THE KILLER “I said no mustard.”
recommended Arrival
Likely the best film yet from Denis Villeneuve, the director behind the excellent Sicario and Prisoners—and who, with Arrival, offers something entirely different. Arrival is an ominous, thrumming, beautiful thing that starts out being about aliens who need a decoder ring. It ends up being about something quite different. ERIK HENRIKSEN

Assassin’s Creed
The Assassin’s Creed games have a history of appealingly wonky premises (stab templars in the Sistine Chapel!) marred by frustratingly botched play mechanics. (Get stuck in a bush outside the Sistine Chapel!) The movie adaptation, too, fails to find a happy medium between cool stuff and coherence. ANDREW WRIGHT

Collateral Beauty
At this particular moment in history there are some pretty fucking important things to cry about for real—but here comes Collateral Beauty, a vile shitfleck of a movie that whispers, “No, no, don’t worry about Aleppo; shhh, don’t grieve over the death of American democracy,” then tells you some baloney about dead cancer kids and thrusts a box of tissues into your hand. NED LANNAMANN

recommended Elle
Paul Verhoeven’s first feature since 2006’s Black Book is a breathtakingly twisted piece of work, utilizing a tremendous central performance by Isabelle Huppert that bridges some markedly taboo fault lines concerning power and sexuality. And somehow the damned thing is also funny. ANDREW WRIGHT

recommended Fences
Fences has no guns and a whole lot of talking about life; it deals with failed dreams, race relations in mid-century America, marital problems, parenting problems, working-class problems, drinking problems, problems with debts, with mental health, and, ultimately, with death. What might kill the character Denzel Washington plays in Fences is not a car chase or a shootout, but blocked arteries. And thank God! It is good to see a great actor take a break from his fall into the abyss of crap and produce something of social, artistic, and cultural value. CHARLES MUDEDE

recommended The Handmaiden
The Handmaiden runs almost two and a half hours, but it’s stuffed with enough twists and detail to fill a movie twice as long. It’s a gluttonous feast for the mind and the eye, not to mention a few other organs. MARC MOHAN

recommended Jackie
Natalie Portman’s portrayal is nothing less than amazing, perfectly capturing Jacqueline Kennedy’s intense drive, strength, occasional pettiness, and overwhelming grief. She, along with director Pablo Larraín and a talented cast, go a long way to reshape our shared memories of Kennedy as simply a fashion plate in a pink pillbox hat, revealing a figure far more complicated and heroic. Jackie is a stunning, heart-wrenching meditation on truth, the American ideal, and the incredible pressure on first ladies—women who represent just as much, if not more, than their husbands. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

recommended La La Land
La La Land is a grand, over-the-top, razzly-dazzly love story that won’t make you puke one bit. It might even help you forget the horrors of reality, however momentarily—and after the year we’ve had, that practically makes La La Land a public service. MEGAN BURBANK

recommended Lion
The incredible true story of why you should never have children in India. Based on Saroo Brierley’s memoir A Long Way Home, the film, an inspiring drama that earns tears without jerking them, begins with five-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) becoming separated from his mother and brother and ending up a thousand miles away in Calcutta. First-time feature director Garth Davis jangles the nerves with these early scenes, but don’t fret: Saroo is rescued soon enough, adopted by a saintly Australian couple who raise him up lovingly to become Dev Patel. Grown-up Saroo, tortured by the knowledge that his family never knew what happened to him, sets out to find them. ERIC D. SNIDER

Manchester by the Sea
As a grieving (and grieving, and grieving) New England handyman who’s unexpectedly put in charge of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges), Casey Affleck seems to be trying a bit too hard, straining towards a profundity that he can’t quite grasp. MARC MOHAN

recommended Moonlight
Moonlight is a movie about what it’s like to grow up male in America. Moonlight is also a movie about what it’s like to grow up gay in America. Moonlight is, in addition, a movie about what it’s like to grow up black in America. And Moonlight does what all true art aspires to do. It shares something unique but universal about what it’s like to be human. MARC MOHAN

recommended New Year’s Day Hong Kong-a-Thon
New Year’s Day is important: How you spend this day determines how you will spend the entirety of the coming year. It’s the law! So start 2017 off right with the New Year’s Day Hong Kong-a-Thon, a mind-blowing triple feature of Hong Kong action classics—all on 35mm! First up is Bruce Lee’s still-amazing Enter the Dragon. Next up is the surreal, ultra-violent cult fave Riki Oh: The Story of Ricky. And to close things out? John Woo’s unfuckwithable landmark of action cinema The Killer, starring Chow Yun-Fat! ERIK HENRIKSEN

Passengers—in which a man (Chris Pratt) wakes up alone on a spaceship, and decides to wake up one of the other hypersleeping passengers (Jennifer Lawrence) to keep him company for the 90-year voyage—has great set-up for a creepy, Twilight Zone-style thriller that could dig into gender roles and class issues. That’s interesting, relevant stuff—so naturally, Passengers buries it under a glaze of bland romance. ERIK HENRIKSEN

recommended Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One is a Star Wars story born of the present, but it ends in May of 1977. It’s a direct prequel to a movie made in response to Nixon’s reign, and it resonates all the more strongly for opening at the dawn of the Trump era. BOBBY ROBERTS

Support The Portland Mercury

Sonic Cinema: Two Trains Runnin’
A documentary about the search for two blues singers, Skip James and Son House.

Why Him?
It’s not often that Bryan Cranston and Megan Mullally are the comedic saviors of a movie, but that’s 2016 for you. They rescue Why Him? from abject mediocrity as the parents of a college girl (Zoey Deutch) who’s taken up with a dopey-grinned tech millionaire (James Franco, in his wheelhouse) with “no filter” (a screenwriting hack that lets a character say and do whatever you want him to). ERIC D. SNIDER

recommended MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30