January-February 2020

The best of the decade and the best of 2019, with essays from Dennis Lim, Amy Taubin, and Devika Girish, and lists galore, from the best 50 films of the 2010s to critics’ and editors’ picks to the best films of 2019, with arguments for each by the magazine’s contributors. Plus, an extensive interview with Pedro Costa on his breathtaking Vitalina Varela, features on Pietro Marcello’s breakthrough Martin Eden and the best single-scene performances, interviews with Albert Serra and Angela Shanelec, and much, much more.

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SPECIAL SECTIONS

The Decade in Review
Another 10 years come and gone—it’s time to do what critics do best: assess, reassess, catalog, rinse, repeat!

  • The Best 50 Films and Top 25 New Filmmakers
  • Essays on the 2010s, including Dennis Lim on key trends, Devika Girish on becoming a critic in an overwhelming era, Amy Taubin on the folly and faith of list-making, and, as a palate-cleanser, R. Emmet Sweeney on the best hand-to-hand combat
  • Curated lists on the decade by contributors, programmers, and filmmakers

Best of the Year

  • The Best Films of 2019, plus arguments for each by the magazine’s contributors
  • Top 20 Unreleased Films, Personal Bests, and Editors’ Picks
  • And for our annual wrap-up essay, Nicolas Rapold tries a little tenderness

FEATURES

Pedro Costa
By Jordan Cronk
For years, the Portuguese director has been returning to the shantytown of Fontainhas, outside of Lisbon. Now, focusing intently on the extraordinary actress/character Vitalina Varela, Costa has made his most beautiful, haunting film yet

Listen to an interview with Pedro Costa on the Film Comment Podcast

Martin Eden
By Phoebe Chen
Italian filmmaker Pietro Marcello breaks through with this adaptation of a Jack London novel that becomes a seductive study of 20th-century progress and torpor and a bittersweet vision of becoming

One-Scene Wonders
By Steven Mears
It only takes a moment: actors who make a huge impression in a very short period of time have created some of the best (pocket-sized) performances in recent years—masterpieces in miniature

DEPARTMENTS AND COLUMNS

THE PRE-SHOW | News, views, conversations, and other things to get worked up about
News, Inspired: Angela Schanelec on I Was at Home, But..., Release Me: Burak Çevik’s Belonging by Lawrence Garcia, Directions: Albert Serra by Manu Yáñez Murillo, Restoration Row: Samy Szlingerbaum’s Brussels Transit by Max Nelson

CRITICS’ CHOICE
Critics rate and comment on new releases

MAKE IT REAL | The wide, wide world of cinematic nonfiction
Eric Hynes on three unreleased documentaries that rank among the best of the year

ART AND CRAFT | Filmmaking according to the makers
Director and screenwriter Alex Ross Perry pulls back the curtain on the indignities of a privileged trade

OFF THE PAGE | The art of getting from book to screen
H.G. Wells and David Lean’s The Passionate Friends (1949) by Imogen Sara Smith

SCARE TACTICS | The pleasures of cinematic horror
Silvano Agosti’s grotesque In the Highest of Skies by Chris Shields

PLAYING ALONG | Music and the movies
An interview with composer Nicholas Britell of If Beale Street Could Talk and Moonlight by Soraya Nadia McDonald

IN MEMORIAM | Remembering cinéastes who have passed on
A roll call of the decade’s departed by Nick Pinkerton

THE BIG SCREEN | Reviews of notable new films opening in theaters (hopefully near you)
The Traitor by Molly Haskell, Beanpole by Lauren Kaminsky, 1917 by Nick Pinkerton, The Assistant by Devika Girish

Short Takes: And Then We Danced by Nick Davis, Young Ahmed by Farihah Zaman, Bombshell by Sheila O’Malley, Invisible Life by Beatrice Loayza, and Les Misérables by A.G. Sims

HOME MOVIES | Cinema spun, streamed, and beamed
The great streaming hustle by Michael Koresky, Teorema by Maitland McDonagh, The Story of Temple Drake by Teo Bugbee, “Robert Todd: Interior Landscape” by Jordan Cronk, Stick by Mark Asch, The Final Programme by Nicolas Rapold, Knives and Skin by Nellie Killian, Christmas in July by Nicolas Rapold, Wish List: Foreign Skies: Wham! in China by Caroline Golum

READINGS | Books about all aspects of filmmaking and film culture
Tony Conrad: Writings edited by Constance DeJong and Andrew Lampert, reviewed by Clinton Krute; Sidney Lumet: A Life by Maura Spiegel, reviewed by Steven Mears; Darkly: Black History and America’s Gothic Soul by Leila Taylor, reviewed by Ina Diane Archer

GRAPHIC DETAIL | The art of the movie poster
The best repertory posters of the decade, by Adrian Curry