This Thanksgiving weekend, after you’ve watched some football, wound up your relatives at the dinner table, and inhaled ungodly amounts of fowl, what better way to rest your mouth (and stomach) than taking a trip to your local cinema?
But with 724 movies released last year—or around 14 a week—there’s far too much out there to choose from. And nobody wants to waste their time and hard-earned money on a crap film.
So without further ado, these are the movies to see (or skip) this holiday weekend.
Our own Natalia Winkelman called Roma “the best movie of the year,” and I couldn’t agree more. Based on filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón’s own childhood in the Roma district of Mexico City, this ‘70s tale of a Mixtec housemaid (played with plaintive beauty by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio) to an unraveling middle-class family is the Mexican Master’s most personal effort yet—and his most vividly rendered, in stunning black and white. It is as delicate as its protagonist is selfless, and a worthy tribute to the women who make the world turn.
SKIP: FANTASTIC BEASTS 2: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD
Confession time: I haven’t seen Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The first installment of the Harry Potter spinoff franchise was terribly uninspired; a cynical cash grab masquerading as otherworldly adventure. And this sequel not only stars an accused abuser in Johnny Depp, but its press tour has been marked by screenwriter J.K. Rowling and director David Yates offering bizarre defenses of their screen villain—a grotesque display, and one unworthy of the talents of the fabulous Ezra Miller.
The latest from Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) opened to a paltry $12.3 million in its opening frame—which is a goddamn shame, because Widows is a robust, riveting heist-thriller packed to the gills with award-worthy performances, from Elizabeth Debicki’s tormented sugar baby to Daniel Kaluuya’s glaring, trigger-happy henchman. But it’s the indomitable spirit of Viola Davis, truly one of the greatest actresses of her generation, that gives this slick Chicago crime saga its soul.
SKIP: THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
The Coen brothers initially conceived of this as an anthology series before condensing it into a two-hour feature. And yet, it largely wastes the efforts of its talented cast—Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits and James Franco among them—in service of six uneven Western tales. This Netflix feature is hampered by many of the same problems that plagued the Coens’ previous film, Hail, Caesar!: sloppy plotting, bland dialogue, and a dearth of mischief. True Grit or O Brother, Where Art Thou? this is not.
SEE: THE FAVOURITE
There’s a scene in The Favourite, filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ fiercely feminist (and funny) fable about a pair of conniving cousins (Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz) competing for the affections of unhinged Queen Anne (Olivia Colman, never better) at the turn of the 18th century, that embodies its cheeky devilry and gaze-reversal: Stone’s handmaiden, having rebuffed the childish advances of courtier Samuel (Joe Alwyn, aka Taylor Swift’s boyfriend), decides to give him a pity handjob. As he enters her bedroom, she sardonically asks, “Have you come to seduce me or rape me?” And, with her body facing away from him and toward the camera, she delivers a monologue detailing her frustrations with the Queen Anne quagmire, all while pumping away, as he quivers and moans. There is never any doubt who’s the one in control.
SKIP: ROBIN HOOD
In the words of the incomparable Kevin Fallon, “Arriving with all the style and nuance of an early 2000s Mountain Dew commercial directed by a film grad that just watched The Matrix for the first time, the new Robin Hood doesn’t put a new spin on the same old story as much as it once again raises the evergreen, timeless question: Just...why? And, Who, exactly, is this for?”
SEE: CREED II
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Creed II is not as good as Creed. For one, it’s not directed by the brilliant Ryan Coogler; and two, it’s less of a sharp character study and more of a big Hollywood sequel. That being said, Steven Caple Jr.’s take is no less entertaining—a muscular blockbuster featuring fun set pieces, high stakes, and plenty of killer right hooks, with an eminently-compelling star leading the way in Michael B. Jordan.