The 10 Best Movies in Theaters Right Now

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The 10 Best Movies in Theaters Right Now

For all of the at-home movie-watching options available to today’s audiences, none quite compare to the communal experience of going out to catch a film in a theater. Paste’s monthly guides for Netflix and HBO and Amazon and Showtime and Redbox cover the best of what’s out there if you’re a diehard couch potato, but we also want to recommend the best of what’s in theaters right now, from indie films playing the local arthouse to blockbusters running on multiple megaplex screens. (Some may be easier to find in your city than others.) Remember: Great films are worth the effort.

Here are the 10 best movies in theaters right now:

life-movie-poster.jpg 10. Life
Release Date: March 24, 2017
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Life is just a generally beautiful movie whose visuals embrace both the wonders of technology and the intensity of isolation—not by, like Alfonso Cuarón does in Gravity, opening up to the cold loneliness of space, but instead by countering gorgeously rendered ISS shots with an Earthly backdrop. Espinosa emphasizes the responsibility placed on the space station by all of us here on the ground. Those astronauts are the best of us and, dammit, they’re not going to let us down. —Jacob Oller / Full Review

kong-skull-island-poster.jpg 9. Kong: Skull Island
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
This film is about Kong smashing giant lizards, and that’s what he does with reckless abandon. The oddly proportioned “skull crawlers” are serviceably scary antagonists, saddled with a name so stupid that the film goes out of its way to satirize the moniker via its own dialogue as means of walking it back. The action sequences are where the film shines, whether that’s Sam L.’s band of hopelessly outgunned soldiers fighting against giant spiders and pterodactyls, or Kong ripping giant reptiles limb from limb. The visceral nature of the violence is almost shocking at times, especially because it’s so often balanced by comedy in short order. The gore is definitely there, but one can at least say that no scene is half as harrowingly serious as the bit in Peter Jackson’s King Kong when the entire party is being torn apart by giant insects. Skull Island’s violence might better be compared to say, Deadpool—gratuitous, but with a touch of zany. The filmmakers here at least know enough about what they’re doing to be aware that the climax of the final monster fight needs another Mortal Kombat-style fatality, as we got in the climax of Godzilla. This one does not disappoint. —Jim Vorel / Full Review

t2-trainspotting-movie-poster.jpg 8. T2 Trainspotting
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Director: Danny Boyle 
Superficially, T2 is an action crime comedy, but its true subject is about being 40 in the modern United Kingdom, just as the first one was about being British and 20. Boyle and company want to both eat and burn their cake, too: to be nostalgic and deconstruct nostalgia. The plot, which deals with payback and schemes, is really an excuse for all of us to check in, keep tabs, see how everybody is doing. There are flashbacks to scenes from the original movie, and childhood scenes that weren’t in the original film. T2 is mostly played out in the aged faces of its lead characters as they stumble over the twilight of youth: Aye, so it’s come to this; a real shame, innit? —Jason Rhode / Full Review

lego-batman-movie-poster.jpg 7. The Lego Batman Movie
Release Date: February 10, 2017
Director Chris McKay
It goes without saying that this isn’t a serious movie, but it does take its material seriously. There’s a distinct feeling here that McKay—plus the team of writers gathered to write the script—genuinely cares about the Batman mythos, that he’s a bona fide Bat-fan and that he can not only write a joke but take a joke, because to make fun of Batman is to make fun of Batman’s legions of fans. McKay’s immense understanding of the character lets him get away with relentless parody, and also positions The Lego Batman Movie as one of the most surprisingly authentic Batman movies ever made. It gets that Bruce Wayne is Batman’s alter ego and not the other way around, that at the end of the day the real persona is the one shaped by childhood trauma. The playboy is more of a mask than that iconic cowl. —Andy Crump / Full Review

logan-poster.jpg 6. Logan
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Director: James Mangold
Ultimately, Logan’s ambition is to present itself with a weight of gravitas that isn’t entirely earned, considering the history of the character. It will doubtlessly frustrate some of the Everyman cinema-goers who perceive its middle chapters as slow, or who criticize the 135-minute run-time, but I expect patient viewers will appreciate the way it allows its characters to breathe and wallow in moments of vulnerability. It’s not a film calculated to be a people-pleaser, but it is an appropriately intense end to a character defined by the tenacity and ferocity of a wolverine. —Jim Vorel / Full Review

