As the Oscars creep ever closer (only one award-ceremony-free weekend left!), area cinemas are trawling through the more obscure nominated films and looking back before the best of next year’s bunch arrives. Among the highlights this week: a sci-fi romance cult classic, two documentaries about subjects as polarized as folksingers and Cambodian massacres, and a charming comedy starring everyone’s favorite inebriated dentist.
Tuesday, February 15
After Biutiful and Dogtooth, another Best Foreign Language Film nominee comes to a Washington screen this week. Outside the Law—Rachid Bouchareb’s movie about three Algerian brothers growing up in France after World War II during the struggle for Algerian independence—is at the Avalon Theatre through Thursday. Buy tickets ($11) at Avalon’s Web site.
Also playing through Thursday at the West End Cinema is Troubadours, director Morgan Neville’s documentary about the legendary Los Angeles club that spawned a generation of musicians, from James Taylor and Carole King to Joni Mitchell and Kris Kristofferson. Get tickets ($11) at the West End’s Web site.
Wednesday, February 16
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is hosting a screening of Sundance 2010 World Documentary Jury Prize-winner Enemies of the People. The film follows Cambodian journalist Thet Sambath as he investigates the killing fields of Cambodia, where members of his own family were brutally executed. 7 PM. Buy tickets ($11) through the West End Cinema’s Web site.
Thursday, February 17
If, like us, a movie starring The Hangover’s Ed Helms, Stepbrothers’ John C. Reilly, and the ageless Sigourney Weaver strikes you as absolute film nirvana, don’t miss Cedar Rapids at Landmark E Street and Bethesda (7235 Woodmont Ave.) this week. The Miguel Arteta movie about a small-town innocent insurance salesman traveling to the urban jungle that is Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was called a “wistful, equally tender and raunchy comedy of self-discovery” by the New York Times. Buy tickets ($10) at Landmark’s Web site.
Friday, February 18
Twelve Thirty, Jeff Lipsky’s verbose movie about a sexually inexperienced 22-year-old (played by Glee’s Jonathan Groff) who gets seduced by three members of the same Iowa City family, opens at the Avalon Theatre today. A New York Times review called Lipsky a “fearless, talented filmmaking auteur.” Get tickets ($11) at the Avalon’s Web site.
Saturday, February 19
AFI Silver Theatre’s Alfred Hitchcock Retrospective continues with a 1 PM screening of The Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitchcock’s 1934 thriller about a British couple who’s unwillingly drawn into espionage after a chance encounter with a French spy on vacation in St. Moritz. Buy tickets ($11) at AFI Silver Theatre’s Web site.
Sunday, February 20
AFI Silver has a Sunday screening of the 1936 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical, Follow the Fleet. The film is memorable mostly for its score (by Irving Berlin) and for brief appearances by then-unknowns Lucille Ball and Betty Grable. 4:15 PM. Get tickets ($11) through AFI Silver Theatre’s Web site.
Monday, February 21
February is all romance, all month at the AFI, with a host of Valentine’s-themed movies, from Bringing Up Baby to Love Actually. Monday, the romance on the bill is Somewhere in Time, the Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour sci-fi love story about a playwright who travels back in time to meet the woman whose photograph he’s fallen in love with. Buy tickets ($11) at AFI Silver Theatre’s Web site.