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.

Shark Tale

It takes zero seconds for Shark Tale to be the worst DreamWorks animated film I’ve ever seen. To find something worse you’d have to watch one of those Disney knock-offs that you pass over on Netflix with a cold shudder, or one of those YouTube-only CG student projects, or a film by Illumination. I’m going to scoop out its anchovy-sized heart and squeeze out the grease between my fingers before feeding it to my cat.

The Happening

I’ve seen great filmmakers make bad movies. But I’ve never seen them willingly create the antimatter to their own style. With only the earnest request of his audience to question and unravel everything they believe about their brittle capitalistic existence, Shyamalan instead has made a film that makes me question and unravel everything I believe about Shyamalan.

Punch-Drunk Love

At the core of the Sandler character is an unwillingness to be stepped on, a rebellious energy merely playacting as perverted. His films have never taken notice of him, but it seems like we’ve been doing it all along. And Anderson, a Sandler fan first, saw an old-timey romance at the center of a geek’s just rage at a society in which he doesn’t fit.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A rom-com in which two conflicted lovers try to forget each other by hammering on actual drugs wouldn’t be more surprised with itself than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is with its own matter-of-fact science fiction substitute. Kaufman has made the 2001: A Space Odyssey of love affairs.