Caesar Salad Days

Alison Rosa/Universal Studios

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

The Coen brothers’ homage to classical Hollywood, “Hail, Caesar!” stars Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix, a studio honcho working around the clock to put out fires such as starlets posing for “French postcards,” unwed mothers, kidnappings and actors who can’t act.

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A Lesson in Egg Sucking

Sony Pictures Classics

Grandma (2015)

Stereotypes are inherently unfair, but they have a way of perpetuating themselves because of the few people who fit them to a T. The angry lesbian was only a thing within gay circles until the one-time Queen of Nice, Rosie O’Donnell, stopped being polite and started getting real following her very public coming out. Given the double dose of homophobia and sexism, the anger is certainly justifiable — it is just sometimes misdirected at allies instead of those who deserve it.

“Grandma” is a film about one such angry lesbian: a rude curmudgeon whose poetry anthologies were taught in women’s studies courses. But she’s not your typical man-hater: She's an equal-opportunity hater. In the opening scene, Elle (Lily Tomlin) inexplicably kicks her starry-eyed much-younger lover, Olivia (Judy Greer), to the curb; curtailing their May-December romance after just four measly months.

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Batshit Crazy

Atsushi Nishijima/Fox Searchlight Pictures

Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)

“Birdman” continues Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s shift from gritty realism toward surrealism, first signaled at the end of “Biutiful.” Michael Keaton stars as Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor desperate to shed his signature role in an eponymous ’90s Hollywood superhero franchise by writing, directing and starring in a Raymond Carver adaptation on Broadway. What’s surreal is the fact that Riggan does in fact possess Birdman’s superpowers.

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Under Canvas

Simon Mein/Sony Pictures Classics

Mr. Turner (2014)

A biopic on 19th century British painter J. M. W. Turner, “Mr. Turner” is unequivocally the most visually arresting film to date from Mike Leigh. The co-steward of kitchen-sink British realism here proves beyond doubt that he’s capable of more than just one trick, unlike his Belgian counterparts.

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There Will Be Blow

Michael Muller/52nd New York Film Festival

Inherent Vice (2014)

Let the conspiracy theorizing begin: Paul Thomas Anderson must not have gotten over “There Will Be Blood” losing the Oscar race to the much inferior “No Country for Old Men.” That would explain him going all Coen brothers on us with his latest, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice.” Inherently a Coenesque film noir, it features an uncannily Coenesque universe of cartoonish oddballs and a distinctive vernacular.

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Misery Loves Company

Dale Robinette/Disney Enterprises

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

In spite of its marquee-name stars and once-hip indie director, Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is essentially a bloated TV movie better suited for the Disney Channel. You’d find this enjoyable if you were very young.

Klutzy tween Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) can’t seem to do anything right and also suffers from the classic middle-child (technically he’s the third out of four) syndrome. He somehow gets the idea that everyone else in his family has it much better and easier than him, despite the fact that his dad, Ben (Steve Carell), is presently unemployed and caring for toddler Trevor (Zoey and Elise Vargas) full-time and his mom, Kelly (Jennifer Garner), works for a horrible boss. Regardless, Alexander wishes on his birthday for everyone to experience that eponymous terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day so everyone will finally have an appreciation for what it’s like to be him.

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House of Cards

Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox

Gone Girl (2014)

After failing to inspire warm fuzzies or much Oscar gold with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Social Network,” David Fincher seems to have resigned himself to familiar territory. But his ambition for recognition doesn’t seem to have subsided, as he has attached himself to genre material with a literary pedigree like “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and now “Gone Girl.”

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Music Discipline

Daniel McFadden/Sony Pictures Classics

Whiplash (2014)

In “Whiplash,” Juilliard-esque Shaffer Conservatory of Music freshman Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) gets handpicked by exacting and much-feared teacher, Terrence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), to be an alternate drummer in a jazz ensemble intended for the competition circuit.

Fletcher sizes Neyman up while exchanging pleasantries, and quickly proceeds to humiliate and bully him with what little biographical information he has gathered. Mr. Simmons hurls orders, insults and obscenities like a cross between Armin Mueller-Stahl’s tyrannical father from “Shine,” R. Lee Ermey’s drill sergeant from “Full Metal Jacket” and his own Aryan leader from “Oz.”

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Notre technologie

Wild Bunch

Goodbye to Language (2014)

The unveiling of a new Jean-Luc Godard film always incites circlejerks among elitist cinephiles, who collectively muster as many pretentious fancy words and insufferable exclamation marks for the occasion as their copy editors will tolerate. Never mind that they've been punk’d — encore — by the biggest troll working in cinema. When Gaspar Noé splices in a gratuitous insert of hard-core sex, it’s the tantrum of an enfant terrible. When Mr. Godard does the same thing, it's poetry! Whatever, dude.

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A Civil Union

Nicola Dove/Pathé Films

Pride (2014)

Bookended by the London Pride parades of 1984 and 1985, “Pride” dramatizes the real-life Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign to raise funds for the Neath, Dulais and Swansea Valleys’ Miners Support Group in Wales during a yearlong strike.

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