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Fraley Film Guide

Saturday - 12/6/2014, 1:54pm  ET

Not everyone can keep up with new releases at the movie theater. Sometimes, the flick you want to see is already out of the theater by the time you have a free weekend. Have no fear. WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley keeps a running tally. Click the links below for the full reviews, which are based on a 4-star scale.


2014 MOVIE GUIDE


4 STARS

"Boyhood" - Richard Linklater's 12-year coming-of-age story is a one-of-a-kind time capsule

"Birdman" - Michael Keaton haunted by superhero past in stunning satire of Hollywood & Broadway

"Whiplash" - J.K. Simmons chills as an abusive New York jazz instructor in Sundance champ

"Life Itself" - Two Thumbs Up for this powerful documentary on the life of movie critic Roger Ebert


3 1/2 STARS

"Gone Girl" - Ben Affleck searches for missing wife in another unforgettable thriller by David Fincher

"Nightcrawler" - Jake Gyllenhaal plays a creeper in the sleazy, noir world of L.A. crime journalism

"Locke" - Tom Hardy gives riveting one-man performance in single location behind steering wheel

"Wild" - Reese Witherspoon takes a soul-searching hike in wild follow-up to "Dallas Buyers Club"

"The Imitation Game" - Benedict Cumberbatch gives complex performance as WWII code-breaker

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" - Christian Bale plays Moses as Ridley Scott slays Aronofsky's "Noah"

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" - Sci-fi reboot sequel ponders war & peace w/ Serkis as Caesar

"Big Eyes" - Amy Adams & Christoph Waltz compete as artists in Tim Burton's best since "Big Fish"

"American Sniper" - Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper as the deadliest sniper in U.S. history

"X- Men: Days of Future Past" - Past and present superheroes collide in time travel installment

"Snowpiercer" - South Korean sci- fi action thriller is the best kept secret of the summer

"Next Goal Wins" - Inspirational documentary follows soccer team from world's worst to winners

"Love is Strange" - John Lithgow & Alfred Molina play lovers separated by NYC apartment search

"Fort Bliss" - Michelle Monaghan stars as Army medic who has to win back the love of her son

"Foxcatcher" - Steve Carell shows dark side in Bennett Miller's true-crime wrestling tale


3 STARS

"Edge of Tomorrow" - Tom Cruise turns "Groundhog Day" premise into surprising sci-fi action fun

"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" - Award-worthy turns from Jessica Chastain & James McAvoy

"Interstellar" - Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic isn't stellar, but its heart is in the right place

"St. Vincent" - Bill Murray shines once again, here as a crotchety "Gran Torino" style neighbor

"Still Alice" - Alzheimer's script takes few chances, but Julianne Moore could finally win her Oscar

"Rosewater" - Jon Stewart makes directorial debut in true story of Iranian imprisonment

"Begin Again" - Director John Carney matches "Once" following music's "lost stars" in Manhattan

"Guardians of the Galaxy" - Marvel's scrappy new group of superheroes offers great banter

"Chef" - Jon Favreau cleverly uses food truck comedy as analogy for his own creative film pursuits

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" - The quirky Wes Anderson delivers war-time farce with all-star cast

"The Theory of Everything" - Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones shine in Stephen Hawking biopic

"Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" - Threequel could be best yet, but story incomplete

"Get on Up" - Chadwick Boseman gives dynamite performance as godfather of soul James Brown

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" - Freedom vs. security debate makes this one of Marvel's best

"Maleficent" - Angelina Jolie is wickedly talented in this alternate take on "Sleeping Beauty"

"Bad Words" - Jason Bateman makes directorial debut as adult who enters a child spelling bee

"Draft Day" - Kevin Costner wheels and deals as underdog GM of the Cleveland Browns


2 1/2 STARS

"Fading Gigolo" - John Turturro smartly directs modern-day "Midnight Cowboy," but script sputters

"Noah" - The daring Darren Aronofsky builds moody Biblical epic, but with one unforgivable flaw

"When the Game Stands Tall" - Story is better than storytelling in true high school winning streak

"Medora" - Small-town decay through Indiana high school hoops, but no "Hoop Dreams"

