Today's Liberal News

David Sims

A Sexy Tennis Thriller—Yes, Really

As any fan of tennis can inform you, one of the sport’s chief joys is how rivalries between players can develop and mature over decades. Certain matchups are larded with history, friendship, and sometimes real animosity that can be far more personal than in any team competition. Luca Guadagnino’s new film, Challengers, injects romance into this dynamic, as the on-court battle between two players quickly comes to include a woman they both love.

The Fans Aren’t Always Right

There’s something comfortingly irrelevant about Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. The fifth film in the Ghostbusters franchise came out last weekend to mediocre reviews and middling box-office numbers; it’s probably selling enough tickets to justify yet another entry, but the product itself is so perfunctory that it’s driving zero cultural discourse. Thank God.

A Very Normal Academy Awards. Whew.

This year, the mission of the Academy Awards was, more than anything, to avoid catastrophe. The most-discussed ceremonies in the last decade have been marked by jaw-dropping viral moments—none of which had much to do with the movies supposedly being celebrated. The wrong Best Picture was announced. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, then gave a rambling acceptance speech for the Best Actor award.

The Coen Brothers Split Is Working Out Fine

It’s still a mystery why the Coen brothers stopped working together. The pair made 18 movies as a duo, from 1984’s Blood Simple to 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, setting a new standard for black comedy in American cinema. None of those movies was flatly bad (although The Ladykillers comes close, I don’t mind it); many of them were masterpieces. Then, a few years ago, they split up—allegedly, Ethan Coen had grown tired of the grind, though neither of them ever spoke about it on the record.

Please, No More Shared Cinematic Universes

Decades into the comic-book-movie experience, filmmakers are still experimenting with the form. Madame Web, the latest in Sony’s vaguely intertwined series of films connected to the wider world of Spider-Man, is about a woman named Cassie Webb (played by Dakota Johnson) who discovers that she has clairvoyant powers.

A Hail Mary to Save The Daily Show

For me, the experience of watching The Daily Show belongs to a different, bygone era of TV. Either I flipped my cable box over to Comedy Central at 11 p.m. if I happened to be channel surfing that late or I caught up on my DVR the next day, eagerly fast-forwarding through the ads to get to Jon Stewart’s monologue.

The Hollywood Pros Finally Getting Their Due

The last time the Academy Awards introduced a new category, back in 2001, it was very overdue: a dedicated Oscar for animated films. Since then, only one idea has almost broken through, in 2018—an ill-defined “best popular film” award that was triumphantly announced and then quickly shelved when nobody could really agree on what its parameters would be. Expanding the Oscars is always tricky, because there’s already so much hand-wringing about the length of the ceremony.

A Godzilla Movie That’s Actually Terrifying

Next month, Hollywood’s latest Godzilla movie will hit theaters. Titled Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, it will join Warner Bros.’ “MonsterVerse,” a glitzy American spin on a formula that Toho Pictures began in 1954 with the original Godzilla. The film features a fearsome monster doing battle with King Kong and other beasts, while an all-star cast looks on in horror.

17 Indie Films You Must See in 2024

Navigating the Sundance Film Festival can be a tricky endeavor. The stacked screening schedule is practically made to send cinephiles into a tailspin: If the line for the new Steven Soderbergh movie starts forming at 9 p.m.

A Mystery Movie That’s More of a Marketing Plan

I have to give some credit to Matthew Vaughn’s new film, Argylle, for one thing: It is not—repeat, not—based on anything. An action movie with a reported near–$200 million budget and no connection to any preexisting intellectual property should be thrilling, a glorious throwback to the days when big films could just be about people punching and shooting each other without referencing some other storytelling universe.

Why the Oscars Overlooked Greta Gerwig

A woman directs a commercially successful and critically acclaimed film that is nominated for a slew of Academy Awards, but none for Best Director. Sound familiar? Back in 1992, this is what happened to Barbra Streisand, whose Oscar snub for directing The Prince of Tides prompted the ceremony’s host, Billy Crystal, to sing “Did this movie direct itself?” to the tune of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” in his opening monologue.

The Youths Really Like Anyone but You

The film Anyone but You’s paltry $6 million opening over Christmas weekend seemingly confirmed a persistent assumption in Hollywood: Theatrical romantic comedies are a thing of the past. Once a pillar of the release calendar, rom-coms have largely been consigned to the smaller-scale world of streaming. They are seen as more difficult to sell overseas and distinguish at the box office (during that first weekend, Anyone but You lagged behind Wonka and Aquaman 2).

Hayao Miyazaki Is Thinking About the End

The first sound in Hayao Miyazaki’s new movie, The Boy and the Heron, is an air-raid siren, heard over a screen of black that quickly explodes into tumult and destruction. It’s 1943, and a firebombing has set a Tokyo hospital ablaze, killing the mother of 12-year-old Mahito Maki, the movie’s protagonist.

Anatomy of a Fall Is a Gloriously Disorienting Thrill Ride

The opening scene of Anatomy of a Fall achieves a rare, special kind of disorientation, one baffling enough to make the viewer question reality. Did I arrive late? I wondered, even though I knew I’d been sitting in the theater when the house lights had gone down minutes prior. Sandra (played by Sandra Hüller), a writer, is being interviewed in her home by a graduate student about her work.

