Walter Mitty

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22 Most Inspirational Movies

A new year can represent opportunity for new hopes and resolutions, and movies have the gift to inspire that personal change. If you’re eager to turn the page on 2021, here’s 22 of the most inspirational movies to charge your 2022.

Diet and exercise are always high contenders on new year’s resolutions lists, and movies like Brittany Runs a Marathon or Chariots of Fire will get you in motion. There are movies for getting in touch with inner hope (The Shawshank Redemption) and your roots (Lion), along with picking up new skills (Julie & Julia) and rekindling determination (Remember the Titans, Hidden Figures). And those entering 2021 with open hearts ought to seek out Wild and Groundhog Day. And some movies guide us through trauma and disaster, like Life of Pi, and Soul Surfer.

If it’s a new year, it’s a new you: Here’s 22 movies to inspire your 2022.

#1

A Beautiful Mind (2001)
74%

#1
Adjusted Score: 82555%
Critics Consensus: The well-acted A Beautiful Mind is both a moving love story and a revealing look at mental illness.
Synopsis: A human drama inspired by events in the life of John Forbes Nash Jr., and in part based on the... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 99278%
Critics Consensus: Brittany Runs a Marathon is an earnest and hilarious dramedy that finally gives Jillian Bell a role worthy of her gifts.
Synopsis: A hard-partying woman receives a startling wake-up call when a visit to the doctor reveals how unhealthy she is. Motivated... [More]
Directed By: Paul Downs Colaizzo

#3

The Bucket List (2007)
41%

#3
Adjusted Score: 47961%
Critics Consensus: Not even the earnest performances of the two leads can rescue The Bucket List from its schmaltzy script.
Synopsis: Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers, until fate lands them in... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#4

Chariots of Fire (1981)
82%

#4
Adjusted Score: 88074%
Critics Consensus: Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, the film nevertheless manages to make effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.
Synopsis: In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924... [More]
Directed By: Hugh Hudson

#5

Chef (2014)
87%

#5
Adjusted Score: 93975%
Critics Consensus: Chef's charming cast and sharp, funny script add enough spice to make this feel-good comedy a flavorful -- if familiar -- treat.
Synopsis: After a controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman) pushes him too far, chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) quits his position at a... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#6

Forrest Gump (1994)
71%

#6
Adjusted Score: 78314%
Critics Consensus: Forrest Gump may be an overly sentimental film with a somewhat problematic message, but its sweetness and charm are usually enough to approximate true depth and grace.
Synopsis: Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field),... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 101368%
Critics Consensus: It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey -- and is loaded with enough powerful performances -- that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama.
Synopsis: Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#8

Groundhog Day (1993)
97%

#8
Adjusted Score: 103334%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sweet, and inventive, Groundhog Day highlights Murray's dramatic gifts while still leaving plenty of room for laughs.
Synopsis: Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#9

Hidden Figures (2016)
93%

#9
Adjusted Score: 117280%
Critics Consensus: In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked -- and crucial -- contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
Synopsis: Three brilliant African American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- serve as the brains... [More]
Directed By: Theodore Melfi

#10

The Intouchables (2011)
75%

#10
Adjusted Score: 79772%
Critics Consensus: It handles its potentially prickly subject matter with kid gloves, but Intouchables gets by thanks to its strong cast and some remarkably sensitive direction.
Synopsis: An unlikely friendship develops between a wealthy quadriplegic (François Cluzet) and his caretaker (Omar Sy), just released from prison.... [More]

#11

Julie & Julia (2009)
77%

#11
Adjusted Score: 86331%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Meryl Streep's charismatic performance as Julia Child, Julie and Julia is a light, but fairly entertaining culinary comedy.
Synopsis: Frustrated with a soul-killing job, New Yorker Julie Powell (Amy Adams) embarks on a daring project: she vows to prepare... [More]
Directed By: Nora Ephron

#12

Last Holiday (2006)
55%

#12
Adjusted Score: 59859%
Critics Consensus: Although Queen Latifah's bountiful life-affirming spirit permeates the film, director Wayne Wang is unable to revive this remake with any real flair.
Synopsis: The discovery that she has a terminal illness prompts introverted saleswoman Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) to reflect on what she... [More]
Directed By: Wayne Wang

#13

Life of Pi (2012)
86%

#13
Adjusted Score: 96913%
Critics Consensus: A 3D adaptation of a supposedly "unfilmable" book, Ang Lee's Life of Pi achieves the near impossible -- it's an astonishing technical achievement that's also emotionally rewarding.
Synopsis: After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with... [More]
Directed By: Ang Lee

#14

Lion (2016)
84%

#14
Adjusted Score: 99753%
Critics Consensus: Lion's undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre.
Synopsis: Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home... [More]
Directed By: Garth Davis

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 74432%
Critics Consensus: Will Smith's heartfelt performance elevates The Pursuit of Happyness above mere melodrama.
Synopsis: Life is a struggle for single father Chris Gardner (Will Smith). Evicted from their apartment, he and his young son... [More]
Directed By: Gabriele Muccino

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 76982%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas,... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#17

Rocky (1976)
91%

#17
Adjusted Score: 97731%
Critics Consensus: This story of a down-on-his-luck boxer is thoroughly predictable, but Sylvester Stallone's script and stunning performance in the title role brush aside complaints.
Synopsis: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#18
Adjusted Score: 58866%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't lack for ambition, but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty fails to back up its grand designs with enough substance to anchor the spectacle.
Synopsis: Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an employee at Life magazine, spends day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. To... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 96492%
Critics Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is an uplifting, deeply satisfying prison drama with sensitive direction and fine performances.
Synopsis: Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and... [More]
Directed By: Frank Darabont

