Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 15, 2015 Edition

Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 15, 2015 Edition
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Silver Screen: Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story Is Stranger than Fiction
Silver Screen: 127 Hours ****
Silver Screen: 21 Jump Street ***
Silver Screen: A Good Day to Die Hard *
Silver Screen: A Million Ways to Die in the West *1/2
Silver Screen: A Most Wanted Man ***1/2
Silver Screen: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas ***
Silver Screen: A Walk Among the Tombstones ***
Silver Screen: About Last Night ***1/2
Silver Screen: Admission ***1/2
Silver Screen: After Earth *
Silver Screen: All Is Lost ****
Silver Screen: American Hustle ****1/2
Silver Screen: American Reunion **1/2
Silver Screen: Annabelle ***1/2
Silver Screen: Argo **1/2
Silver Screen: As Above, so Below ***1/2
Silver Screen: August: Osage County ****
Silver Screen: Bad Teacher ***
Silver Screen: Bad Words **
Silver Screen: Battle: Los Angeles **
Silver Screen: Battleship *
Silver Screen: Beautiful Creatures *1/2
Silver Screen: Before Midnight ****1/2
Silver Screen: Begin Again ***1/2
Silver Screen: Bernie ****
Silver Screen: Big Eyes ***
Silver Screen: Big Hero Six ***
Silver Screen: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) ***1/2
Silver Screen: Black Swan ****
Silver Screen: Blended **1/2
Silver Screen: Blue Jasmine ****1/2
Silver Screen: Blue Valentine ****
Silver Screen: Boyhood ****1/2
Silver Screen: Brave ***
Silver Screen: Breaking Dawn Part I *1/2
Silver Screen: Brick Mansions **
Silver Screen: Bridesmaids ****
Silver Screen: Broken City ***
Silver Screen: Bully **
Silver Screen: Captain America **
Silver Screen: Captain America: The Winter Soldier ***1/2
Silver Screen: Captain Phillips ****
Silver Screen: Carrie **
Silver Screen: Cars II *1/2
Silver Screen: Case Thirty-nine *
Silver Screen: Cedar Rapids ****
Silver Screen: Charlie Saint Cloud **
Silver Screen: Chef ****
Silver Screen: Chernobyl Diaries *
Silver Screen: Chronicle ****
Silver Screen: Cloud Atlas ***
Silver Screen: Contagion ****1/2
Silver Screen: Contraband *
Silver Screen: Cowboys & Aliens ***
Silver Screen: Crazy, Stupid, Love **
Silver Screen: Dallas Buyers Club ****
Silver Screen: Dark Shadows *1/2
Silver Screen: Dark Skies **1/2
Silver Screen: David Wong’s John Dies at the End: A Local Author Sees His Novel Hit the Big Screen
Silver Screen: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ****1/2
Silver Screen: Dead Man Down 1/2*
Silver Screen: Deliver Us from Evil *
Silver Screen: Delivery Man ***
Silver Screen: Despicable Me **1/2
Silver Screen: Despicable Me II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Devil ***
Silver Screen: Dinner for Schmucks *1/2
Silver Screen: Director Rusty Nails Presents... Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero
Silver Screen: Divergent *1/2
Silver Screen: Django Unchained ****1/2
Silver Screen: Don Jon *
Silver Screen: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark **
Silver Screen: Dracula Untold **1/2
Silver Screen: Draft Day *
Silver Screen: Dream House *1/2
Silver Screen: Dredd 3D *1/2
Silver Screen: Drive ****1/2
Silver Screen: Drive Angry 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Due Date ***1/2
Silver Screen: Dumb and Dumber To ***
Silver Screen: Easy A ***1/2
Silver Screen: Eat Pray Love ***
Silver Screen: Edge of Tomorrow ****
Silver Screen: Elysium **
Silver Screen: End of Watch ****
Silver Screen: Ender’s Game ***
Silver Screen: Escape Plan ***
Silver Screen: Evil Dead ***
Silver Screen: Exodus: Gods and Kings *1/2
Silver Screen: Fast and Furious VI **
Silver Screen: Fast Five **1/2
Silver Screen: Faster **1/2
Silver Screen: Fifty/Fifty ****
Silver Screen: Final Destination V **
Silver Screen: Flight ****
Silver Screen: Forty-two ***1/2
Silver Screen: Frances Ha ****1/2
Silver Screen: Friends with Benefits **
Silver Screen: Fright Night ***
Silver Screen: Fruitvale Station ****
Silver Screen: Fury ***
Silver Screen: G.I. Joe: Retaliation *
Silver Screen: Gangster Squad *1/2
Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***
Silver Screen: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 1/2*
Silver Screen: Godzilla **1/2
Silver Screen: Going the Distance ***
Silver Screen: Gone **1/2
Silver Screen: Gone Girl ****1/2
Silver Screen: Gravity ****1/2
Silver Screen: Gravity ****1/2
Silver Screen: Green Lantern *1/2
Silver Screen: Grown Ups *
Silver Screen: Grown Ups II zero stars
Silver Screen: Guardians of the Galaxy ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hall Pass *1/2
Silver Screen: Hanna ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I ***
Silver Screen: Haywire ***1/2
Silver Screen: Her ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hereafter *
Silver Screen: Hit and Run ***
Silver Screen: Homefront *1/2
Silver Screen: Hope Springs ***1/2
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses **1/2
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses II **1/2
Silver Screen: House at the End of the Street *
Silver Screen: How Do You Know ***
Silver Screen: How to Train Your Dragon II ***
Silver Screen: I Am Number Four *
Silver Screen: Identity Thief ***
Silver Screen: In Time **1/2
Silver Screen: Inception ****1/2
Silver Screen: Inside Llewyn Davis *****
Silver Screen: Insidious ***1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious: Chapter Two ***
Silver Screen: Interstellar ****
Silver Screen: Iron Man III **1/2
Silver Screen: J. Edgar **
Silver Screen: Jack and Jill 1/2*
Silver Screen: Jack Reacher ***
Silver Screen: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit ***
Silver Screen: Jackass 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa *1/2
Silver Screen: Jeff, Who Lives at Home ***1/2
Silver Screen: Jersey Boys **1/2
Silver Screen: Jobs **
Silver Screen: John Wick ***
Silver Screen: Jonah Hex *
Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
Silver Screen: Just Go with It *
Silver Screen: Kick-Ass II zero stars
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killing Them Softly **1/2
Silver Screen: Knight and Day *1/2
Silver Screen: Kung Fu Panda II ***
Silver Screen: Larry Crowne *1/2
Silver Screen: Lawless ****
Silver Screen: Let Me In ***
Silver Screen: Let’s Be Cops ***1/2
Silver Screen: Life as We Know It *1/2
Silver Screen: Life of Pi **1/2
Silver Screen: Limitless ***
Silver Screen: Lincoln ****
Silver Screen: Lockout **
Silver Screen: Lone Survivor ***
Silver Screen: Looper ****
Silver Screen: Love and Other Drugs *1/2
Silver Screen: Lucy ***
Silver Screen: Machete **
Silver Screen: Machete Kills **1/2
Silver Screen: Magic in the Moonlight **
Silver Screen: Mama **1/2
Silver Screen: Man of Steel *
Silver Screen: Megamind ***1/2
Silver Screen: Men in Black III *1/2
Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****
Silver Screen: Million Dollar Arm **1/2
Silver Screen: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol ****
Silver Screen: Moneyball ***1/2
Silver Screen: Monsters University ***
Silver Screen: Moonrise Kingdom ****1/2
Silver Screen: Movie Forty-three zero stars
Silver Screen: My Soul to Take 3D 1/2*
Silver Screen: Nebraska ****1/2
Silver Screen: Need for Speed *
Silver Screen: Neighbors ***1/2
Silver Screen: New Year’s Eve *
Silver Screen: Nightcrawler ****
Silver Screen: No Good Deed *
Silver Screen: No Strings Attached ***
Silver Screen: Noah 1/2*
Silver Screen: Non-Stop ***1/2
Silver Screen: Now You See Me 1/2*
Silver Screen: Oblivion ***1/2
Silver Screen: Oculus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Olympus Has Fallen zero stars
Silver Screen: One Day **
Silver Screen: Ouija *
Silver Screen: Our Idiot Brother ***
Silver Screen: Out of the Furnace *
Silver Screen: Oz the Great and Powerful **
Silver Screen: Pacific Rim ****
Silver Screen: Pain and Gain ***
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity III ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity IV *
Silver Screen: ParaNorman ***1/2
Silver Screen: Parker ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paul ***1/2
Silver Screen: Piranha 3D ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides *1/2
Silver Screen: Playing for Keeps 1/2*
Silver Screen: Predators ***
