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The Danish Girl Makes Transgender Issues Safe For The Oscar Crowd

Of all the adjectives to describe a movie, “well-intentioned” is among the least scintillating and most wearying. It’s why a lot of people have an aversion to so-called Oscar-bait— they’re the kind of films that pop up around award season to address important subjects in a respectful way, with the hopes of raising…

Creed Hits Harder The Further It Gets From Rocky Balboa's Shadow 

1. Creed works better as an actual movie than it does as a Rocky movie, which is quite the compliment, considering that it’s an excellent Rocky movie, too. (I hadn’t seen it yet when Grierson and I did our Rocky movie rankings on Monday; I’m higher on it than he is.) More than a mere boxing film, it’s a powerful,…

The Good Dinosaur's Visual Grandeur Makes Up For Its Lack Of Wit

One of the constant accolades Pixar receives about its movies is that they’re not made just for kids. This is meant as a compliment: While they’re animated and appeal to children, their emotional and thematic sophistication also makes them satisfying to grownups—maybe even more so. The downside to those hosannas is…

The Hunger Games Are Over, But Jennifer Lawrence Is Only Getting Better

1. It seems insane to think about now, but there was a time when everyone was worried about whether or not Jennifer Lawrence could pull off the Hunger Games films. Cast as Katniss Everdeen just a year after her breakthrough in Winter’s Bone, Lawrence was considered by many an undeniable talent but a little bit green,…

Carol Is A Beautiful Love Story, Starring A Terrific Cate Blanchett

In director Todd Haynes’ films, characters have to learn how to live in worlds that don’t suit them. In Safe, Far From Heaven and I’m Not There, his lonely protagonists often feel trapped by circumstance, unable to find any sort of real happiness because, deep down, no one around them sees things the way they do. Carol

The Night Before Is One Seth Rogen Bromance Too Many

A lot of comics have a shtick, and the trick is to give it enough flexibility so that it can be twisted and reshaped in myriad ways without breaking. Since Seth Rogen’s leading-man breakthrough in 2007’s Knocked Up, his has been impressively bendy, playing overgrown man-children who end up pulling themselves together,…

By The Sea Makes Marriage Look Like A Beautiful, Painful Bore

About seven months after Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston got married, The Onion ran the brilliant headline “Brad Pitt Bored With Sight of Jennifer Aniston’s Naked Body.” It was a perfect joke on a couple of levels, but the element of truth that’s always stayed with me was the notion that even the most beautiful,…

The Cheesy Spectre Suggests That James Bond's Darker, Grittier, Better Days Are Over

1. There was a time not so long ago when the very notion of James Bond seemed ridiculous—as anachronistic as making a movie about Betamax players or pay phones. There were actual thinkpieces 10 years back about whether James Bond could exist in a post-Austin Powers world. Even Daniel Craig worried about it: “We had to…

The Peanuts Movie Is Faithful To Charles Schulz's Creation, But Still Gets It Wrong

Back in 1997, when L.A. Weekly critic Manohla Dargis gave a negative review to The Lost World, the hotly-anticipated sequel to Jurassic Park, she noted that not liking the movie was the equivalent of announcing that Christmas had been canceled to its fans. In kind, giving a thumbs-down to The Peanuts Movie is…

The Superb Investigative-Journalism Drama Spotlight Makes Competence Riveting

Inspirational true stories trumpet lots of commendable human traits—heroism, perseverance, compassion—but Spotlight may be the first to celebrate competence. Based on the 2001 Boston Globe investigation that revealed the depth of the Catholic Church’s coverup of clergy sexual misconduct, this straightforward, riveting…

You Should See the 3D Sex Drama Love, Even If You Hate Gaspar Noé

There are two very understandable reasons why people hate Gaspar Noé’s films: He’s a pompous tool, and his movies are often little more than showy provocations filled with vapid ciphers. If anything, Love finds the 51-year-old director doubling down on his self-appointed enfant terrible persona, and the usual…

The Political Satire Our Brand Is Crisis Isn't Nearly As Sharp As It Pretends To Be

Our Brand Is Crisis means to cast a harsh light on presidential campaigns, but it mostly just panders. The new film from director David Gordon Green (who’s done everything from George Washington to Pineapple Express) spends way too much time congratulating you for agreeing with its cynical perspective—only to later…

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Rock The Kasbah Might Be Bill Murray's Worst Movie Ever

1. I love Bill Murray. You love Bill Murray. We all love Bill Murray. We love him on talk shows. We love him when he pops up in random places, doing random things. But we haven’t collectively loved a new Bill Murray movie in a long time. Sure, we’ve celebrated him in small roles: Zombieland, Moonrise Kingdom, even Get…

Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak Is Best Watched On Mute

1. Crimson Peak is a movie that’s all windup and no pitch. It requires a patience of you that I’m not sure it necessarily earns, and a level of patience it doesn’t feel obliged to reward. It’s not a slog; the movie always looks fantastic, and it has enough earthly delights to string you along its grand gothic groove.…

The Abduction Drama Room Gets Even More Claustrophobic When They Get Out

At its halfway point, Room arrives at the moment that you might have thought would be its big finale. After being held hostage for seven years, Joy (Brie Larson) and her 5-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) execute a daring escape from their captor, a demented weirdo known only as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), who has…

Spielberg's Bridge of Spies Is A Compelling Cold War Drama Your Granddad Will Love

1. Bridge of Spies is effective, efficient, compelling, smart and absorbing throughout, and I still couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I think we’re starting to lose the Spielberg who was a risk-taker. The guy did exist, you know. After he won his last Oscar for directing Saving Private Ryan in 1998—a movie…

Child War Is Hell In The Gripping, Important, Only Slightly Disappointing Beasts Of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation is such a worthy, timely, thoughtful drama that the worst you can say about it is that it’s a shame it’s only good and not amazing. Adapted, shot, and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (who previously directed 2009’s Sin Nombre and the first season of True Detective), this immersive look at the life…