Our Critic's Selections

"12 Years a Slave": Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps (left) and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup.

12 Years a Slave A free black man is abducted and sold into slavery, toiling on plantations in the pre-Civil War South. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives body and soul in the lead, and Paul Giamatti, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Brad Pitt are part of a superb supporting cast. Stunning, shocking, essential. R

All Is Lost Robert Redford stars in J.C. Chandor's majestic, melancholy film about a solo mariner, stranded on his disabled boat in the Indian Ocean. There is incredible tension in this ordeal, and Redford - an icon of the American movie experience for more than half a century - makes that tension deeply palpable. PG-13

Blue Is the Warmest Color Yes, there is a lot of sex. Graphic sex between two young women. But that's only part of what this extraordinary film is about - a three-hour portrait of a French high school student (an amazing Adèle Exarchopoulos), shot with a close-up intensity that brings the character out from the screen and into your heart. It's emotional 3-D! NC-17