*The propulsive and persistent Whiplash is driven by strong central performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons; they don’t cut corners, even when the script does.
*A Marvel comic book reconfigured to look and sound like an animated McDonald’s commercial, Big Hero 6 is still the most tolerable film to be released under the Marvel banner in years, even if the superhero origin story stuff is the least interesting piece.
*Sam Rockwell is once again the best part of a pleasantly forgettable film, this time Lynn Shelton’s wistfully insouciant Laggies.
*Christopher Nolan’s moony and assaultive Interstellar flirts with big ideas and weighty themes only to avoid probing beneath their surfaces.
*Justin Simien’s debut feature Dear White People has a scattershot self-righteousness that makes it seem like the love child of Higher Learning and P.C.U..
*23 Blast is the directorial debut of the noted character actor Dylan Baker, and he has a good touch with actors and tone without ever establishing a visual sensibility or deviating too far from genre tropes.
*Even by the already shoddy standards of the talking-heads-and-stock-footage documentary subgenre, the passionate but risible Awake: The Life of Yogananda is a standout dud.