The Oscars have come and gone in a surprisingly dizzying fashion, and now that awards season is finished, we can settle in for pure movie watching. Thankfully, Denver's cinema houses are hitting the ground running. Our best movies list offers up the cream of the crop for the month — but be sure to explore the schedules of your favorite movie theaters, because we're leaving a lot of great movies on the cutting room floor. For now, here are our top picks, presented in chronological order.
1. Colossal Women
All month long, starting March 1
Alamo Drafthouse Littleton
March is Women’s History Month, and to honor that — and the upcoming April release of Anne Hathaway’s monster comedy Colossal — Alamo Drafthouses all over the country are pouring out diverse selection of films to celebrate women and their lives, loves, laughter, lasciviousness and more on the big screen. With 25 titles to choose from, from popular hits like 9 to 5, The Fifth Element, Jackie Brown and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to obscure art-house gems like The Red Shoes, Ms. 45, Run Lola Run, Mustang, Tangerine or even We Need to Talk About Kevin, there’s no shortage of great female characters or performances to watch. Classic family-friendly Studio Ghibli titles including Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa play alongside darker adult fare like Ms. 45, You’re Next, Mad Max: Fury Road, Machine Girl and Lady Battle Cop. The Drafthouse is also bringing in special guests, among them John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, who will be reading from his latest book before a double-feature screening of She’s All That and Reindeer Games; film blogger Marya Gates, who will appear via Skype to introduce Joan Micklin Silver’s Hester Street; and actress Mara Wilson (Matilda), who will present a special screening of Persepolis. Come celebrate ladies and their immense impact on cinema all month long at the Alamo. View the full list of titles and buy tickets at drafthouse.com.
Multiple Boulder theaters
For four star-studded nights every year, Boulder welcomes a bevy of feature films, documentaries and shorts that have garnered acclaim from festivals like Sundance and the Denver Film Festival, and spotlights not just international filmmakers, but local ones as well. For example, this year’s prestigious closing-night film, Chasing Coral — the sequel to the much-ballyhooed Chasing Ice, made by Boulder’s own Jeff Orlowski and Exposure Labs — comes piping hot from this year’s electric Sundance Film Fest lineup. What other high-caliber delights does BIFF have up its sleeve? Peruse the schedule and pick up your pass or individual tickets at biff.com.
3. Martial Arts Madness
Fridays at 10 p.m. beginning March 3
With Jackie Chan’s Lifetime Achievement Oscar and Donnie Yen’s exciting role in Star Wars: Rogue One, cinema’s martial arts masters are finally getting their due, and the Denver Film Society has decided to celebrate it. Every Friday in March you can catch a different martial arts masterpiece starring either Chan or Yen on the big screen. Kicking and punching things off is Ip Man, followed by Iron Monkey, The Legend of Drunken Master and Rumble in the Bronx. The series closes with Zhang Yimou’s poetic and gorgeous Technicolor fight feast, Hero. Guest stars in Martial Arts Madness include Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh, Sammo Hung and Tony Leung, and you can experience the gorgeous fight choreography of legend Yuen Woo-Ping, whose famous wirework fingerprints are all over these films. Get your tickets at denverfilm.org.
4. My Life as a Zucchini
Opens March 3
Landmark’s Mayan Theatre
Nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars, My Life as a Zucchini is a vibrant work of stop-motion that digs deeper than typical animated fare. Director Claude Barras and screenwriter Celine Sciamma (Tomboy, Girlhood) dive into the life of young Icare — he prefers the nickname Zucchini — who is coping with the sudden death of his mother and the harsh reality that comes with the foster-care system. This poignant tale about learning to make friends and dealing with the journey of trying to find a new family brims with joy, sorrow and laughter. The film will screen in two versions: one in English and the other in French with English subtitles. Get your tickets at landmarktheaters.com.
