1. “First Reformed” – lensed by ALEXANDER DYNAN, with costumes by OLGA MILL
Paul Schrader’s best movie in years stars Ethan Hawke (in one of his finest roles) as an upstate New York priest who faces a crisis of faith as he attempts to help out a pregnant woman and learns of an ecological conspiracy behind his church’s main benefactor. The movie’s taut, suspenseful narrative remains in the confines of its protagonist’s perspective as his grip on reality slowly comes unraveled, leading to a shocking finale that forces its audience to grapple with its potent themes from the inside out. It’s filmmaking of the highest order from an American master finally receiving the appreciation he deserves. —EK (Review)
2. “Hereditary” – with costumes by OLGA MILL
Ari Aster’s first feature is more than just a terrifying movie — though it certainly hits its mark in that regard — because it uses the genre to craft a mesmerizing portrait of the grieving process. Toni Collette delivers some of her best work as a woman reeling from multiple deaths in her family and struggling to address the resentment she feels toward her teenage son (Alex Wolff, also first-rate). Collette’s character produces a number of miniatures that provide a chilling signifier for the encroaching paranoia and doom that dominates each scene, but the most astonishing thing about “Hereditary” is the way it portrays this broken family in such credible terms even as the story careens into outrageous supernatural territory. The final minutes are some of the most riveting you’ll see all year. —EK (Review)
See the full list and read the write-ups here.