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The Girl Without Hands

What he does best is create a palpable sense of dread without pushing, without tilting into melodrama.

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Munna Michael

Noisy, silly, and sometimes rather fun. I just wish it weren't such a hot mess.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Copperhead

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The Civil War drama "Copperhead," about a pacifist (Billy Campbell) who thinks the war's not worth the pain it's causing the country, is earnest and noble, and tells such an unusual story that one wishes it were a better movie.

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Turbo

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This DreamWorks animated picture has an appealingly bizarre premise—a racecar-crazy snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) dreams of competing in the Indianapolis 500—and its sense of humor is so odd that at times you wonder if the movie is sending up the cliches that it wouldn't exist without.

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In a heartbeat: "28 Days Later" revisited

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"28 Days Later" might be one of my favorite films. It's not as politically or satirically ambitious as George Romero's zombie pictures, but as a visionary piece of pure cinema—a film that, to paraphrase Roger, is more about how it's about things than what it's about—I think it's unbeatable. A classic.

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Pacific Rim

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The robots-vs.-monsters adventure "Pacific Rim" knows what sort of film it wishes to be; it is that film, and so much more. Guillermo del Toro's sci-fi movie is being sold as an action epic, but its main virtues are beauty, sincerity and heart.

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A house made of candy: On "Despicable Me 2," slapstick and single parenthood

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I won't make any grand claims for the "Despicable Me" films as art, but I adore them anyway. There's something appealingly relaxed and confident about them. They don't quite look, move or feel like any other blockbuster animated cartoons, yet they never seem to be trying too hard. And they're the best portrait of single parenthood I've seen outside of "Louie."

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The Way, Way Back

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"The Way, Way Back", a coming-of-age movie set partly at a water park, is a likable entry in a familiar genre. The cast makes the material feel special even though you've seen the film's component parts before, and the parts don't always fit together naturally.

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The Lone Ranger

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Director Gore Verbinski's take on the Lone Ranger is a gigantic picture with an earnest, klutzy, deeply un-cool hero (Armie Hammer of "The Social Network"), based on a property that most young viewers don't know or care about. The film's poster might as well have been a target. It's lumpy bubblegum with a bitter aftertaste, as obsessive and overbearing as Steven Spielberg's "1941"—and as likely to be re-evaluated twenty years later and described as "misunderstood."

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