A race-swinging horror movie directed by a guy known for his sketch comedy…and it’s getting rave reviews? Get out! No, really, it’s Get Out, the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, one-half of comedy duo Key & Peele. It’s no secret many stars harbor dreams of one day directing. Few get to do it, fewer are any good at it. In this week’s gallery, here’s 24 Certified Fresh movies directed by actors on their first try!

This week on streaming video, we’ve got a handful of acclaimed indie films available for purchase, as well as two well-received films from 2014 on Netflix, a sci-fi series on Hulu, and some classics on Fandor. Read on for the full list:

Available for purchase


Wild Tales
94%

This Oscar-nominated black comedy anthology from Argentina is comprised of six short tales in which ordinary people pushed to violence.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


The Wrecking Crew
95%

This Certified Fresh documentary tells the story of the legendary L.A. session musicians who backed up everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
88%

Rinko Kikuchi stars in this Certified Fresh drama about a woman who leaves behind her life in Japan to search for the buried cash in Fargo.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu


Danny Collins
78%

Al Pacino stars as an aging pop star on the downside of his career whose life is changed when he discovers a long-lost letter sent to him by John Lennon. His spirit reinvigorated, Collins attempts to mend his frayed relationships with family and friends. Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner Jennifer Garner Michael Caine, and Christopher Plummer round out the cast.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


Lord Montagu

This documentary profiles the titular English aristocrat who, after being elected to Parliament, was arrested for homosexual offenses in a landmark case, then later went on to invent a new form of tourism.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu

New on Netflix


Nightcrawler
95%

In this Certified Fresh thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a freelance TV journalist who sells lurid crime footage to a local station. But as his career progresses, and his scoops become ever more explosive, Bloom’s shaky ethics threaten to overwhelm him.

Available now on: Netflix


High Fidelity
91%

Based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name, this Certified Fresh comedy from Stephen Frears stars John Cusack as a music junkie and record store owner who reexamines his past love life after his longtime girlfriend leaves him.

Available now on: Netflix


Rosewater
76%

Jon Stewart’s Certified Fresh directorial debut focuses on the real life story of Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), an Iranian-Canadian journalist who was imprisoned and tortured by the Iranian government for four months in 2009.

Available now on: Netflix


Life of Crime
68%

John Hawkes, Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, and Yasiin Bey star in this caper comedy about a man who refuses to pay the ransom for his kidnapped wife.

Available now on:
Netflix

New on Hulu


The Strain: Season One

A vampiric “virus” is discovered after a plane lands in New York with all but four passengers dead of mysterious causes. The remaining survivors gradually acquire a rapacious appetite for — can you guess? — blood.

Available now on: Hulu

New on Fandor


The 400 Blows
98%

François Truffaut’s masterpiece — the story of a 13-year-old who knocks around Paris to escape his trouble home life — is one of the most influential of all the French New Wave films, and one of the most beloved.

Available now on: Fandor


Stolen Kisses
96%

François Truffaut’s whimsical romantic comedy stars Jean-Pierre Léaud once again as Antoine Doinel, who in this film becomes a private detective and stumbles through some amusing misadventures.

Available now on: Fandor


Farewell, Herr Schwarz
91%

This fascinating documentary tells the story of a reunion of siblings who survived the Holocaust.

Available now on: Fandor

This week on streaming video, we’ve got a couple of Oscar nominees (including one particularly big one), a Bill Murray comedy, Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, and more on Netflix. Read on for details:


The Theory of Everything
80%

Eddie Redmayne stars as celebrated astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, depicted falling in love with his first wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) during his years at Cambridge and gradually succumbing to ALS. James Marsh’s Certified Fresh biopic has garnered five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Redmayne’s performance, and Best Actress for Jones’s role.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play


Beyond the Lights
83%

Nominated for Best Song at this year’s Oscars, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Certified Fresh musical romance stars up-and-comer Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a pop idol who falls for a police officer (Nate Parker) assigned to her security detail.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


St. Vincent
77%

Bill Murray plays a curmudgeon with a heart in St. Vincent, about a Vietnam vet who forges an unlikely friendship with a neighborhood boy. Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy costar.

Available now on: iTunes


Rosewater
76%

Jon Stewart’s Certified Fresh directorial debut focuses on the real life story of Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), an Iranian-Canadian journalist who was imprisoned and tortured by the Iranian government for four months in 2009.

Available now on: iTunes


Preservation
50%

This indie thriller tells the story of a young couple and their war veteran friend, who embark on a hunting trip together and find themselves stalked by an unseen menace.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
61%

Based on the popular children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day stars Ed Oxenbould as the titular young boy who experiences misfortune after misfortune on the eve of his 12th birthday. Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner costar.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play


Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
81%

The Norwegian sleeper hit gets a sequel, and this time out, Martin (Vegar Hoel) wakes up with a cantankerous new zombie arm with a mind of its own, and he sets out to wreak vengeance upon Colonel Herzog (Ørjan Gamst).

