With most films seeking to get out of the shadow cast by a certain caped crusader, March is a bit of a lighter month than usual, but there remains a handful of recommendations. From offbeat festival favorites to the return of the erotic thriller to what’s sure to be one of the best sci-fi tales of the year, check out our picks below.

11. Jane by Charlotte (Charlotte Gainsbourg; March 18 in theaters)

After being in front of the camera for nearly four decades, Charlotte Gainsbourg gets personal with her directorial debut. Jane by Charlotte, which premiered at Cannes before playing NYFF and beyond, is a portrait of her mother, singer and actress Jane Birkin, as the pair reflect on their creative lives. As they discuss the pains and joys of their relationship, it promises an intimate look at the intricacies of a bond formed not only by blood, but also fiercely creative drives.

10. Windfall (Charlie McDowell; March 18 on Netflix)

After making a splash with his nifty single-location romantic thriller The One I Love, Charlie McDowell’s follow-up The Discovery came and went quickly. For his next feature he’s gone down the one-location route once more, casting Jason Segel, Lily Collins, and Jesse Plemons in a Hitchcockian noir thriller following a young couple who arrive at their vacation home only to find it’s being robbed. A hangout heist movie, Windfall playfully re-examines tropes of the genre in entertaining ways.

9. Wood and Water (Jonas Bak; March 24 in theaters)

One of the most serene, tranquil tales of the last few years is German director Jonas Bak’s Wood and Water, a 16mm-shot feature that picked up an award upon its Berlinale premiere and stopped by ND/NF and BFI London, among other fests. As Glenn Heath Jr said in his ND/NF review, “Germany’s mountainous Black Forest region and Hong Kong Island couldn’t be more dissimilar in terms of terrain. Yet, Jonas Bak’s debut film Wood and Water spiritually connects these two epic spaces for a retired church administrator named Anke (played by the filmmaker’s own mother) entering a time of great transition. Not surprisingly, one of the film’s most important dialogue sequences ends with someone noting, ‘It’s funny how things coincide.'”

8. Huda’s Salon (Hany Abu-Assad; March 4 in theaters and VOD)

Marking a favorite from last fall’s TIFF, Hany Abu-Assad returned to his homeland with Huda’s Salon, following up his stint in Hollywood with The Mountain Between Us. As Dan Mecca said in his review, “Long live the socially minded political thriller! Thanks to filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, this long-underserved sub-genre––once perfected by directors like Hitchcock, Pakula, and Weir––feels briefly resurrected thanks to his new picture Huda’s Salon. Set in the West Bank and based on true events, the film concerns Palestinian housewife Reem (Maisa Abd Elhadi) and the circumstances that are set in motion after a fateful trip to a local salon run by a woman named Huda (Manal Awad).

7. Rock Bottom Riser (Fern Silva; March 4 in theaters)

A winner at last year’s Berlinale, Fern Silva’s endlessly fascinating debut feature Rock Bottom Riser explores all facets of the Hawaiian landscape, geology, ethnography, and astronomy as scientists plan to build the world’s largest telescope on the sacred mountain Mauna Kea. Glenn Heath Jr. said in our ND/NF review, “Images of slowly cascading liquids and particles are pivotal to Rock Bottom Riser, an experimental documentary that covers subjects as far-reaching as nautical navigation, astronomy, and killer smoke tricks. The opening drone shot high above one of Hawaii’s erupting volcano’s finds a long stream of lava that looks like a fire snake slithering along the Earth’s surface. Its final slow-motion sequence––where a big wave surfer stays mere feet ahead of certain death––is equally indicative of the film’s harrowing balancing act covering volatile natural surfaces that are constantly moving and expanding.”

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels; March 25 in theaters)

After their one-of-a-kind, fart-propelled odyssey Swiss Army Man, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert briefly went separate ways as the latter directed the equally disturbing and hilarious The Death of Dick Long. Daniels are now back with Everything Everywhere All At Once, a sci-fi action adventure that reunites them with A24, following an exhausted Chinese American woman (Michelle Yeoh) who can’t seem to finish her taxes. With a cast featuring Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., and Jamie Lee Curtis, it’ll open SXSW shortly before arriving in theaters.