#20

Soul Surfer (2011)
45%

#20
Adjusted Score: 48567%
Critics Consensus: There's an amazing true story at the heart of Soul Surfer -- and unfortunately, it's drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese.
Synopsis: A natural talent in the sport of surfing, teenager Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) loses an arm in a shark attack.... [More]
Directed By: Sean McNamara

#21

Wild (2014)
88%

#21
Adjusted Score: 99462%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully moving and emotionally resonant, Wild finds director Jean-Marc Vallée and star Reese Witherspoon working at the peak of their respective powers.
Synopsis: Driven to the edge by the loss of her beloved mother (Laura Dern), the dissolution of her marriage and a... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

#22

Yes Man (2008)
46%

#22
Adjusted Score: 51994%
Critics Consensus: Jim Carrey's comic convulsions are the only bright spots in this otherwise dim and predictable comedy.
Synopsis: Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is stuck in a rut with his negative ways. Then he goes to a self-help seminar... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

Wild

(Photo by Fox Searchlight/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Reese Witherspoon Movies Ranked

Reese Witherspoon rose to prominence in the late 1990s, a receptive era for twisted comedies (Freeway), teen thrillers (Fear, Cruel Intentions), and quirky satires (Pleasantville, Election). And Witherspoon would become a household name just a few years later through box office hit comedies Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama.

Johnny Cash-biopic Walk the Line would net Witherspoon her first Best Actress Oscar nomination and win for her portrayal as June Carter Cash. Going for more indie-focused, challenging material in the immediate years afterwards produced mixed results, with the likes of Mud and Inherent Vice at the top of that cult-movie pile.

Water for Elephants and Wild (which earned her a second Oscar nom) have been her most recent film glories, but Witherspoon is fully occupied now with her production company, getting women-led television projects off the ground like Big Little Lies, Truth Be Told, Little Fires Everywhere, and The Morning Show. Meanwhile, a third Legally Blonde has long been in the works; for now, we’re ranking all Reese Witherspoon movies by Tomatometer!

#38

Hot Pursuit (2015)
8%

#38
Adjusted Score: 14024%
Critics Consensus: Shrill and unfunny, Hot Pursuit bungles what should have been an easy opportunity to showcase Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara's likable odd-couple chemistry.
Synopsis: Straight-arrow policewoman Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) is excited and thrilled about her next assignment. Her task is to escort Daniella Riva... [More]
Directed By: Anne Fletcher

#37

S.F.W. (1994)
12%

#37
Adjusted Score: 11346%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When young slacker Cliff Spab (Stephen Dorff) becomes one of several hostages in a convenience store held by publicity-seeking extremists,... [More]
Directed By: Jefery Levy

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 14884%
Critics Consensus: An uninspired E.B. White adaptation that's targeted at the very young.
Synopsis: In this animated feature, a swan named Louie (Dee Baker) breaks out of his egg to an enthusiastic reception from... [More]

#35

Little Nicky (2000)
21%

#35
Adjusted Score: 25051%
Critics Consensus: Despite the presence of a large, talented cast, the jokes in Little Nicky are dumb, tasteless, and not that funny, and Adam Sandler's character is grating to watch.
Synopsis: In a perfect world, he'd be happy to head-bang in his room all day to heavy metal music. But no,... [More]
Directed By: Steven Brill

#34

Devil's Knot (2013)
25%

#34
Adjusted Score: 28699%
Critics Consensus: Devil's Knot covers fact-based ground that's already been well-traveled with multiple (and far more compelling) documentaries.
Synopsis: The Arkansas town of West Memphis makes national headlines when three teenagers are arrested for the brutal murders of three... [More]
Directed By: Atom Egoyan

#33

Four Christmases (2008)
25%

#33
Adjusted Score: 29501%
Critics Consensus: Despite a strong cast, this sour holiday comedy suffers from a hackneyed script.
Synopsis: When their plans for an exotic vacation fall apart, unmarried couple Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) must spend... [More]
Directed By: Seth Gordon

#32

This Means War (2012)
26%

#32
Adjusted Score: 32615%
Critics Consensus: A career lowlight for all three of its likable stars, This Means War is loud, clumsily edited, and neither romantic nor funny.
Synopsis: CIA operatives FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are inseparable best friends and partners. Together, their good looks,... [More]
Directed By: McG

#31

Jack the Bear (1991)
29%

#31
Adjusted Score: 29648%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A single father, John Leary (Danny DeVito), struggles to raise his two young boys, Jack (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.) and... [More]
Directed By: Marshall Herskovitz

#30

How Do You Know (2010)
31%

#30
Adjusted Score: 36410%
Critics Consensus: How Do You Know boasts a quartet of likeable leads -- and they deserve better than this glib, overlong misfire from writer/director James L. Brooks.
Synopsis: Lisa Jorgenson's (Reese Witherspoon) entire life has been defined by softball, but at 31, she is deemed too old to... [More]
Directed By: James L. Brooks

#29

Home Again (2017)
32%

#29
Adjusted Score: 41914%
Critics Consensus: Home Again gathers a talented crowd of rom-com veterans on both sides of the camera -- all of whom have unfortunately done far better work.
Synopsis: Recently separated from her husband, Alice Kinney decides to start over by moving back to Los Angeles with her two... [More]
Directed By: Hallie Meyers-Shyer

#28
Adjusted Score: 41220%
Critics Consensus: This blonde joke is less funny the second time around.
Synopsis: Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) journeys to Washington, D.C., to have her say about animal rights, but is ignored by every... [More]