Song-To-Song-Poster.jpg 5. Song to Song
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Directors: Terrence Malick 
Like Knight of Cups, Song to Song is a showbiz tale, this time set amid the music scene in Austin, Texas (where Malick currently resides). But instead of centering around a successful Hollywood creative type lamenting his soulless existence, he focuses his attention on a group of up-and-coming talents: two struggling musicians, Faye (Rooney Mara) and her boyfriend BV (Ryan Gosling), and some of the higher-ups that surround them, principally the amoral record executive, Cook (Michael Fassbender), with whom Faye cheats on BV for the sake of her career. The story that Malick tells in Song to Song is a familiar one: a romance mixed in with a cautionary tale, with Cook the big-business devil figure to the angel that is the uncompromisingly independent BV, with Faye forced to choose between one or the other. One could even uncharitably call the characters here overly simplistic. —Kenji Fujishima / Full Review

colossal-movie-poster.jpg 4. Colossal
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Colossal is simply a much darker, more serious-minded film than one could possibly go in expecting, judging from the marketing materials and rather misleading trailers. It blooms into a story about sacrifice and martyrdom, while simultaneously featuring an array of largely unlikable characters who are not “good people” in any measurable way. I understand that description sounds at odds with itself, but this film is often at odds with itself. But in the cognitive dissonance this creates, it somehow finds a streak of feminist individuality and purpose it couldn’t have even attempted to seek as a straight-up comedy. —Jim Vorel / Full Review

after-the-storm-movie-poster.jpg 3. After the Storm
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
If a melancholy, troubled tone is endemic in Kore-eda’s work, so is his close chronicling of family dynamics. While Ryota fears turning into the same terminal disappointment as his father—or, perhaps, the disappointment he perceived him to be—he tries to win Shingo’s affection, buying him gifts to assert his supremacy over his ex’s new boyfriend. In Ryota’s mind, it’s how to be close to his boy in a way his father never was with him, but After the Storm knows better, recognizing all the ways that he’s failing his kid—and also how, like its own kind of genetic gravity, Ryota is becoming his old man, unable to correct the mistakes of the past. But there’s no scorn in Kore-eda’s depiction of Ryota’s transformation: The middle-aged man will come to understand how little he knew about his dad and also why he still craves connection to him, even though he thought he didn’t. —Tim Grierson / Full Review

your-name-poster.jpg 2. Your Name
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Director: Makoto Shinkai
In the great ongoing debate of anime canonicity at large, Shinkai is often heralded as the “next” Hayao Miyazaki for both the artistry and accessibility of his work. This comparison, however, albeit well-meaning, is reductionist. Miyazaki’s place in the history of anime is already well established, while Shinkai has not even yet reached his apex. The burden of expectation, to laud any one director as the “next” adoptive patriarch of their art form, is as misguided as it is creatively stifling. Art does not need successors; art needs artists. This much, however, is certain: Shinkai’s films speak directly to the times in which they were created, and with this latest work, he has more than earned the right to step from out of the shadow of comparisons to Miyazaki and forge his own name. —Toussaint Egan / Full Review

get-out-poster.jpg 1. Get Out
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Director: Jordan Peele 
Peele’s a natural behind the camera, but Get Out benefits most from its deceptively trim premise whose simplicity belies rich thematic depth. Chris and Rose go to spend a weekend with her folks in their lavish upstate New York mansion, where they’re throwing the annual Armitage bash with all their friends in attendance. Chris immediately feels out of place; events escalate from there, taking the narrative in a ghastly direction that ultimately ties back to the unsettling sensation of being the “other” in a room full of people who aren’t like you and never let you forget it. Put indelicately, Get Out is about being black and surrounded by whites who squeeze your biceps without asking, who fetishize you to your face, who analyze your blackness as if it’s a fashion trend. —Andy Crump / Full Review

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