1. If Anything Happens I Love You
Co-written and directed by Will McCormack and Michael Govier, this wordless animated short film presents the struggles of two grieving parents after the loss of their daughter. Between its brevity and medium, the filmmakers waste not an inch of canvas, nor a portion of frame as they send wave after wave of emotion through the smallest moments, leaving viewers riveted and unable to look away.
The world turned upside down in 2020, so Disney shuffled its plans for the theatrical release of playwright/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda’s seminal Broadway show and placed it on Disney+ so that everyone could be in the room where it happens. Viewers who might otherwise never have received the chance to experience this extraordinary historical rearrangement got that opportunity, seeing for themselves all the colors of humanity enacting all the wonderful and horrible things left in history’s wake.
3. The Trial of the Chicago 7
There are few projects by writer/director Aaron Sorkin that don’t bring some kind of joy, and his second directorial feature is no exception. It explores a time, not so long ago, when the U.S. government decided — not for the first time — to use the large machine of bureaucracy to stamp out any dissidents. With its jaunty dialogue, stylish production design and an ensemble more than capable of handling Sorkin’s flair with words, the film may present a heightened — and often skewed — version of the truth, but it’s no less captivating in the hands of the master writer.
4. Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo
After 37 years in show business, most audiences know actor Danny Trejo as either Machete, the deadly Mexican federale from Machete and Machete Kills, or Uncle Machete, the sweet inventor from the Spy Kids films. Director Brett Harvey’s documentary unflinchingly explores Trejo’s life as a small-time crook to his time in prison to his latest cinematic projects, mixing the somber and the exuberant moments of a life lived on borrowed time.
5. Da 5 Bloods
By folding time so that the past and present touch, director Spike Lee offers a disquieting examination of the historical scars inflicted upon the Black community. Even if you survive the powerful opening historical montage of global violence, Delroy Lindo’s climactic raging monologue directed at the audience will annihilate you.