First, get lost in the beautiful world of this year's Oscar winner for Best Director.
"Life of Pi"
Criticwire Average: B+ (94 ratings)
"'Life of Pi' presents itself as a story about storytelling, about the ways in which we convey meaning to one another in forms literal and obscure, but it is actually an exploration into the nature of faith and religion, and delivers a remarkably clever and powerful message about how and, more importantly, why humans choose to believe in a higher power." -- Jonathan Lack, We Got This Covered
Many agreed that "This Is Not A Film" was one of 2012's best documentaries.
"This Is Not A Film"
Criticwire Average: A- (54 ratings)
"Mixing camera and iPhone footage, past and present, film and…something else, 'This Is Not a Film' feels like both a summary and a new direction for Iranian cinema. The self-reflexive recollection of the camera, old works and cinematic properties themselves would be intellectual and political if not filtered so honestly through Panahi's human response to this outrage." -- Jake Cole, Spectrum Culture
Also, check out the Sundance-honored and Independent Spirit-nominated "Smashed," starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a secretively alcohol school teacher.
Criticwire Average: B (39 ratings)
"James Ponsoldt's 'Smashed' knows a lot about alcoholism, and it also knows about the good times that can go along with it. This is a serious movie about drinking but not a depressing one." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
For those who agree that Sean Penn covered in make-up, playing a rock star, searching for Nazis, is a great idea, this one's for you:
"This Must Be The Place"
Criticwire Average: B- (35 ratings)
"These earlier parts are best because they are so close to pure style; the zen of Penn is amusing and almost hypnotic, and there is a drama of expectation." -- Chris Knipp, Film Leaf
And don't forget about this animated wonder from Peter Ramsey, which picked up a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Film.
"Rise of the Guardians"
Criticwire Average: B- (12 ratings)
"There are a number of jaw-dropping moments where the visual wizardry is enough to trump any narrative stumbling blocks that the movie might have previously faced. And Lindsay-Abaire, for his part, tries to insert just enough pathos to make Jack's journey emotionally and intellectually compelling." -- Drew Taylor, The Playlist