December 27, 2012 Gus Van Sant's Promised Land, written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, explores the costs and benefits of natural gas extraction in rural Pennsylvania. Critic Jeannette Catsoulis says the plot takes a turn for the cliche, but the performances and style make up for it. (Recommended)
December 24, 2012 Tom Hooper's adaptation of the musical Les Miserables — itself an adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel — is solidly effective. Critic Ian Buckwalter says performances from Broadway veterans as well as non-singers deliver a range of interest and a breadth of talent.
December 24, 2012 Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained tells the story of a freed slave on a mission to save his wife. Critic Stephanie Zacharek says the dialogue and action — and performances from Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz — give the film an edge that could only come from Tarantino. (Recommended)
December 20, 2012 Christian Petzold's Barbara tells the story of a doctor in '80s East Germany who's assigned to work in a rural town. Critic Stephanie Zacharek says the film and its star, Nina Hoss, deliver an understated tale of life under tyranny and the hope for a better future. (Recommended)
December 20, 2012 In This Is 40, Judd Apatow returns to Pete and Debbie, two supporting characters from his 2007 hit, Knocked Up. Critic Scott Tobias says that while the film bears Apatow's comic signature, the characters' general lack of purpose causes it to lose steam.
December 20, 2012 Sopranos creator David Chase takes a shot at the big screen with Not Fade Away, which follows a young musician who dreams of breaking into the '60s rock scene. Critic Mark Jenkins says the plot is overstuffed and unfocused, and the staid sensibility is wrong for the material.
December 20, 2012 The Impossible is based on a Spanish family's traumatic fight for survival after 2004's deadly Indian Ocean tsunami. While performances from Naomi Watts and young star Tom Holland ground the film, critic Jeannette Catsoulis says it's difficult to ignore the film's narrow focus.
December 20, 2012 Tom Cruise stars as the titular character in the action flick Jack Reacher, which was adapted from Lee Child's One Shot. Critic Stephanie Zacharek says the film takes itself and its star too seriously — meaning it feels joyless and perfunctory.