Silver Screen: Premium Rush ***
Silver Screen: Priest 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prisoners ****
Silver Screen: Project X 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prometheus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Real Steel *
Silver Screen: Red ***
Silver Screen: Red Dawn *
Silver Screen: Red Tails **
Silver Screen: Resident Evil: Retribution *
Silver Screen: Riddick ***
Silver Screen: Ride Along **1/2
Silver Screen: Ride Along **1/2
Silver Screen: Rise of the Planet of the Apes ****
Silver Screen: RoboCop ***
Silver Screen: Runner Runner *1/2
Silver Screen: Rush ****
Silver Screen: Sabotage **
Silver Screen: Safe ***
Silver Screen: Safe Haven *1/2
Silver Screen: Safe House ***
Silver Screen: Saint Vincent ***
Silver Screen: Salt ***
Silver Screen: Savages ***1/2
Silver Screen: Saw VII 3D Zero Stars
Silver Screen: Scott Pilgrim versus the World ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scream IV *
Silver Screen: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World **1/2
Silver Screen: Seven Psychopaths ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sex and the City II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Sex Tape *
Silver Screen: Shaft and Coffy: Novotny Lawrence Discusses the Blaxploitation Movement
Silver Screen: Shark Night 3D 1/2* -- Apollo 18 **
Silver Screen: Side Effects ****1/2
Silver Screen: Silent House **1/2
Silver Screen: Silver Linings Playbook ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 1/2*
Silver Screen: Sinister ***1/2
Silver Screen: Skyfall ****
Silver Screen: Skyline *
Silver Screen: Snitch ***
Silver Screen: Snow White and the Huntsman **1/2
Silver Screen: Soldiers Speak Out: Carbondale Oscar Winner Barb Trent’s Latest Film
Silver Screen: Something Borrowed *
Silver Screen: Source Code ****1/2
Silver Screen: Splice ****
Silver Screen: Star Trek into Darkness ****
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Super Eight ****
Silver Screen: Taken II **
Silver Screen: Takers *1/2
Silver Screen: Tammy **1/2
Silver Screen: Ted ***1/2
Silver Screen: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles *
Silver Screen: That Awkward Moment 1/2*
Silver Screen: That's My Boy *
Silver Screen: The A-Team **1/2
Silver Screen: The Academy Honors... The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale
Silver Screen: The Adjustment Bureau *1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man **1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man II ***1/2
Silver Screen: The American ****
Silver Screen: The Artist ****
Silver Screen: The Audubon Trilogy: Fugitive Narratives and the Drama of the Natural World
Silver Screen: The Avengers ****
Silver Screen: The Big Muddy Film Festival
Silver Screen: The Big Wedding *
Silver Screen: The Big Year *1/2
Silver Screen: The Book Thief **
Silver Screen: The Bourne Legacy ***
Silver Screen: The Boxtrolls ****
Silver Screen: The Boys and Girls Club Night at the Oscars
Silver Screen: The Butler ****
Silver Screen: The Call **1/2
Silver Screen: The Campaign ***
Silver Screen: The Company You Keep *1/2
Silver Screen: The Conjuring ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Counselor ****
Silver Screen: The Dark Knight Rises ***
Silver Screen: The Debt ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Descendants ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Dictator ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Dilemma *1/2
Silver Screen: The Drop ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Equalizer **
Silver Screen: The Expendables **1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables II *1/2
Silver Screen: The Fault in Our Stars ****
Silver Screen: The Fifth Estate 1/2*
Silver Screen: The Fighter ****
Silver Screen: The Five-Year Engagement ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo *
Silver Screen: The Giver ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Grand Budapest Hotel ****
Silver Screen: The Great Gatsby ****
Silver Screen: The Green Hornet **1/2
Silver Screen: The Guilt Trip ***
