Dark Waters (2019, dir. Todd Haynes)

A lawyer investigates an environmental conspiracy linked to chemical company Dupont. Based on a true story, this sober drama is deliberate and effective. Oddly, the weak link is producer/star Ruffalo, who’s simply 20 years too old to be playing the lead, despite his sterling efforts. A sturdy cast of character actors helps things along.

The Equalizer 2 (2018, dir. Antoine Fuqua)

McCall vows to take revenge on the rogue CIA element that killed his friend. Clunky sequel that struggles to find meaningful things for its protagonist to do. One of those series entries that has to invent new backstory to make its plot-points stick. Kinda disappointing.

LBJ (2017, dir. Rob Reiner)

A modest biopic of Lyndon Johnson, focusing on his succession from Kennedy. Straightforward and sympathetic to its protagonist, with good performances from a quality cast – Richard Jenkins comes off best – and only marginally-distracting (though excellent) prosthetics.

Independence Day (1996, dir. Roland Emmerich)

Aliens invadeĀ Earth. Patriotic, team-oriented, and generally satisfactory War of the Worlds update which shoehorns in Wells’ ending and makes space for an ensemble cast having fun plus then-state of the art effects work. Slyly tongue-in-cheek throughout.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016, dir. Roland Emmerich)

20 years after Independence Day, the aliens return. Sequel/reprise of the 1996 original, taking a lighter, space operatic tone. ID4:R works because it plays as B-movie fodder, and is less interested in plausibility than in creating fun moments.