(PG-13; 133 minutes; Paramount): With some amazing performances from Viola Davis (who pretty much swept all the awards, including the Oscar) and Denzel Washington (who lost the Oscar but nabbed the Screen Actors Guild Award), “Fences” should be on everyone’s Must Watch list (the film was also nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, but we all know what happened there). Based on the 1983 stage play by August Wilson, “Fences” focuses on an African American husband and father (Washington) and his struggles with his family – and life in general – in 1950s Pittsburgh. Washington and Davis also starred in the 2010 Broadway revival of “Fences,” which was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning three: Best Actor (Washington), Best Actress (Davis) and Best Revival.
(PG-13; 116 minutes; Columbia): Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star as passengers on a 120-year journey to another planet, but their hibernation pods wake them 90 years too early. They have to figure out what’s behind the malfunction and how to save the thousands of other passengers on the space ship. “Passengers” was a flop with critics (who mostly did like the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence), but audiences were a little kinder (65 percent liked it on Rotten Tomatoes).
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
(PG-13; 94 minutes; New Line Cinema): Another film most critics hated but which audiences gave a solid “meh.” This one has Will Smith as a man who suffers a great tragedy and withdraws from his friends, but writes letters to Love, Time and Death, hoping for answers from the universe. His letters suddenly start to bring personal responses from people, and he starts to see meaning in loss. It has an excellent cast, though: Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Naomie Harris, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton and Michael Pena also star. And a Cary teen worked on the movie as a dominoes expert!
(R; 130 minutes; SBS Productions): Isabelle Huppert was nominated for an Academy Award for this role as the head of a successful video game company who is assaulted in her home and responds in a very unusual way. Even the raves for “Elle” often describe it as difficult or uncomfortable to watch, so keep that in mind and maybe do your own research before diving in (intrigued as I am to see Huppert’s performance – she won a Golden Globe and several other awards – I don’t think this one is for me).
Also out March 14
- “The Love Witch”
- “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2”
- “Z Nation Season 3”