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part II **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part III *1/2
Silver Screen: The Heat **1/2
Silver Screen: The Host 1/2*
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games ***
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I ***
Silver Screen: The Ides of March ****
Silver Screen: The Internship **1/2
Silver Screen: The Interview ****
Silver Screen: The Judge *1/2
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The King's Speech ****
Silver Screen: The Last Airbender *
Silver Screen: The Last Exorcism ***
Silver Screen: The Last Stand ***
Silver Screen: The Lego Movie ***
Silver Screen: The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Silver Screen: The Lone Ranger ***
Silver Screen: The Lucky One *1/2
Silver Screen: The Man with the Iron Fists **1/2
Silver Screen: The Master ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Maze Runner ***
Silver Screen: The Mechanic **1/2
Silver Screen: The Monuments Men ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Next Three Days ***
Silver Screen: The November Man **
Silver Screen: The Other Guys ***
Silver Screen: The Perks of Being a Wallflower ****
Silver Screen: The Place Beyond the Pines ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Possession *
Silver Screen: The Purge *
Silver Screen: The Purge: Anarchy **1/2
Silver Screen: The Pyramid **1/2
Silver Screen: The Quiet Ones *
Silver Screen: The Raid II ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Raven *
Silver Screen: The Rite *
Silver Screen: The Roommate *1/2
Silver Screen: The Rover **
Silver Screen: The Rum Diary ***
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 24, 2011 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 01, 2020 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 24, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ****
Silver Screen: The Sitter ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Social Network ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Sorcerer's Apprentice **
Silver Screen: The Spectacular Now ****
Silver Screen: The Theory of Everything ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Thing **1/2
Silver Screen: The Three Stooges ***
Silver Screen: The Tourist **
Silver Screen: The Town ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Tree of Life *****
Silver Screen: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse *1/2
Silver Screen: The Vow **
Silver Screen: The Watch **
Silver Screen: The Way Way Back ****
Silver Screen: The Wolf of Wall Street ****
Silver Screen: The Wolverine *1/2
Silver Screen: The Woman in Black **
Silver Screen: The Words 1/2*
Silver Screen: The World’s End ****
Silver Screen: Thirty Minutes or Less ***1/2
Silver Screen: This Is Forty ****
Silver Screen: This Is The End ***1/2
Silver Screen: Thor ***
Silver Screen: Thor: The Dark World *
Silver Screen: Three Days to Kill **
Silver Screen: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ***1/2
Silver Screen: To Rome with Love ***1/2
Silver Screen: Total Recall **1/2
Silver Screen: Tower Heist ***
Silver Screen: Toy Story III ****
Silver Screen: Transcendence *1/2
Silver Screen: Transformers: Age of Extinction 1/2*
Silver Screen: Transformers: Dark of the Moon *1/2
Silver Screen: True Grit ****1/2
Silver Screen: Twelve Years a Slave ****1/2
Silver Screen: Twenty-two Jump Street ***1/2
Silver Screen: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II *
Silver Screen: Two Guns ***
Silver Screen: Unknown ***
Silver Screen: Unstoppable **
Silver Screen: Veronica Mars ***1/2
Silver Screen: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ****
Silver Screen: Wanderlust ***1/2
Silver Screen: War Horse **
Silver Screen: Water for Elephants ***
Silver Screen: We Bought a Zoo ****
Silver Screen: White House Down ***
Silver Screen: Winter's Tale 1/2*
Silver Screen: World War Z **
Silver Screen: Wrath of the Titans 1/2*
Silver Screen: Wreck-it Ralph ***1/2
Silver Screen: X-Men: Days of Future Past ***
Silver Screen: X-Men: First Class ***
Silver Screen: Your Highness ***1/2
Silver Screen: You’re Next **1/2
Silver Screen: Zero Dark Thirty ****1/2
Silver Screen: Zookeeper *


