'Moonlight,' 'Manchester by the Sea' and more critics' picks, Feb. 17-23

Los Angeles Times 

Elle Paul Verhoeven's brilliantly booby-trapped thriller starring Isabelle Huppert is a gripping whodunit, a tour de force of psychological suspense and a wickedly droll comedy of manners. I Am Not Your Negro As directed by the gifted Raoul Peck, this documentary on James Baldwin uses the entire spectrum of movie effects, not only spoken language but also sound, music, editing and all manner of visuals, to create a cinematic essay that is powerful and painfully relevant. La La Land Starring a well-paired Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, writer-director Damien Chazelle's tuneful tribute to classic movie musicals is often stronger in concept than execution, but it's lovely and transporting all the same. Manchester by the Sea Powerful, emotional filmmaking that leaves a scar, Kenneth Lonergan's drama starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams is both heartbreaking and heartening, a film that just wallops you with its honesty, its authenticity and its access to despair.