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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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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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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The Double

Pitiless, wickedly clever, and occasionally fascinating, The Double is a cheeky take on Dostoevsky’s 1846 story of a milquetoast clerk who comes face-to-face with a cocky, manipulative jackass who looks just like him.

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Winter’s Bone

Rawly intense, immersive, and uncomfortably punishing in its bleak, craggy-faced ambitions, Winter’s Bone is an acutely gripping, grimy thriller that is spectacular for its humanity and heart-stopping urgency. It’s utterly enveloping and perfectly controlled, a genuine triumph, an instant Southern Gothic classic.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Deliberate, grim, elaborately constructed, and extremely smart, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a dense puzzle of anxiety and paranoia; a humane portrait of people who regularly engage in acts of inhumanity; and an unrepentant un-reboot so old school that it feels subversively new. It’s the intellectual action flick of your dreams.

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Taut, tense, and as tight as a vise, Locke is a break from the norm, a telling character study, and a chamber piece with the impact of high drama. Simple in concept but complex in execution, and boasting a towering performance, Locke is a pure distillation of abstract cinematic storytelling.

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