painting, drawing, sculpture, and architecture from earlier times (the Guggenheim sequence, complete with Banksy joke, should be shown in museums). Along the way, the movie embroiders its genuinely moving story with subtle affirmations that we all have the same basic needs and desires underneath it all, despite superficial differences of race, culture, and gender identity that bad guys twist to pit us against each other. This is a classic second installment in a grand fantasy trilogy, right up there with “The Two Towers” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” (Matt Zoller Seitz)

STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie

It could have been an eat-your-vegetables movie: a mawkish documentary about an inspirational figure overcoming adversity. Instead, “STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie” feels more like a celebration: of this actor’s talent, drive, and powerful ability to connect with the audience despite the ravages of Parkinson’s disease. Fox’s candor about his condition only makes him more compelling. At 62, he maintains the boyish charm and infectious energy that made him a superstar in the 1980s. And the impeccable comic timing remains intact, even if it takes him a beat or two longer sometimes to deliver that perfect zinger. The jokes are often at his own expense as he looks directly into director Davis Guggenheim’s camera and discusses his life and career, from his early struggles to the heights of fame and acclaim he achieved between TV’s “Family Ties” and the “Back to the Future” movies and beyond. Working with the brilliant editor Michael Harte, Guggenheim cleverly uses clips from Fox’s substantial filmography to illustrate the tales the actor tells. And Fox’s narration from his memoirs helps create the intimate sensation that he’s speaking exclusively to us. “Still” is thrilling. (Christy Lemire)

A Thousand and One

A.V. Rockwell’s “A Thousand and One” (winner of this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize) is an atomic bomb of a feature debut. Inez (Teyana Taylor) is fresh out of Rikers Island, and in order to reunite with the son she left behind, she kidnaps him from the foster care system to raise him herself. Houseless, jobless, and uncertain, Inez and young Terry are carried forth only by their unconditional love and tenacity against the odds. Taking place over the 1990s and 2000s, the film examines the development of an unbreakable bond that is constantly tested by a changing New York City. “A Thousand and One” pulses with poignancy in every second of its runtime. Taylor is soul-stirring as Inez, hitting every beat of tender care and tough love. There isn’t a question that this film is birthed out of adoration for Black families, and for Taylor and Rockwell’s native NYC itself, which functions as a character in its own right. With phenomenal photography, first-class performances, and the love and light and Blackness itself, “A Thousand and One” boasts an unforgettably emotional coming-of-age between a mother and son. (Peyton Robinson)

Tori and Lokita

The movies made by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne may be quiet, but that doesn’t mean they’re not angry. The Belgian filmmaking team is composed and canny enough to understand that their statements against a grotesquely cruel and hateful world don’t need to be shouted. This story of two children, African migrants trapped in a web of exploitation as they seek to find a place in today’s Europe, is, like all their movies, plain in its artfulness and implacable as a mathematical proof. The opening scene, in which the older Lokita wilts as she negotiates a Q&A about her background, struggling to give the answers that will get her what she needs, is a remarkable microcosmic view of the banality of man’s inhumanity to man. If this remarkable movie is more heartbreaking than most Dardenne pictures, that’s due to the gut-wrenching performances by Pablo Schils and Joely Mbundu in the title roles. (Glenn Kenny)

The Year Between

Alex Heller gives her all to “The Year Between,” a writer/director/actor debut that takes some of the wildest chances of any noteworthy comedy so far this year. That’s all extra impressive given the true inspiration: Heller was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while in college and moved back in with her Illinois suburb family. With Heller's hilariously indignant lead performance at the center, putting her less brash parents and young siblings on further edge as she balances her emotions and brain chemicals, it’s a bold crowd-pleaser that leads with unsentimental empathy and hard-earned levity. Boasting one emotionally fine-tuned scene after another, “The Year Between” displays a fresh storytelling talent, with the on-screen endorsement of J. Smith Cameron and Steve Buscemi (who play her parents, adding to the film’s uniquely warming family dynamic) and the behind-the-scenes advocacy of Kenneth Lonergan. Heller is one of the most promising Chicagoland filmmakers in some time, and considering how many leaps she lands with this acrobatic debut, it’s an exciting wonder what she’ll pull off in her second movie, or tenth. (Nick Allen)

You Hurt My Feelings

For any cinephile, one of the sweetest treats is getting the privilege to see one of your favorite filmmakers enter their Late Period. This is not strictly a function of age or the size of one’s filmography. It has more to do with a filmmaker zeroing in on exactly what it is they do better than anyone and discarding everything else. With her seventh feature film, “You Hurt My Feelings,” filmmaker Nicole Holofcener feels like she’s reached her Late Period. Guided by her muse Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Holofcener’s dark comedy manages to plumb the unspoken fears of a seemingly successful Manhattan couple in a fashion typically reserved for horror. As usual, Holofcener has a musician’s ear for dialogue and a knack for plotting that puts her relatably human characters in increasingly painful situations. And yet this is a departure for her. Anger, specifically women’s anger, has always been the secret fuel of Holofcener films. But it doesn’t drive “You Hurt My Feelings.” She’s instead tapped into a broader range of feelings without sacrificing humor, landing on the divine abilities to forgive and reconcile. This may be her best work, but for what comes next. (Brandon David Wilson)

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