1 A brooding western on an epic scale, "The Revenant" is surely one of the great films of this decade. Pushed further than they have ever been pushed, filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu ("Birdman") and Leonardo DiCaprio prove that no genre is beyond their mastery. Left for dead after a brutal grizzly attack, legendary frontier guide Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) clawed his way across a subzero no man's land in obsessive pursuit. DiCaprio creates his prairie Capt. Ahab through a hauntingly spare performance with a dark emotional core. Attacks by natives against the white men trespassing on their land become muscular battles unequaled since "Saving Private Ryan."
2 After his surprisingly accessible, classic-sounding 2013 album "The Next Day" was relatively overlooked by the masses, David Bowie must've figured to heck with the mainstream-ready stuff. His new record, "Blackstar," ranks among his most experimental and warped efforts. The dark, epic 10-minute opening track gives way to such oddball forays as the freakish, jazzy thumper "'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore" and only one relatively straight-ahead ballad, "Dollar Days." A taut yet jumbled seven-song set, this one's just for the critics and die-hards — who were mostly the only ones to appreciate the last one anyway.
5 "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" is the kind of show Broadway loves. The national tour that closes at the State Theatre on Sunday (1 & 6:30 p.m.) shows off a quaint, stylish conceit and cheeky humor that manages to be droll and slapstick. Its murders are more fun than foul, thanks to the deliciously big performance of John Rapson (pictured), who plays all eight victims. A guilty pleasure. (hennepintheatretrust.org.)
3 Chris Bohjalian's latest novel, "The Guest Room," is a gripping story about suburban American lives ripped apart when they encounter the evil world of sex slavery. It begins in the upscale family home of banker Richard Chapman, who hosts his young brother's bachelor party, which includes two strippers and their two Russian-mob minders. In alternating chapters, Bohjalian cleverly unfolds the twin stories of stripper Alexandra's unwitting descent into forced prostitution and the crash of Chapman's seemingly ideal life. It's hard to put down, or ever forget.
4 Charlie Kaufman's amazing "Anomalisa" has crossover appeal as adult drama, melancholy comedy and, yes, stop-motion animation. The film animates the anxieties and confusion of a dreary Everyman (voiced by David Thewlis), whose pessimism is overturned by Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh). "Anomalisa" not only renders its warts-and-all human portraits in a remarkable craft that is almost photorealist, but it shows personalities with extraordinary precision. In its morose sort of genius, it is the middle-aged man's "Inside Out."