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 43067%
Critics Consensus: Reese Witherspoon is charming enough, but the road to Alabama is well-traveled.
Synopsis: New York fashion designer Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) suddenly finds herself engaged to the city's most eligible bachelor. But Melanie's past... [More]
Directed By: Andy Tennant

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 63038%
Critics Consensus: A Wrinkle in Time is visually gorgeous, big-hearted, and occasionally quite moving; unfortunately, it's also wildly ambitious to a fault, and often less than the sum of its classic parts.
Synopsis: Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 19015%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: College student Wyatt (Paul Rudd) is convinced that his hometown girlfriend, Kimberly (Christine Taylor), is cheating on him. Disconsolate at... [More]
Directed By: Jason Bloom

#24

Best Laid Plans (1999)
43%

#24
Adjusted Score: 42080%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Returning to his dreary hometown as a wealthy man, Bryce (Josh Brolin) is unaware of the target his financial gain... [More]
Directed By: Mike Barker

#23

A Far Off Place (1993)
45%

#23
Adjusted Score: 45066%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With a bushman's help, two teens (Reese Witherspoon, Ethan Randall) cross an African desert to elude poachers who killed their... [More]
Directed By: Mikael Salomon

#22

Fear (1996)
46%

#22
Adjusted Score: 46648%
Critics Consensus: Fear has an appealing young cast, but their efforts aren't enough to consistently distract from an increasingly overblown - and illogical - teen stalker story.
Synopsis: When 16-year-old Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) meets 23-year-old David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) at a Seattle nightclub, she falls in love.... [More]
Directed By: James Foley

#21

Rendition (2007)
47%

#21
Adjusted Score: 53417%
Critics Consensus: The impressive cast cannot rescue Rendition, which explores complex issues in woefully simplified terms.
Synopsis: Isabella El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon), the wife of an Egyptian engineer, tries desperately to track down her husband after he disappears... [More]
Directed By: Gavin Hood

#20

Vanity Fair (2004)
50%

#20
Adjusted Score: 54987%
Critics Consensus: A more likable Becky Sharp makes for a less interesting movie.
Synopsis: Born to poor parents, Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon) has always aspired to be a member of England's upper classes. Leaving... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#19

Penelope (2006)
53%

#19
Adjusted Score: 57739%
Critics Consensus: Though Penelope has a charming cast and an appealing message, it ultimately suffers from faulty narrative and sloppy direction.
Synopsis: Born with the snout of a pig, young Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) spends life a virtual prisoner in her home.... [More]
Directed By: Mark Palansky

#18

Cruel Intentions (1999)
55%

#18
Adjusted Score: 58913%
Critics Consensus: This darkly comic drama and its attractive young cast are easy on the eyes, but uneven performances and an uninspired script conspire to foil Cruel Intentions.
Synopsis: Annette (Reese Witherspoon) unwittingly becomes a pawn in Sebastian's (Ryan Phillippe) and Kathryn's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) deliciously diabolical wager of... [More]
Directed By: Roger Kumble

#17

Just Like Heaven (2005)
55%

#17
Adjusted Score: 59748%
Critics Consensus: Delightfully sweet like a lollipop, Just Like Heaven is a dreamy romantic comedy that may give you a toothache when it attempts to broach difficult end of life issues by throwing a cherry on top.
Synopsis: David (Mark Ruffalo) is a recently widowed architect moving into a new apartment in San Francisco. But the apartment isn't... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#16
Adjusted Score: 59398%
Critics Consensus: Oliver Parker's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic play is breezy entertainment, helped by an impressive cast, but it also suffers from some peculiar directorial choices that ultimately dampen the film's impact.
Synopsis: Two young gents have taken to bending the truth in order to put some excitement into their lives. Worthing (Colin... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Parker

#15

Twilight (1998)
60%

#15
Adjusted Score: 62557%
Critics Consensus: It suffers from a frustratingly deliberate pace, but with nuanced performances from Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, and Reese Witherspoon to fall back on, Twilight can't help but be compelling.
Synopsis: Harry (Paul Newman), a retired private eye, lives in an apartment on the grounds of the estate owned by his... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 67487%
Critics Consensus: It's a tale tastefully told and beautifully filmed, but Water for Elephants suffers from a pronounced lack of chemistry between its leads.
Synopsis: Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson), a veterinary student, is close to graduating when a terrible tragedy forces him to leave school.... [More]
Directed By: Francis Lawrence

#13

Legally Blonde (2001)
70%

#13
Adjusted Score: 75639%
Critics Consensus: Though the material is predictable and formulaic, Reese Witherspoon's funny, nuanced performance makes this movie better than it would have been otherwise.
Synopsis: Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has it all. She wants nothing more than to be Mrs. Warner Huntington III. But there... [More]
Directed By: Robert Luketic

#12

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#12
Adjusted Score: 74646%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#11

Sing (2016)
71%

#11
Adjusted Score: 82503%
Critics Consensus: Sing delivers colorfully animated, cheerfully undemanding entertainment with a solid voice cast and a warm-hearted -- albeit familiar -- storyline that lives up to its title.
Synopsis: Dapper Koala Buster Moon presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. An eternal optimist, and a... [More]
Directed By: Garth Jennings

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 81922%
Critics Consensus: Though it doesn't approach the depth of the best animated films, Monsters Vs. Aliens has enough humor and special effects to entertain moviegoers of all ages.
Synopsis: When a meteor full of space gunk transforms Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) into a giant, the government renames her Ginormica... [More]

