Last but certainly not least: Writer-director J.C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year," one of the final film releases of 2014, is earning strong reviews for its deft craftsmanship and old-school, character-driven drama.
A gritty exploration of the American dream set in 1981 New York, the film stars Oscar Isaac as a Latin American immigrant who worked his way from the bottom up to run a heating-oil business, and Jessica Chastain as his ambitious mob-daughter wife.
The Times' own Kenneth Turan says "Violent Year" is "the most welcome kind of throwback. It brings to mind the fierce New York-based productions of Sidney Lumet in particular but also the whole notion of character-driven, the-clock-is-ticking melodramas in general." Like Lumet, "Chandor is expert at getting actors on his wavelength, and [Isaac and Chastain] throw themselves into the involving roles of a Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth coming to grips with a chilly month from hell."