Black Panther

The story: A warrior prince from an ancient, noble nation faces a life-or-death challenge to his birthright.

In its favor: A rousing story led by a powerhouse cast, with dazzling visuals and cultural heft. And has there ever been a prince more regal than Chadwick Boseman?

Then again: Ryan Coogler may have re-imagined the superhero movie, but it's still a superhero movie. Is the academy ready?

Our review: ★★★


The story: A black police officer finagles his way into the Ku Klux Klan in 1970s Colorado.

In its favor: A stranger-than-fiction tale that's Spike Lee at his most entertaining and (literally) hair-raising. The daring undercover operation feels genuinely treacherous and subversive.

Then again: The modern-day Charlottesville coda is pure Lee — a sledgehammer that feels unnecessary.

Our review: ★★★★

Bohemian Rhapsody

The story: The story of Queen from its formation to its epochal 1985 Live Aid performance.

In its favor: The music! If you love this band, the songs — and the stories behind them — will send you out of the theater grinning. That Rami Malek guy makes a pretty good Freddie Mercury, too.

Then again: It's a standard rock bio­pic that fudges the timeline and lays on the big moments pretty thick.

Our review: ★★½

The Favourite

The story: Two headstrong courtiers vie for the favor — er, the favour — of Queen Anne.

In its favor: The blackest of black comedies, it's a feverish funhouse of a movie — never boring, always bonkers. The shifting power dynamics are dizzying, and the barbs come at you like stilettos.

Then again: A lot of style over substance. Our loyalties are tested until we don't really care anymore.

Our review: ★★★½

Green Book

The story: A rough-edged casino worker and a high-minded musician break barriers on a road trip in a 1962 Cadillac.

In its favor: Precise period details and fine rapport between the actors, who wholly inhabit their roles. The plot offers a refreshing anti-"Driving Miss Daisy" twist.

Then again: It's a rather simplistic, retrograde movie about race relations that has drawn backlash from relatives of the real Don Shirley.

Our review: ★★★½


The story: Alfonso Cuarón's fictionalized paean to the woman who raised him in Mexico City.

In its favor: A stunning achievement, with a soulful story and luminous cinematography, told largely with amateur actors. Both intimate and epic, at times it echoes the best of Fellini and Bergman.

Then again: Black-and-white. Subtitles. It might have to settle for foreign film honors.

Our review: ★★★★

A Star Is Born

The story: The fourth go-round for the classic story of a woman on the rise and a man on the decline.

In its favor: One of the most exhilarating first acts of any movie you'll see this year, with the powerful chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga on full display. We're invested in their story from the first frame.

Then again: Given its dismal showing at the Globes, we wonder if voters are tired of this tale.

Our review: ★★★½


The story: How Dick Cheney rose to the rank of political mastermind.

In its favor: The actors are clearly having a hell of a good time. The scenery chewing can be overlooked when you've got Christian Bale as the conniving title character and a campy Sam Rockwell as Bush 43.

Then again: The cheeky, scattershot tone, which director Adam McKay employed to better effect in "The Big Short," feels all wrong.

Our review: ★★