Don’t Miss a Thing

Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Search Website
Reading List February 23, 2019

Our Best Film Writing for Oscars Weekend

Lars von Trier. Stanley Kubrick. Michael Haneke.

With awards season upon us, we have decided to dive into our archive and pull out some of our best film writing for this week’s reading list. From the cynicism of Harold and Maude to the obsessions of Hitchcock, Welles, and Kubrick, a host of writers break out the popcorn and analyze old and new classics from interesting angles.

And while Black Panther may be nominated for seven awards (including best picture), here at Boston Review Christopher Lebron is much more skeptical, arguing in our viral essay that it is “a movie about black empowerment in which the only redeemed blacks are African nobles.”

Don’t want to stop there? We’ve got a ton of celluloid criticism online from Alan Stone Boston Review’s in-house film critic from 1998 to 2016 — who chronicled everything from Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida to Winona Ryder’s borderline personality disorder in Girl, Interrupted.

—Rosie Gillies


No Collision
by Bonnie Honig

“In Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, the end of the world is not one we have anticipated—nuclear war, climate catastrophe—but the seemingly random end of everything. We may not get the emergency we expect, the film suggests, but rather the emergency we deserve.”

• • •

Sorry, Not Sorry
by Robin D. G. Kelley

Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You is not a vision of a dystopian future; it is a commentary on five hundred years of human history. And while critics have called the movie ‘absurdist,’ Riley rejects this premise, arguing instead that life’s absurdities are produced by capitalism, racism, and patriarchy.”

• • •

The Obsessions of Hitchcock, Welles, and Kubrick
by Robert P. Kolker

Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with sex and fetish are on full display in his films, and an astonishing scene in Stanley Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss, features scores of mute, naked female mannequins being mutilated in the midst of a fight between two men.”

• • •

American Cynicism
by Jess Row

“On paper, Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude has one of the strangest premises of any commercial American movie: it’s a comedy about suicide, in which much of the action takes place at funerals; a romance in which a gaunt teenage boy and an eighty-year-old woman wake up in bed, hazy with soft-focus sunshine.”

• • •

Black Panther Is Not the Movie We Deserve
by Christopher Lebron

Black Panther, the most recent entry into the Marvel cinematic universe and a movie unique for its black star power and its many thoughtful portrayals of strong black women, depends on a shocking devaluation of black American men.”

• • •

Haneke and the Technology of Intimacy
by Francey Russell

Michael Haneke’s films ask how ought we respond to death as a spectacle? Do screens—whether cell phones or movies—hinder our capacity to attend to the world, or enhance it? What happens when we put life and death on screen?”

• • •

Births of a Nation
by Robin D. G. Kelley

“In 2016, on the heels of the centennial celebration of D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, a young African American filmmaker named Nate Parkerreleased a new film bearing the same title as a deliberate provocation. But in both Births, women are territory to be fought over, attacked, and defended.”

Our weekly themed Reading Lists compile the best of Boston Review’s archive. Previews are delivered to members every Sunday. Become a member to receive them ahead of the crowd.

Boston Review is nonprofit and reader funded.

Contributions from readers enable us to provide a public space, free and open, for the discussion of ideas. Join this effort – become a supporting reader today.

Sign Up for Our

Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.

Most Recent


But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.

Hannah Craig

The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.

AbdouMaliq Simone

Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.

Eli Friedman