#9

Inherent Vice (2014)
73%

#9
Adjusted Score: 83383%
Critics Consensus: Inherent Vice may prove frustrating for viewers who demand absolute coherence, but it does justice to its acclaimed source material -- and should satisfy fans of director P.T. Anderson.
Synopsis: In a California beach community, private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) tends to work his cases through a smoky... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#8

Freeway (1996)
77%

#8
Adjusted Score: 78065%
Critics Consensus: A modern update on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway is an audacious black comedy with a star-making performance from the young Reese Witherspoon.
Synopsis: Following the arrest of her mother, Ramona (Amanda Plummer), young Vanessa Lutz (Reese Witherspoon) decides to go in search of... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Bright

#7

Walk the Line (2005)
82%

#7
Adjusted Score: 90385%
Critics Consensus: Superior acting and authentic crooning capture the emotional subtleties of the legend of Johnny Cash with a freshness that is a pleasure to watch.
Synopsis: The rise of country music legend Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) begins with his days as a boy growing up on... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#6

Pleasantville (1998)
85%

#6
Adjusted Score: 89273%
Critics Consensus: Filled with lighthearted humor, timely social commentary, and dazzling visuals, Pleasantville is an artful blend of subversive satire and well-executed Hollywood formula.
Synopsis: Impressed by high school student David's (Tobey Maguire) devotion to a 1950s family TV show, a mysterious television repairman (Don... [More]
Directed By: Gary Ross

#5

The Good Lie (2014)
87%

#5
Adjusted Score: 89180%
Critics Consensus: The Good Lie sacrifices real-life nuance in order to turn its true story into a Hollywood production, but the results still add up to a compelling, well-acted, and deeply moving drama.
Synopsis: After their village is destroyed and their parents killed by Northern militia, Sudanese orphans Theo, his siblings and other survivors... [More]
Directed By: Philippe Falardeau

#4

Wild (2014)
88%

#4
Adjusted Score: 99462%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully moving and emotionally resonant, Wild finds director Jean-Marc Vallée and star Reese Witherspoon working at the peak of their respective powers.
Synopsis: Driven to the edge by the loss of her beloved mother (Laura Dern), the dissolution of her marriage and a... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 90881%
Critics Consensus: It's sentimental, and some viewers may feel manipulated by the melodramatic final act, but The Man in the Moon offers a finely drawn coming-of-age story with an excellent cast -- including Reese Witherspoon in her film debut.
Synopsis: Maureen Trant (Emily Warfield) and her younger sibling Dani (Reese Witherspoon) share a strong connection, but local boy Court Foster... [More]
Directed By: Robert Mulligan

#2

Election (1999)
92%

#2
Adjusted Score: 96964%
Critics Consensus: Election successfully combines dark humor and intelligent writing in this very witty and enjoyable film.
Synopsis: Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a well-liked high school government teacher, can't help but notice that successful student Tracy Flick (Reese... [More]
Directed By: Alexander Payne

#1

Mud (2013)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 103144%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by a strong performance from Matthew McConaughey in the title role, Mud offers an engaging Southern drama that manages to stay sweet and heartwarming without being sappy.
Synopsis: While exploring a Mississippi River island, Arkansas boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) encounter Mud (Matthew McConaughey),a fugitive... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Nichols

With the season 7 premiere coming July 16, Game of Thrones dominates the current pop culture consciousness. What you may not know is that some of the stars of HBO’s hit fantasy series can be found in some truly superb films you may have missed. Here are 14 Certified Fresh theatrical gems starring the GoT cast.



More Game of Thrones season 7 coverage:

Einar Wegener is not exactly a household name, but if you happen upon The Danish Girl, the Eddie Redmayne-starring biopic based on Wegener’s life, you’ll come away knowing a little bit more about what it was like to be transgender in the early part of the 20th century. A thoughtful, well-considered biopic can do what your history textbook never could: make the past come alive and comment on our present moment. Here’s a batch of fresh-rated biopics of people famous — Jackie Robinson, Queen Elizabeth II — and not-quite-so. That’s the other secret power of films about real people: immortalizing nearly-forgotten institutionalized female artists and recovering drug addicts who go on very long hikes.


42 (2013) 81%

Biopics01

This underappreciated film should have made Chadwick Boseman a movie star. He’s that good as baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Of course, Get On Up also should have made Chadwick Boseman a movie star. He played James Brown in that one and nobody went to see it, either. But back to 42: Boseman all but resurrects the patient, determined, no-nonsense athlete who broke the color barrier in professional baseball way back in 1947 during his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was, as you might imagine, not an easy task. Hate from fans and his own teammates tested the man every time he took the field, but Robinson never gave anyone the satisfaction of clapping back. Director Brian Helgeland, along with his extremely talented lead, creates a sobering look back at the historical realties of American sports and American racism. As for Boseman, he’s about to enter the Marvel universe as Black Panther. Movie star achievement coming soon.

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Belle (2013) 84%

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Maybe you thought this was just another period British costume drama, the kind that country creates with impeccable precision, all for your mom to enjoy. But Belle glides along in its own lane, taking on the ugliest truths about the English aristocracy, and inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). She was the mixed race child of Admiral John Lindsay, raised by her great-uncle Lord Mansfield in a world of privilege, one punctured by the restrictions of her race. It was the time of slavery in England, after all, which meant Belle was unable to participate fully in the world in which she lived. Solution: fight the power and work as an abolitionist, of course. Amma Assante’s direction is clear-cut and modern, necessarily imposing today’s wisdom on historical horror, while Mbatha-Raw (who was also excellent in the same year’s underrated Beyond The Lights) moves slyly through a story that demands her character’s allegiance to strict codes and the disobedient nerve to break them.

