Pick of the week: “The Confirmation” (Netflix) — My full review is here. You want the very definition of a hidden treasure on Netflix? It’s this gem from Bob Nelson, who wrote Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” and brings his unsentimental but affectionate eye for small-town characters to his debut as a writer-director. Clive Owen plays an alcoholic divorced dad who brings his eight-year-old son (the wonderful Jaeden Lieberher) on a quest to find his stolen toolbox. It’s a riff on “The Bicycle Thief,” both eloquent and no-nonsense, and Owen and son run across a ton of great character actors on their journey, including Patton Oswalt, Maria Bello, Matthew Modine and Robert Forster. This one’s a keeper.
“St. Vincent” (Netflix) — My full review is here. Lieberher also stars in this comedy-drama, which isn’t as good but features a fine performance by Bill Murray as a dyspeptic alcoholic New Yorker who reluctantly agrees to babysit the son of a single mother (Melissa McCarthy, nicely underplaying) and starts to rehabilitate himself in the process. It gets too gooey, and there’s one quirky character too many, but Murray is worth watching.
“Shaun the Sheep” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Who needs dialogue when the geniuses at Aardman Animation are in charge, blowing up their delightful animated series into a full-length movie, as Shaun and his barnyard pals have to head into the city to rescue their addled farmer. As always, the stop-motion Aardman wit will leave both the youngest and oldest viewer (and everyone in between) in stitches.
“The Limey” (Hulu) — One of the best movies of the last 20 years in my mind is Steven Soderbergh’s time-jumping take on the revenge thriller, with Terence Stamp as a grieving ex-con father who comes to L.A. to settle a score with the ex-hippie producer (Peter Fonda) who supposedly killed his daughter. Every scene crackles, and the non-chronological screenplay by Lem Dobbs ends up carrying a moral weight, as Stamp’s character’s past catches up to him.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. The Coen Brothers were also pretty radical with their screenplay for this portrait of a failing ’60s Greenwich Village folkie (Oscar Isaac), presenting his life as an endless round of humiliations, failures, arguments and, every now and then, moments of grace that last exactly the length of a song.