“Loving” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, audio commentary, featurettes). This low-key, heart-wrenching film is completely captivating as it tells the true story of Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), a white man, and Mildred Jeter (Oscar-nominated Ruth Negga), a black woman, who fell in love with each other in Virginia in 1958. After they legally married in Washington, D.C., they were arrested in their home state, which led them to challenge discriminatory laws against miscegenation all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If ever there was a story of love conquering all, this is it.
“The Eagle Huntress” (Sony Classics, 2016, G, in Kazakh with English subtitles and English narration, audio commentary, featurette). This is a crowd-pleasing, beautifully photographed documentary about a 13-year-old Mongolian girl, who, despite opposition, trains with her father to become the first female eagle hunter. The film is very moving and full of heart and stunning visuals.
“Spirit of the Game” (Sony, 2016, PG, featurette). In 1956, disillusioned Mormon missionaries encounter Olympic fever in Melbourne, Australia, which leads to their helping the Aussie basketball team as a way of cracking the culture. This fascinating true story of the Mormon Yankees suffers from a wildly uneven script and tenuous performances. Keep your expectations low.
“Like Cotton Twines” (RLJ, 2016, not rated/probable PG-13). This is the touching, shocking story of an American teacher (Jay Ellis) volunteering for two years in a village in Ghana when one of his most promising young students is sentenced to 10 years as an indentured servant/sex slave to pay for a crime committed by her father. The teacher confronts religious leaders in an effort to help.
“Trolls” (Fox/Dreamworks, 2016, PG, deleted scenes, featurettes, interactive features, singalongs, trailers). Those creepy little Troll dolls are perpetually happy creatures until their village is invaded by the grumpy Bergens. Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, James Corden, John Cleese and Gwen Stefani head the voice cast.
“Almost Christmas” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, deleted gags, audio commentary, featurettes). This is yet another holiday comedy about a dysfunctional family getting together so everyone can make each other miserable. Danny Glover heads this particular clan, which includes Kimberly Elise, Gabrielle Union, Mo’nique, Omar Epps, and Gladys Knight is also here.
“Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man” (Lionsgate, 2006, PG-13, deleted performances, audio commentary, featurette). Cohen, who died last November at age 82, was a Canadian artist in many fields but was best known as a songwriter. This documentary is built around a January 2005 tribute show at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
“Come What May” (Cohen, 2015, R for violence, in English and in French and German with English subtitles, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer, eight-page booklet). During World War II, residents of a small village in northern France leave their homes to escape the Germans. A boy, whose father is in prison, leaves clues along the way to help his dad find him.
“Burn Country” (Sony, 2016, not rated/probable R for language). An Afghan interpreter (Dominic Rains) travels to Northern California for a newspaper job but is consigned to the police blotter, which leads him to a weird crime family. This fish-out-of-water yarn is very “Twin Peaks.” Rains and Melissa Leo are good; a strangely bewigged James Franco is odd.
“Life on the Line” (Lionsgate, 2016, R for violence and language, featurette, music video, trailers). John Travolta (complete with a Southern accent) stars in this over-the-top melodrama, which amps up energy at the expense of character development in a story of Texas linemen keeping power cables up during an electrical storm. Kate Bosworth and Sharon Stone co-star.
“The 9th Life of Louis Drax” (Summit, 2016, R for violence and language, featurette). On his ninth birthday, the title character, who has been plagued by strange mishaps all his life, takes a near-fatal fall off a cliff and is pronounced dead for two hours before slipping into a coma. Was the boy pushed by his father (Aaron Paul), who has since gone missing? Oliver Platt and Barbara Hershey co-star.
“Baby Baby Baby” (Sony, 2017, R for sex and language). This is an engaging but profane rom-com with Brian Klugman as a goofy wannabe actor who meets struggling artist Adrianne Palicki but keeps sabotaging the relationship. The film is bolstered by amusing cameos with William Shatner, Cloris Leachman, Kelsey Grammer and others.
“Desierto” (Universal, 2016, R for violence and language, in Spanish with English subtitles and some English dialogue, audio commentary). Gael Garcia Bernal is among Mexican refugees hoping to find a better life across the border, but once they cross, a crazed, racist vigilante (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is in hot pursuit.
“The Take” (Universal, 2017; R for violence, language, nudity; featurette). In Paris, an American pickpocket (Richard Madden) steals a purse, finds only a teddy bear and tosses it aside, unaware that it contains a bomb. When it explodes, he’s labeled as a terrorist, sending a rogue CIA agent (Idris Elba) after him. (Originally titled “Bastille Day,” but changed after last year’s Bastille Day terrorist attack.)
“Spin Out” (Sony, 2017, R for language). This is a vulgar Australian rom-com about a stunt driver in the outback who takes one stunt too far, prompting his driving partner and girlfriend to head for the city. He wants her back but can he change his ways?
“Frank & Lola” (Universal, 2016, not rated/probable R for sex, nudity, language). After a 40-something chef (Michael Shannon) and an aspiring fashion designer/college student (Imogen Poots) have a one-night stand, they begin an on-again, off-again relationship that jealously moves from passion to obsession. Justin Long, Michael Nyqvist and Rosanna Arquette co-star.
“Stake Land II” (Dark Sky, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence, featurette, trailer). Connor Paolo and Nick Damici reprise their roles as, respectively, young vampire hunter Martin and his mentor Mister, tracking down a vampire leader in an undead apocalyptic future. (The first “Stake Land” was in theaters; this sequel, subtitled “The Stakelander,” premiered on the Syfy cable channel.)
“Nerdland” (Sony, 2016, not rated/probable R for cartoon violence, sex, nudity, language). This is a gross-out, profane, sexist, pop culture-infused animated feature about two numbskulls (voiced by Patton Oswalt and Paul Rudd) who are obsessed with becoming celebrities and eventually aim for infamy by whatever means necessary. The voice cast includes Hannibal Buress and Mike Judge.