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Bright Star (2009) 83%

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So it’s the early part of the 19th century and you are a passionately-in-love couple of young people. But you have to keep it secret. That’s the problem faced by English poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and headstrong, fashion-minded Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). They don’t even like each other much, at first, which is romantic-drama-speak for “gotta have it,” and no one approves, of course, which makes it that much hotter. But if you think you know how this all goes, then you should also know that it’s a film by Jane Campion (The Piano), one of the world’s great directors. Campion understands the clichés inherent in this kind of story and she navigates around them with skill and intensity, delivering instead a truthful film about living a real life in a time that required a crushing denial of that same reality.

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Camille Claudel, 1915 (2013) 80%

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If you’re here for demanding, difficult director Bruno Dumont, then you’ve already seen this one. But chances are you’re here because Juliette Binoche is one of best actors on the planet and you never even knew this film existed. Well, get ready to work, because Camille Claudel, 1915 is an exacting drama of the long-take school, featuring a deeply felt, and highly specific performance from Binoche as an artist whose life was marked by slow, inexorable tragedy. Claudel, once the mistress of sculptor Auguste Rodin, is committed to an asylum in southern France and left to waste away. Binoche, burrowing deeply into the emptiness, speaks very little, but says everything. A tough but rewarding feel-bad experience for people who don’t need happy endings.

Watch Trailer


Fruitvale Station (2013) 94%

Biopics05

At the moment, Michael B. Jordan is impressing audiences in Creed, but his promise was announced with this earlier film by Creed’s director Ryan Coogler. It’s a true story, one that could have been taken from any headline of the past few years, and stars Jordan as Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black man in Oakland, California, who lost his life on New Year’s Day, 2009, when he was murdered by a police officer at an Oakland BART station. It begins with cellphone video of the real killing. But instead of delving into documentary-style drama about the event itself, Coogler shows you Grant moving through his last day, dealing with work and family and friends. This approach heightens the despair and sense of wasted life by forcing the audience to live with the everyday humanity of the crime’s victim, rather than a just-the-facts approach resulting in one more numbing statistic created by institutional racism.

Watch Trailer


Philomena (2013) 91%

Biopics06

This tear-jerker is based on the harrowing story of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), an Irish woman whose youthful unplanned pregnancy resulted in her confinement to a cruel, prison-like convent, her child put up for adoption against her will. In her later years, she joins a journalist (Steve Coogan) in the hunt for her now-adult lost child, unprepared for what she’ll find. Now, when the deck is this stacked with tragedy, a strong center is required to avoid overselling the pain. That means you go get Judi Dench. Audiences have placed massive amounts of goodwill in her, and for good reason. She’s a walking empathy machine, gently and intelligently tugging at your heart when lesser actors would mercilessly wrestle it to the ground. Her soft-spoken, perhaps needlessly naïve and devout truth-seeker (compared to the real life woman, whose relationship with the Church that abused her involves no love lost) is all goodness, all forgiveness. This is how she earns your tears. And you will shed them.

Watch Trailer


The Queen (2006) 96%

Biopics07

Is this really how Queen Elizabeth II behaved behind closed doors in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death? Did she have a genuine crisis of manners and standards? Was she forced to contend with the changes taking place outside the confines of royal life, where contemporary public expectations of figureheads shifted, altered by that public’s relationship with Diana herself? We’ll probably never really know for sure, but as portrayed by Helen Mirren, we now want to believe that the stoic monarch in the pastel-colored hats had a dormant heart that grew three sizes the moment Elton John re-recorded “Candle in The Wind.” Mirren carries the film like it all rests on her shoulders – it does, by the way – and she does so gracefully, balancing regulation and feeling like a proper queen. She won a well-deserved Oscar for it, too.

Watch Trailer


Selma (2014) 99%

Biopics08

One of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2014 was, strangely, ignored at the box office and by award-giving organizations. Perhaps it all felt like it might be the moviegoing equivalent of homework, but Ava DuVernay’s Selma is a huge achievement, both in re-examining the past through fresh eyes, as well as in sheer entertainment. This is not a saintly MLK. David Oyelowo portrays the legendary civil rights leader as a real, flawed, sometimes frightened, sometimes furious man, and you can’y take your eyes off him. Maybe people stayed away because the story of King’s campaign to secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965 might have felt too real in a moment when politicians are still trying to figure out ways to keep non-white Americans from voting. Whatever your reasons for avoiding it were, you were wrong. Go watch this one today.

Watch Trailer


Violette (2013) 86%

Biopics09

You’ve heard about the famous French writer Simone de Beauvoir. Well, this is not about her. Instead, it’s the story of Violette Leduc, a French author who was deeply involved with de Beauvoir for years. As played by Emmanuelle Devos, this lesser-known literary figure is a fascinatingly complex cauldron of conflicting feelings, a woman filled with unhappiness who was stoutly determined to get what she wanted, grasping for life and personal connection anywhere she could find it. She had an iron will and a prickly personality that you won’t like, but also won’t soon forget. Sometimes it’s the unlikeliest people who make the most interesting subjects.

Watch Trailer


Wild (2014) 88%

Biopics10

This is not Reese Witherspoon’s 127 Hours, her Incredible Journey, or anything else you think it is. It’s a much more subtle story about a woman’s determination to finish what she starts and heal herself along the way. Based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild tells the story of the troubled author’s 1,100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. She encounters danger and despair, but not the kind you expect. In fact, very little of this movie relies on the usual prestige picture story beats and cathartic uplifts, the kind that secure nominations and awards. Meanwhile, Witherspoon’s performance rivals her Oscar-winning turn as June Carter in Walk The Line. She’s that good, as is Laura Dern as her mother.

