The best movies to see this month

These films are topping our must list this month

A Most Violent Year

In little over three years and three features, writer-director J.C. Chandor has launched himself into the rare company of uncompromising filmmakers with more than superheroes on the brain. Margin Call (2011), filled with gloriously terse business talk, got him Oscar-nominated. All Is Lost (2013) had virtually no talk but managed to distill the loner essence of its star, Robert Redford, like no one had before. A Most Violent Year, Chandor’s absorbing no-bull NYC drama, further clarifies what might be the most promising career in American movies: an urban-headed filmmaker attuned to economies of place and time, with an eye on the vacant throne of Sidney Lumet.

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Leviathan

This is a whale of a movie—grotesque and a little bloated but impossible to ignore. Its power and horrors sneak up on you. This contemporary Russian tale, set on the shores of the Barents Sea, is about the unholy powers of the state and church bearing down on one man, Kolia (played brilliantly by Aleksey Serebryakov), and his family, after he dares to challenge an attempt by the local mayor, Vadim (Roman Madyanov), to take his home from him.

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Blackhat

Chris Hemsworth stars as hacker who is released from prison in an effort to combat a series of attacks from a cyber terrorist.

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Paddington

After a fatal earthquake destroys his home in the rainforests of Peru, a young bear (Ben Whishaw) makes his way to London in search of a new home. The bear, dubbed "Paddington," finds shelter with the family of Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins). Although Paddington's amazement at urban living soon endears him to the Browns, someone else has her eye on him: taxidermist Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman) has designs on Paddington's rare Peruvian hide.

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Still Alice

Alzheimer’s disease is a Greek tragedy: Preordained by genetics (if not the Fates themselves), the neurodegenerative disorder is an unfathomably cruel death march down a tunnel that disappears behind you and gets darker with every step. Still Alice, adapted by married couple Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland from Lisa Genova’s 2007 novel of the same name, is the rare film possessed with the courage required to shine a light into that abyss knowing full well that down is the only way out.

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Black Sea

They’re such scary places that it’s hard to make an absolute hash of a submarine movie. The challenge lies in coming up with a fresh take on the (sorry) sub-genre that doesn’t tread on familiar World War II territory, or tepidly reheat Cold War hostilities. Kudos then to writer Dennis Kelly for this engrossing modern tale.

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