Machete, which turned veteran character actor Danny Trejo into a leading man, was a wild and wildly violent action-comedy, a spoof of exploitation films of the 1970s. So, obviously, is Machete Kills. How much of a spoof?
Based on the title character's book recalling the 2009 incident -- in which an American cargo vessel in the Indian Ocean was captured by four Somali pirates -- Captain Phillips puts you right in the middle of the action and never lets you go.
Either the title of the documentary Muscle Shoals resonates with you -- in which case it resonates hard -- or you have no idea what it means. But you should -- or you should find out by watching the movie, one of the year's most entertaining and enriching nonfiction films.
Ron Howard's Rush is winning all sorts of praise as being daring (for taking on subject matter that apparently isn't an automatic audience magnet), a throwback to the 1970s (when filmmakers took more risks) and just plain sexy and exciting.
Nicole Holofcener brings a wonderfully humane approach to the subject with Enough Said, a bittersweet romantic comedy made all the sadder by the fact that it represents one of James Gandolfini's final performances onscreen.
Lynn Shelton obviously isn't a filmmaker whose work suits everyone's taste. With her lightly scripted, improvisational approach to movies, there's a certain shaggy quality to her work -- or at least to the films of hers I've seen (and liked): Humpday and Your Sister's Sister.
After all the hype about its supposedly mind-blowing revelations about the late J.D. Salinger, Shane Salerno's Salinger turns out to be a hype -- an overblown, overlong documentary with little that is either truly revelatory or earth-shaking.
Getaway is like the ultimate reductionist car-centric action film. It feels less like a movie made from an actual script and more like director Courtney Solomon composed a list of things he wanted to put in, then assembled those items into something that vaguely resembled a movie.
John Crowley's Closed Circuit, arriving in the wake of the Bradley Manning decision and the ongoing Edward Snowden affair, is more than timely: It's the most chilling film of the year, more frightening than any horror film because it seems so real.