Watch Trailer

This week in streaming video, we’ve got a little something for everyone, whether you’re looking for award winners, horror flicks, indie hits, documentaries, or sitcoms. Read on for the full list.


New on Netflix:

 

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 94%

Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif lead an all-star cast in David Lean’s historical epic based on the life of T.E. Lawrence, a British military officer who spent significant time in the Arabian peninsula during World War I and forged alliances with the desert tribes present there at the time. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Available now on: Netflix


Insomnia (2002) 92%

Christopher Nolan’s Certified Fresh remake of the Norwegian thriller of the same name stars Al Pacino as an Alaskan detective who mistakenly shoots his partner while in pursuit of a dangerous killer and Robin Williams as the killer himself, who witnesses the crime and knows the truth.

Available now on: Netflix


Up in the Air (2009) 90%

George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, who has accumulated big frequent flyer mileage from his company, which tasks him with firing people in person. But when the corporation cuts back on travel, will Bingham still cross paths with a fellow traveler (Vera Farmiga)?

Available now on: Netflix


The Blair Witch Project (1999) 86%

Full of creepy campfire scares, mock-doc The Blair Witch Project keeps audiences in the dark about its titular villain — thus proving that imagination can be as scary as anything onscreen.

Available now on: Netflix


Person of Interest: Season 3 (2013) 100%

Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson star in this CBS sci-fi drama about an ex-CIA agent who teams up with a scientist to stop crimes before they take place. Seasons one through three are available to stream now.

Available now on: Netflix


Private Parts (1997) 75%

Based on the eponymous autobiography by Howard Stern, this Certified Fresh comedy looks at the shock jock’s life, beginning with childhood and recounting his budding career and private life.

Available now on: Netflix


Big Fish (2003) 76%

Tim Burton’s adaptation of Daniel Wallace’s novel tells the story of a father whose propensity for tall tales has driven a wedge between himself and his son.

Available now on: Netflix


Time Lapse (2014) 78%

This time travel thriller follows a painter who discovers a machine that captures images from 24 hours in the future.

Available now on: Netflix


Hamlet (1990) 76%

Franco Zeffirelli’s take on the classic Shakespearean tragedy stars Mel Gibson as the titular Prince of Denmark, Alan Bates as the evil Claudius, Ian Holm as Polonius, and Helena Bonham-Carter as the ill-fated Ophelia.

Available now on: Netflix


Zathura (2005) 76%

Zathura tells the tale of a pair of squabbling brothers who must learn to work together after they are transported into space while playing the titular board game; Kristen Stewart, Josh Hutcherson, and Tim Robbins star.

Available now on: Netflix


The League: Season 6 (2014) 100%

The sixth season of FX’s popular ensemble sitcom about fantasy football, starring Mark Duplass, Paul Scheer, and Nick Kroll arrives on Netflix this week.

Available now on: Netflix


Beavis and Butt-head Do America (1996) 70%

Uh huh-huh-huh, they said “do.” Uh huh-huh-huh.

Available now on: Netflix


Fido (2007) 72%

A sly mash-up of Lassie and Night of the Living Dead, Fido is a goofy, gory zombie spoof that stars Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, Dylan Baker, and Tim Blake Nelson.

Available now on: Netflix


Hitch (2005) 69%

Will Smith stars as a legendary “date doctor” who’s playing matchmaker for a schlub (Kevin James) and his celebrity crush (Amber Valletta) while wooing a gossip columnist (Eva Mendes).

Available now on: Netflix


The Crucible (1996) 69%

Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder star in this adaptation of the Arthur Miller play about a woman accused of witchcraft in 1690s Salem, Massachusetts, who then levels charges of her own against her accusers.

Available now on: Netflix


Sleepy Hollow (1999) 69%

Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, and Christopher Walken star in Tim Burton’s take on the classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Amazon Prime:

 

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014) 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 Thursday (9/10) on: Amazon Prime


I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (2014) 84%

This documentary looks at the man behind two of Sesame Street‘s most beloved characters: Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Deli Man (2014) 82%

This documentary about an innovative delicatessen in Houston explores the history and importance of Jewish delis.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


New on HBO Now:

 

Wild (2014) 88%

Wild stars Reese Witherspoon in the story of a woman reeling from the death of her mother and her recent divorce who decides to walk the entire Pacific Crest Trail by herself in an attempt to get back on track.

Available now on: HBO Now


New on Fandor

 

Madadayo (1993) 87%

Legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s final film, Madadayo recounts the final years in the life of a beloved professor, whose students help take care of him and celebrate his birthdays with him.

Available now on: Fandor


New on Hulu

 

The Awesomes: Season 3 (2015)

This Hulu original animated comedy centers on a young group of superheroes who attempt to fill the shoes of a legendary team after they call it quits. Seth Meyers, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson and more lend their voices.

Available now on: Hulu


Available for Purchase

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) 76%

This time out, the Avengers — whose ranks include Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) — are pitted against Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a powerful robot with dangerous beliefs about the best way to achieve world peace.

