In the Year of the Grifter

December 14 to January 3

That “Fake it ‘til you make it” has become the unofficial motto of these United States isn’t an unexpected development—way back in 1857 Herman Melville’s satirical The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade proposed a vision of the Republic as a ship of fools, lured in by a shapeshifting flim-flam artist. America and the world have gotten older but no wiser, and yesteryear’s snake oil salesmen and false prophets seeking actual profits give way to a new breed of fakers, art world hustlers like Anna Delvey and born-rich real estate swindlers who turn a long history of bankruptcies into a campaign for public office. The real-world results aren’t anything to celebrate today, but cinema, based as it is on feats of audio-visual deceit, has long had a kind of love affair with fabulous frauds, and we’ve brought some of the rogues, rakes, mountebanks, and outright bastards together. It’s a special, and perhaps especially insightful, collection of movies—and that’s no lie.