5. The Lure
Opens March 3
Classic fairy tales are often darker than cleaned-up Disney interpretations, and with an even darker twist on The Little Mermaid, freshly minted director Agnieszka Smoczynska’s The Lure promises no easy happily-ever-after ending. A clever musical-horror mashup, the film follows twin mermaids with a taste for meat who wash ashore in 1980s Poland and use their sweet siren songs to kickstart a career as club singers. When one of the sisters falls in love with a human, she begins to tear at the strings of the girls' relationship with each other, complicates their ability to survive on land and, of course, wreaks havoc on their impending transition into adulthood. Get your tickets at denverfilm.org.
Opens March 10
It’s been 25 years since the legendary documentary Paris Is Burning sashayed into our consciousness and introduced us to a clutch of New Yorkers who used vogueing and the safety of the city's underground ballroom scene to elevate their lives from the shadows, where most LGBTQ people of color at the time lived. Director Sara Jordenö’s new film Kiki hot-steps into today's New York and the still-thriving ball culture, to introduce us to a new set of even younger characters who use their community and the power that they gain from performing with fierce choreography, costumes and attitude in a world that still provides many challenges for its queer black and Latinx young people. Get your tickets at denverfilm.org.
Opens March 10
Landmark’s Mayan Theatre
In the bustling metropolis of Istanbul, hundreds of thousands of cats have been freely roaming the streets and shores of the city for thousands of years. This unique world is one that filmmaker Ceyda Torun has known her whole life, and her debut documentary, Kedi, sorts through the giant furball to uncover and follow seven different cats living their nine lives as free as the wind. In Kedi, we see the role that cats play for the human community, with some animals taking great care in fending for themselves while others are cared for by the public at large, given the best foods and sheltered in the winter season, all for the exchange of giving people the purpose, love and compassion that only cats can provide. With gorgeous cinematography and storytelling, the film is a love letter not just to these four-legged friends, but to Istanbul, as well, and will be cinematic catnip for travel-seekers and feline friends alike. Get your tickets at landmarktheaters.com.
8. Kong: Skull Island
Opens March 10
Denver area theaters
To be honest, we are overdue for a visit with our old pal King Kong. It’s been twelve years since Peter Jackson reimagined our banana-breathing buddy, and now a new chapter has emerged with an all-star cast led by Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly and John Goodman playing an ill-fated group of explorers who head to the unchartered Skull Island in the hopes of treasure and fame but run smack into Kong and a landscape teeming with giant spiders and other abominable creatures that defy description. Early buzz is that the film is a thrilling, comical concoction laced with robust special effects and a fun script that make it one reboot worth rooting for. Find theateres and tickets at fandango.com.
7 p.m. March 19, Special Workshop with Mackenzie on March 18
One of Colorado’s most exciting experimental film groups is Process Reversal, a nonprofit dedicated to making sure the public has access to all the chemicals, gear and know-how needed to make films — on film, without having to send them to an expensive lab for processing. The group is joining forces with the Denver Film Society to start a quarterly program exploding the limits of what most of us think cinema can be. To start things off right, artist Alex Mackenzie is bringing his unique, one-time-only 16mm expanded cinema performance in which he will manipulate projectors, overlap images, place objects and gels in front of the lenses, slow down the frame rate and explore the sculptural possibilities of projected light — all while examining social and economic forces in cinema. In addition to the performance, Mackenzie will teach a workshop on how to hack a 16mm film projector to take your filmmaking to dizzying heights of creativity. Find out more about Process Reversal here and get tickets for the event and workshop at denverfilm.org.
Opens March 24
TBD Landmark theater
The winner of ten international awards and the demented darling of film festivals everywhere for the last few months, Julia Ducournau’s Raw has set tongues wagging with the tale of veterinary med student Justine (Garance Marillier), who comes from a long line of vegetarians. When a traumatic school hazing incident forces her to eat raw meat for the first time, it awakens a bizarre and bloody thirst within the young woman, revealing a side of herself she never imagined and putting a tasty twist on the ordinary coming-of-age tale. The film is certainly not for the faint of heart or the vegan-minded. Find tickets at landmarktheatres.com.