18 Movies Worth Watching in Tacoma This Weekend: January 16–20, 2020

The Princess Bride, Bad Boys For Life, Weathering With You and Other Critics' Picks
January 16, 2020
Quote along to a special screening of The Princess Bride in Tacoma this weekend. (20th Century Fox)

January is usually a mixed bag as far as movies go. Audiences are left to choose between the few potential Oscar winners still in theaters and the films with, let's say, somewhat lower critical and commercial expectations. To that end, Little Women, Parasite, and Knives Out are still in several Tacoma theaters. Meanwhile, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood is making a return trip to the big screen to compete with the likes of Bad Boys for Life, Dolittleand Underwater—if that's your thing. And if you're in the mood to quote along to a classic, there's a Saturday screening of Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride that should do nicely. See all of our film critics’ picks for this weekend below, and, if you're looking for even more options, check out our complete movie times listings.

Movies play Thursday–Monday unless otherwise mentioned.

* = Nominated for an Oscar


New! Subscribe to Our Weekly Email Newsletter

Starting Friday, January 31, we'll email you once a week with our suggestions for the best things to do in Tacoma, from movies to concerts to the arts.

 


*1917
Legendary screenwriter William Goldman once said of the film industry, “Nobody knows anything,” and this is still mostly true, with one exception: If cinematographer Roger Deakins shot the movie, that movie is worth seeing on the biggest screen possible. Even if 1917 were solely the most impressive work of Deakins’ remarkable career—which it is—I’d be recommending it. But the World War I movie is also one hell of a stunning storytelling experience from director Sam Mendes, co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and editor Lee Smith. “But wait,” you say, “isn’t the whole point of this movie that there aren’t any cuts? Why did they need an editor at all?” 1917’s hook (or less generously, its gimmick) is that it’s meant to unfold in a single, unbroken take. It’s one of the rare instances of a film’s marketing actually benefiting the finished film, because of the way this knowledge is both paid off... and then subverted. BOBBY ROBERTS
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects

Bad Boys for Life
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back for a sequel, but—happily—without Michael Bay as director. In the reprise of this long-dormant franchise, the two cops take on one last case after an assassination attempt almost kills one of them.
Various locations

*A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
It’s unusual to witness real cinematic magic these days, but the Fred Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood absolutely has it. Director Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) wisely avoids the visual slickness one might expect from a Tom Hanks-centric melodrama, instead employing a lived-in style and scene transitions that consist of miniature cities harkening back to the opening of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Hanks is totally committed to Rogers’ appearance and manner, but A Beautiful Day is more about Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) a fictional journalist profiling Rogers. (Vogel’s work is based on a 1998 Esquire profile by Tom Junod; as is the case with the film, Junrod’s piece sketches a beautiful yet enigmatic image of Rogers.) Where Heller’s film becomes transcendent is in its cinematic pressure points: The striking slowness of the narrative (it’s meant to emulate the pace of Rogers’ show, and you get used to it), the mirroring of Rogers and Vogel in their interview styles and drawn-out reaction shots, and a profound moment of silence that grips your heart like, “Did that really just happen? Why was that so intense?” SUZETTE SMITH
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Actor (Tom Hanks)

*Ford v Ferrari
F v F is about how corporations can’t help but crush the passion and innovation they so desperately need. In this case, the crushees are race car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driving phenom Ken Miles (Christian Bale), both of whom are forced to cajole, finagle, and manipulate the suits at Ford in an attempt to win the famed Le Mans road race. Director James Mangold (Logan) smartly avoids the emotionally manipulative tricks found in other sports biographies, and Damon and Bale are, unsurprisingly, excellent and affecting. The problem? It’s impossible to ignore the two elephants in this room: The fetishization of white male toxicity and car culture, topics which society is trying to deal with and solve… not celebrate. This makes Ford v Ferrari a very good movie that, a decade ago, would’ve been considered great. Now it feels like a brand-new film that’s already an antique. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

*Frozen II
It starts out with Young Elsa and Young Anna, and, I don’t know, this is just my opinion, but I didn’t think that part was very necessary, necessarily? I thought the story was good. I thought the parts were well thought out and they had some depth to them, if you know what I mean? Like some parts were really sad, and some parts could be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Also, you know how in the first Frozen, there’s like this main song that you know is the main song? In this one, there’s like three or four different songs that could be that main song. There were songs that like Elsa and Anna and Kristoff sang that could qualify for that position. I thought they were fine. SIMON HAM, AGE 12
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Original Song ("Into the Unknown")

