July 24th, 2024

AP picks 2024’s best movies so far, from ‘Furiosa’ to ‘Thelma,’ ‘I Saw the TV Glow’ to ‘Challengers’

By Jake Coyle And Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press on June 28, 2024.

The movie year, jumbled a bit by 2023’s strikes, might feel like it’s only just getting going. The box office is, finally, booming thanks to “Inside Out 2.” But at the year’s midway point, a lot of terrific movies have already come out ““ more, maybe, than you might realize.

Not even counting some of the movies that had qualifying releases last year – two of our favorites were “La Chimera” and “Tótem” – 2024 has accumulated a wide range of standout movies big and small, with and without sandworms. Here are our favorites:

“I Saw the TV Glow”

Jane Schoenbrun’s sophomore feature – a dramatic leap forward for filmmaker and a transfixing trans parable – is one of the most exciting movie events of the year. The film, available for digital rental, is a chilling 1990s coming of age in which a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”-like series called “The Pink Opaque” offers a possible portal out of drab suburban life and other suffocations. It feels chillingly, beautifully ripped out of Schoenbrun’s soul – and it’s got a killer soundtrack. – Coyle

“Dune: Part Two”

Its box office supremacy may have been eclipsed by some animated feelings, but ” Dune: Part Two “ is still the most dazzling cinematic spectacle to have graced theaters in 2024. ” Dune “ was always going to be a hard act to follow, but Denis Villeneuve ‘s continuation of Paul Atreides’ rise manages to be both thrilling and deeply unsettling – a cautionary tale about a would-be messiah who you can’t help but root for. Thanks a lot for the moral crisis, Chalamet. – Bahr

“Robot Dreams”

Look, I don’t make the rules. But it turns out that an animated movie about a dog and a robot is one of the best New York movies in years, not to mention a surprisingly mature tale of loving and losing for a movie where the effects of rust are quite central to the narrative. But “Robot Dreams,” an Oscar-nominee directed by Pablo Berger, is charmingly its own thing. – Coyle


It’s rare when a film seems to impact the culture immediately – feeling both zeitgeisty and forward thinking, but Luca Guadagnino’s sporty, sexy psychodrama did just that. It might not have broken the box office, but Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor ignited our imaginations, drove trends/made everyone feel like a fashion insider for a moment (Jonathan Anderson tennis core, anyone?) and anointed a new kind of internet boyfriend: The hot rodent man. – Bahr


There is just no living up to “Mad Max: Fury Road”; it’s too good. But George Miller’s “Furiosa” still contains some of the action best sequences of the year and very possibly Chris Hemsworth’s finest hour. Maybe it’s a little overlong and lacks the punch Charlize Theron brought to “Fury Road.” But filmmaking like this is about as hard to come by in summer moviegoing as water is in the “Mad Max” wasteland. – Coyle

“Love Lies Bleeding”

Rose Glass’s pulpy genre experiment felt like a cult classic from the beginning. This is a fairly difficult feat for a brand-new film, but a testament to her wholly original creation about female bodybuilders, toxic masculinity, featuring what Coyle aptly dubbed a ” peak Kristen Stewart “ performance and Ed Harris with a deeply upsetting rat tail. With otherworldly visuals and a lusty, sweaty, dangerous tone, it feels “flung out of space” to quote Carol Aird. – Bahr

“Green Border”

Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s latest is easily the most searing, unforgettable and essential movie of the year so far – which doesn’t exactly mean it’s an easy watch. Holland’s film is a refugee drama set along the two-mile-wide exclusion zone around the border between Poland and Belarus based on some of the real life experiences of migrants in recent years. Refugees, including a family from Syria, find themselves used as pawns by both countries and pushed – even literally thrown – back and forth across a barbed-wire fence in wooded borderlands. “Green Border” was the subject of intense political debate in Poland when it premiered last fall at the Venice Film Festival. But as a migrant tale of go-there-not-here, “Green Border” resonates far wider than just Eastern Europe. – Coyle


I have a tendency to overuse the word delightful. But I’d take them all back to give it to ” Thelma,” in which June Squibb plays a 90-something grandmother on a mission to get $10,000 back from some scammers. Squibb, now 94, is firing on all cylinders, playing her actual age with actual limitations with a fierce determination and comedic brilliance opposite the gone-too-soon Richard Roundtree. It’s one of the easiest of this year’s films to recommend to just about anyone – minimal explanations or justifications required. – Bahr


The therapeutic powers of theater play a prominent role in two of the year’s best movies. There’s the upcoming “Sing Sing,” a stunning, based-on-a-true-story film about incarcerated men rehabilitated through a drama program. (A July 12 release, it falls outside our cutoff.) And there’s “Ghostlight,” a sublime little gem of a movie about a Chicago family struggling to process tragedy. They’re played by real-life family: Keith Kupferer (as the father), Tara Mallen (as the mother) and Katherine Mallen Kupferer (as the daughter). The dad, an unexpressive construction worker, is reluctantly coaxed into a community theater production of “Romeo and Juliet.” “He’s Romeo?” someone says. Directing duo Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson (“Saint Frances”) insure a movie that could have turned saccharine never waivers in its sweet, everyday tenderness. – Coyle

“Evil Does Not Exist”

If “Thelma” is a sweet glass of afternoon lemonade, ” Evil Does Not Exist “ is a bitter, but rich, digestif. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s film is a chilling slow-burn about a small Japanese mountain village and the big city company who wants to set up a glamping site there. While an “eco-drama” probably doesn’t sound especially exciting ““ there’s lots of talk about septic tanks and water purity – this film’s power sneaks up on you building up to a haunting conclusion. – Bahr


Also: “The Beast,” “Girls State,” “Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World,” “The Fall Guy,” “How to Have Sex,” “The Bikeriders,” “Hit Man,” “Wicked Little Letters,” “Power,” “I Used to Be Funny,” “Tuesday.”

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