Available now on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu


The Mend (2014) 78%

Josh Lucas stars in a dartk comedy about a man who stirs up dysfunction when he crashes on his brother’s couch.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu


The Overnight (2015) 82%

Taylor Schilling, Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman star in this Certified Fresh comedy about a young couple who get more than they bargain for when they accept a dinner invitation from married swingers.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Paper Planes (2014) 85%

Sam Worthington stars in this drama about a young Australian boy who strives to compete in the World Paper Plane Championships competition in Japan.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


The Nightmare (2015) 67%

This documentary/horror film features interviews with people who suffer from sleep paralysis.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

This week on home video, we’ve got a couple of Oscar-winning films, another that received a couple nominations of its own, and an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated HBO sitcom. Then we’ve got a few other notable films, including two more from the Criterion Collection. Read on for details:


Interstellar (2014) 72%

Christopher Nolan was coming off the completion of a critically and commercially successful Batman trilogy, and Matthew McConaughey was still riding high from the praise he got for True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club. There’s no question Interstellar was going to be a hit. The mindbending outer space tale wasn’t for everyone, though, and it earned Nolan the lowest Tomatometer score of his directorial career at 72 percent. Of course, that’s still not too shabby, and when you consider his flair for visual spectacle and a supporting cast that included Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, and Michael Caine, it’s a little difficult to say this isn’t worth at least a look. It might not blow your mind, but then again, it just might.


The Imitation Game (2014) 89%

This is the Best Picture nominee about the scientist who wasn’t Stephen Hawking. To be fair, The Imitation Game was quite different from The Theory of Everything, its spiritual cousin in this year’s Best Picture race. While Theory focused more on the story of the individual (and earned its lead a Best Actor win), Imitation was much more plot-driven, unfolding a bit like a spy thriller with a handful of obligatory biopic plot developments and Alan Turing at its center. Lest we make it sound like it’s an inferior film, we’ll just point out that it earned a Certified Fresh 89 percent on the Tomatometer, over $200 million at the box office, and nominations in eight Oscar categories, taking home the trophy for Best Adapted Screenplay. This film is no slouch; if you want to see a solid drama about how one of the smartest men of the last century helped defeat the Nazis in WWII by essentially inventing the world’s first digital computer, give this a watch.


Wild (2014) 90%

How about another Oscar nominee? This film might be considered the capstone to Reese Witherspoon’s recent resurgence, following roles in Mud and The Good Lie. After all, it was her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed on an introspective 1,000-mile hike that earned her her second Best Actress nomination at this year’s Academy Awards. Co-star Laura Dern also got a nod in the Supporting Actress category, so even if you’re not especially into nomadic, soul-searching journeys, you know the performances are top notch. As for Witherspoon, she’s due next in a couple of comedies, so if you want her more serious side, this may be your last chance to see it for at least a little while, and since it’s Certified Fresh at 90 percent, it’s a fair bet it won’t be a waste of your time.


Silicon Valley – Season One (2014) 94%

Mike Judge and social satire go together like baseball bats and office printers, so everyone was naturally geeked to see how the man behind Beavis and Butt-head, Idiocracy, and Office Space would skewer millennial entrepreneurs in the tech sector. And it looks like everyone was right to be excited; Silicon Valley‘s first season, which follows a handful of hopeful programmers as they launch a potentially lucrative startup, is Certified Fresh at 94 percent, and it’s all set to return for its second season on HBO on April 12. If you haven’t seen the show yet, that gives you a little less than two weeks to get caught up, but it’s only eight episodes, so you’ll be in good shape if you pick up the DVD or Blu-ray set when it hits shelves this week.


 

ALSO AVAILABLE THIS WEEK:

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar (2014) (79 percent), a documentary about the quirky primates narrated by Morgan Freeman.
The Rewrite (2014) (64 percent), starring Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei in a romantic comedy about a washed up screenwriter who takes up teaching at a university and falls for one of his students.
Meet the Mormons (2014) (11 percent), a documentary following six average Mormons in various corners of the world, going about their daily routines.
Veep – Season Three (2014) (100 percent), starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer in HBO’s hugely popular Emmy-winning comedy series.
Cries and Whispers (1972) (89 percent), Ingmar Bergman’s Oscar-winning meditation on death as experienced by three sisters, is the first of two Criterion releases, available in a new Blu-ray transfer.
Hoop Dreams (1994) (98 percent), Steve James’ powerful documentary that follows two young boys over five years as they pursue their dreams of playing professional basketball, is the second Criterion release available in a new Blu-ray.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards held their annual ceremony on Sunday, Januray 25 in a televised event at Los Angeles’s Shrine Auditorium. Birdman took home another trophy — for Best Ensemble — though The Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne beat Michael Keaton for Best Actor, while Netflix’s Orange is the New Black came away with a couple of big wins. Read on for the full list.

Movie Awards

 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture


Television Awards

 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

The Oscar nominees were announced last Thursday, and we here at Rotten Tomatoes have been pretty fortunate to sit down and chat with a whole lot of them. If you’re still unsure who to root for in the Best Picture race, or you’d just like a little more info on the films being honored on February 22, check out our various interviews with the casts and filmmakers of Selma, The Theory of Everything, Nightcrawler, American Sniper, The Hobbit, and more.



 

 

Actor Chris Pine, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and directors Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams announced today the nominations for all 24 Oscar categories at a live news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Read through for the full list of nominees.

BEST PICTURE

DIRECTING

ACTOR in a Leading Role

ACTRESS in a Leading Role

ACTOR in a Supporting Role

ACTRESS in a Supporting Role

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

CINEMATOGRAPHY

COSTUME DESIGN

FILM EDITING

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

MUSIC – Original Score

MUSIC – Original Song

  • “Everything Is Awesome”; Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson from The Lego Movie
  • “Glory”; Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn from Selma
  • “Grateful”; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren from Beyond the Lights
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”; Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond from Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me
  • “Lost Stars”; Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois from Begin Again

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Maria Djurkovic (Production Design); Tatiana Macdonald (Set Decoration) for The Imitation Game
  • Nathan Crowley (Production Design); Gary Fettis (Set Decoration) for Interstellar
  • Dennis Gassner (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) for Into the Woods
  • Suzie Davies (Production Design); Charlotte Watts (Set Decoration) for Mr. Turner

