On Nov 9, Stephanie Zacharek became TIME magazine’s new film critic. Yesterday she became the first of the major critics to announce her Top 10 Best films of the year.
Top 10 Best Movies
10. Ex Machina
Of the dazzling Alicia Vikander, as the artificial-intelligence being Ava in Alex Garland’s brainy, agile sci-fi nightmare/reverie Ex Machina, my friend and colleague Richard Corliss wrote, “Trained as a dancer, Vikander lends Ava a grace and precision of movement that could be human or mechanical, earthly or ethereal.” And then, in his quietly spectacular way, Richard nailed the essence of her character in a single pirouette of a phrase: “a spectral eminence yearning to be a woman.” That is how you capture the everyday beauty of movies, a pleasure both ephemeral and everlasting.
9. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
4. Clouds of Sils Maria
The clouds in the title of French filmmaker Olivier Assayas’ quietly ravishing film refer to a meteorological phenomenon that unfolds, when conditions are just right, along the Maloja Pass in the Swiss Alps. But the movie’s really spectacular weather emerges in the half-prickly, half-affectionate interplay between Juliette Binoche, as an anxious, aging actress, and her flaky-smart millennial assistant, Kristen Stewart. Tension between the two hangs in the air with a silent crackle, but the bond between them is definitive and majestic, like thunder.
3. I’ll See You in My Dreams
In Tom McCarthy’s urgent, rolled-up-shirtsleeve of a movie, detailing how the Boston Globe uncovered a hydra-headed sex-abuse scandal within the city’s Catholic Archdiocese, reporters don’t just work the phones and trawl the web: They actually leave their desks. Though it’s set in the early 2000s, this isn’t a picture about how journalism used to matter, but a reaffirmation that it must always matter, whether the story emerges in ink or pixels.
Read the nice capsule summaries of all 10 of Zacharek’s picks.