Available now on: Netflix


Bates Motel: Season Two

The second season of A&E’s prequel series to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho finds mother Bates (Vera Farmiga) doing damage control, while Norman (Freddie Highmore) deals with relationship issues and dark secrets.

Available now on: Netflix

This week on home video, we’ve got a surprisingly solid list of new films to check out, including no less than five Certified Fresh movies. Considering the glut of bad movies plaguing most cineplexes these days, the offerings below make a strong case for staying in. Read on for details:



Nightcrawler

95%

Jake Gyllenhaal’s really been on a tear in recent years. Beginning with 2011’s Source Code, he’s starred in five straight Certified Fresh films, and his most recent effort even drew some awards attention. Nightcrawler stars Gyllenhaal as a petty thief who spies a future in amateur video journalism and, after selling some footage to a news director (Rene Russo), begins a dark downward spiral into his most sociopathic impulses. The feature directing debut of screenwriter Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler earned high marks from critics who cited Gyllenhaal’s creepy performance as a highlight and made comparisons to Taxi Driver. Certified Fresh at 95 percent, this is a dark thriller that operates equally well as a thought-provoking satire of sensationalist news media.



Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

61%

Live action family films — decent ones, anyway — seem to be rarer in supply these days, so it’s always a nice surprise when one comes along that’s pleasant and suitably entertaining. Based on the popular 1972 children’s book of the same name, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is about exactly what its title indicates: on the day before his 12th birthday, a young boy named Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) stumbles through an extremely unfortunate series of events. Spoiler alert: everything turns out okay. Most critics found Alexander a perfectly fine diversion for parents to share with their kids, even if the film fails to make a strong, lasting impression, and awarded it a respectable 62 percent on the Tomatometer. It’s not the best kids’ movie around, but it’s pretty harmless and good-natured.



Rosewater

76%

During the Summer of 2013, Jon Stewart took a short break from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show to focus on his feature directorial debut, a drama based on a true story that, at least peripherally, involved him. Rosewater depicts the plight of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (played by Gael García Bernal), who was detained by Iran in 2009 after he sent video footage of post-election riots to the BBC. Held in prison for almost four months, Bahari was tortured and interrogated about, among other things, his appearance on Stewart’s satirical show, before finally being released. Based on the best-selling memoir that Bahari wrote about the experience, Rosewater earned mostly strong reviews from critics, who rewarded the film with a Certified Fresh 74 percent for its timely subject matter, Bernal’s performance, and Stewart’s prowess in his first stint behind the camera.



Predestination

84%

It’s unusual for a genre flick released during the first half of January to earn high marks from critics, especially one that, save for the involvement of star Ethan Hawke, reads more like something you might find in the direct-to-dvd listings, but Predestination managed to beat the odds. In it, Hawke plays an unnamed “Temporal Agent,” tasked with time-traveling to the past to stop crime. Given one last job before retirement, the Agent travels to the 1970s to meet with a man whose unusual life story leads to a twisty, decade-hopping pursuit of the truth. Certified Fresh at 81 percent, Predestination impressed critics with its surprisingly smart storytelling — as well as a remarkable performance from costar Sarah Snook — and helped offer a mindbending alternative to the usual January dreck.

Also available this week:

  • The Cannes Festival-winning Force Majeure (93 percent), a Swedish drama about a small family vacationing in the alps whose bonds are tested when its patriarch leaves them in the lurch during an avalanche scare.
  • Taiwanese import Stray Dogs (88 percent), a drama about a destitute man living on the streets and his two children, who encounter a mysterious woman that may change their lives.
  • Kill the Messenger (77 percent), a Certified Fresh thriller starring Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who publicized his findings on the birth of the crack epidemic and the shady dealings of the CIA.
  • Felony (74 percent), starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Wilkinson in a crime thriller about three detectives at odds with each other after an accident that nearly kills a child.
  • Lynn Shelton’s Laggies (69 percent), starring Keira Knightley and Chloe Grace Moretz in a dramedy about a 28-year-old slacker who befriends a teen and falls for her father.
  • Addicted (8 percent), a drama about a married woman who embarks down a dark road of temptation.
  • HBO’s miniseries Olive Kitteridge (95 percent), starring Frances McDormand and Bill Murray in a four-part adaptation of the Elizabeth Strout novel of the same name.
  • Season six of Showtime’s dark dramedy Nurse Jackie (67 percent), starring Edie Falco as a drug-addicted nurse.
  • And finally, two choices from the Criterion Collection: Nicolas Roeg’s classic thriller Don’t Look Now (96 percent), starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, and Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country (100 percent), a shorter feature about a family’s idyllic vacation in the French countryside.

