BUMBLEBEE "Pull my finger."

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

Aquaman
Aquaman is very goofy, and if it was an hour shorter, it would totally be worth with your time. As the affably bro-y fishman, Jason Momoa punches CGI monsters and supervillains who wear stupid costumes; he also, in the film’s best moments, flips back his dripping hair and, angling his shirtless torso for maximum gleam, all but winks at the camera as an electric guitar wails. Eagerly and clumsily, Aquaman dispels the joyless grimdark that’s infested other movies based on DC Comics, and director James Wan delivers some genuinely great stuff—a horror-tinged encounter with dagger-toothed wretches from the deep, a psychedelic submarine chase through a fluorescent Atlantis. But he’s hampered by too much plot, dreary politicking that aims for Game of Thrones but lands at Phantom Menace, and a plasticky sheen that cheapens everything from the bad guys’ Power Ranger suits to the digitally de-aged faces of Temuera Morrison, Willem Dafoe, and Nicole Kidman. Aquaman’s super fun when it embraces its silliness—there’s an octopus who plays the drums! there’s an army of cranky crab-men!—but by the end, it just feels bloated and squishy. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

At Eternity’s Gate
Even in its most basic telling, the tale of Vincent Van Gogh’s final years have been proven, time and again, to be thoroughly compelling. Now add Willem Dafoe as Van Gogh and Oscar Isaac as Gauguin. Not screened for Portland critics. (Now playing, Cinema 21)

Ben Is Back
You know how Julia Roberts in Homecoming messed you up, and how Lucas Hedges in Boy Erased broke your heart? Well, what if, for the holiday season, theaters everywhere booked a sure-to-be-devastating family drama starring Julia Roberts as a mom in denial about her addict son Lucas Hedges? Sure sounds like one holly jolly motherfucker of a movie to me! Not screened for Portland critics. (Now playing, various theaters)

recommended Bumblebee
Here’s the amazing thing about Bumblebee, the seventh theatrically-released blockbuster based on a line of toys for young children: It’s the first one to present as a family film. The 1986 film was barely a movie, much less fit for children’s consumption, and at no point in 2007 (or any time ever, really) did Michael Bay give fuck one about tailoring his leering, sneering spectacle for family friendly tastes. But Bumblebee is (mostly) safe for kids ages six and up (just like the recommendation on the toy packaging!), and is often very fun. Imagine that—trying to have fun with your toys. Huh. (Now playing, various theaters) BOBBY ROBERTS

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
In Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Melissa McCarthy stars as real-life best-selling biographer Lee Israel. But this isn’t a life of literary glitz and glamour that you’re imagining after such a juicy introductory sentence! After falling on hard biographer times, Israel turned to a life of writerly crimes, forging letters from long-dead authors to make just enough cash to pay her rent, take her cat to the vet, and aggressively drink. This all sounds sad, I know, but there’s warmth underneath, thanks to Israel’s friendship with the charming, equally self-destructive Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant). McCarthy, who’s made a career of portraying loud women, is a different kind of jerk here—a real person who lashes out not for laughs, but because life is hard and she knows she’s making bad choices. (Now playing, various theaters) ELINOR JONES


WELCOME TO MARWEN Cool, another Robert Zemeckis movie about dead-eyed abominations.

recommended Dumplin’
Based on Julie Murphy’s YA novel, Dumplin’ is a total delight. Here are a few of the totally delightful things you will see in the Netflix dramedy’s 110 minutes: talent show yodeling, Dolly Parton drag queens teaching youths how to vogue, and Jennifer Aniston blow-drying away her tears. (Now streaming, Netflix) CIARA DOLAN

El Angel
Argentina’s submission for the Academy’s 2019 Best Foreign Film, El Angel is Luis Ortega’s (semi-) true crime tale about a very pretty homicidal thief who gained nationwide fame in the ’70s as “The Angel of Death.” (Opens Fri Jan 11, Fox Tower 10)

recommended The Favourite
Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest is a hysterical, brutal take on the Restoration-era comedy of manners, using historical figures from early 18th-century England to make some decidedly bleak points about power struggles and human nature. The fact it’s the funniest movie of the year shouldn’t jibe with its sumptuous production design and gorgeously appointed costumes, but it does. This is a movie that works magnificently on every level. (Now playing, various theaters) NED LANNAMANN

