"History, written in lightning: writer-director Ava DuVernay's third feature, understated yet righteously furious, beautifully dramatizes a few crucial months in the civil-rights movement and the life of Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo, electric). "
"A bracing post-punk blend of vampire iconography, the spaghetti western, Kaurismńki-like sorrowfulness, Jarmusch-worthy equipoise, shot in Bakersfield, California, which passes for the nocturnal reaches "Bad City," Iran. "
Pelican Dreams (2014)
"Irving illuminates the lives of pelicans along the Pacific Coast through her patient observation and lush, loving photography of Gigi and her fellow pelicans' charm, gawkiness, and ongoing conflicts with humans. "
The Way He Looks (2014)
"Daniel Ribeiro's slightly corny, proficiently visualized coming-of-age tale floats on the strains of B&S' music as he imagines a triangle between a blind boy, his best female friend and the new boy in school. "
Winter Sleep (2014)
"I had hoped to eke 800 words out of a review of Angelina Jolie's second feature as a director if only for the potential headline, "Inglorious Alabaster: 'White Elephant Art' And Unbroken." But that way lies invective. "
Zero Motivation (2014)
"M*A*S*H meets Mean Girls on the way to Office Space? Young female soldiers at an artillery base in the south of Israel long to escape their remote posting as well as the inanities of military bureaucracy... smart, cheeky comedy. "
The Strange Little Cat (2014)
Big Eyes (2014)
"Most resounding of the layers that unfold as Walter's epic fraud burns to the ground is the notion of a superior artist's work being hidden under the brush of someone else's signature, echoing Burton's early years as an unappreciated animator [at] Disney. "
Mr. Turner (2014)
Into the Woods (2014)
"Dark, wounded, spiteful, rich with retribution, rife with injustice and glorying in sudden death: doesn't a pluperfect adaptation of a Stephen Sondheim musical sound like a brooding triumph we've yet to have in movie form? "
The Babadook (2014)
"The Babadook, for all its primal borrowing from other movies, is first and foremost a Jennifer Kent film, and it's great. She's burned her influences, and the result is indelible, and toxic and scalding and scarifying and terrific to the touch. "
Top Five (2014)
"Rock's frank, personal, semi-autobiographical, ferociously 21st-century comedy feels like its own special animal... This sweet small crazy blunt bittersweet dirty ----- comedy vaults in every moment into a superior comic stratosphere. "
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
"Mountainside villages are illustrated as panoramas of Brueghelesque teem if not intricacy; twirls of animated birds are doodled across each blue or pallid sky like the signature of a Sunday painter... a succession of supple torpor. "
The Imitation Game (2014)
The Two Faces of January (2014)
"Despite admirable moment-to-moment feats of actorly legerdemain from the primary and secondary cast alike, there's a deadly lack of heat. The costumes sing, the cigarettes fume. The simmer satisfies but never earns the tale's godless gloom. "
Point and Shoot (2014)
"Curry is merciless in his splendidly edited, stark take on VanDyke's self-professed "crash course in manhood." Where lies the bright line between zealotry, narcissism and deadly idealism? Curry teases, taunts, describes. "
"Behaviors are blunt and gently daubed at the same time. Wild is an unsentimental marvel, following few expected contrails and rejecting the "redemption" narrative right in the I. There's a wealth of kindness in each and every scene. "
The Homesman (2014)
Force Majeure (2014)
"Ruben Ístlund's brilliant white-on-white black comedy is a precise, exacting psychological horror about the fissures in a bourgeoisie Swedish marriage, highlighted after a split-second reaction to a "controlled avalanche." "
National Gallery (2014)
"Carell embodies the dank side of privilege and money and American manhood gone to stinking rot in Miller's bleak, harrowing, but thrilling true-life murder case from a heavily researched script by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman. "
The Theory of Everything (2014)
"Eddie Redmayne twinkles and tickles the intellectual friskiness of Stephen Hawking in James Marsh's lively, bright The Theory Of Everything, a brisk telling of the early years of the scientist, best-selling author and survivor. "
The Overnighters (2014)
The Great Invisible (2014)
