NY Times Critics Picks

NY Times Critics Picks

Films designated a Critic's Pick by The New York Times
BLUE NOTE RECORDS: Beyond the Notes
BLUE NOTE RECORDS: Beyond the Notes
One of the most important record labels in the history of jazz — and, by extension, that of American music — Blue Note Records has been home to such groundbreaking artists as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Art Blakey. Through rare archival footage, current recording sessions and conversations with jazz icons and today’s groundbreaking musicians, this thrilling documentary reveals a powerful mission and illuminates the vital connections between jazz and hip hop.

THE LOAD
THE LOAD
During NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999, a truck driver is hired to undertake a treacherous journey across his war-torn country to deliver mysterious cargo. Brilliantly photographed and overwhelmingly atmospheric - recalling Clouzot's The Wages of Fear and Friedkin's SorcererThe Load is a taut suspense thriller about the choices we make in difficult times.
LIFE AND NOTHING MORE
LIFE AND NOTHING MORE
Winner of the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award, Antonio Méndez Esparza's (Aquí y allá) powerful second feature presents another sensitive portrait of a struggling family - a single mother raising her two children when her 14-year-old son has a brush with the law. Life and Nothing More employs documentary-style realism in this snapshot of race, class and the bonds of family in contemporary America.
LOS REYES
LOS REYES
A magical documentary, Los Reyes presents the world, or more specifically, a skate park in Santiago, Chile, from the perspective of two wise and adorable dogs, Chola and Fútbol. As the camera effortlessly follows them throughout the day and night, the conversations of young skaters are heard in the background; frank talk of drug use, sexuality, economic mobility and social marginalization. 
A BREAD FACTORY
A BREAD FACTORY
Hailed as "a major new work by a singular American artist" by The New York Times, the latest feature from filmmaker Patrick Wang (The Grief of Others, In the Family) is a revelation, with remarkable performances from a stellar cast, it's the story of the Bread Factory, a community arts center in a changing small town, told in two parts.
THE GRIEF OF OTHERS
THE GRIEF OF OTHERS
At once literary and gently cinematic, Patrick Wang's (A Bread Factory, In The Family) second feature is based on Leah Hager Cohen’s critically acclaimed novel. After suffering a tragic loss, a family welcomes an unexpected visitor into their lives and find themselves growing more alert to the hurt, humor, warmth, and grief of others.
IN THE FAMILY
IN THE FAMILY
The Independent Spirit Award-nominated debut of acclaimed filmmaker Patrick Wang (A Bread Factory, The Grief of Others), In The Family is a heartfelt story woven around child custody, two-Dad families, loss, interracial relations, the American South, and the nature of what it means to be in a family, all explored with ambitious and rewarding nuance.
BISBEE '17
BISBEE '17
Named the best film of the year by The New York Times, Robert Greene’s extraordinary Bisbee ‘17 radically combines collaborative documentary, western, and musical elements to recreate a mass deportation of striking miners (mostly Mexican and Eastern European immigrants) that occurred in 1917. Greene confronts issues of immigration, unionization and environmental damage while linking a tragic moment in American history to our own turbulent times.
INFINITE FOOTBALL
INFINITE FOOTBALL
In his masterful new documentary, Corneliu Porumboiu, a leading figure in the Romanian New Wave, introduces us to a former soccer star and current local bureaucrat whose dream of radically revolutionizing his beloved sport masks an attempt to understand far greater issues: functioning societies, social systems, fate, freedom, individual responsibility and utopianism.   
ARABY
ARABY
A fable-like road movie, Araby is a beautifully written and photographed story about a young boy who discovers an old notebook and is soon swept up in the writer's wanderings, adventures and loves; a twenty-year journey across the Brazilian countryside in search of a better life.
FOOD EVOLUTION
FOOD EVOLUTION
Amidst a polarized debate marked by passion, suspicion and confusion, this fascinating documentary – narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson and directed by Oscar-nominee Scott Hamilton Kennedy – explores the controversy surrounding GMOs and food. Travelling from the cornfields of Iowa to banana farms in Uganda, Food Evolution brings a fresh perspective to one of the most critical issues facing global society today.
MILLA
MILLA
In a delicate, even generous manner, Milla begins as a story of two young lovers’ life on the fringes before shifting towards one of recent cinema’s finest depictions of motherhood. Valerie Massadian's poetic, startling vision recalls the work of filmmakers like Barbara Loden or Chantal Akerman but remains wholly and fiercely original.