The Worst Mistake a Horror-Movie Franchise Can Make

Horror franchises tend to be defined by their immutability. Make a hit in the genre, and you’re all but guaranteed a slew of sequels that follow a tight formula: slasher films where a monstrous force stalks the youth, ghost stories set in creepy houses. But The Exorcist has always been different. The recently departed William Friedkin’s 1973 film was a box-office sensation—adjusted for inflation, it’s still one of the 10 biggest movies ever made.

A Still-Shocking Masterpiece Worth Catching in Theaters

This article contains spoilers for the ending of Oldboy.Many movies with notorious twist endings—such as The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects—face a steep challenge on rewatch. The impact of the finale evaporates, or is at least blunted, by the viewer’s knowledge of what’s coming. A second viewing is largely an exercise in detecting the breadcrumbs leading to the big surprise.

Hollywood’s Huge Barbenheimer Fumble

Hollywood has always had a short memory. Industry analysts will predict doom for the future of cinema for months, then exult when a new release defies expectations. This summer has been no exception: A few blockbusters such as The Flash and Indiana Jones underperformed, and hand-wringing quickly ensued. But last weekend brought a colossal turnaround, thanks to Barbenheimer—the head-to-head releases of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer.

What’s the Matter With Barbie?

Life in Barbie Land, the utopian pink paradise that’s home to life-size versions of every Barbie doll that has ever existed, is one long party. Barbie (played by Margot Robbie) wakes up in her dream house every morning, hangs at the beach all day with the other Barbies and many admiring Kens, then hosts a girls’ night that’s one long choreographed dance sequence.

Pixar’s Talking Blobs Are Becoming More and More Unsatisfying

On paper, Pixar’s new film, Elemental, seems like the kind of wildly inventive, visually dynamic project that has made the company such a consistent success in the animation world. The studio’s formula is clear enough: Take an inanimate, perhaps abstract thing (a toy, a car, a feeling, a human soul) and personify it, even as a talking blob of sorts, building out a representational world that nonetheless feels familiar.

Asteroid City Is Wes Anderson at His Best

I am here, hat in hand, to admit that I underestimated Wes Anderson. I’ve enjoyed the filmmaker’s work for many years—his methodical aesthetic, the subject of a thousand weak parodies, might be the most recognizable in moviemaking right now. But in the past decade or so, I struggled to excavate much deeper meaning beneath Anderson’s fine-tuned flair, and began to worry that he was disappearing inside his own eccentricities.

A Spidey Sense We Haven’t Seen Before

Multiverses are, at this point, familiar ground for Hollywood. Films about extra-dimensional travel and parallel versions of ourselves aren’t restricted to the realm of comic-book nerdery; the reigning Best Picture winner at the hoary Oscars is all about “verse-jumping,” after all.

The Naturalistic Horror of The Little Mermaid

Fairy tales do not typically stand up to a lot of scrutiny. One does not hear the story of Sleeping Beauty and think, Well, that all seems logical. These gauzy fables function because they only vaguely resemble reality, a condition that makes them perfect as subjects of Disney cartoons.

The Film That Understands What a Creative Life Really Looks Like

Kelly Reichardt’s newest film, Showing Up, is in some ways a remembrance of art schools past. It’s set in Oregon, like most of her projects, specifically in and around a college where the taciturn yet flinty Lizzy (played by Michelle Williams) works a day job while pursuing a career as a sculptor. Reichardt filmed on the old campus of the Oregon College of Art and Craft, which closed in 2019.

Air Has More Substance Than You’d Expect

Air faces a steep challenge, in terms of winning its audience over. Ben Affleck’s film, set in the mid-1980s, wants viewers to root for Nike—yes, that Nike, the shoe company, the one that’s done pretty well for itself over the past few decades.

The Throwback Hero That Video Games Needed

The “next-gen remake” is the latest and safest cash cow in video gaming. Take a hit title that came out a decade or more ago on a prior console, spiff it up with updated graphics, controls, and maybe even some new content, and sell it at full price to a nostalgic audience. Since its 2005 debut on the Nintendo GameCube, Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 has been lightly reconfigured for a dozen different devices.

Dungeons & Dragons and the Return of the Sincere Blockbuster

The best sessions of Dungeons & Dragons walk the line between stirring tales of teamwork and achingly nerdy jokes. A barbarian, a bard, a sorcerer, and a druid walk into an inn—what happens next? Why, deeds of derring-do, of course, or at least a bit of hearty axe-swinging. The collaborative tabletop game invites every player to get creative; the most inspired renditions plop players into a fantasy world and ask them to improvise their way through.

The Inevitable Victory of Everything Everywhere All at Once

There was a moment in the middle of tonight’s Oscar ceremony when I started getting concerned text messages from friends. Their line of inquiry was the same: Was All Quiet on the Western Front about to pull a big upset for Best Picture? The German World War I film, distributed by Netflix, had racked up a slew of technical wins, and a ceremony that had begun with a burst of joyous energy seemed headed in a more fusty, old-fashioned direction.

What’s Missing From the Grand Finale of The Last of Us

This story contains spoilers for the entire first season of The Last of Us.Video-game adaptations used to be defined by how much they could ignore their source material. A Super Mario Bros. movie couldn’t actually be about cartoon Italians jumping on mushrooms with eyes, so it became a battle against leather-clad lizards in an industrial dystopia. The Street Fighter game is about, well, fighting in the street, but the movie is a G.I. Joe rip-off with far-flung action sequences.