Holmes & Watson
Over the last decade, the 2008 Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly team-up Step Brothers ascended to the modern comedy pantheon with all the grace of a 40-year-old man flattening a hastily-built bunk bed. So reuniting these two as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson sounds fuckin’ brilliant, right? Wellll, the writer/director this time isn’t Adam McKay (he decided to make Vice instead), but Etan Cohen. “Oh shit!” you say. “One of the Coen brothers!” No. Cohen’s only other directorial credit is the prison “comedy” Get Hard, and his writing credits include Men in Black 3 and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. But he also wrote Idiocracy and Tropic Thunder. So basically this is the Christmas movie equivalent of picking the big box in a white elephant exchange. It might be the best present on the table. It might be cleverly-wrapped desk leftovers. Good luck! Not screened for Portland critics. (Now playing, various theaters)

The House That Jack Built
Hey look, the newest Lars Von Trier joint, which I’m sure won’t be weird, uncomfortable, and disturbing at all! Let’s just check the quick synopsis annnd... yup, it’s about a serial killer who thinks murder can be a legitimate artform! Oh, Lars, you self-satisfied little circus clown. (Now playing, various theaters)

recommended If Beale Street Could Talk
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ masterful adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel perfectly captures how macro issues—particularly the rigged systems that work against Black people in America—affect one family like shuddering, foundation-cracking aftershocks. (Now playing, various theaters) ROBERT HAM

recommended Dirty Dancing
Jerry Orbach just wants to enjoy a nice, relaxing vacation in the Catskills. But when a lithe, greasy exhibitionist catches the eye of his innocent, rhythmless daughter, Orbach must leap into action. How will this cardiganed hero of the common man maintain order in the face of such torrid summer chaos? Romance! Intrigue! Watermelons! Abortions! Join hands and hearts and voices, voices hearts and hands! Co-starring Lorelai’s mom from Gilmore Girls and Space Jam’s Wayne Knight. (Mon Jan 14, Clinton Street Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

Mary Poppins Returns
Undisputed, inarguable fact: Emily Blunt is an international treasure. If the makers of Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns did nothing else right, the casting of Blunt as the “practically perfect” magical nanny was a stroke of inspired genius. Unfortunately, it’s a fool’s game to try and force lightning to strike in the same place twice, which is why Blunt’s performance—easily equal to that of the great Julie Andrews—is the best thing about Mary Poppins Returns. I saw this film less than 12 hours ago, and cannot hum a single song from Mary Poppins Returns to save my life. (Now playing, various theaters) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE The best Spider-Man.

Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots is the latest effort to bring 16th century British historical drama into the millennial age, and for better and worse, it bears many of the hallmarks of such an effort: It’s got two legitimate movie stars at its core, with Saoirse Ronan as the titular monarch and Margot Robbie as her cousin Elizabeth I. Maybe it’s just Westeros withdrawal talking, but I got a consistent sense that Mary and Elizabeth’s rivalry compares to the one between Daenerys and Cersei on Game of Thrones. Mary, despite (or because of?) her Catholicism is the warmer, more progressive ruler, while the famously virginal, always tense Elizabeth, pox-afflicted and slathered in white face paint, resembles no one so much as a meth-addicted Harley Quinn in RenFaire garb. Toss in some hipster-worthy facial hair and some nontraditional casting, and, even without dragons, Mary Queen of Scots should help tide you over until GoT returns in April. (Now playing, various theaters) MARC MOHAN

Mortal Engines
Based on the 2001 steampunk book series by Philip Reeve about “predator cities” on wheels that roam the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic Europe, Mortal Engines is the sort of movie that you watch when you get home from a rave at 3 am and you’re still too high or amped up to go to sleep. It does not belong in a theater. At best, with all its giant motors gyrating and people jumping around while dressed up like bikers at a Renaissance faire, Mortal Engines deserved a straight-to-video release. But the script was written by Peter Jackson (along with his frequent collaborators Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh), so I’m as confused as anyone. What happened? The best I can hypothesize is that this thing was rotten at its seed—like most steampunk stuff, Mortal Engines is a pile of shit with some antique-looking cogs stuck on. (Now playing, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