*Jojo Rabbit
The latest from Taika Waititi starts off with a bright, Wes Andersonian whimsiness: Young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) joyously bounces about at summer camp, having the time of his life as he frolics and laughs with his second-best friend Yorki (Archie Yates) and his first-best friend, the imaginary Adolf (Waititi). Just one thing: Jojo is at Hitler Youth camp—their campfire activities include burning books—Adolf is Adolf Hitler, and World War II is winding down, with Germany not doing so great. Both because of and in spite of its inherent shock value, Jojo Rabbit—based on a book by Christine Leunens—is just as clever and hilarious as Waititi’s other movies, but as it progresses, the story taps into a rich vein of gut-twisting melancholy. There’s more to the complicated Jojo Rabbit than first appears, and only a director as committed, inventive, and life-affirmingly good-hearted as Waititi would even have a chance of pulling it off. He does. ERIK HENRIKSEN
The Grand Cinema
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Scarlett Johansson), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design

Just Mercy
In this dramatization of a true, infuriating story, Michael B. Jordan plays the lawyer Bryan Stevenson, who, with the help of activist Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), fights racism and systemic legal injustice to save the life of an innocent condemned man, Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx).
Various locations

*Knives Out
Knives Out [is] Rian Johnson's phenomenally enjoyable riff on a murder-mystery whodunit. The less you know going in, the better, but even those familiar with mysteries will likely be caught flat-footed. Things begin in the baroque mansion of famed mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who is very, very dead. Through flashbacks, monologues, and the genteel but razor-sharp questioning of investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), we meet the rest of the Thrombeys—played by Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and more, with everyone clearly having a goddamn blast—and we hear about a billion motives and a billion alibis. Somebody killed Harlan, and while Benoit Blanc is on the case, Knives Out quickly spirals into unexpected territory. In a time when filmgoing is dominated by familiar franchises, seeing an original movie executed with as much care, glee, and skill as Knives Out feels like an experience that's entirely too rare. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Various locations
Nominated For: Best Original Screenplay

Like a Boss
Like a Boss is barely long enough to qualify as a feature film, clocking at an hour and 23 minutes—which makes total sense, considering there's not much meat on this story, aside from a couple of central themes: the evergreen dilemma of choosing between a career and motherhood, learning how to spot frenemies, and evolving for the sake of a valued friendship. Thankfully, the hilarious cast—which includes Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, and Salma Hayek—makes this mediocre movie watchable. JENNI MOORE
Various locations

*Little Women
I say this with my whole heart: Greta Gerwig's Little Women is wonderful. Full of wonder, inspiring wonder, embodying wonder. Which is hard to do as the eighth adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's beloved 1868 novel of the same name. Gerwig's adaptation—which she both wrote and directed—feels neither redundant nor stale. Rather, it's a fresh, modern-feeling take on a well-trodden story, stuffed with excellent performances, witty dialogue, and gorgeous costumes. The film jumps between Jo's "present" life in a post-Civil War America and her childhood, living at home with her three other sisters and mother, awaiting the family patriarch to return home from the war as they struggle to make ends meet. The direction and sense of characters are particularly strong in this adaptation. It fleshes each sister out so that she feels real and worthy of empathy, not purely serving as a star vehicle for Ronan in the same way the Winona Ryder version arguably did. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Best Costumes, Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay

March of the Penguins
At the end of each Antarctic summer, the emperor penguins of the South Pole journey to their traditional breeding grounds in a fascinating mating ritual that is captured in this documentary by intrepid filmmaker Luc Jacquet. The journey across frozen tundra proves to be the simplest part of the ritual, as after the egg is hatched, the female must delicately transfer it to the male and make her way back to the distant sea to nourish herself and bring back food to her newborn chick.
The Grand Cinema
Saturday only

*Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
We spend the bulk of our time with three people: Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), an earnest, anxious, B-list actor whose career is right about to curdle; Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), Rick's toughed-up, chilled-out former stuntman and current BFF; and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), a bubbly, captivating actress who's just starting to enjoy her first taste of success in show business. Two of these people—the ones who're beginning to realize the world is no longer all that interested in what they have to offer—are fictional. The third is not, and how much you know about the real-life events that occurred in and around Los Angeles in 1969 will profoundly color your experience watching the film. How Tarantino plays with history in Once Upon a Time is one of the more intense and surprising elements of the film—and, thankfully, it's also one of the best. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Various locations
Friday–Monday
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director (Quentin Tarantino), Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

