Well-told human stories endure longer than special effects.

So many movies live only in the time they take to be projected. They are light, fluffy entertainment that exist only in the moment. When you rise from your seat, they are left behind like the popcorn kernels on the floor.

This isn’t a bad thing, these films are just momentary entertainment. Escapism with little of substance to take away after they’ve run.

Then there are movies that engage, entertain, confound and confuse at times, and toy with your emotions. They don’t give you all the answers–– they demand that you participate and bring your life to them and think about the story being told and why things are the way they are and why people act the way they do.

These movies plant seeds in your brain and give you something to think about long after the final reel has flickered into darkness. They are the movies that explore the human condition, pique curiosity and encourage thought. They’re human stories, not mega-special-effects-driven wonders. They don’t feed, they nourish.

I love these kinds of films, and here are two candidates for your consideration from a pair of the most compelling and interesting directors working today. First is David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook with stellar performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s a rom-com of a different sort, one that explores characters haunted by fragile mental states and some driven mad through their obsessions. It’s a terrific ride and one that you’ll find yourself thinking about long after the movie has run.

Some pictures and performances live on a long, long time.

Then there is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a film that explores damaged psyches and the art of manipulation. Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams deliver amazing performances worthy of little gold statuettes (as do Cooper and Lawrence).

Russell and Anderson both explore with film for the benefit of self-discovery. No, you won’t always find all the answers, but you will definitely find questions that illuminate.

Both films of these two auteurs (that’s French for ‘artsy-but-not-too-fartsy’) are well worth seeing. Give them a look and see if you don’t agree they’ll be strong Oscar contenders.

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