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Photo: American Sniper.
Bryan Miller

> opening this week in Carbondale.

< leaving Carbondale this Friday.

by Bryan Miller unless otherwise credited.

Big Eyes (PG-13, ***): The story of Margaret and Walter Keane is the stuff of a fascinating biography. She (played by Amy Adams) was a talented painter oppressed by her status as a single mother and divorcée in the late 1950s. Walter (Christoph Waltz) convinces her to marry him to keep custody of her daughter and form an artistic partnership, but when her portraits of wide-eyed children become a sensation, he becomes overwhelmed with his own showmanship and takes credit for the work. This is all interesting material, but it’s better suited to a documentary that can follow all the strange tangents and cultural connections— Joan Crawford! Andy Warhol! The 1964 World’s Fair!— rather than focus on the resolutely uncinematic drama of one person quietly painting while another person loudly does not paint. Terence Stamp and Jason Schwartzman add some spark as an anti-Keane art critic and gallery owner, respectively, but ultimately the reteaming of director Tim Burton and screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski lacks the zest of their first collaboration, the classic Ed Wood. Ed Wood was fueled by the outsized enthusiasm of its subject, who charmed because he made terrible art with pure glee, whereas Big Eyes suffers from how blowhard Walter keeps stealing scenes from hardworking heroine Margaret, undercutting the film’s very thesis.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (R, ***1/2): Director and cowriter Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s hallucinatory Hollywood satire is by turns wrenching, arch, meandering, self-congratulatory, and solipsistic as it follows Riggan (Michael Keaton), a fallen superhero blockbuster star trying to reinvent himself as a Broadway auteur. His stage adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is a disaster even before he brings on enfant terrible of the theater scene Mike (Edward Norton), whose tempestuous offstage behavior threatens to sink the production before it opens. Riggan, meanwhile, is trying to reconnect with both his estranged daughter (Emma Stone) and perhaps his sanity as he secretly believes he possesses actual superpowers. The movie’s technical accomplishments are beyond reproach. Iñárritu stages each scene as a protracted take, each one transitioning smoothly into the next so the film takes on the quality of a surreal, neverending nightmare. The performances are dynamite, too, especially the immensely talented Keaton and a rarely funnier Norton. But the movie is also smugly satisfied with its own metafictional cleverness and relentlessly panders to audience members willing to pat themselves on the back for getting the jokes. What starts as a satire shifts into a self-aggrandizing ode to moviemakers, and Iñárritu is unable to tie together all the dangling plot threads and loose themes. A series of awkward, false endings finally gives way to a coy conclusion that proves ambiguity is not inherently profound. Featuring Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, and Amy Ryan.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I (PG-13, ***): If any doubt lingered that the filmmakers split the final installment of The Hunger Games into two parts entirely for financial reasons, the final moments of this thumb-twiddling time-waster confirm it. When last we left Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), she, along with several fellow competitors, escaped the arena and the clutches of the Capitol to seek refuge in the underground hideout in District Thirteen, where insurgents are plotting a revolution. Then the story pauses for a full two hours while Katniss, under the guidance of rebel president Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Hunger Games architect Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), makes a series of propaganda videos intended to inspire revolt. It’s a flagrant distraction complete with a lot of pseudo-philosophical pontificating about the dehumanizing nature of advertising and agitprop, which does little to mask the series’ stalling. The movie regains its sense of urgency in the last scene or two, which would have made for an excellent and truly compelling first act, something both prior Hunger Games movies lacked. Both Lawrences— star Jennifer and returning director Francis, no relation— prove more than capable with the material, but the film flails for structure and some kind of internally coherent arc. Ultimately it plays like one girl’s heroic quest to film the DVD extras for Mockingjay Part II. Featuring a slew of great supporting players, including Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, and Elizabeth Banks, as well as returning hunks Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson

Imitation Game (R, ****): The astonishing wartime exploits of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) aren’t inherently cinematic, but director Morten Tyldum, working from a script by Andrew Hodges, turns a math problem into a layered mystery about codebreaking, espionage, and the psychic costs of secrecy. It’s a tightly focused biopic that works on its own merits as a historical thriller. Thorny British mathematician Turing is put in charge of a project to break the Nazis’ complex Enigma code. His invention led to the great innovation of the twentieth century and helped turn the tide of the war— although the movie slightly oversells the latter fact. His genius, however, couldn’t save him from a personal secret that would lead to his persecution. Cumberbatch, star of British TV’s Sherlock, is right at home as an emotionally distant genius struggling to master interpersonal communications to further his work. Turing’s story could be told from several different angles: a spy tale, an inventor’s biography, or a study of outrage for bigotries still lurking in the present. Tyldum deftly balances them all without turning the movie into a highlight reel. Costarring Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, and Charles Dance.

