White Material

Elliptical, convulsive, poetic, and mournful, White Material is a haunting, poignant study of well-intentioned folly, embodied by a doomed heroine whose bravery renders her blind to the world that is crumbling around her. It’s a powerful and frightening commentary on the heart of darkness.

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Night Moves

Clean, crackling, tensile, and mesmerically assured, Night Moves is a richly engrossing drama that’s aiming for the head, not the gut; a study of murky actions, fuzzy ideals, and wrong decisions for righteous reasons, offering more than what we expect and taking its time to deliver. It’s a cunning, if thin, piece of storytelling.

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The Immigrant

Handsome, self-controlled, astonishingly beautiful, and relentlessly downbeat, The Immigrant is a lush, broody period piece that harkens back to the great maternal dramas of the mid-20th century, a stubbornly old-fashioned lovesick tale in which the bonds of passion and family are stretched to their snapping point. Both epic and fine-grained, it’s a well-articulated example of the kind of thing we like to say they just don’t make any more: serious, adult, character-driven, and impassioned.

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Snowpiercer

Upscale, gruesome, long, and unapologetically messy, Snowpiercer is a $40 million futuristic epic with startling visuals, a supercharged storyline, and oddball characters that don’t always conform to their presumed parameters. A slambam, splattery shambles with a fat dose of social satire and barely a lick of sense, Snowpiercer offers an enormously fun, unhinged ride that’s worth the investment for its mixture of a great cast, batty personalities, and mad swipes at symbolism.

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Life Itself

Eloquent, honest, humane, and inclusive, Life Itself is a big-hearted, absorbing documentary about a writer who kept on writing until the end. It’s a powerful motion picture, offering a compact appreciation of Roger Ebert’s vast impact, as well as an unflinching peek into a cancer patient’s final months, fraught with pain, worry, and constant treatment.

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Boyhood

Wise, sprawling, relatable, painful, and subversive, Boyhood is a visionary magnus opus, triggering your own recall button, inviting you in, daring you to jump into the screen. Anti-Hollywood and anti-climactic, it’s a coming-of-age movie where the characters actually come of age. Unhurried and enthralling, you’ve never seen anything like this.

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Manakamana

Calming and imagination-sparking, Manakamana is a tender, ephemeral character study of its passengers; a window into the lush landscape of a country in transition; and a stunning blend of life’s grand and monotonous movements.

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