Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen has found the right time and the right place with Midnight in Paris, his lightest, funniest and most satisfying movie in a long time. (It was nominated for four Golden Globes last week, including Best Picture, Musical/Comedy). Shooting a full film in France for the first time, writer-director Allen has crafted a pastry-light romantic fantasy with virtually no dramatic pretensions, unlike the comic dramas and even outright tragedy that has dominated his work for the last eight years or so. Allen presents a wide-eyed-with-wonder view of the City of Light that nicely complements his story of an American writer (Golden Globe-nominated Owen Wilson) who pines for the 1920s Paris of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. Feather-light does not necessarily mean featherheaded; as aliens said to Allen's filmmaker alter ego in Stardust Memories: "We like your movies. Especially the early, funny ones." Midnight in Paris is like one of those early, funny ones.
Margin Call is a gripping drama set at a large New York City investment firm as the worldwide financial markets were leveled by the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. The ensemble cast -- especially Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons, as two very different kinds of executives -- is superb.
Warrior is a drama set in the world of mixed martial arts about two feuding brothers (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) who take to the ring. The movie's about as manipulative as they come, and yet it works.