As we head into the final month of 2019, lists of critically acclaimed films are piling up and moviegoers have plenty to be thankful for. Our critics, Justin Chang (J.C.) and Kenneth Turan (K.T.), offer this guide to the best of recently released films — some of which are already streaming. In general release unless otherwise noted.
Atlantics A worthy winner of the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival, this feature directing debut from the French Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop tells a hypnotic story of migration and abandonment, romance and ghosts. (J.C.) NR. Closes Wednesday, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; available Friday on Netflix
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood A deeply moving companion piece to last year’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” Marielle Heller’s subtly directed drama casts an excellent Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers and Matthew Rhys as a cynical journalist who is transformed by their encounter. (J.C.) PG.
Citizen K Filmmaker Alex Gibney, who specializes in helping audiences understand situations that define daunting, paints a portrait of oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, using that story as a way to guide us through the thickets of modern Russian history to today’s increasingly autocratic reign of Vladimir Putin. (K.T.) NR. Limited
Dark Waters If this story of a whistleblower attorney, who worked for more than 20 years to expose decades of heedless environmental contamination, sounds familiar, to a certain extent, it is. But this film is not business as usual, with the presence of director Todd Haynes and star Mark Ruffalo the key reasons why. (K.T.) PG-13.
Dolemite Is My Name Eddie Murphy is back, and both his old gifts and some new ones are on engaging display in the rowdy, raunchy, inescapably funny film, a gleefully profane biopic and a passion project the star has been nurturing for years. (K.T.) R. Netflix
Ford v Ferrari A barnburner of a motion picture that mainlines heart-in-mouth excitement and tug-at-the-heart emotion in a career-defining effort by director James Mangold, this glorious throwback combines a smart, modern sensibility with the best of traditional storytelling, plus sterling acting by stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale and a tiptop supporting cast. (K.T.) PG-13.
I Lost My Body As inventive a piece of animation as you’re likely to see, the extraordinary film is about a hand with a mind of its own, and if that sounds a little crazy, this dark, strange and altogether wonderful feature will make you believe. Directed by France’s Jérémy Clapin. (K.T.) NR. Closes Wednesday, Laemmle Town Center, Encino; available Friday on Netflix
The Irishman Its possibly true story of the life and crimes of a Mafia hit man, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, is a revelation, as intoxicating a film as the year has seen, allowing director Martin Scorsese to use his expected mastery of all elements of filmmaking to ends we did not see coming. (K.T.) R. Limited; available Wednesday on Netflix
Knives Out Rian Johnson’s deliriously entertaining country-house murder mystery brings together a splendid cast (led by Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas), an ingenious script and a razor-sharp indictment of class inequality and moral rot in contemporary America. (J.C.) PG-13.
The Lighthouse Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe give towering performances as a pair of feuding 19th century lightkeepers in this mad, magnificently crafted New England gothic from “The Witch” writer-director Robert Eggers. (J.C.) R. Limited
Marriage Story An emotionally lacerating experience, a nearly flawless elegy for a beautifully flawed couple played by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, both in peak form. Writer-director Noah Baumbach, a peerless observer of domestic pettiness and passive-aggressive behavior, puts every unflattering detail under his dramatic microscope. (J.C.) R. Limited; available Dec. 6 on Netflix
Parasite Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Bong Joon Ho’s deviously entertaining thriller about two very different families is an ingenious weave of domestic dark comedy, class allegory and, ultimately, devastating tragedy. (J.C.) R. Limited
The Two Popes Who knew that serious talk about the future of the Catholic Church could be the source of so much fun? Written by Anthony McCarten, directed by Fernando Meirelles and starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, this sprightly film offers spirited conversations as well as a playful side. (K.T.) PG-13 Limited; available Dec. 20 on Netflix
Waves Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown and Renée Elise Goldsberry play a South Florida family weathering tragedy in this emotionally turbulent, formally astonishing drama from writer-director Trey Edward Shults (“Krisha”). (J.C.) R. Limited