4. 'Her' (opening Dec. 25)

Weird and beautiful, writer-director Spike Jonze's "Her" says something everyone knows--that technology often distracts us from living and delighting in the physical world--but does so in marvelous, inspired, profound fashion. Theodore (a perfect Joaquin Phoenix) writes other people's cards in his work at BeautifulHandwrittenLetters.com and, following a divorce that would be final if he ever signed the papers, gives himself to his artificially intelligent operating system named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). "Her" honors the closeness formed by this relationship while also showing that no matter the memory of a piece of technology, people's memories hardly ever include technology. To be human is to feel pain and joy, if you can allow yourself the chance. To steal a line from Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own," pertaining to life and Jonze's work: The hard is what makes it great.
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