Beauty and the Beast has been adapted an exhausting number of times, but these adaptations often suffer because they either stick too close to the source material or they completely miss out on what makes the source material so timeless. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is largely considered the gold standard because it successfully Disneyfies the original story while also keeping its thought-provoking themes. Unfortunately, subsequent releases have felt like soulless imitators, desperately trying to recreate Disney’s success to no avail.
Belle is another story though. Mamoru Hosoda’s latest uses bits and pieces from both the French fairy tale and Disney’s adaptation, but it never feels like a hollow imitator. The switch to a virtual reality setting works surprisingly well, and the more mature subject matter enhances the complex themes of the source material. There’s a strong emotional core to this unique take on the story, and luckily, it feels more refreshing than mundane.
4. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is one of those special microbudget science fiction gems that we only get once every few years. Like Primer, Coherence, and Another Earth, this Japanese sci-fi comedy proves that you don’t need millions of dollars to captivate viewers. With just $20,000, a cast of unknown actors, and some televisions, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes should keep viewers mesmerized throughout the entirety of its sub-90-minute runtime.
At its core, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is something of a gimmick film. The premise, which revolves around a screen that allows the characters to see two minutes into the future, remains consistently engaging despite its repetitive nature. It helps that there are more twists than you would expect, but even without any twists, the film benefits from a cast of likable characters who are just fun to hang out with.
Overall, this is just a charming, engaging movie that takes what could have been a gimmick and ultimately adds to it. There are layers beneath the time loop shenanigans, and the brief runtime ensures that you’ll never get tired of those layers.
3. After Yang
Kogonada made a sizable splash with his debut feature Columbus. Critics adored the low-key drama, even if more casual viewers felt confused by the lack of high stakes. Kogonada’s follow-up, After Yang, follows a similar template.
It’s a slow, quiet drama that features a terrific cast alongside a rewarding story. Given the pacing, it’s bound to polarize, but there’s a real audience for this type of movie. Fans of less-is-more storytelling, for example, should feel right at home. Your mileage will obviously vary, so remember to ask yourself if it’s the right movie for you.
Horror auteur Jordan Peele’s latest keeps the social commentary of previous works but tones down the horror in favor of Spielberg-inspired science fiction. Don’t be mistaken, Nope can still be defined as a horror movie, but unlike Us, it flirts with countless other genres, giving viewers a two-hour ride that’s as unpredictable as it is hypnotic.
The film stars Daniel Kaluuya as OJ, a man who tends to his California ranch alongside his sister Em, played by Keke Palmer. When the siblings begin to notice strange happenings in the skies above them, they do everything they can to understand the bizarre, and possibly extraterrestrial, mysteries.
On the surface, the story seems a little too familiar. Alien invasion movies are a dime-a-dozen, and given the unique qualities found in Peele’s past works, you’d expect something more daring. The good news is that Nope is far more daring than it initially lets on. While Spielberg’s influence is easy to spot, this is still a Jordan Peele movie filled to the brim with Jordan Peele’s unusual ideas.
The fact that it also sports a talented cast only adds to the overall quality. Peele’s eccentric script does a lot of the heavy-lifting, but Palmer and Kaluuya prove that they are worthy additions to the movie. Their chemistry is undeniable, and their ability to make audiences laugh at unexpected times can’t be ignored.
Nope unfortunately doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of Get Out. Still, it’s another worthy addition to Peele’s filmography. He’s three-for-three, and at this rate, it’s hard to imagine him fumbling any time soon.
1. Everything Everywhere All at Once
Believe the hype. Excuse the cliché, but it’s only fitting to state the obvious quickly. Let’s not waste any time; Everything Everywhere All at Once really is as good as you’ve heard. The latest from the Daniels takes what has worked before and improves upon every single aspect. This is their magnum opus. It’s a once-in-a-generation movie that will be remembered for decades, and it’s easy to see why.
The genre-bending, multidimensional epic needs no introduction at this point. The directing duo behind Swiss Army Man blends comedy, action, and science fiction together in a manner that’s more than just satisfying; it’s downright euphoric. There are so many scattershot ideas that shouldn’t work together, and somehow, everything melds perfectly. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a near-flawless combination of contrasting elements, and it should remind people why they love movies.
It’s rare to see a movie unite so many different types of viewers. For example, the Academy, known for its love of schmaltzy dramas, has welcomed it with open arms. Casual viewers feel the same way, with user scores hovering near the top of the scale. All in all, this is a movie that just hits all the right notes. It’s one of the best movies of the 2020s so far.