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An Education

Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina| PG-13 |

SCENE STEALER

DRAMA

A 16-year-old schoolgirl, fresh from music practice, waits for a bus in the rain in London in 1962. A stranger pulls up in his sleek car and offers her a lift home, telling her as he nods toward her instrument case, “I’m a music lover, and I’m worried about your cello.” This is how Jenny (Mulligan) first meets charming David (Sarsgaard), the 30ish, seemingly moneyed sophisticate who soon woos her with outings to chic restaurants and jazz clubs in An Education, a beautifully crafted coming-of-age drama that just may be my favorite movie so far this year.

Education delicately shows exactly how extensive a tutorial—including lessons in life’s moral ambiguities—the bright teenager receives over the course of their relationship. This is not a simple tale of mismatched lovers; characters, including minor ones, are complicated and their actions nuanced. Bringing it all to vivid life is an exceptionally skilled cast, led by Mulligan, who, as the Brits say, is absolutely brill (short for brilliant).

More Than a Game

LeBron James| PG |

DOCUMENTARY

Winning a basketball game is about putting points on a board. Winning at life takes so much more, as this impassioned documentary makes clear. It movingly shows how future NBA sensation LeBron James and his then teammates (Sian Cotton, James Dru Joyce III, Romeo Travis and Willie McGee) overcame daunting challenges to make their Akron, Ohio, high school team No. 1 in the U.S., with the aid of their thoughtful and caring coach Dru Joyce II. But more important, along the way the young men learn that family and friends matter most.