Grand Piano – A famous pianist (Elijah Wood) making a comeback after a breakdown receives a message that he will be killed if he plays one wrong note. Silly premise is made plausible by confident direction by Eugenio Mira. Crackerjack thriller is tense from the word “go”.
Joe – Nicholas Cage delivers a fine, understated performance in David Gordon Green's drama about a short-tempered ex-con who finds himself looking out for a poor and abused teen (Tye Sheridan). Using non-actors in small roles really helps the atmosphere in this return to form for director Green.
Locke – Construction manager Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is driving on the freeway after receiving a phone call that could unravel his comfortable existence. Even though it all takes place in a car, cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos comes up with many arresting visuals. Hardy's one-man show is an absorbing character study.
Snowpiercer – Survivors of global warming travel around the world on a loop in a high-tech train. The Have Nots are packed into the back of the train and treated like dirt. Chris Evans, in a commanding performance, leads a rebellion in director Boon Joon Ho's action-packed science fiction fable.