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Filmspotting: Reviews & Top 5s
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Filmspotting: Reviews & Top 5s

Author: Kempenaar & Larsen

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“...affable, insightful film analysis since 2005."–NY Times / New + classic reviews and top 5s. Also on WBEZ Chicago.

445 Episodes
It's been an unusual year for movies – and for everything else – but there was great stuff to see if you knew where to look. This week, Adam and Josh share their Top 5 Films of 2020 (So Far), along with a 10th anniversary, split-take revisit of INCEPTION, the sixth film in the Christopher Nolan "Oeuvre-view." ("Adam, I love you," says Josh at one point, "but you have no idea what you're talking about.") 0:00 - Billboard 1:04 - Top 5 Films of 2020 So Far Phoebe Bridgers, "ICU" 47:35 - Listener Feedback (Jaws, Spielberg's Best Decade) 1:03:34 - Next Week / Notes 1:21:04 - Nolan #6: "Inception" (10th Anniversary) 2:01:52 - Outro Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
A blowhard anti-science mayor ignoring the threat of a murderous invisible menace because it threatens the economy? What could JAWS possibly have to offer us 45 years later? Adam and Josh give the Spielberg classic the Sacred Cow treatment. And they consider the director's nearly half-century of movie-making by Power Ranking the five decades of Spielberg's output. 0:00 - Billboard 1:04 - Review: "Jaws" at 45 Wyatt Waddell, "Fight" 41:29 - AK on "The King of Staten Island" 46:29 - Next Week / Notes 1:05:08 - Top 5: Power Ranking Spielberg 1:40:42 - Outro  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Introducing the newest Audioboom original podcast, Truth vs Hollywood. Join Film lovers David Chen and Joanna Robinson as they do a deep dive into well known films and discuss how similar they are to the actual story.  Truth vs Hollywood premieres 6/12. Subscribe to Truth vs Hollywood on Apple Podcasts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
While it's true that there's never a bad time for a new Spike Lee Joint, right now just happens to be an especially good time to be getting a new film from a master director who has spent the last three-and-a-half decades challenging us to consider the ways that racism defines American life. New to Netflix this weekend, Lee's DA 5 BLOODS doesn't disappoint. Adam and Josh debate the effectiveness of a key performance, and some of Lee's - always bold - aesthetic choices, but they agree that it's one of the year's essential films. Plus, a revisit of 2018's Top 5 Spike Lee Shots. 0:00 - Billboard 1:04 - Review: "Da 5 Bloods" Marvin Gaye, "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" 32:47 - Poll Results: Spike's Best 39:02 - Notes 47:11 - Massacre Theatre 54:51 - Top 5: Spike Lee Shots 1:41:14 - Outro Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When a Minneapolis police officer killed unarmed black man George Floyd last week, protests broke out across the U.S. On this week's show, Adam and Josh – and Filmspotting listeners – reflect on how the movies helped them come to terms with the ways that racism shapes American life. 0:00 - Billboard 1:12 - Top 5: Movies That Educated Us About Racism John Boyega, "We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd" 34:57 - Next Week/Notes 44:03 - Top 5, cont. 1:08:46 - Outro  LINKS -Poet Ross Gay reads "A Small Needful Fact" -How to Support the Struggle Against Police Brutality -Campaign Zero Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Made between "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight," Christopher Nolan's THE PRESTIGE was only a modest success back in 2006, but the twisty feuding magicians drama is, for some, one of the director's very best. In their spoiler-filled review, Adam and Josh agree that, if it's not his best, it's arguably the most Nolan movie. Plus, "Brickspotting" recommendations for the new VAST OF NIGHT and THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF. 0:00 - Billboard 1:06 - Nolan "Oeuvre-view" #5: "The Prestige" Melenas, "3 segundos" 46:44 - Next Week/Notes 55:14 - Massacre Theatre 1:04:46 - Reviews: "The Vast of Night" "The Painter and the Thief" 1:20:30 - Outro / Outtake Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
With Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon taking their fourth and final trip abroad with the new TRIP TO GREECE, Adam and Josh consider the series' most memorable reflections on mortality, family obligations, career insecurity—oh yeah, and all those hilarious impressions. Plus, thoughts on the late Lynn Shelton. 0:00 - Billboard 1:02 - Top 5: Trip Series Scenes Brett Shady, "Let Your Burden Be" 26:37 - RIP Lynn Shelton 36:01 - Next Week / Notes 43:46 - Polls 58:00 - Review: "The Trip to Greece" 1:06:33 - Trip Series Scenes, cont. 1:30:46 - Outro / Outtake Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