"Actress" - Documentary remains too elusive as it tracks talented "The Wire" alum Brandy Burre

"A Million Ways to Die in the West" - Seth MacFarlane's western spoof is funny, but no Mel Brooks

"Godzilla" - Bryan Cranston and legendary lizard fade to the background in blockbuster letdown

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" - Spidey sequel brings great romance, but too many villains

"Peabody & Sherman" - Time travel cartoon brings history lesson, but convoluted plot for kids


2 STARS

"Jersey Boys" - Clint Eastwood's bleak film adaptation lacks the joy of the Broadway smash

"Transcendence" - Johnny Depp sci-fi thriller starts strong, but falters down the stretch

"Labor Day" - Kate Winslet falls for Josh Brolin's fugitive in rare Jason Reitman stumble

"Monuments Men" - Clooney can't decide between comedy or drama in WWII art rescue flick


1 STAR

"Need for Speed" - Aaron Paul's ridiculous racing flick quickly "breaks bad"

"The Other Woman" - Over-the-top Leslie Mann performance ruins a creative revenge premise

"Ouija" - Cheap scares as teens are haunted by a killer Ouija board


2013 MOVIE GUIDE


4 STARS

"American Hustle" - David O. Russell reunites his favorite casts to tell delicious con artist tale

"Short Term 12" - Two lovers run a facility for at-risk youth in South By Southwest winner

"Her" - Joaquin Phoenix falls for Siri in most unique love story since "Harold & Maude"

"Gravity" - Alfonso Cuaron crafts a modern-day "2001" with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

"12 Years a Slave" - True story of American slavery is hard to watch, but impossible to forget

"Before Midnight" - Richard Linklater resumes tale of Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy, now in middle-age

"Fruitvale Station" - Brilliantly directed Sundance winner based on real-life racially charged shooting

"The Act of Killing" - Indonesian death squads re-enact their genocide in Oscar- nominated doc


3 1/2 STARS

"Prisoners" - Star-studded cast shines in a nail-biting crime thriller about child abduction

"Captain Phillips" - Tom Hanks shines as real-life hostage of 2009 Somali hijacking

"The Way, Way Back" - Hilarious coming of age story with a heel turn by Steve Carell

"Dallas Buyers Club" - McConaughey and Leto give award-worthy performances selling HIV drugs

"Philomena" - Judi Dench plays a former nun who goes searching for her long-lost son

"Blue is the Warmest Color" - Cannes Palme d'Or winner tracks the heartache of lesbian lovers

"Nebraska" - Bruce Dern goes on a father-son road trip to claim a sweepstakes prize

"The Butler" - Forest Whitaker & Oprah Winfrey shine in journey through Civil Rights Movement

"The Wolf of Wall Street" - Leo DiCaprio brings it in Scorsese's excessive epic that's an hour too long

"The Good Son" - Boxer Ray Mancini meets the fiancee and son of the man he killed in the ring

"Iron Man 3" - Action-packed threequel with buddy comedy from Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon")

"Frozen" - Disney's tale of sibling love teaches us to "Let it Go"

"Saving Mr. Banks" - Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson star in making-of tale of "Mary Poppins"


3 STARS

"The Great Gatsby" - Leo DiCaprio nails Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's lavish spectacle

"August: Osage County" - Dark family secrets revealed by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts

"Blue Jasmine" - Cate Blanchett shines as Woody Allen continues to carve his prolific place in history

"Rush" - Ron Howard chronicles real-life racing rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda

"42" - The Jackie Robinson story comes to life with Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey

"All is Lost" - Robert Redford gives one-man, silent performance lost at sea

"The Spectacular Now" - Shailene Woodley sparkles with script by "(500) Days of Summer" writers

"Side Effects" - Smart, pill- popping psycho-thriller by Steven Soderbergh

"Enough Said" - James Gandolfini gives final performance romancing Julia Louis Dreyfus

"World War Z" - Popcorn thrills abound in adaptation of Max Brooks zombie novel

"Inside Llewyn Davis" - Oscar Isaac shines in Coen Brothers' bleak tale of '60s folk music

"The Book Thief" - A young girl teaches a Jewish refugee to read during WWII

"This is the End" - Hollywood jokers play themselves in very funny apocalyptic comedy

