The one consolation to colder weather is better movies because the studios save the big ones for the end of the year. Here’s what we recommend for entertainment in the second to last month of 2014.
Now playing: “Nightcrawler”
If you only go to one movie this season, make it this one. Technically, it opened on Oct. 31, but I’m including it here because it is cinematic perfection. Oscar-nominee Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, an enterprising young man who needs to drum up a career. And, whoa. Those eyes. If a lesser actor tried to look like that, it may have been silly, but Gyllenhaal is chilling. Lou is a sociopath who stumbled upon a career in ambulance-chasing for TV news. Rene Russo is almost equally bloodcurdling as his ethics-less boss who buys his videos. She tells him to aim for, “A screaming woman, running down the street, with her throat cut.” Nice. Oh, and she only wants wealthy white people as the victims. This is a thriller that delivers. My hunch is it’ll bring Gyllenhaal another Oscar nom and very possibly a win. Thriller drama. Rated R. 117 min.
Nov. 7: “The Theory of Everything”
You’ll definitely want to see this one. It stars Eddie Redmayne (“Les Misérables”) as Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones is Jane Wilde, who becomes his first wife. This is an intense love story of two people who fall madly for each other, but then are stricken with the horrid obstacle of Hawking’s diagnosis of motor neuron disease. The film is based on the Jane Hawking memoir, “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.” It is directed by Academy Award-winner James Marsh (“Man on Wire”). Biography drama. Rated PG-13. 123 min.
Nov. 7: “Interstellar“
Ever since “True Detective,” the world can’t get enough of Matthew McConaughey. He gives another great performance here as Cooper, a farmer whose crops won’t grow. All that’s left is corn, and soon that won’t grow. It’s nearly 100 years into the future, and Earth has become barren. Cooper can’t support his family, which includes teenage son (Timothée Chalamet), 10-year-old daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) and father-in-law (John Lithgow). And Michael Caine is as wonderful as ever in his role as Professor Brand. If Stephen Spielberg had directed this, it could’ve been perfect. Instead, Christopher Nolan (the “Batman Begins”/”Dark Knight” trilogy) is being blamed for its lack of emotional depth, however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth seeing. It is. You’ll watch brave McConaughey venture off into space to save Earth. Also stars Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain. Sci-fi adventure. Rated PG-13. 169 min. IMAX.
Nov. 14: “Foxcatcher”
This is a true and creepy story about an eccentric multi-millionaire, John du Pont (an unrecognizable Steve Carell), and his relationship with the Schultz brothers, two champion wrestlers named Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Mark Ruffalo). Bennett Miller earned Best Director at this year’s Cannes, and the movie earned official selection there and at five additional film festivals. The biggest reason to see this is for Carell’s Oscar-worthy performance. It is not just a prosthetic nose that changes him so completely; it is everything about him, from mannerisms to speech and especially the peculiar way he holds his head. Du Pont’s got deep mommy issues, and Vanessa Redgrave is stony and solid as his stuffy, disapproving mother, and Mark and Dave have their own enormous set of problems. I must warn you, though, this movie goes at a snail’s speed. There are lots of intense looks and faces in close-ups. It is worth it, though, because it’s the kind of film that stays with you long after you’ve left the theater. Sports biography drama. Rated R. 134 min.
Nov. 28: “The Imitation Game“
Original story, strong acting; this one is a must-see. Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was a British mathematician, crypotologist and genius who influenced the development of computer science that led to the first computer. The film shows his amazing feat of cracking the uncrackable German code that helped win World War II. The second half of the movie is deliciously dark, and the story includes deep problems in Turing’s personal life. He was arrested in 1952 for “gross indecency” after being caught during a homosexual tryst. Tragically, he killed himself two years after his arrest. He was only 41. The multiple award-winning Cumberbatch is amazing, and Keira Knightley brings strength to her role as fellow codebreaker Joan Clarke. Oscar buzz abounds. Historical drama thriller. Rated PG-13. 114 min.
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.