After scoring $2B and change at the box office and near-universal praise from audiences and critics, the only black mark on Christopher Nolan's DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY is its dubious influence on the superhero movies that followed in its wake. For the fourth installment of the Nolan "Oeuvre-view," Adam and Josh revisit the trilogy, starting with a 15th anniversary consideration of "Batman Begins." Plus, Massacre Theatre and a new Golden Brick nominee: Lara Gallagher's "Clementine." 0:00 - Billboard 1:11 - "Batman Begins" The Jam, "Batman Theme" 30:34 - JL recommends "Clementine" 34:01 - Next Week/Notes 42:10 - Massacre Theatre 49:06 - "The Dark Knight" / "Dark Knight Rises" 1:30:18 - Outro Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Back in '84, GHOSTBUSTERS was a bigger hit than GREMLINS (#2 and #4 at the box office, respectively), and it's got the more memorable cast—and quotes ("dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!"); but is it the more interesting film? Adam and Josh agree that Joe Dante's darkly funny creature feature works as a clever satire of consumerism and American exceptionalism, disagreeing only over the movie's aesthetic, which Adam at one point refers to as "rinky dink." (Josh is having none of it.) And the Bette Davis Marathon comes to a conclusion with 1942's NOW, VOYAGER, starring Davis as a deeply repressed Boston woman with serious mommy issues ("Psycho" meets "She's All That" according to Adam). Plus, "The Peepers," the Davis Marathon Awards. 0:00 - Billboard 1:11 - 8 From '84: "Ghostbusters" v "Gremlins" Ray Parker, Jr., "Ghostbusters" 55:48 - Next Week/Notes/Poll 1:07:33 - Davis #4: "Now, Voyager" / Davis Awards 1:47:56 - Outro Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
With movie theaters shuttered and many of us housebound, Adam and Josh look back over a lifetime of going to the movies with their Top 5 Moviegoing Experiences—from big screen introductions to Han and Indy to formative encounters with the works of Spike Lee, Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. Listeners, too, contribute their own favorite moviegoing memories. 0:00 - Billboard 1:00 - Top 5: Moviegoing Experiences The Drifters, "Saturday Night at the Movies" 46:17 - Next Week/Notes 52:34 - Massacre Theatre 1:00:34 - Top 5: Moviegoing Experiences, cont. 1:27:08 - Outro  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Expectations were high back in 2002 for Christopher Nolan's INSOMNIA, the follow-up to his mind-bending breakthrough "Memento." But despite solid reviews and decent box office, the film has been largely forgotten by Nolan fans—including Adam and Josh. They revisit the director's third feature this week as part of their Nolan Oeuvre-view, finding a film with lots of familiar Nolan touches—and a somewhat divisive lead performance by Al Pacino. Plus, reviews of three new films: Justin Kurzel's TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, Tayarisha Poe's SELAH AND THE SPADES, and Danielle Krudy & Bridget Savage Cole's BLOW THE MAN DOWN—one of which gets both Adam and Josh's blessing as a 2020 Golden Brick candidate. 0:00 - Billboard 1:06 - Reviews: "Kelly Gang," "Selah and the Spades," "Blow the Man Down" Disq, "Daily Routine" 26:28 - Next Week/Notes 50:20 - Nolan Oeuvre-view #3: "Insomnia" 1:18:54 - Outro Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
With Adam and Josh cooped up at home and spending lots (and lots) of quality time with their families in front of the tv, this week's Top 5 is devoted to highlights from their Adventures in Streaming. Plus the third film in their Bette Davis Marathon, 1939's DARK VICTORY. 0:00 - Billboard 1:09 - Top 5: Things We're Streaming During Quarantine "Give Me Time For Tenderness" (from "Dark Victory") 57:15 - Next Week/Notes 1:09:01 - Massacre Theatre 1:11:35 - Bette Davis Marathon #3: "Dark Victory" 1:31:07 - Outro  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Eliza Hittman's second feature, "Beach Rats," got the director some attention in 2017, but her latest - NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS - came out of Sundance this year as one of the fest's most celebrated titles. In their review, Adam and Josh talk about the movie's patience and attention to detail along with the subtle brilliance of star Sidney Flanigan's performance. Christopher Nolan's breakout film was also a Sundance hit. 2001's MEMENTO, the director's second feature, went on to become a box office success and an Oscar nominee. Continuing their Nolan "Oeuvre-view," Adam and Josh revisit the film that put the director on the map and find it just as surprising and astonishing as they did almost 20 years ago. Plus, the winner of this year's Filmspotting Madness: Best of the 2010s. 0:00 - Billboard 1:33 - Review: "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" Waxahatchee, "Can't Do Much" 30:40 - Next Week / Notes 35:22 - Filmspotting Madness: Champion 50:31 - Patreon / New Poll 1:02:12 - Nolan "Oeuvre-view" #2: "Memento" 1:41:21 - Outro 1:42:57 - "Never Rarely..." Spoilers Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Christopher Nolan’s films are events—smart, ambitious and original. But before he made "Interstellar," "Dunkirk" or his "Dark Knight" trilogy—even before "Memento"—Nolan made the 70-minute indie thriller FOLLOWING. This week, Adam and Josh start their Nolan "Oeuvre-view" with Nolan's '99 debut, which gives tantalizing clues of the director he'll become and the stories he'll go on to tell. Bette Davis won a much-deserved Oscar for her performance in 1938's JEZEBEL. The William Wyler-directed drama set in ante-bellum New Orleans is the second film in our Davis Marathon. Plus, Filmspotting Madness: Best of the 2010s comes down to the final two. 0:00 - Billboard 1:07 - Nolan "Oeuvre-view" #1: "Following" Ernie Hendrickson, "Dystopian Dreams" 32:39 - Next Week/Notes 35:08 - Filmspotting Madness Finals 55:37 - Bette Davis #2: "Jezebel" 1:31:10 - Outro  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
PURPLE RAIN was one of the highest-grossing films of 1984, but Prince's semi-autobiographical screen debut hasn't aged as well as its music has. The opposite is true of THIS IS SPINAL TAP and STOP MAKING SENSE, which were only modestly successful at the time of their release but have become two of the most celebrated rock films of all time. Adam and Josh continue their 8 From '84 series with a look at the rock trio—plus Filmspotting Madness: Best of the 2010s gets down to the Final 4. 0:00 - Billboard 1:12 - Filmspotting Madness Final 4 20:25 - 8 From '84: "Stop Making Sense" "This Is Spinal Tap" Prince, "Purple Rain" 40:28 - Next Week/Notes 43:46 - 8 From '84: "Purple Rain" 1:13:14 - Outro  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Chaplin, Cagney, Garbo and Grant all make Adam and Josh's 1930s "Starter Pack," 10 films to introduce you – or get you better acquainted with – arguably the greatest movie decade. Plus, the first film in our four-film Bette Davis Marathon, 1934's OF HUMAN BONDAGE, and the Elite 8 of Filmspotting Madness: Best of the 2010s. 0:00 - Billboard  1:04 - Top 5: 1930s Starter Pack Fred Astaire, "Cheek to Cheek" 43:40 - Notes  52:28 - Filmspotting Madness Elite 8 1:06:51 - Bette Davis Marathon #1: "Of Human Bondage" 1:26:33 - Outro / Outtake Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
This episode is presented by the Academy Award-Winning film 1917. Available now on Digital streaming and on Blu-ray and DVD March 24th. Sam Mendes' acclaimed WWI film was a hugely ambitious undertaking for all involved, including Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Guillaume Rocheron ("Ad Astra," "Life of Pi"). In this edition of Filmspotting: The Process, Rocheron describes the unique challenges that the film's "single-shot" approach created, and how his VFX team collaborated with Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins to bring some of the film's most memorable scenes to life. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
With FIRST COW, Kelly Reichardt returns to the 19th century Oregon Territory of her most acclaimed film, "Meek's Cutoff." An early film of the year candidate, Adam and Josh praise Reichardt's parable about capitalism and self-invention for its detail, its performances and its mouth-watering "oily cakes." Plus: where Pixar's ONWARD lands in a ranking of the studio's features; Filmspotting Madness continues with a (Coen-less) Sweet 16; and the next Filmspotting Marathon is announced. 0:00 - Billboard 0:59 - Review: "First Cow" U.S. Girls, "4 American Dollars" 30:15 - Next Week/Notes 42:00 - Filmspotting Madness, Sweet 16 1:03:53 - Review: "Onward" 1:17:52 - Outro  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
PTA. Wes. Malick. The Coens. Of course they made the cut. But who else? This week, Adam and Josh complete a task a decade in the making with their top 10 films of the decade. Plus, quick reviews of THE INVISIBLE MAN and WENDY, and Rd. 2 of Filmspotting Madness: Best of the 2010s. 0:00 - Billboard  1:13 - #6-10 Films of the 2010s 15:59 - Filmspotting Madness, Rd. 2 39:13 - Notes Nicholas Britell, "The Middle of the World" 49:01 - Reviews: "The Invisible Man," "Wendy"  1:03:24 - #1-5 Films of the 2010s 1:55:27 - Outro Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Work from Abbas Kiarostami, Sofia Coppola, Spike Lee – and a couple of former Golden Brick winners – all make the cut as Adam and Josh start their countdown of the top 20 films of the last decade. Plus, Filmspotting Madness 2020: Best of the 2010s kicks off with 32 ("How dare you!!!" "Why???") first-round matchups. 0:00 - Billboard 1:06 - Films of the 2010s – #16-20 22:06 - Filmspotting Madness Rd. 1 43:18 - Notes Nicholas Godin, "What Makes Me Think Of You" 59:52 - Films of the 2010s – #11-15 1:49:43 - Outro  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (20)

