the artist

jean dujardin won an oscar for "the artist." it is such an engaging, delightful film that, if you like movies, you will walk out with a smile.(p o: peter iovino)

goodykoontz doesn't hand out a lot of 5-star reviews. since 2007, only 27 films have earned the distinction. here's a look back at his picks for 5-star movies, including the latest entry to the club, "manchester by the sea."


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kenneth lonergan's film is a masterpiece, with casey affleck brilliant as a man suffering devastating grief who must take care of his nephew. don't be put off; this is essential viewing.

lucas hedges stars in "manchester by the sea."

lucas hedges stars in "manchester by the sea."

 (p o: claire folger)

barry jenkins' film tells the story, in three parts, of a young man in miami coming to grips with his mother, his uality, his very identity. it's brilliant.

david mackenzie's modern-day western is an acting showcase for chris pine, ben foster and jeff bridges, as well as a scathing report on the state of the nation.

tanner howard (ben foster) teams with his brother to

tanner howard (ben foster) teams with his brother to rob banks in "hell or high water."

 (p o: lorey sebastian)

tom mccarthy's film, about the boston globe investigation of abuse by priests, is a terrific look at the challenges of telling important, difficult stories.

pete docter's film, about the emotions inside a 's head, is risky, inventive and hilarious. a winning return to form for the studio.

joy is one of the emotions featured in "inside out." (p o: pixar, disney/pixar)

"birdman or (the unexpected virtue of ignorance)" is an amazing movie that delves into the worlds of theater, film and celebrity, directed with great skill and p ion by alejandro gonzalez iñarritu.

director richard linklater took 12 years to make the story of mason, taking an idea at once so simple yet so complex and turning it into a stunning movie about life, nothing less.

"boyhood" | director: richard linklater. | cast: ellar

mason (ellar coltrane) grows up before the eyes of viewers in 2014's "boyhood."

 (p o: matt lankes/ifc films)

like much of spike jonze's brilliant "her," the familiar is tinged with the fantastic. it's a love story with science-fiction t pings, not the other way around.

"12 years a slave," director steve mcqueen's astonishing film about solomon northup, upon whose autobiog hy it is based, kicks those notions to the curb, along with the gentrified, sun-kissed romanticism of such movies as "gone with the wind."

12 years a slave (p o: fox searchlight pictures)

"gravity" is an amazing movie for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is how alfonso cuaron tells what seems like a familiar type of story in a way we've never seen.

"stories we tell" examines families, legacies and the slippery nature of truth in ways so unexpected, we aren't even aware of em until the film is over. what a great movie.

sarah polley's family is the focus of "stories we tell," (p o: roadside attractions)

"before midnight" is a wonderful movie, and it's not immediately clear just why. like the other films in what is now richard linklater's trilogy, "before sunrise" and "before sunset," this is really just a couple of people talking … and we listen.

"zero dark thirty" is a great movie, an astonishing achievement on nearly every level.

stationed in a covert base overseas, jason clarke plays (p o: jonathan olley)

the movie is a treat for kids and the parents they drag to see it. or maybe it'll be the other way around. either way. it doesn't matter how you get to it. just get there.

simply put, "argo" is why we go to movies. it's entertaining. it's smart. it's well-acted. it's fast-paced and exciting, thrilling at times. it's about something.

alan arkin (left) and ben affleck star in "argo." (p o: claire folger/warner bros. entertainment inc.)

"a separation" is a great movie, a look inside a world so foreign that it might as well be another planet, yet so universal that its observations are painfully familiar to anyone, anywhere.

"the artist" is such an engaging, delightful film that, if you like movies, you will walk out of the theater with a smile. you just will; it's that inspired.

jean dujardin won an oscar for "the artist." it is (p o: peter iovino)

it is particularly rewarding to see george clooney outside his comfort zone of self-composed cool in "the descendants," alexander payne's beautifully gentle, funny and moving film.

a young man has back pain, goes to the doctor and learns that he has cancer. sounds like a laugh riot, huh? in "50/50," it is. but it's also moving.

anna kendrick stars in the 2011 film "50/50." (p o: summit entertainment)

"winter's bone" is a genuine triumph, a great movie with astounding performances so natural, so genuine, that you forget it's a movie.

with "the social network," director david fincher has come up with a movie that, in telling the turbulent story of whiz-kid mark zuckerberg's creation of facebook, isn't just compelling. it's great.

andrew garfield plays eduardo saverin in "the social

andrew garfield plays eduardo saverin in "the social network" (2010), the true story about the networking site that grew into facebook.

 (p o: merrick morton)

christopher nolan's film about a man (leonardo dicaprio) who can steal information from other people's dreams … is a stunning film on every level, a triumph of imagination.

ryan, in the outstanding "up in the air," is a hatchet man, a hired gun corporate suits bring in to do their firing because they're too cowardly to do it themselves. george clooney is the perfect actor to play ryan, and it's perhaps his best work yet.

anna kendrick plays natalie, who has ideas on cutting (p o: paramount pictures)

this brutal, brilliant film about the orra, an organized-crime outfit larger than the mafia, never lets the audience forget the ugly, street-level business that enables the incredibly lucrative machine to run.

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"up" soars like the high-flying balloons central to its story. you may have a better time at the movies this year, but i can't imagine it.

the lives of carl (right) and russell change forever (p o: disney/pixar)

on its face, synecdoche, new york has a lot of things going against it. … yet the result is flat-out brilliant, one of the most challenging, and rewarding, films in memory.

"there will be blood" is a masterpiece; daniel day-lewis' performance as a ruthless oilman is without flaw. that doesn't mean it's easy to watch.

daniel day-lewis' performance in "there will be blood" (p o: paramount vantage)
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