Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for Artforum who lives, writes, and teaches in New York.

AGHDRA (Arthur Jafa), EO (Jerzy Skolimowski), and SEE YOU FRIDAY, ROBINSON (Mitra Farahani)

A tie for first place among three works that testify to the poetic power of image-sound amalgams and to the fragility of all life. An Elias Canetti observation—often quoted by Jean-Luc Godard, including in Farahani’s collage of revelatory fragments they began in 2015, and Farahani finished in 2022—describes how you might react to any or all of them: “We are never sad enough for the world to become better.”

CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (David Cronenberg)
An end-of-the-world movie—or is it?

In a poor Muslim neighborhood in Delhi, two brothers and their friend rescue kites—omnipresent, often despised scavenger birds. But seen through the eyes of these young men, similarly scorned in Modi’s India, they are gossamer shadows soaring through the smog, as well as extremely efficient refuse collectors. “Without them,” one brother says, “the garbage would touch the sky.” Three other remarkable documentaries: Laura Poitras’s All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Margaret Brown’s Descendant, and Alex Pritz’s The Territory.

Shaunak Sen, All That Breathes, 2022, 4K video, color, sound, 94 minutes.

SAINT OMER (Alice Diop)
Based on the trial of a former Sorbonne student from Senegal who left her fifteen-month-old child on a beach to be swept away with the tide, isolation and cultural displacement likely playing a part in her psychotic act. A similar horror haunts the less austere Nanny (Nikyatu Jusu), in which an undocumented Senegalese woman hopes to earn enough money caring for the child of a wealthy Manhattan couple to bring her son from Dakar to New York.

KIMI (Steven Soderbergh)
A perfect pop-pandemic thriller and an inspired duet by actor (Zoë Kravitz) and cameraman (Soderbergh).

Steven Soderbergh, Kimi, 2022, 4K video, color, sound, 89 minutes. Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz).

LINGUI, THE SACRED BONDS (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun)
The year’s most uplifting feminist film, about the collective power of women against an entrenched patriarchy.

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Lingui, les liens sacrés (Lingui, The Sacred Bonds), 2021, HD video, color, sound, 87 minutes. Maria (Rihane Khalil Alio) and Amina (Achouackh Abakar).

In all of her documentaries, Wang has investigated false memory/false consciousness, first in China, where she was born, and now through parallels in the United States. This HBO series examines the effect of a rape and murder on a small Nebraska town and the exoneration some twenty years later of the six convicted for it, five of whom had confessed to the crime and at least two of whom still believe they committed it.

FUNNY PAGES (Owen Kline) and THE CATHEDRAL (Ricky D’Ambrose)
Both depict formative moments in the life of a young visual artist. Like the directors, the protagonists have polar-opposite aesthetics and might grow up to convince us that one is just as good as the other.

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