Credit: Sony Classics

Review: Andrei Zvyagintsev's Cannes winner 'Leviathan' is a mighty beast

The standout of this year's Competition is a scabrous political satire

As a film critic, one is usually moved to immediate expression when a great film comes down the pike -- its ideas spur one's own, the words tumble forth in not-always-orderly fashion, the urge to share an experience sometimes outpacing the ability to parse it. Yet sometimes baldly extraordinary films thwart our initial attempts to write about them, and such has been the case with me and Andrei Zvyagintsev's "Leviathan" -- a classically robust, not inordinately complicated melodrama that nonetheless seems to be about something different every time I sit down to tackle it.

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20 movies coming out this year that aren't on your radar yet

20 movies coming out this year that aren't on your radar yet

'Birdman,' 'A Most Violent Year,' 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2' and more

Sure, "Interstellar" is sitting at the top of the November calendar as bright as the North star, but did you know "Birdman," "A Most Violent Year," "Theory of Everything" or "Dracula: Untold" were on the way?  Did you know "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" will take you back to the future this Christmas?  I'd guess not.

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Liam Neeson in "A Walk Among the Tombstones"

Liam Neeson in "A Walk Among the Tombstones"

Credit: Universal Pictures

'A Walk Among the Tombstones' trailer: Liam Neeson and 'Black Hole Sun,' together at last

Scott Frank's creepy Lawrence Block adaptation heads to theaters in September

Liam Neeson really could use something like Scott Frank's "A Walk Among the Tombstones." The word "paycheck" is becoming synonymous with his name lately (not that things like "The Grey" and Martin Scorsese's upcoming "Silence" don't do a lot to mitigate this), but it would be good to see some serious, solid, consistent flexing from him again.

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<p>The cast of &quot;Annie.&quot;</p>

The cast of "Annie."

Credit: Sony Pictures

New 'Annie' trailer gets happy and sappy in equal measure

The musical remake is only a day (and almost seven months) away

Here's something I keep forgetting about the upcoming "Annie" remake: Emma Thompson (the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Sense and Sensibility," lest we forget) is one of its three credited writers. I'm not sure at what stage Thompson worked on the project -- early, I'm guessing, unless she's tighter with producer Jay-Z than I'd previously imagined -- but from everything we've seen of the project thus far, it doesn't bear much trace of the Englishwoman's involvement. Anyway, that's an aside: the second trailer for "Annie" has landed, and it looks, if anything, even brasher than the much-maligned first glimpse suggested.

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<p>Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda and Jason Bateman in &quot;This is Where I Leave You&quot;</p>

Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda and Jason Bateman in "This is Where I Leave You"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Adam Driver in the trailer for 'This is Where I Leave You'

Shawn Levy's 'Internship' follow-up hits theaters in September

Jason Bateman has been making some pretty interesting moves out of the comic relief periphery of comedies and into his own as a leading man as of late, and he has a pretty stellar 2014 on the way. There's the sequel to "Horrible Bosses" in November and heading up the Peter Glanz dramedy "The Longest Week" as well. Then there's Shawn Levy's "This is Where I Leave You," which debuted a new trailer today.

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<p>James McAvoy in &quot;Filth&quot;</p>

James McAvoy in "Filth"

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

James McAvoy talks about going to dark places in 'Filth'

The 'X-Men' star has another movie hitting theaters this summer and it features his best performance

I imagine that, like many moviegoers this summer, you might be excited to see Bryan Singer's "X-Men: Days of Future Past." And you should be. It's a pretty great installment of a franchise that has seen its ups and downs, and at its center, actors Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy make for a brilliant combination. But, uh — pssst! — McAvoy has another movie coming out this summer, and it features his most electrifying, committed and passionate work as an actor to date.

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<p>Steve Carell in Bennett Miller&#39;s &quot;Foxcatcher.&quot;</p>

Steve Carell in Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher."

Credit: Sony Classics

'Foxcatcher,' 'Mr. Turner' and Julianne Moore top Cannes Film Festival Oscar players

Few answers in the Best Foreign Language Film category

CANNES - After last year supplied Best Picture nominee "Nebraska," vaulted Bruce Dern into the Best Actor race, made "Inside Llewyn Davis" a pseudo contender and found many wondering if "Blue is the Warmest Color" could create some heat, awards season has some new players on the board as the 2014 Cannes Film Festival comes to a close.

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Best and Worst of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival

Best and Worst of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival

Plus: Booing good movies, filmmakers who want it too much, Jessica Chastain

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival was a festival of few highs and few disastrous lows.  Which, to be quite honest, isn't a bad thing.  Instead, the festival projected a steady diet of good or mediocre movies from the global film community. In fact, at times the press corps and critics seemed to be dying to find a movie to boo at (more on that from Guy Lodge later).

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<p>Quentin Tarantino, Palme d&#39;Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Uma Thurman at the Cannes Film Festival awards ceremony.</p>

Quentin Tarantino, Palme d'Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Uma Thurman at the Cannes Film Festival awards ceremony.

Credit: AP Photo

'Winter Sleep' wins Palme d'Or at Cannes, Julianne Moore and Timothy Spall take acting prizes

'Foxcatcher' gets its Oscar campaign rolling with a Best Director win

CANNES — Sometimes, the pre-festival buzz has it right. Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 196-minute conversational epic "Winter Sleep" entered the 2014 Cannes Film Festival as the sight-unseen frontrunner for the Palme d'Or, thanks to its heftiness of form and the Turkish auteur's perceived overdue status — any director with two Grand Prix wins and a Best Director prize behind him is bound to win the Palme at some point.

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<p>Anne Dorval and Antoine-Olivier Pilon in &quot;Mommy.&quot;</p>

Anne Dorval and Antoine-Olivier Pilon in "Mommy."

Credit: Cannes Film Festival

Predicting the Cannes awards: What will win, and what should

Ceylan, Dolan or Zvyagintsev for the Palme? And can Marion Cotillard prevail?

CANNES - The sun is out, the  films have screened, the rosé has almost run dry, and every conversation on the Croisette seems to begin with, "So, what's winning the Palme d'Or?" And the answer that almost inevitably follows is, "Oh, I don't know." Opinion varies this year as to whether it's been a very high-level Competition or a respectably disappointing one -- but either way, the upshot is that it's the most seemingly competitive one in several years, with a handful of well-received films on the awards shuffle-board.

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