Writer-director Lars von Trier’s movies can be as frustrating as they are rewarding. His best film in nearly a decade makes you work, but the story grabs you from the start: Kirsten Dunst plays a bride whose big day is ruined when a planet shows up in the sky soaring toward Earth (don’t you hate when that happens?). In a way, it’s a metaphor for Dunst’s growing uneasiness and crushing depression. Then again, a huge fucking rock really is about to wipe us all out because our stupid planet is in its path. Von Trier nails end-of-the-world anxiety in this sad, deep, difficult movie. Dunst and the top-notch cast (including a sullen Charlotte Gainsbourg) do the rest.
The Descendants (Twentieth Century Fox)
George Clooney finds out his wife has been cheating on him not long after she slips into a coma in Alexander Payne’s dark comedy, one of last year’s best movies. Like all of Payne’s films, it has its own crazy rhythm.
The Last Temptation of Christ (Criterion)
Martin Scorsese’s controversial 1988 movie about Jesus’ final days – which includes hookers and David Bowie – gets the gold-standard Criterion treatment, complete with production features and mile-a-minute commentary by the director.
Young Adult (Paramount)
Charlize Theron is so good as a self-involved writer who returns to her small hometown to rekindle a relationship with her ex, who’s now a married dad. Even Juno writer Diablo Cody reels herself in with a smart and funny script.