Tom Piter

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Jun 9th

Glen Dixo

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Mar 16th

G.A. Brown Jr.


Dec 29th

Joe Ayers

. .m. kikckd gvmc n mnew mm m ll m

Jul 5th

Victoria Bert

As a reviewer you could you try to be neutral and not slam a movie before you even see it.... Rocketman is a honest moving effort to entertain and provoke. I hope you’ve see it .. because it’s far batter than the trailer indicates.

Jun 14th


I would have thought Jessica rabbit, Gillian Anderson , Karen Gillan (Dr Who), Black Widow (Avengers), carice van Houten( game of thrones) would get honory mentions. Lastly the girl in 5th Element.

Apr 30th


Very hard choice of crackpots. Doc Brown is the most obvious choice. Willy Wonka a good choice. But my other choice might be more Mad scientist eg. Dr Strangelove, The guy in rocky horror show . Most of the James bond villains. Lex Luther, people thought Noah was crazy. Most of Jim carreys characters. John Goodman in cool runnings.

Apr 30th

Ralph Hunter

you hi jo hop

Jan 23rd

Victoria Bert

What kinda guy doesn’t like the Terminator.

Nov 3rd

Fuck Fuckery

I liked it

Oct 8th


annoying when the female guest refers to everything as "uncomfortable". the virtue signaling is staggering.

Sep 20th

stephen carter

On 'Sorry to Bother You', as a "black" man for a change I'd like a "white" critic to have the balls to JUST SAY (when it's a so so film by "black" folks) that the film was second tier, mediocre or plain childish. Who are you to be patronizing? Nauseatingly so! Are you trying to see yourselves as Aryans (in the Hindu sense)? Stop playing the ROLE as the enlightened Brahmin. Just be honest and review the damned film.

Jul 29th
Reply (4)

Victoria Bert

Can you take anyone seriously who likes the prequels...I just can not.

Apr 26th

stephen carter

When did the 52yr old Viola Davis become "the Great Viola Davis", and why? I can't imagine the 53yr old Sandra Bullock being described as the "the Great Sandra Bullock" even though Bullock is a better actress, more beautiful and has a more established body of work. I don't think I've ever heard the 71yr old Charlotte Rampling referred to as "the Great Charlotte Rampling. What a nauseatingly patronizing discription.

Jan 26th
Reply (2)
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