5. Nitram (Justin Kurzel; March 30 in theaters and VOD)

Winner of Best Actor at Cannes, Caleb Landry Jones leads Justin Kurzel’s latest drama Nitram, a fictionalization of the lead-up to the real-life devastating mass shooting in Port Arthur, Australia. David Katz said in his review, “Approaching the 25th anniversary of the tragedy—and accompanied by a degree of public backlash in Australia—director Justin Kurzel has made Nitram, a fictionalized account of Bryant’s life before the murders and attempt to forensically investigate factors that fostered the atrocity. That it isn’t an exploitative embarrassment is a relief, but the film runs into some issues for seeking cast-iron certainties about something truly inexplicable. The four main performances—from Caleb Landry Jones as Nitram, Judy Davis and Anthony LaPaglia as the parents, and the brilliant Essie Davis as benefactor and friend Helen—lend affairs some dignity.”

4. Ahed’s Knee (Nadav Lapid; March 18 in theaters)

Following up the riveting character study Synonyms, Israeli director Nadav Lapid quickly got his next project off the ground during the pandemic, Ahed’s Knee. Winner of the Cannes Jury Prize, it follows a celebrated Israeli filmmaker, Y, who arrives in a remote desert village to present one of his films at a local library and contends with a number of pressing issues. Rory O’Connor said in his review it’s “a blistering work of meta filmmaking Lapid shot during the pandemic and that addresses censorship concerns head-on. The film is based on an experience Lapid had in 2018 when he was invited to introduce The Policeman in Araba, a remote region in the north of the country. He spoke on the phone with a local woman who was then working for the ministry of culture. During their conversation she expressed misgivings about the state in surprisingly frank terms. A journalist friend suggested he record the woman in secret and give it to the press, but Lapid couldn’t bring himself to do it.”

3. Deep Water (Adrian Lyne; March 18 on Hulu)

Adrian Lyne’s long-awaited erotic thriller Deep Water finally arrives this month. Starring former significant others Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, the film was once set for a theatrical release in fall 2020 but continually pushed until eventually landing on Hulu. Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel, Deep Water takes us inside the marriage of picture-perfect Vic (Affleck) and Melinda (de Armas) Van Allen to discover the dangerous mind games they play and what happens to the people who get caught up in them. Lyne seems firmly back in Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal territory, cooking up just the kind of pulpy adult drama quite rare in today’s age. If the co-writing credit for Sam Levinson gives us pause, here’s hoping it outpaces his lackluster other work.

2. Great Freedom (Sebastian Meise; March 4 in theaters)

There may be no more compelling presence onscreen these days than Franz Rogowski. Following work with Christian Petzold and Terrence Malick, he’s led Austria’s 2022 Oscar entry. As Zhou-Ning Su said in his review, “As we learned during the pandemic, some things take two shots to fully work. I saw Austrian director Sebastian Meise’s Great Freedom at Cannes this summer. A combination of false expectations and Cannes-level fatigue ensured I couldn’t get into it no matter how hard I tried. Which is why I’m grateful to have seen it again at the 29th Hamburg Film Festival, where this quiet, thoughtful romantic drama gently, surely broke my heart. Its decades-spanning story centers on Hans (Franz Rogowski), a gay man who has lived through Nazi persecution only to find himself in a world where homosexuality continues to be deemed not only perverted but a criminal offense.”

1. After Yang (kogonada; March 4 in theaters and on Showtime)

Following his serenely stunning drama Columbus, video-essayist-turned-director kogonada headed to the future with After Yang. The gorgeous, moving drama about what makes up a family premiered at last year’s Cannes (where our own Rory O’Connor was mixed) and after a few tweaks recently landed at Sundance, where it received quite a rapturous response. Starring Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Justin H. Min, Sarita Choudhury, Haley Lu Richardson, and Clifton Collins Jr., it follows Farrell as Jake, a father who attempts to repair the malfunction Yang, an android that was a companion to his young daughter. In his second feature, kogonada perfectly depicts quite a seemingly realistic near-future while still retaining the peaceful artistic sensibilities of his debut.

Honorable Mentions

  • The Batman (March 4)
  • Dear Mr. Brody (March 4)
  • Striding into the Wind (March 8)
  • Turning Red (March 11)
  • Intregalde (March 18)
  • Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (March 18)
  • X (March 18)
  • Love After Love (March 18)
  • Mothering Sunday (March 25)
  • You Are Not My Mother (March 25)
  • Superior (March 25)
  • Zero Fucks Given (March 30)

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