Blue Is the Warmest Color Winner of the top prize at Cannes last May, this three-hour lesbian romance courted controversy for its graphic, extended sex scenes, but it’s the emotional transparency of its two central performances (by Léa Seydoux and newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos) that stays with you.
All Is Lost Robert Redford gives an extraordinary, almost completely silent solo performance as a man struggling to stay alive after his boat is rammed by a shipping container in the middle of nowhere. Rarely has the dictum that action defines character been put so severely and arrestingly to the test.
Nebraska Alexander Payne’s follow-up to The Descendants is one of his best: A road movie about an elderly, half-senile man (Bruce Dern) who thinks he’s won a million-dollar sweepstakes prize and his adult son (Will Forte), who agrees to drive him to claim it just so they can spend some time together.
12 Years a Slave In a year already notable for acclaimed films about the African-American experience (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Fruitvale Station), perhaps the most anticipated is this tale of a free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) in 1841 who’s kidnapped and sold into slavery, directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame).