1Beloved at the Cannes film festival, “Blue Ruin” hits the bull’s-eye for taut suspense, sharp characterization, stylish direction and quirky, confident storytelling. There’s a care and precision to its craftsmanship that will earn it a spot on many “Best of 2014” lists. It tells the story of Dwight, who became a homeless drifter after the 1990s murders of his parents. The alleged killer is about to be released. Dwight, a gentle man-child, determines to kill him, though he has no assets, no combat skills and no plan. His quest becomes a dark, Coen-esque comedy of errors.
2 In “Where I Fit,” her debut exhibit as a textile artist, Maggie Thompson, of Minneapolis, demonstrates remarkably mature skills in weaving, knitting, screen printing and conceptual design. Like many American Indians, she is of mixed heritage, a fact she deftly explores in her “Family Portrait” piece. With more than 30 fabric samples, the show would be a triumph as a midcareer retrospective, but for a 2013 college grad, it’s a stunner. www. allmyrelationsarts.com
3 “The Double” is a nail-biting comedy in which deadpan humor and dismay are near neighbors. Jesse Eisenberg plays two characters — a meek, unnoticed functionary who lives in the No. 1 neighborhood for suicide and a glib back-slapper/back-stabber with a genius for self-promotion. Of course, they compete for the same young woman. It succeeds as comedy, as a creepy psychological study and as an unnerving acknowledgment that most of us are fairly anonymous cogs in the world’s vast, clunking machinery.
4 Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach apparently has a thing for sweet-voiced, whiskey-soured Southern female singer/songwriters (see Jessica Lea Mayfield, Valerie June), and Nikki Lane is the latest to take good advantage of his producer talents. The North Carolina-bred twang-rocker’s second album, “All or Nothin’,” shows vintage traces of Wanda Jackson and Loretta Lynn but has more of a punkabilly edge that’s like Southern Culture on the Skids without the kitsch.
5 Director Peter Rothstein keeps the tempo fast and the spirits high in “Shrek the Musical,” Children’s Theatre Company’s adaptation of the smash animated movie. Autumn Ness as Fiona is a delight in her second-act musical number, where she and the ogre Shrek turn belching and passing gas into a competitive sport. The other standout in this cast is Adam Qualls’ Lord Farquaad. Walking around on his knees, with tiny legs hanging from the front of his costume, he has a marvelous time posturing, posing and preening. childrenstheatre.org.
Poll: Which of these children of famous musicians has made the best music?