Hitting theaters next month are compelling stories of love and violence: Tim Burton resurrects 1960s Americana, an immigrant confronts the gangs of New York, and a masterful jailbreak features our favorite Australian heartthrob. Pause Netflix—you won't want to miss these sure-to-be critical darlings.
In early-1960s America, cheesy renderings of sad waifs with huge black peepers were everywhere. In Big Eyes, Tim Burton re-stages the stranger-than-fiction saga of how a sociopath (Christoph Waltz) conned a naive divorcée (Amy Adams) into churning out these works under his signature. It's a droll and gorgeous saga, even if it doesn't end up going very deep.
A Most Violent Year
In A Most Violent Year, J. C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) once again vividly pits man against chaos. Oscar Isaac plays a Latin American immigrant in 1981 New York City who's trying to parlay his gangster father-in-law's heating-oil company into a legitimate business—but he may not have a firm bead on the real agenda of his complicated American wife (Jessica Chastain).
Son of a Gun
Yet another dark Aussie delight set in a criminal demimonde, Julius Avery's noir debut, Son of a Gun, is a grabber. Violence abounds, especially in prison, where a mastermind (Ewan McGregor) persuades a smart 19-year-old newbie to launch a jailbreak. Once the pair is out, a mega-heist is in the offing—but so is a complicating romance, courtesy of rising star Brenton Thwaites and a terrific Alicia Vikander.
This article appears in the January 2015 issue of ELLE magazine.