Ava

Come for the action, stay for the angst.

This tale of an assassin coming to terms with her life choices does offer its fair share of herky-jerky scenes of Jessica Chastain opening a case of whup-ass.

But it’s actually the quieter moments, such as those where our world-weary hit woman has emotionally-charged conversations with mom Geena Davis and boss John Malkovich that have the biggest impact.

Davis, an action hero from a different era (go watch Cutthroat Island now!) gets to deliver one tightly-wound confessional which will put most of this year’s Oscar contenders to shame.

She shoots, and scores.

Seven Psychopaths

You don’t have to be crazy, but it helps.

Killers of all shapes and sizes, some a little more coherent than others, populate the whacked-out world director Martin McDonagh concocts in this twisty, darkly-funny tale.

The cast is a who’s-who of great character actors, but Christopher Walken, giving his line readings a divinely-unique spin, once again steals the show.

Sam Rockwell is in there throwing haymakers as a dog napper who ruffles the feathers of crime boss Woody Harrelson, but come on.

Put Walken on the screen, let him do his thing, and you got magic, baby.

 

The Lobster

Shellfish is off the menu.

Continuing his work as one of modern cinema’s wild cards, writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) scores with a tale of people launching last-ditch efforts at obtaining love.

Fail to partner up within 45 days, and you get transformed into the animal of your choice.

Which for roguish loser Colin Farrell would be the aforementioned shellfish, as he decides he wouldn’t mind crawling around lobster-style the rest of his life.

Quietly bizarre, filled with a great melancholy from start to finish, yet often darkly funny, this is proof love is a battlefield.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Venison is a dish best served cold.

Wait, that’s revenge…

There are no real deer involved in this loopy creep-fest, but a whole lot of payback is involved, both physical and psychological.

As a cardiac surgeon burdened with nasty secrets, Colin Farrell wanders in a daze, unable to stop his family from falling deathly ill from unknown causes.

It all seems to lead back to an eerie teen who blames the petulant papa for the loss of his own dad, and now wants blood for blood.

Odd, yet utterly absorbing, this one will linger in your brain pan for days.