Meryl Streep in DoubtDOUBT

Based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, writer/director John Patrick Shanley's period drama Doubt - set in 1964, and concerning a nun who suspects a priest of sexual misconduct with an altar boy - isn't much of a movie. Shanley's previous directorial effort was 1990's Joe Versus the Volcano, and it's a shame he wasn't able to get in more practice over the last 18 years; in an attempt to gussy up the visual blandness that accompanies most theatrical adaptations, Shanley opts for a series of high- and low-angle shots and symbolic thunder, lightning, and wind effects that oftentimes make Doubt resemble a satire of a low-budget horror flick. And it's still visually bland.

Meryl Streep and Ed Harris in The HoursTHE HOURS

Stephen Daldry's The Hours is so meticulously crafted, so assured in its conception, and so insistent on its themes and motifs that it's bound to drive a lot of people bananas.

Jamie Bell in Billy ElliotBILLY ELLIOT

Billy Elliot, the British coming-of-age comedy/drama that has finally opened wide after a successful art-house run, is for anyone who longs to see a strong, simple story finely detailed and exquisitely performed.