AVA
AVA
When her overprotective mother questions her relationship with a boy — going so far as to visit a gynecologist — Ava, fomery a model student, begins to rebel against her parents, her school, and the society at large. Based on her own experiences, Sadaf Foroughi’s gripping debut explores what its like for a young girl’s coming of age in a strict, traditional society.
DID YOU WONDER WHO FIRED THE GUN?
DID YOU WONDER WHO FIRED THE GUN?
“In 1946, my great-grandfather murdered a black man named Bill Spann and got away with it.” So begins this acclaimed documentary which takes us on a journey through the American South – interweaving scenes from To Kill a Mockingbird and Rosa Parks’ investigation into the Recy Taylor case – to uncover the truth behind a horrific incident and the societal mores that empowered it.
A RIVER BELOW
A RIVER BELOW
A captivating documentary about the ethics of activism in the modern media age, A River Below examines the efforts of two conservationists in the Amazon – one, a marine biologist, the other, an animal activist and host of a popular National Geographic TV show – whose methods to save the mythical pink river dolphin from extinction trigger unforeseen consequences.
THE PEACEMAKER
THE PEACEMAKER
From Northern Ireland to Kosovo, Nigeria to Iraq, The Peacemaker follows Padraig O’Malley, a highly influential peacemaker who has made it his life’s work to bring leaders on opposing sides of the most explosive conflicts to the table. Over five years, the film chronicles Padraig's journey as he works a peacemaking model based on his recovery from addiction.
ESCAPES
ESCAPES
Directed by Michael Almereyda and executive produced by Wes Anderson, a journey through 20th-century Hollywood via the experiences of Hampton Fancher – flamenco dancer, actor, and unlikely producer and screenwriter of Blade Runner - showing how one man's personal journey can shape a medium's future.
LAST MEN IN ALEPPO
LAST MEN IN ALEPPO
2018 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature, Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad’s breathtaking work – a searing example of boots-on-the-ground reportage – follows the efforts of the internationally recognized White Helmets; ordinary citizens who are the first to rush towards military strikes in the hope of saving lives.
MY VOICE, MY LIFE
MY VOICE, MY LIFE
Academy Award winning filmmaker Ruby Yang’s My Voice, My Life follows a group of students from underprivileged families who are cast in a musical theater performance. A moving story about the importance of art education in our schools.
THE ILLINOIS PARABLES
THE ILLINOIS PARABLES
Filmmaker Deborah Stratman recounts eleven episodes in American history — from the violent eviction of the Cherokee to the invention of the nuclear reactor to the murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton — to consider how societies are shaped by belief and ideology.
BEHEMOTH
BEHEMOTH
Beginning with a mining explosion in Mongolia and ending in a ghost city west of Beijing, political documentarian Zhao Liang's visionary new film details the social and ecological devastation behind an economic miracle that may yet prove illusory.
LOST AND BEAUTIFUL
LOST AND BEAUTIFUL
Conceived as a documentary, director Pietro Marcello had to change course when his lead, a humble shepherd turned local hero, passed away during production. The resulting film is a beautiful and fantastical ode to his memory and their beloved country.
THE PRISON IN TWELVE LANDSCAPES
THE PRISON IN TWELVE LANDSCAPES
In this remarkable documentary, filmmaker Brett Story excavates the often unseen links and connections that prisons – and our system of mass incarceration – have on communities and industries all around us. Widely acclaimed, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes is an essential documentary, a portrait of our criminal justice system in which we never see a penitentiary.
FORT BUCHANAN
FORT BUCHANAN
A bracingly original debut, filmmaker Benjamin Crotty uses the tragicomic plight of a frail young man stranded at a military outpost amid a lascivious band of army wives to craft a queer soap opera for the ages.
DON'T BLINK - ROBERT FRANK
DON'T BLINK - ROBERT FRANK
One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, a documentary about Robert Frank, the legendary photographer and filmmaker behind the seminal book “The Americans” and landmark films like Pull My Daisy.
THE THOUGHTS THAT ONCE WE HAD
THE THOUGHTS THAT ONCE WE HAD
A richly digressive journey through cinematic history from master cinematic essayist Thom Andersen (Los Angeles Plays Itself).
FIREWORKS WEDNESDAY
FIREWORKS WEDNESDAY
A story of marital intrigue and betrayal set against the backdrop of the Persian New Year from the Academy Award winning director of A Separation.