SOUND EDITING

SOUND MIXING

  • John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin for American Sniper
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga for Birdman
  • Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten for Interstellar
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee for Unbroken
  • Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley for Whiplash

VISUAL EFFECTS

WRITING – Adapted Screenplay

WRITING – Original Screenplay

    • Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo for Birdman
    • Written by Richard Linklater for Boyhood
    • Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman for Foxcatcher
    • Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness for The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Written by Dan Gilroy
      for Nightcrawler

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

SHORT FILM – Animated

SHORT FILM – Live Action

On Wednesday, Januray 7, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) released their list of nominees for their annual WGA Awards, honoring outstanding writing in film, television, radio, and new media. The ceremony itself will take place on Saturday, February 7 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, but you can check out a select list of the nominees below:

 

Original Screenplay

Adapted Screenplay

Documentary Screenplay

Drama Series

Comedy Series

New Series

This week at the movies, we’ve got Middle-earth warriors (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, starring Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen), a world-travelling night watchman (Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams), a streetwise orphan (Annie, starring Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx), and a determined hiker (Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern). What do the critics have to say?


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

59%

It would be nearly impossible for director Peter Jackson to top — or even equal — the sweep and grandeur of the Lord of the Rings movies, and while the reviews for the first two Hobbit films were generally positive, many found something lacking. Critics say The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings this trilogy to a close in reasonably rousing fashion, but while the battle scenes are visually striking, the story is more than a little thin. After going up against the fire-breathing dragon Smaug, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and makeshift battalions of men, elves, and dwarfs must join forces to fight off an onslaught of orcs and restore order to Middle-earth. The pundits say that Jackson’s visual sense is as strong as ever, but this conclusion to The Hobbit saga lacks the human touch and weightiness that made the Lord of the Rings films such revered classics. (Check out our Hobbit Headquarters for much more on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, including features, interviews, and countdowns.)



Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

47%

At this point, you pretty much know what you’re getting with a Night at the Museum movie: a few good laughs, a bunch of famous people playing historical figures, and little to offend — or stir — anyone in your family. Critics say that’s basically the deal with Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which offers up some decent slapstick and a few new faces but never quite coalesces into anything truly enchanting. This time out, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) finally ventures outside the stuffy confines of those crazy museums; instead, he goes on a globe-trotting mission to preserve the magic that animates the museum’s historical populace. The pundits say Secret of the Tomb will probably please the kiddies, and Robin Williams shines in one of his last performances, but it’s largely a slack, so-so affair. (Take a look at this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Stiller’s best-reviewed movies.)



Annie

28%

Annie is one of Broadway’s most durable and beloved productions, but it hasn’t fared nearly as well on the big screen. John Huston’s 1982 version drew decidedly mixed reviews, but critics say this update is even more of a misfire, a surprisingly tuneless, left-footed affair in which a number of big names deliver performances of wildly varying quality. Quvenzhané Wallis stars as the titular orphan, who lives with a mean foster mom until Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a businessman with political ambitions, takes her in. The pundits say that while Wallis is charming, the biggest problem is that this Annie is a musical starring talented people who, with a few exceptions, aren’t necessarily the best singers or dancers. (Watch our interviews with Wallis, Foxx, and co-stars Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, and Bobby Cannavale.)



Wild

88%

After winning strong reviews in limited release, Wild is going wide this weekend, and it’s already generating Oscar buzz for the strength of Reese Witherspoon’s lead performance. Based upon the bestselling memoir from Cheryl Strayed, Wild is the story of a woman reeling from the death of her mother and her recent divorce who decides to walk the entire Pacific Crest Trail by herself in an attempt to get back on track. The critics say this Certified Fresh drama is a thoughtful, emotionally potent character study with strong performances and beautiful natural locations.

What’s Hot on TV:


Homeland (Certified Fresh at 81 percent) wraps up its fourth season Sunday night, and critics say the show has had been smart, tense, and focused, making for the strongest iteration since its hard-hitting first season.


Thanks to some smart, creative storytelling and spectacular performances, The Affair (Certified Fresh at 94 percent), which has its season finale on Sunday night, is a somber, bewitching exploration of truth and desire.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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

Jean Marc Vallee’s film Wild is based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about her journey walking the entire Pacific Coast Highway. Here, Strayed discusses how the phrase “Woe is me” is overused in our society. And then Reese Witherspoon, who plays the cinematic version of Strayed, talks about her experience filming the movie and how much walking she did, essentially saying “woe is me” as Laura Dern eggs her on.

This week at the movies, we’ve got just one national release: the Egypt-set horror film The Pyramid, starring Ashley Hinshaw and Denis O’Hare). What do the critics have to say?


The Pyramid

14%

Plenty of sci-fi/horror films borrow freely from older genre classics. However, critics say The Pyramid is a particularly artless mash-up of Indiana Jones-style swashbuckling and old-school creature features, one that’s good for a couple jolts but not much else. It’s the story of a group of explorers who stumble upon a strange, three-sided pyramid in the middle of the desert. What they find inside is even more shocking — and certainly not of this world. The pundits say The Pyramid has the elements in place for a solid B-movie, but it’s ultimately undone by its utterly silly script.

Certified Fresh on TV:


The pundits say Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (Certified Fresh at 81 percent) has a familiar Housewives feel, but transcends genre conventions with Lisa Edelstein’s witty, hurt-filled performance — and a premise perfect for its network’s target demographic.

 


Alternating between electrifying tension and a meandering plot, critics found “Coda” (71 percent) to be an okay capper to a strong half-season of The Walking Dead.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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