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Hollywood Reporter Critics Pick the 10 Best Films of 2024 So Far



Hollywood Reporter Critics Pick the 10 Best Films of 2024 So Far

Smart, seductive and bristling with sexual tension, this is Luca Guadagnino’s most purely pleasurable film to date. As dynamic as the many tennis matches it depicts, the love-triangle drama pits the rivalry on the court of two former BFFs against their competing desire for a self-possessed woman whose hunger to win is not diminished by an injury that cuts short her own career. It helps that the chemistry of stars Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist is off the charts. — DAVID ROONEY

Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher’s invigoratingly strange and lyrical film revolves around a fascinating pocket community: the tombaroli, illegal grave-robbers who dig up Etruscan relics and make their money selling those antiquities to fences, who in turn sell them to museums and collectors for vastly larger sums. Josh O’Connor is superb in the central role of a haunted Englishman whom the tombaroli regard as a kind of mystic, able to locate fruitful spots to dig with a forked tree branch that serves as a divining rod. — D.R.

Ryusuke Hamaguchi follows up his Oscar-winning masterwork Drive My Car with this haunting, slow-burn drama about the conflict created when a Tokyo company’s poorly planned project to build a luxury camping retreat threatens the purity of a rural village’s spring water supply. The film builds a hypnotic momentum, along with a quiet sense of dread that sneaks up on you just as people on both sides of the battle appear to be working toward common ground. — D.R.

Veteran Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s profoundly moving, flawlessly executed multistrand drama, shot in stark black and white, tracks refugees from various nations in 2021 trying to cross from Russia ally Belarus into EU member Poland. Facing inevitably tragic consequences, the characters become pawns in a gruesome game of “pass the parcel” between guards on both sides of the title’s green border. It’s devastating to watch, but it’s a triumph as a piece of filmmaking. — LESLIE FELPERIN

What are the odds that a sequel almost a decade later and by a mostly new creative team could recapture its canonical predecessor’s magic and humanity? But graduating from childhood to adolescence may even have improved upon it. Diving into the tornado of conflicting feelings inside the head of now 13-year-old Riley, this Pixar treat brings Amy Poehler back as the voice of Joy, with new emotions deliciously represented by Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Paul Walter Hauser. — D.R.

A Senegalese teenager (indelibly played by remarkable non-pro Seydou Sarr) leaves home on a quest across thousands of miles to reach Europe in Italian director Matteo Garrone’s emotionally searing but ultimately uplifting epic. It’s a journey that burns away the protagonist’s innocence. Garrone, however, almost never puts a foot wrong with this painstakingly composed work, an adventure peppered with moments of nauseating horror but also ravishing beauty and grace. — L.F.

A phenomenal Justice Smith plays an alienated teenager who finds comfort in his friendship with a cool older girl (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and the sci-fi TV show they love. In a style reminiscent of vintage Gregg Araki, with hints of Donnie Darko and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jane Schoenbrun’s knockout drama of adolescent angst is about the places we escape to when we don’t feel at home in the real world — and the brutal truth that even fantasy has its limits. — JOURDAIN SEARLES

Yance Ford’s searing Netflix doc delves into the origins and implications of modern American police violence. Pulling no punches, the film examines the institution that claims to serve and protect, making devastating use of archival footage, talking-head interviews with writers and scholars and montages of current events. The result is a cohesive tapestry of corruption that evolved through a series of choices by the U.S. government to define police power as nearly absolute. — J.S.

Inspired by the rhyming intricacy of a classic form of Persian poetry, writer-directors Ali Asgari and Alireza Khatami have constructed a thoroughly modern work of bracing concision and elegance. Each of the interlocking segments zeros in on a resident of Tehran as they try to reason with a government bureaucrat or authority figure. The situations the protagonists face are specific to Iran, but their escalating lunacy is universal. The film pulses with sorrow and outrage over the absurdity of tyrannical dictates that crush souls. — SHERI LINDEN

Ethan Hawke’s sublime — and underloved — portrait of Southern writer Flannery O’Connor is distinguished by its visual elegance, its electric leaps between an author’s life and her work and the delicious, playful intensity of the performances, with Maya Hawke and Laura Linney each taking on a half-dozen interconnected roles. Rich in nuance, detail and creative juice, this is the rare great literary movie. — S.L.

This story first appeared in the June 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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