The Theory of Everything (PG-13, ***1/2): This biopic about legendary cosmologist Stephen Hawking is structured around his relationship with his first wife, whose memoir served as the inspiration. At its best, the film does an exceptional job of humanizing Hawking, a man so smart he seems almost unknowable. Played wonderfully here by Eddie Redmayne, Hawking is presented as an awkward but slyly funny student sometimes unable to focus his off-the-charts intelligence quotient. A diagnosis of lateral sclerosis seems to be the end of his academic success and, sooner rather than later, his life, but his steadfast girlfriend Jane (Felicity Jones) refuses to accept the pessimistic prognosis and helps Stephen struggle to not just cope with his illness, but persevere in spite of it. Director James Marsh, working from a script by Anthony McCarten, wants to recontextualize Hawking’s achievements through a humanist lens, which he does quite deftly for the first hour. But the impulse to make a more traditional biopic proves too strong, and the back half of the film lapses into a jarringly fragmented, unfocused litany of greatest hits— he gets the computer voice! He writes A Brief History of Time!— and Marsh fails to trust his audience to connect the young, hopeful intellectual in love with the titan of math and science as we know him. Flawed as it is, the film is still illuminating, and wonderfully acted, especially by Redmayne, but also Jones and supporting players David Thewlis and Charlie Cox.

> Whiplash (R, *****): The best movie of 2014 is a tightly focused, breathtakingly intense study of ambition run amok. Andrew (Miles Teller) is an aspiring jazz drummer studying at New York’s most prestigious music college. He falls under the spell of Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a tyrannical teacher whose abrasive tactics lead to perfection or implosion. Writer/director Damien Chazelle sets his story within the cloistered subculture of jazz obsessives, and it confidently keeps its drama within the confines of its chosen arena. For a movie that doesn’t resort to gunplay, courtroom theater, or (much) violence, this is as intense as it gets. Chazelle’s story is as laser-focused as his protagonist, perfectly played by the talented young Teller. It’s a high compliment to him that he’s never fully eclipsed by Simmons, who conjures the fanaticism of a drill sergeant in his memorable portrayal of a character driven to the verge of madness is his pursuit of perfection. The final ten minutes are as darkly fitting and nerve-wracking as any movie you’ll ever see without a body count.

Also in or Coming to Local Theaters

> American Sniper (R): Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of Chris Kyle’s memoir chronicles his overseas exploits as a highly decorated Navy SEAL sniper. Back home from the war, he finds an entirely different struggle. Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller.

Annie (PG): New version of the stage musical about the little orphan girl with the hard-knock life, here played by Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis. Jamie Foxx is her Daddy Warbucks, here renamed Will Stacks, a mayoral candidate who takes in the little tyke. Singing and more singing ensue. Featuring Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, and Bobby Cannavale.

> Blackhat (R): Michael Mann directs this technothriller about a hacker (Chris Hemsworth, trading the hammer for a keyboard) recruited by the government to help catch a cyberterrorist. Featuring Viola Davis.

> Foxcatcher (R): The true-crime story of millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell), whose obsession with the wrestling team he sponsors leads to his ultimately tragic partnership with brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). Featuring Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (PG-13): In the final installment of Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and company must stave off a slew of opposing forces as well as the dragon Smaug. Featuring Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Hugo Weaving, and the dulcet tones of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Into the Woods (PG): Rob Marshall (Chicago) adapts Stephen Sondheim’s fairytale mashup musical costarring Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, and Tracey Ullman.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (PG): In the second Night at the Museum sequel, Ben Stiller and his menagerie of revived historical figures travel to London to uncover the source of their reawakening. Featuring Ben Kingsley, Owen Wilson, Dick Van Dyke, Steve Coogan, the late Robin Williams, and a monkey.

> Paddington (PG): This adaptation of Michael Bond’s popular children’s stories mixes live action and animation to tell the story of a talking bear from Peru who comes to live with a British family. Costarring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, and Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington.

Selma (PG-13): David Oyelowo stars as Martin Luther King Jr. in this historical drama about the pivotal role of his 1965 march in Alabama that led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act. Featuring Tim Roth, Cuba Gooding Jr., Common, Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon Johnson.

Taken III (PG-13): Take me once, shame on you. Take me twice, shame on me. Taken a third time? You just need to be more careful. This time avenger-of-taking Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) must clear his own name when he’s accused of murdering his wife (Famke Janssen). Featuring Forest Whitaker and Maggie Grace.

Unbroken (PG-13): Angelina Jolie directs this biopic about the remarkable Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an Olympic athlete who became a source of inspiration after he was shot down while fighting in World War II and found himself in a Japanese prison camp. Based on Laura Hillenbrand’s excellent book and adapted by the Coen brothers.

Wedding Ringer (R): A soon-to-be-married loner (Josh Gad) hires a professionally charismatic party guest (Kevin Hart) to be his best man in this buddy comedy.