If you've already seen Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips and you find yourself still in the market for a gritty, contemporary piracy drama, why not try this Danish nail-biter that garnered critical acclaim, a few minor festival awards and a screening at this year's Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival? The New York Times' A.O. Scott praised director Tobias Lindholm's ability to turn "tedium and frustration into agonizing suspense."
Critics acclaimed Michael Haneke's Amour a masterpiece with near-unanimous fervor. Even the Academy was effusive, with Amour garnering the Best Foreign Language Oscar and nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. Throw in a Palme D'Or from Cannes and you get the idea. Amour follows Anne and Georges, husband-and-wife music teachers decades into their retirement, as they deal with some harrowing old-age realities. Beautiful, but emotionally devastating.
National Geographic photographer James Balog travels around the Arctic using time-lapse photography to document the changing ice-scape. The Star Tribune's Colin Covert said, "Chasing Ice is a grand adventure, a visual amazement and a powerful warning." Winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award at Sundance and nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar.
Winner of the award for the Best MN Made Feature Film at the 2012 Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival, Journey to the Fallen Skies is the story of Leng, a Hmong-American man diagnosed with a terminal illness who takes a pilgrimmage to Laos in honor of the father he never knew. Lessons are learned about family, friendship, heritage and personal identity. Directed by Mong Vang and Brian Vue.
Crossover appeal: High.
Sarah Polley's genre-bending documentary investigation into her own family history is described by the New Yorker's Anthony Lane as "a startling mixture of private memoir, public inquiry, and conjuring trick." Maclean's Brian Johnson doesn't mince words: "It's a brilliant film: an enthralling, exquisitely layered masterpiece of memoir that unravels an extraordinary world of family secrets through a maze of interviews, home movies, and faux home movies cast with actors." Among its handful of awards, Stories We Tell was named 2013's best Canadian film by no less an authority than the Toronto Film Critics Association.
In Joshua Oppenheimer's brilliant, acclaimed new documentary The Act of Killing, the genocidal mass murders that took place in Indonesia in 1965-66 are dramatized on film by the surviving perpetrators of the killings, many of whom still hold prominent places in society. The resulting film is "Raw, terrifying, and painfully difficult to watch" per the Rottentomatoes summary, but is a "Masterpiece" according to many, including Nick Schager of the Village Voice. Himself an accomplished documentarian, Werner Herzog (an executive producer, along with Errol Morris) said, "I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, and frightening in at least a decade." The film screened to acclaim this summer at the Walker Art Center, including a conversation and master class with director Oppenheimer.