"The Kings of Summer" - Indie fav about a group of boys who build a house in the woods

"Mud" - Matthew McConaughey plays an almost mythical drifter in coming-of-age tale

"The Great Beauty" - Italian art-house flick won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language flick

"Star Trek: Into Darkness" - J.J. Abrams helms a solid follow-up to his 2009 "Star Trek" reboot

"Lone Survivor" - Peter Berg directs intense real-life account of botched Navy SEAL mission

"In a World" - Lake Bell is a triple threat in spoof of movie trailer world

"The Conjuring" - Stylish, well-acted horror, but not as memorable as the other flicks it homages

"Blue Caprice" - D.C. Sniper script plays loose with facts, but masterfully directed like "In Cold Blood"

"Catching Fire" - Jennifer Lawrence returns for Round 2 of "The Hunger Games"

"Anchorman 2" - Burgundy's return = "60 percent of the time it works every time"

"The Lone Ranger" - Johnny Depp's Tonto tale isn't for kids, but works as a dark action comedy


2 1/2 STARS

"Now You See Me" - Magician heist caper starts strong, finishes weak

"Man of Steel" - Superman reboot offers great action, but not enough Lois & Clark

"Oz: The Great and Powerful" - James Franco snarky in an otherwise clever origin story

"Fast & Furious 6" - Funny banter and fast cars, but not as good as "Fast Five"

"Thor: The Dark World" - Thor sequel falls short of the Marvel Phase 2 bar set by "Iron Man 3"

"Olympus Has Fallen" - Gerard Butler kicks terrorist butt in over-the-top White House attack

"Jobs" - Steve Jobs biopic follows career highlights but fails to explore personal life

"Carrie" - Remake pales in comparison to 1976 classic, but poignant take on cyber bullying


2 STARS

"The Purge" - Clever horror premise wasted as murder is legal for one day a year

"Gangster Squad" - Star-studded cast in ill-timed shoot-em-up flick

"White House Down" - Tatum & Foxx mine laughs, but film pales to "Olympus "

"The Big Wedding" - French farce remake borrows from too many past wedding flicks


1 1/2 STARS

"The Hangover: Part III" - Funny franchise suffers from too much Mr. Chow

"A Good Day to Die Hard" - Franchise moves to Russia but gives us little reason to care


RE-RELEASES

"The Wizard of Oz 3D" - The 3D upgrade of the 1939 classic is a horse of a different color

"Jurassic Park 3D" - Steven Spielberg's prehistoric blockbuster revived from fossilized amber



2012 MOVIE GUIDE


4 STARS

"Lincoln"

"Argo"

"Zero Dark Thirty"

"Beasts of the Southern Wild"

"Amour"


3 1/2 STARS

"Django: Unchained"

"The Master"

"Life of Pi"

"Silver Linings Playbook"

"Moonrise Kingdom"

"The Dark Knight Rises"

"The Impossible"

"Rust & Bone"

"The Sessions"


3 STARS

"Skyfall"

"The Avengers"

"Brave"

"Robot & Frank"

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

"Dark Shadows"

"Men in Black 3"

"The Bourne Legacy"

"To Rome with Love"

"The Hunger Games"

"Cabin in the Woods"

"The Amazing Spider-Man"

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"


2 1/2 STARS

"21 Jump Street"

"Cloud Atlas"

"The Three Stooges"

"Trouble with the Curve"

"Act of Valor"


2 STARS

"Les Miserables"

"Snow White and the Huntsman"

"Mirror Mirror"

"The Possession"

"Total Recall"


RE-RELEASES

"Titanic 3D"



2011 MOVIE GUIDE


4 STARS

"The Artist"

"The Descendants"

"Undefeated"


3 1/2 STARS

"Midnight in Paris"

"The Tree of Life"

"Moneyball"

"Hugo"

"Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol"


3 STARS

"The Help"

"War Horse"


2 1/2 STARS

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"


The above rating is based on a 4-star scale. Follow WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley on Twitter @AboveTheJFray, read his blog at The Film Spectrum or listen every Friday morning on WTOP Radio 103.5 FM.

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