On the Basis of Sex
On the Basis of Sex is a fictionalized telling of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s time attending law school, teaching at Columbia, and then trying some of her early game-changing cases. That’s one heck of a premise for a film, and I hate to write the following: It is not very good. Okay, it’s fine. It wanted to be great, but it’s corny and just... bleh. (Now playing, various theaters) ELINOR JONES

PDXtreme Film Fest
Horror fans, here is your fest! Every year, local filmmaker and horror-fancier Jeremy Jantz puts together a binge-worthy weekend of indie horror films for gore fans to marathon. This year’s haul includes 10 features and 31 shorts—that’s 41 horror films over the course of two days! Can you do that? Will you be okay? I know you reeeeallly like horror. Tickets are always insanely cheap ($25 for a two-day pass), so I think Jantz does it for the love (of blood). (Sat Jan 5-Sun Jan 6, Mission Theater) SUZETTE SMITH

recommended Roma
See Roma, and see it on a big screen, and see it loud. Alfonso Cuarón’s first film since Gravity is decidedly less flashy—a semi-autobiographical drama, it’s set in the early 1970s and is almost entirely focused on Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a live-in housekeeper and nanny for an upper-class family in Mexico City. But while Roma’s smaller in scope, it can be as jaw-clenchingly intense as Gravity, as melancholy and humane as Y Tu Mamá También, and as viscerally overwhelming as Children of Men. Roma is Cuarón firing on all cylinders, and it’s about as powerful a cinematic experience as one can have. (Hollywood Theatre, Netflix) ERIK HENRIKSEN

recommended Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Superhero fatigued? NO ONE CAN BLAME YOU. In addition to all the Avengers movies and Justice League movies and X-Men movies, roughly 616 Spider-Man movies have come out in the past few years, and even for a lifelong Spidey fan (*raises hand, makes THWIP noise, gets lunch money stolen*) that is too many Spider-Mans. Especially now that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is here—a movie that’s hands down, no exceptions, no question the best Spider-Man movie, not to mention one of the best movies of the year. Does Planet Earth need any more Spider-Man movies? Probably not! But they’re going to keep coming, so here’s hoping they’re even half as fun and smart as Spider-Verse. Ugh. YOU GUYS. This movie is just SO GOOD. (Various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

True Detective: Season Three
It's been over three years since the very not good second season of HBO's True Detective, and hopefully that's enough distance to make returning to writer/creator Nic Pizzolato's verbosely brooding underworld of crime seem enticing again. Even more enticing? This season is centered around Mahershala Ali. Oh, and Pizzolatto got Deadwood's David Milch to help him write it. And Jeremy Saulnier (Green Room, Hold the Dark) helped direct it. Now, I'm not saying you should be hopeful—Saulnier walked away from the project halfway through, for example. But it sure as hell sounds better than watching Vince Vaughn dribble syllables all over his chest like an overgrown baby spitting up a thesaurus. (Starts Sun Jan 13, HBO)

The Upside
See review. (Now playing, various theaters)

Vice
A damning, decades-spanning portrait of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Vice is a far cry from the genial comedies McKay used to make, like Anchorman and Step Brothers. Instead, it’s an angry, messy, overbearing, and frequently brilliant film—one that's indulgent in ways that are simultaneously admirable and irritating. At worst, it feels like a mashup of Oliver Stone's and Michael Moore’s worst tendencies. At its best, though, Vice is an elaborate juggling act of ideas and techniques, including broad comedy, documentary footage, propaganda, fourth-wall-busting, vicious satire, expository narration, and reworked Shakespeare. It’s impressive. It’s also exhausting. (Now playing, Cinema 21) NED LANNAMANN

Welcome to Marwen
Robert Zemeckis has remade the mental-illness documentary Marwencol as a motion-capture nightmare with Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Janelle Monáe, and, for some reason, the DeLorean from Back to the Future. Something is wrong with Robert Zemeckis. (Various theaters) NED LANNAMANN