Here’s the thing: I don’t review every movie that comes to Omaha, but I do see nearly every movie that comes to Omaha, so long as they’re at least sort of worth seeing and they do in fact come to Omaha.
So I’m going to start doing this monthly recap/preview, which highlights the best movies of the previous month (many of which are still in theaters) and also looks ahead to the following month’s most promising titles.
This October was an uncommonly great month for movies, and the November crop looks like it’s going to bring a lot of good stuff, too.
The 10 best movies I saw in October
1. “A Star Is Born”
The Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper country western heartbreaker was just as good as they (critics, trailers, your friends) said, featuring two fantastic performances, phenomenal music and, best of all, a dog named Charlie. It’s going to win a bunch of Oscars next year, so if you still haven’t seen it, see it now and save yourself the frustration of being asked by your annoying coworkers why you haven’t seen “A Star Is Born” yet.
2. “The Sisters Brothers”
When a director I love (Jacques Audiard, who made “A Prophet”) and a cast I love (John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal) make a darkly comic Western based on a book I love (written by Patrick DeWitt), it’s likely that I’ll love that movie, and, wouldn’t ya know it, I loved this movie. “Sisters Brothers” is a funny, bloody, weird and unexpectedly moving tale of two outlaw brothers looking to get out of the killing-folks business. They find that a chemical compound that spots gold might be just the ticket. Reilly, a long-underrated actor, gives one of the best performances of his career.
3. “The Night Comes For Us”
This Indonesian action movie (only on Netflix) is basically just two hours of exquisitely choreographed fighting punctuated by epic spurts of gore. This is a movie for fans of “The Raid” and its sequel and for action aficionados with strong constitutions and for moviegoers who feel the most alive when they’re seeing something they’ve never seen on screen before.
4. “Free Solo”
Speaking of strong constitutions, one is definitely required for this doc about a free solo rock climber (meaning he climbs without ropes) and his efforts to scale a 3,000-foot rock face in Yosemite. It’s a beautifully made film and an insightful portrait of an extreme man, but it is also, at times, almost too suspenseful and stressful to watch.
This 40-years-later sequel, which killed off all the sequels that came between now and the original “Halloween,” is a respectful and deeply competent tribute to Carpenter’s classic, and one that ends so well you really wish they’d let this series stay dead for good. But after the movie’s massive box office haul, that seems unlikely.
7. “First Man”
I know it’s absurd to put “Venom” ahead of “First Man.”
“Venom” is a bad movie. “First Man” is a tremendously well-made movie.
“Venom” is a case study in everything that can go wrong with a big-budget franchise blockbuster. “First Man” is a rare example of an expensive studio film made for adults.
But the fact is that while I was in awe of the technical excellence of “First Man,” it left me kinda cold emotionally. And while I was fully aware of all the ways “Venom” was the cinematic equivalent of the goop that settles at the bottom of the kitchen trash can, I found nearly every stupid minute of it compelling — albeit in ways I’m sure the movie didn’t intend.
“Venom” is an attempt at a superhero origin story that fails spectacularly and, in the process, becomes an accidentally hilarious indictment of its genre and a very watchable film in its own right. The movie is insane. Thanks mostly to the gonzo dual performance (as Venom and his host) by Tom Hardy, a terrific actor who gives both the year’s best and worst performance in a single movie. No movie scene of 2018 better embodies how we live now than sweaty, rambling Tom Hardy jumping into the lobster tank at a fancy restaurant to chow down on some live seafood.
8. “The Old Man and the Gun”
In his supposed swan song, Robert Redford plays an aging bank robber pursued by the law (Casey Affleck) and a possible love interest (Sissy Spacek). Charming, sweet and slight.
9. “The Hate U Give”
This adaptation of Angie Thomas’ acclaimed novel of the same name follows a black teen who is the sole witness to a police shooting of her childhood friend. The movie is a little messy and uneven, but it’s aided immensely by powerful performances from Amandla Stenberg and Russell Hornsby.
Keira Knightley in a frothy sex-romp/period-piece comedy. A fun and erudite little movie based on the true story of a French writer who penned a popular book series under her husband’s name and later demanded credit.
The movies to see in November
And when they’re coming to Omaha
“Suspiria” (opens Friday)
The director of “Call Me By Your Name” takes Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson to a satanic dance academy in this long, bloody remake of Dario Argento’s classic horror film.
“Beautiful Boy” (opens Friday)
Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet are likely Oscar nominees for their work in this true-story-based drama about a father and his drug-addicted son.
“The Great Buster” (opens Friday at Dundee)
A Peter Bogdanovich-directed doc about the life and work of Buster Keaton, the greatest screen comedian of all time. (Yes, better than Chaplin.)
“Overlord” (Nov. 9)
What the world needs now is more WWII zombie movies. Here’s one. The reportedly quite good horror movie finds a team of American paratroopers caught behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day. While attempting to destroy a German radio tower outside of Normandy, they discover the result of a Nazi experiment: a horde of horrifying creatures.
“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (Nov. 9)
This sequel to the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series casts Claire Foy as the new Lisbeth Salander, who must shoot and hack her way out of a criminal conspiracy.
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Nov. 9)
Melissa McCarthy, in a role that will likely earn her an Oscar nomination, plays memoirist Lee Israel as she turns to a life of fraud.
“Wildlife” (Nov. 9)
Paul Dano directs Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal in this 1960s-set drama about a crumbling marriage, based on a book by Richard Ford.
“Widows” (Nov. 16)
If you see one movie in November, see “Widows,” a heist movie directed by Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”), written by Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) and starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell and Carrie Coon.
“Hal” (Nov. 16)
A documentary about the great filmmaker Hal Ashby.
“Boy Erased” (Nov. 16)
Joel Edgerton directs and stars in this drama about a teenage boy (Lucas Hedges) who is sent to a gay conversion therapy program after coming out to his mother (Nicole Kidman) and Baptist pastor father (Russell Crowe).
“Creed II” (Nov. 21)
The sequel to “Creed” has Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) fighting for his life against the man who killed his father. The first “Creed” was tremendous, and this looks like a continuation of the quality that film brought back to the long-bad “Rocky” series.
“Green Book” (Nov. 21)
In this 1962-set drama, Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen play a world-class black pianist and the Italian-American bouncer hired to drive him on a concert tour into the deep South. This is a surefire best picture nominee.