The Best and Worst Movies of the 2017 New York Film Festival

Ruben Östlund, Todd Haynes, Dee Rees’s adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s novel, and more must-see movies.


The Square

Force Majeure director Ruben Östlund returns with another quietly uncomfortable pitch-black comedy, a series of escalating and increasingly harrowing confrontations, set this time in the somewhat fish-in-a-barrel setting of the contemporary art world. But he doesn’t go about this work in any of the expected ways; he’s less interested in satirizing artists than administrators, the sensible people who are supposed to marshal the madness, yet are themselves just as petty and egomaniacal (if not more so). Östlund’s approach is deliberately confrontational, and bless him for that; in his framings, juxtapositions, and structure, he’s often deliberately fucking with us, but without positioning himself above the fray.


“I need you to be patient with this story, and read it slowly.” So begins the sequence that reveals the connection between the closely parallel stories – one set in 1927, the other fifty years later – in Todd Haynes’s marvelous adaptation of the novel by Brian Selznick (Hugo). That reveal is emotionally overwhelming, but the instructions hold for the entire movie, a delicate mood piece about being a child, feeling lost and alone, and then finding the kind of companionship and support that feels like home. This is such a light, nimble movie, dancing back and forth between these two threads, displaying the mastery of craft and openness of emotion found in Haynes’s best films.