Sandy Powell on designing the gorgeous costumes for Mary Poppins Returns and The Favourite

Sandy Powell is one of the great costume designers working today, having worked on films like The Aviator, Shakespeare in Love, and The Other Boleyn Girl. This month, audiences can see her costuming work in a pair of new films: Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite and Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns. We recently sat down…

The best film scenes of 2018

As usual, there was no shortage of worthy contenders for The A.V. Club’s list of the best movie scenes of the year. Even flawed films can contain flashes of brilliance, the parts that shine more brightly than the whole. And of course, plenty of the year’s best movies worked on a micro and macro level, though not all…

Spider-Man, Aquaman, Dick Cheney: It’s a month of heroes and villains at the multiplex

So many movies, so little time. Every week brings a new crop of them, opening in multiplexes and arthouse theaters across the nation, and arriving in increasingly high volumes on streaming platforms like Netflix. How’s a voracious moviegoer to keep up? That’s where The A.V. Club comes in. The first week of every…

Julia Roberts frets about her beautiful boy in the year's weaker teen addict drama, Ben Is Back

C

Ben Is Back isn’t the year’s first American drama about a teenage drug addict and the parent agonizing over how to help him. Two months ago, Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell acted out that same scenario in Beautiful Boy, a film so committed to capturing, in agonizing detail, each step (and misstep) on the road to…

Natalie Portman plays a cynical pop star for an overstimulated age in the glib Vox Lux

C+

We’re limping toward the end of 2018, and everyone is exhausted. In a culture where truth is malleable, spite and greed are celebrated, and unimaginable atrocities are reduced to just another fleeting set of stimuli, how could you not be? A similar sense of existential fatigue permeates Vox Lux, The Childhood Of A…

With Mowgli, Andy Serkis brings a marginally darker Jungle Book to Netflix

C+

Although it’s more faithful to the characters of The Jungle Book than any of the Disney adaptations, Andy Serkis’ long-delayed Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle owes as much to bastardized interpretations of Joseph Campbell as it does to the stories of Rudyard Kipling. Mowgli, the wild child raised by wolves in central…

The micro-indie The Great Pretender finds comedy in art, self-deception, and gonorrhea

B+

The retro-psycho Thirst Street brought the prolific Nathan Silver within spitting distance of the indie mainstream (in production values, if not style or subject matter), but he returns to the micro-indie world with his latest black comedy, all the while continuing the earlier effort’s interest in delusion, diffusion,…

Boys’-weekend cringefest Tyrel puts Jason Mitchell through the microaggression ringer

B-

Sebastián Silva’s Tyrel puts an existential spin on the time-honored tradition of “a guy’s weekend” by providing a menacing edge to superficially safe situations. Tyler (Mudbound’s Jason Mitchell), wishing to escape the stress of his girlfriend’s family, joins his friend Johnny (Christopher Abbott) for a birthday…

There’s nothing spooky and a lot irritating about the showbiz-family affair Clara’s Ghost

C-

Art imitates life a bit too strenuously in Clara’s Ghost, the first feature written and directed by Bridey Elliott. (She’s probably best known for her starring role in the indie comedy Fort Tilden.) Set almost entirely in a rich Connecticut family’s home, this clumsy quasi-supernatural psychodrama features the entire…

Like a costume-drama Heat, Mary Queen Of Scots keeps Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie apart

C+

One thing the historical drama Mary Queen Of Scots seems to acknowledge straight away is that to apply the traditional biopic structure to the life of Mary Stuart, a queen of Scotland and would-be queen of England from the 16th century, would be an exercise in uncontrollable dramatic excess. (A 1936 attempt ended with…

The best films of 2018 that we didn’t review

If you watched every film The A.V. Club reviewed in 2018, you’d walk away with a fairly comprehensive grasp of the year in movies. But it wouldn’t be a complete one. Because for as much as we aim to write about all the new cinema that matters, plenty of gems slip through the cracks in our coverage plan. And so once…

In the bleak, fascinating People’s Republic Of Desire, the techno-dystopian future is now

B+

Imagine the last 20 years of American pop culture on fast-forward. Now imagine the last 50 years of American history all happening at the same time. Neither of those statements can fully capture the experience of life in contemporary China, which director Hao Wu—a Chinese-American tech executive turned …

Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem open old wounds in Asghar Farhadi’s too familiar Everybody Knows

B-

Most great filmmakers stumble eventually, and they often do so in a particularly dispiriting way: attempting to rehash a previous triumph. Before winning two foreign-language Oscars (for A Separation and The Salesman), Iran’s Asghar Farhadi made a splash on the festival circuit with 2009’s About Elly, in which the…

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