Awards season is on, and with everything that is going on from December through February, it’s difficult to keep track of who is getting what. To help you with that, we created the Awards Leaderboard, a ranking of movies by the number of awards won and their respective categories. Read on to find out where your favorite movies stand, and who is leading the pack.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) 91%

49 wins

Boyhood (2014) 97%

49 wins

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) 92%

25 wins

Whiplash (2014) 94%

24 wins

Citizenfour (2014) 96%

11 wins

The LEGO Movie (2014) 96%

11 wins

  • BAFTA – Animated Film
  • PGA – Animated Picture
  • Critics Choice – Best Animated Feature
  • Golden Tomato – Best-Reviewed Animation
  • CFCA – Best Animated Feature
  • SFFCC – Best Animated Feature
  • NYFCO – Best Animated Feature
  • WAFCA – Best Animated Feature
  • NBR – Original Screenplay
  • NYFCC – Best Animated Film
  • LVFCS – Best Animated Film

Still Alice (2014) 85%

11 wins

Ida (2013) 96%

9 wins

The Theory of Everything (2014) 80%

8 wins

Life Itself (2014) 98%

7 wins

Rosewater tells the true story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari who was detained in Iran for being a spy. Mark Seman talks to director Jon Stewart and Bahari about the humor that exists in such a serious situation.

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Ep. 075 – New movies & TV, plus Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels & Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy
Matt Atchity, Grae Drake and Tim Ryan start the show with this week’s big movies – Dumb & Dumber To, Beyond the Lights, Rosewater and Foxcatcher, and Grae shares a quick interview with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Editor Ryan Fujitani then steps in to talk about this week’s new DVD/Blu-ray releases How to Train Your Dragon 2, Jersey Boys and Tammy. Then TV Editor Sarah Ricard shares the critics’ reaction the series premieres of The Missing and State of Affairs. The second half of the show features an extended interview with Dan Gilroy, director of Nightcrawler.

This week at the movies, we’ve got foolhardy travelers (Dumb and Dumber To, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels) and a lovelorn pop star (Beyond the Lights, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker). What do the critics have to say?


Dumb and Dumber To

30%

Twenty years ago, Dumb and Dumber solidified Jim Carrey’s reign as the king of lowbrow comedy, and established directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly as the maestros of heartfelt gross-out humor. Unfortunately, critics say that while Harry and Lloyd can still generate an occasional dumb laugh, Dumb and Dumber To is more crass than funny, and too content to recycle laughs from its superior predecessor. This time out, Harry (Jeff Daniels) needs a kidney transplant, so he recruits Lloyd (Carrey) for a road trip to find a young woman that might be his daughter in the hope that she’s cool with donating a kidney). The pundits say Dumb and Dumber To gets a lot of mileage out of the charisma of its stars, but it simply lacks the heart and freshness of the original. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Daniels’ best-reviewed films.)



Beyond the Lights

83%

“Melodramatic” has become something of a dirty word these days, but there’s nothing wrong with a little melodrama if it’s done well. Take Beyond the Lights, for example: critics say there’s nothing original about this romantic drama, but thanks to sharp direction from Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Gina Prince-Bythewood and an attractive, likeable cast, it’s a top-notch crowd-pleaser. Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as a rising pop star who’s rapidly becoming disenchanted with fame. She falls hard for Kaz (Nate Parker), an off-duty police officer, after he helps her out of a jam. Will true love conquer all? The pundits say Beyond the Lights is so well-executed that it mostly transcends its cliches, and it ends up having a thing or two to say about the toll that fame takes on women. (Watch our interviews with Mbatha-Raw and Parker here.)

Certified Fresh on TV:


With an energetic new arc and deeper character development, The Newsroom (Certified Fresh at 82 percent) finds itself rejuvenated in its third season — even if it still occasionally serves as a soapbox for creator Aaron Sorkin.


Substantially similar to its predecessor in all the best ways, critics say this new season of The Comeback (Certified Fresh at 83 percent) thrives on Lisa Kudrow’s starring performance as Valerie Cherish.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Foxcatcher, starring Channing Tatum and Steve Carell in a drama about an Olympic wrestling hopeful who falls under the influence of a questionable patron, is Certified Fresh at 93 percent.
  • Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, a drama about wild passions on a Kentucky farm, is at 83 percent.
  • Bad Turn Worse, a drama about a trio of Texas teens whose going-away celebration is financed by stolen cash, is at 82 percent.
  • The Homesman, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank in a Western about a former schoolteacher who recruits a man with a past to help her establish a sanctuary for troubled women, is at 78 percent.
  • Starry Eyes, a sci-fi horror film about an actress who is unwittingly enlisted by a sinister organization, is at 78 percent.
  • Jon Stewart‘s Rosewater, starring Gael García Bernal in a based-on-true-events drama about a Newsweek reporter accused of espionage while on assignment in Iran, is at 73 percent.
  • Miss Meadows, starring Katie Holmes in a drama about an elementary school teacher who moonlights as a vigilante, is at 50 percent.
  • Wolves, an action/horror hybrid about a teen werewolf who discovers an unsettled community of wolf-people, is at 33 percent.

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Ep. 072 – Holiday Movie Preview
Welcome to the Rotten Tomatoes podcast with Editor in Chief Matt Atchity and Senior Editor Grae Drake. This week they are joined by Senior Editor Tim Ryan and Editor Ryan Fujitani aka The Velvet Smog to talk about the most important movies coming in the Fall and Winter season all the way from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar to Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.

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