CRUELLA

While not hitting the high marks of the best live-action Disney movies, Cruella succeeds because it abandons the sketch we had of the deliciously reviled character and strikes out on its own.

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON

These scraps of something bolder make Raya feel much more safe than it really is. A couple of no holds barred princesses and a whole new world for Disney provided so many opportunities for expansion that it’s disappointing they only took partial advantage. Hopefully they continue pushing forward, because Raya’s only downside is Disney’s self-imposed limitations.

I CARE A LOT

I Care A Lot plays a tough game. It’s not an unfamiliar one, not by a long shot, but that doesn’t make it easy to stomach. A tale of greed and capitalism that can’t even be called allegory since it speaks of its themes directly, it’s a story of terrible people doing terrible things, and you’re not supposed to feel good about any of it.

HAPPIEST SEASON

Happiest Season knows the moment it’s in and how much it can push the boundaries, and it doesn’t dare come anywhere close to the edge. The win is simply getting an adequate one out there that everyone, not just queer people, will feel the need to see, and then not be put off seeing more. And in that sense, it plants its flag firmly so others can follow.

TIGERTAIL

Tigertail is a swift 96 minutes long, but it’s one of the few movies where I’d recommend it going longer, using the time to fill in the blanks and make the whole movie feel as arresting as its early scenes. As is, it’s not a complete wash, but it’s hard to drum up a lot of enthusiasm for something that feels half-baked.