"[Margaret Brown's] sober, beautiful, infuriating and utterly essential film charts the ongoing cost to be paid from the devastating 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill into the depths the Gulf of Mexico. "
Bird People (2014)
"The greatest range of topography, however, plays over the gaunt features of Jake Gyllenhaal, eyes wide, nearly unblinking, cheekbones like a hungry wolf. His Lou Bloom is a lone wolf, too, a nattering autodidact... "
Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me (2014)
Life of Pi (2012)
"The ferocious swells and intent visual beauty Lee has brought to Yann Martel's best-selling seeking-of-the-spiritual yarn quickly evokes a second thought: "Kitty, kitty, kitty, nice kitty, here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty." "
"Combine[s] the tenets of cinema vÚritÚ observation with the trappings of a trans-European thriller to tremendous effect: we learn as much from the intimacy of the workers' collaborations as from the crimes they detail from testimony and other evidence. "
Listen Up Philip (2014)
"There's incendiary comedy in the fierce hostility of young New York writer Philip, and Schwartzman, a specialist in intelligent but hostile male characters, with streaks of sweetness beneath misguided cruelty, has invested himself in a role among roles. "
"A rollicking meeting of Hitchcock's Rope and Jimmy Kimmel's couch, Birdman sizzles, scintillates, teases, taunts, barks, brays, preens and careens as a simulated single-take of almost two hours, sending up showbiz and its shallowness. "
Advanced Style (2014)
"Let us exalt ladies like Zelda Kaplan, Ilona Royce Smithkin, Lynn Dell, Tziporah Salamon, Debra Rapoport, Joyce Carpati and Jacquie Tajah Murdock and be thankful for such joie de vivre so well-vivred. "
"Mixed martial charts: Damien Chazelle's astonishing second feature is a musical... a bold and bracing memento mori of the will to greatness, male ego, control, arrogance, talent, douchiness, selfishness, desire, hope, transcendence. "
20,000 Days on Earth (2014)
"It sounds like so much attenuated tosh, but this bold, unique gem is bright, funny, brooding, hopeful, momentarily visionary, a wounded beauty exploring the creative process in a fresh and oft-brilliant fashion. "
St. Vincent (2014)
Gone Girl (2014)
"At a sweetly punishing clip Gone Girl refracts... attitudes about the cupidity of human desire and the rapidity of the fall when attempts to ---- up another person ---- you up in turn... as dense as Kubrick's final valentine, Eyes Wide Shut. "
Art and Craft (2014)
"Landis is a lanky, quiet-spoken wisp of a man, his skull firm against the taut skin of his face, and sly amusement suffuses almost every pronouncement in a whispery, Truman Capote-like voice that is as still and clear as a bell. "
Meet The Mormons (2014)
"Nearly nothing in Blair Treu's kindly public relations film illuminates the practices or beliefs of the church, except for a will to goodness and success, and small, seemingly telling details go unremarked. "
The Dog (2014)
Last Days in Vietnam (2014)
"Robyn tans and freckles and goes a little madder as she moves forward, and the marvelous Wasikowska captures both her steadfastness and her increasing disorientation in simple, direct gestures. It's a lovely walkabout. "
"Thomas Allen Harris' lush, lovely, loving Through a Lens Darkly chronicles the role of photography in a 170-year history of the lives of black Americans. A teeming abundance of stirring and often brilliant imagery by African-American artists. "
The Zero Theorem (2014)
"Shoestring Terry Gilliam is better than no Terry Gilliam at all... a buzzy, fuzzy-thinking world that doesn't ADD up until the luminous ending, which slowly, surely melts the narrative into a virtual-world sunset epiphany. "
God Help the Girl (2014)
"I can't help but have a pooling soft spot shy of a puddle of swoon for "God Help The Girl," the expectedly twee but crazy-charming lovable coming-of-age musical written and directed by Stuart Murdoch, also known as the lead singer of Belle & Sebastian. "
My Old Lady (2014)
"Despite a few neat bouts of speechifying... largely inert, the kind of clunky bunkum that's "theatrical" in the most hands-around-the-throat fashion. You won't want to reach for negative superlatives, only the satisfying affirmation of the remote. "
The Guest (2014)
"The Guest is a thriller, but first and foremost, it's a thrill, like all of Cinemax, ever, died and went to heaven... (The true social issue film is always a genre film with much on its cunning termite mind.) "
The Drop (2014)