*Parasite
Parasite is director Bong Joon-ho at his very best. It's a departure from the sci-fi bent of his recent movies, though it's no less concerned with the state of society today. Set in Seoul, South Korea, the families and class issues at play reflect our global era, in which the disparity between the haves and have-nots seems to be widening. Parasite follows the Kim family, who secretly scam their way into the lives of the wealthy Park family. Slowly and methodically, the Kims begin to drive out the other domestic workers at the Park residence, each time referring another family member (who they pretend not to know) for the vacant position. And so the poorer family starts to settle comfortably into the grift—until a sudden realization turns their lives upside down. The resulting film offers an at turns hilarious and deeply unsettling look at class and survival, its essence echoed in the environments the characters inhabit. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director (Bong Joon-ho), Best Film Editing, Best International Feature, Best Production Design, Best Original Screenplay

The Princess Bride
This movie is 100 percent pure charm in film form. That’s not to say Rob Reiner’s adaptation of William Goldman’s bestselling novel isn’t also shot through with moments of real romance (“As you wish”) and cathartic satisfaction (“I want my father back you sonofabitch,”) but the reason this movie occupies such a precious place for so many is the charm radiating off its styrofoamy sets, through a score that sounds like it’s coming out of a Casio keyboard’s single built-in-speaker, humming under dialogue written so beautifully the actors can’t help but smile at the magic flowing out of their mouths. It proves you don’t need $200 million and two years of post-production to realize pure imagination. Not when you’ve got a big heart and all the charm in the world. BOBBY ROBERTS
The Grand Cinema
Saturday only

Spies in Disguise
I thought Spies in Disguise was very excellent. The plot device of someone turning into a pigeon through genetic manipulation was unique, to say the least. I think it may have been a little too complicated for some younger kids who may have been the target audience. I think some of it may have gone completely over their heads. Although that might not be true in any way. I’m almost definitely sure there’s going to be a second one of these. SIMON HAM, AGE 12
AMC Pacific Place & Thornton Place
Thursday only

*Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I found The Rise of Skywalker, the last film in the Skywalker saga, boring. And it was not even a long movie, and I'm a fan of the director's (J.J. Abrams) work (particularly Mission: Impossible III—the best in that franchise), and many of the visual effects are impressive—particularly the haunting business of bringing the late Carrie Fisher back to life. But all together, the film is burdened by too much sentimental family stuff (you are my granddaughter, you are my son, you killed my parents, and so on), and its end did not know how to end for a very long time. CHARLES MUDEDE
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing

Uncut Gems
As Howard Ratner, a professional jeweler and asshole in Manhattan’s Diamond District, a great Adam Sandler rarely leaves the screen in Uncut Gems, and the plot is basically Howard and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. That isn’t a shock, considering the film comes from brothers/writers/directors Josh and Benny Safdie, who party-crashed the arthouse scene with 2017’s Good Time (in which Robert Pattinson was the one playing an asshole having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day). Uncut Gems is larger in scope, but like Good Time, it has a moral vacuum at its center—it takes place in the no-man’s-land where society’s walls crumble, and where those who look out only for themselves can best navigate the rubble. The Safdies aren’t interested in morality tales but amorality tales, and their stories’ no-holds-barred recklessness, at first freeing, steadily grows exhausting. Thankfully, the Safdies also know how to shoot, cut, and score like nobody else. There’s a twitchy, addictive energy to Uncut Gems, and the Safdies’ choppy, rapid-fire cuts coalesce into a surreal, exhilarating landscape of prismatic hues, blaring fluorescents, and sharp LEDs, all while the analog synth score by Daniel Lopatin (AKA Oneohtrix Point Never) adds to the lurid beauty. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Various locations

Weathering With You
Audiences seem to love director Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) and his approach of pairing an original plot with standard anime emotional blocking: boy meets girl, girl has weather powers, boy and girl reach for each another’s arms in climactic moments, a character runs until they are exhausted and then they keep running, and also someone must die. Even when Shinkai introduces some interesting ideas about an impending climate apocalypse (oh, like us!), it all feels familiar: The world isn’t saved, but the world doesn’t end. The world continues, changed. SUZETTE SMITH
Various locations

Also Playing:

Dolittle

Frozen (2010)

The Grudge

Jumanji: The Next Level

Underwater