Opening This Week

Annihilation

A four-woman scientific team is sent on a secret mission in an area where the laws of nature don't apply. Natalie Portman stars.

R

Game Night The weekly game night of a group of friends gets kicked up a notch when they turn it into a mysterious whodunnit. Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman star. R

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Dan DeLuca (D.D.), Gary Thompson (G.T.), and Nick Vadala (N.V.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.

Happy End Unfolding as a series of meticulously composed scenes held together with little or no exposition, this film is diffuse in its storytelling and serpentine in its construction. The Laurents are a multigenerational clan living in the French coastal city of Calais, and a sense of chilly, detached observation persists inside their home, where no tragedy seems capable of disrupting the family's routine. 1 hr. 47 R (language, sexuality) - W.S.

Lady Bird Funny, touching coming-of-age story about a Sacramento high school senior (Saoirse Ronan) who quarrels with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) about her determination to leave California for a more sophisticated life at an Eastern college. Written and directed with great affection, wisdom, and skill by Greta Gerwig. With Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein. 1 hr. 33 R (language, sexuality) - G.T.

Very Good (***1/2)

Black Panther Thoughtful, rousing new Marvel adventure from writer-director Ryan Coogler, who delivers the boilerplate blockbuster action components with a provocative story about a modern-day African king (Chadwick Boseman) dealing with threats (in the person of villain Michael B. Jordan) to his nation and his throne - a story that resonates in the real world. Strong roles for Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright, and Danai Gurira. 2 hrs. 20 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

Molly's Game Jessica Chastain stars in the true story of Molly Bloom, a world-class skier who ran a high-stakes illegal poker game for many years. With Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cera, and Kevin Costner. 2 hr. 20 R (language) - G.T.

Paddington 2 The family-friendly sequel to the 2014 film about a talking bear cub is a charmer from its first action-packed frames to its over-the-top jailhouse-musical scene during the end credits. Paddington 2 leans a little heavily on its simplistic message: There's good in everyone. Still, that's worth remembering during these divisive times. 1 hr. 43. PG - W.S.

The Big Sick Based on comedian Kumail Nanjiani's life, a funny, touching comedy of a Pakistani American caught between his religious family and the American woman (Zoe Kazan) he loves. With Holly Hunter, Ray Romano. 1 hr. 59. R (sexual references) - G.T.

The Post The story of the Washington Post (and the New York Times) challenging a Nixon administration attempt in 1971 to block publication of the top-secret Pentagon Papers, which revealed that America's political leaders were pouring men and money into a Vietnam War they viewed as unwinnable. With Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep. 1 hr. 55 PG-13 - G.T.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri From writer-director Martin McDonagh, a timely if scabrous story about a small-town woman (Frances McDormand) taunting the cops (Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell) who have failed to solve her daughter's murder. Contains the brutal violence, savage humor, and surprising moments of warmth that make up McDonagh's unique voice, and good performances as well. With Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, and John Hawkes. 1 hr. 55 R (violence, language) - G.T.

Also on Screens

Call Me by Your Name ***

Handsome production set in 1983 Italy, where a professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) is hosting a handsome student (Armie Hammer) who becomes involved with the professor's son (Timothee Chalamet). Sensitively told coming-of-age story that is well-acted by Chalamet and Hammer. 2 hrs. 11

R

(sex) -

G.T.

Darkest Hour *** Gary Oldman has great fun as Winston Churchill, and it's great fun to watch him play Britain's wartime prime minister, contending with political opposition while rallying his people and his king (Ben Mendelsohn) to the cause of opposing Germany in the face of the dire events at Dunkirk. 2 hrs. 5 PG-13 (language) - G.T.

Den of Thieves **1/2 Gang of efficient and highly motivated bank robbers is shadowed and surveilled by a mirror-image group of law-enforcement officers. A knowing knock-off of Michael Mann's "Heat" that invites the audience to enjoy the way it riffs on Mann's classic, sort of a bro-movie version of a Sound of Music singalong. Some of the plotting also filches from another famous genre picture. Which one? We'll never tell. Starring Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, and O'Shea Jackson Jr. 2 hrs. 0. R (violence) - G.T.

Entanglement *** Short, mostly sweet comedy about a depressed man (Thomas Middleditch) who starts to reconnect with life when he meets and falls for offbeat young woman (Jess Weixler). Many whimsical touches, and a story that mostly avoids formula. Weixler makes the most of her screen time, and there is a nice contribution from Diana Bang in a supporting role. 1 hr. 25. No MPAA rating - G.T.

15:17 to Paris ** Clint Eastwood uses the real-life heroes involved to tell the stories of three American men who stopped an armed terrorist from committing mass murder on Paris-bound train. The action though, is just a tiny slice of an otherwise listless European travelogue. Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos. 1 hr. 34 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

Fifty Shades Freed *1/2 Painful conclusion to S&M soap opera about a woman (Dakota Johnson) involved with a wealthy man (Jamie Dornan) who's into kinky bedroom behavior. As the series has evolved, so has he - becoming, if possible, even more of a bore. With Marcia Gay Harden. 1 hr. 45 R (sex) - G.T.

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool**1/2 Based on the memoir of Peter Turner (Jamie Bell), an aspiring stage actor who had a brief affair with Hollywood star Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening). Offbeat romance with a melancholy tone, helped by first-rate performances from Bening and Bell, who has his most rewarding role since Billy Elliot. With Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave. 1 hr. 45 R (sex) - G.T.

I, Tonya *** Margot Robbie produces and stars in this biography, told with elements of black comedy, of notorious figure skater Tonya Harding (Robbie), implicated in the conspiracy to injure competitive rival Nancy Kerrigan. The movie tells you things you probably didn't know about the scandal, and manages to build empathy for Harding, who saw skating as a refuge from a life of poverty and abuse. Allison Janney and Sebastian Stan are Harding's abusive mother and husband, Bobby Canavale a cynical tabloid TV reporter. 1 hr. 59 R (violence) - G.T.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle *** A complete reboot of the 1995 original. The magical board game is now a magical video game, where archetypal teens (jock, nerd, popular girl) find themselves inhabiting in-game avatars that are the opposite of their real-world personalities. The hulking football player becomes pint-size Kevin Hart, the nerd becomes Dwayne Johnson, the pretty girl becomes Jack Black, and the actors have more fun than you might expect playing teens. Co-starring Karen Gillen and Nick Jonas. Directed by Jake Kasdan. 2 hrs. 2 PG-13 (language) - G.T.

The Shape of Water *** Adult fable from Guillermo del Toro, set in Cold War Baltimore in 1962, about a lonely woman (Sally Hawkins) working on the cleaning staff in a government lab who falls in love with the amphibious creature (Doug Jones) brought there for study. Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer have charming roles as the woman's friends and co-conspirators in a plot to save the creature. Michael Shannon - surprise - is the heavy. Full of strange ideas and twists, unified by first-rate visual presentation that somehow maintains the movie's tone of enchantment. 2 hrs. 5, R (nudity) - G.T.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi *** Rian Johnson's competent, crowd-pleasing addition to the franchise, expanding on J.J. Abrams' reboot. Rey (Daisy Ridley) tries to recruit Luke (Mark Hamill) to join the resistance led by his sister, Leia (Carrie Fisher), threatened by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). A blend of the old and the new - Finn (John Boyega) is off on a renegade mission of his own. 2 hrs. 35 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.