Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom,' starring Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, and more

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ – Wes Anderson’s endless summer on Netflix

Wes Anderson has made a career exploring the childhood neuroses that keep adult characters in an arrested state of adolescence and stasis. It’s been a lively career with creatively energetic high points like Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums but an approach with diminishing returns. Until Fantastic Mr. Fox, a film that refracted his portraits of dysfunctional families […]

Tobey Maguire is back in Sam Raimi's sequel, with Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus

Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man 2’ on Hulu

Sam Raimi’s adaptation of the legendary super-hero comic book continues in the high young-adult melodrama mode in Spider-Man 2 (2004). Peter Parker’s (Tobey Maguire) life is a shambles: his studies suffer in the (im)balance of school, work, and crime-fighting, his romance with redheaded sweetheart M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) is sacrificed to the demands of his alter-ego, […]

Felicity Jones leads the mission Gareth Edwards' Star Wars stand-alone

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ on Netflix

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) is exactly as the title promises. Set in the margins of the original Star Wars, it stars starring Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, an orphaned survivor living on the fringes of Empire-controlled territory. Part scavenger opportunist and part scheming survivor, she’s been raised in hiding by a revolutionary […]

Henry Thomas and friend in Steven Spielberg's beloved science fiction fantasy

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ on Netflix

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Steven Spielberg’s suburban fairy tale for kids who think they are too hip to believe in fairies, is as glorious as ever 35 years after its debut. Henry Thomas is Elliot, an emotionally bruised kid suffering under his parents’ separation who finds another lonely, lost soul, a benevolent alien left behind […]

Judy Garland is Dorothy Gale in the beloved screen adaptation of Frank L. Baum's fantasy

‘The Wizard of Oz’ – Over the rainbow on Amazon Prime

When gingham-clad farm girl Dorothy Gale rode the tornado out of the somber, sepia-tinged black and white of her Kansas dustbowl farm and into the sparkling Technicolor fantasy land somewhere over the rainbow, she changed the lives of her audiences (both then and now) as assuredly as she changed her own. The Wizard of Oz […]

Richard Farnsworth and Sissy Spacek star in the G-rated drama by David Lynch

David Lynch’s ‘The Straight Story’ on Showtime Anytime

The Straight Story (1999) is not the kind of film you expect from David Lynch, a G-rated, family friendly tale from America’s most subversive filmmaker. Yet it’s a genuine David Lynch movie. His often mesmerizing, measured pacing, and out-of-step conversational style is put the true story of Alvin Straight, the 73 year old man who […]

David Oyelowo and Madina Nalwanga in Disney's "Queen of Katwe."

‘Queen of Katwe’ – The inspiring true story on Netflix

Queen of Katwe (2016) tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a poor, uneducated girl in Uganda who sells corn on the street of her impoverished slum until an encounter with chess offers her the possibility of something more. Newcomer Madina Nalwanga plays Phiona, the nine-year-old daughter of single mother Nakku Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o), taking […]

The animated adventure 'Kubo and the Two Strings' from Laika

‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ – An animated Japanese odyssey on Netflix

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) – In the age of CGI and Pixar’s animation domination, the Oregon-based Laika is keeping the art of stop-motion animation alive in inventive, engaging, and engrossing features filled with textures and details you won’t find in even the greatest Pixar accomplishments. “If you must blink, do it now,” recommends […]

Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance star in Steven Spielberg's "The BFG."

‘The BFG’ – Spielberg meets Roald Dahl on Netflix

The BFG (2016) – Steven Spielberg directs this big screen version of Roald Dahl’s storybook fantasy, the tale of orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and the dreamcatching giant she names BFG (Mark Rylance), short for Big Friendly Giant. And though big to Sophie—he can carry her in the palm of his hand and set her on […]

The stop-motion animation dark fairy tale 'Coraline' directed by Henry Selick

‘Coraline’ on Netflix

Coraline (2009) opens on a rag doll efficiently taken apart by hands of skeletal steel (like Edward Scissorhands but with menacing needles for fingers) and then turned inside out and recreated in the image of the blue-haired heroine Coraline. It’s produced in the old-school stop motion animation style of articulated dolls and hand-crafted props increasingly […]