1 The spellbinding "Captain Phillips" re-creates the 2009 hijacking of an American-crewed freighter off the shore of Somalia. It's an efficient, fast-paced survival thriller, a gripping character study of men under stress, and an object lesson in the power of spare, realistic storytelling. There's not an ounce of fat in "Captain Phillips," no awkward back story to drag. Character emerges not through emotional dialogue, but in action. As the commander of the freighter, Tom Hanks has his best role in a decade. We know how the story ends, and it's still painful to see it.

2 The original 1988 production of "Carrie the Musical" was one of the most notorious Broadway flops of all time. The original authors re-imagined the story for a successful 2012 revival. It's now a sharp show with catchy tunes that is grounded in a realistic portrayal of high-school angst. Minneapolis Musical Theatre director Steven Meerdink gives the production at the New Century Theater a contemporary relevance by focusing on the elements of bullying in the story. It is deeply moving to watch as fragile, terrified Carrie White (played with heart by Jill Iverson) truly blossoms and finds her strength after being asked to the prom. www.HennepinTheatreTrust.org

3 Recalling two of the best music documentaries of the past decade, "Muscle Shoals" follows the "Sound City" formula of spotlighting a hallowed-ground recording studio, plus the "Standing in the Shadows of Motown"-style noble profile of the unsung session players who provided the backbone of some of rock's most iconic recordings. And what an amazing body of work poured out of the rural Alabama town the movie is named after — from Aretha Franklin and Percy Sledge to the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Lagoon Cinema, Minneapolis.

4 Fans are worried that two episodes in, Season 3 of the high-stakes espionage series "Homeland" is going off the rails as quickly as its central character, bipolar ex-CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). But one surefire bright spot has been a stepped-up role for Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend, pictured). As a CIA operative who calls himself a "guy who kills bad guys" while leaving viewers unsure where his true loyalties lie, Quinn is an intense yet inscrutable presence we need to see more of. 8 p.m. Sundays, Showtime.

5 Although it's still signed to punky hometown indie label Sub Pop Records, Seattle's folky coed ensemble the Head and the Heart seems poised for a mainstream breakthrough on its tastefully polished and often elegant album, "Let's Be Still." The lead single, "Shake," is one of the rockier and best tracks, but the more acoustic tunes pack ample drama that should make Mumford & Sons lovers take note. Out Tuesday.