Jeff NicholsMidnight Special (Warner Bros., 3.18.16) is obviously a cut or two above your usual imbued-child, alien-visitation movie. You can just tell — it’s been made by s smart guy and is aimed way above the heads of Deadpool fans. And despite the presence of HE nemesis Joel Edgerton, it has an excellent cast — Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, etc. And yet despite having wrapped principal photography nearly two years ago (3.1.14) Warner Bros. decided not to release it all during 2015. (They initially slated an 11.25.15 release but then bailed on that.) So far it has a Rotten Toomatoes/Metacritic score of 88% and 78%, respectively.

“Opening with a child abduction and ending with a spectacular sci-fi finale on par with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Bible Belt-spanning Midnight Special demonstrates once and for all that indie auteur Jeff Nichols is now the go-to storyteller for the kind of slow-burn supernatural thrill audiences once sought from M. Night Shyamalan. Serving up hefty human insight in place of third-act gimmickry, and reuniting him with Take Shelter star Michael Shannon, Nichols’ impressively restrained yet limitlessly imaginative fourth feature takes its energy from an ensemble of characters who hold fast to their convictions, even though their beliefs remain shrouded in mystery for much of the journey.” — Variety‘s Peter Debruge, filing from Berlin.