Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Cuarón colludes with us like one of Harry’s helpful army of British character actors whispering in our ear in a language we understand without knowing, or a clever dad with a dark and silly secret. This is the first Harry Potter film that feels like an open book. It’s the best teen film ever made.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry possesses none of the fairytale virtues: no great strength or speed or cunning. When they were handing out panaceas, the poor kid must have been grounded. His destiny follows him, as other people make it. (“She knows more about you than you do,” Ron says.” Harry’s reply is from someone losing to his identity crisis: “Who doesn’t?”).

The Incredibles

The film blasts an affectionate symphony of action spy movie set pieces, which Bird composes with such a self-believing style that he reminds me less of a director than of a virtuoso performer. And even they become a back-drop to what is essentially a mid-life crisis film, about a man who misses himself so much that he doesn’t even notice he has a family. Bird offers a genre fattened on mythic pretension a trimming alternative of joyous energy and dazzling characters.