Andrew Lapin

Before the zombie, there was the zombi: the original undead corpse, a creature of Haitian folklore typically summoned back to life by Vodou or other means. Often these shuffling souls were returned to our world to work manual labor in the fields without complaining, stretching the tendrils of capitalism and colonialism into the spirit realm.

Just Mercy, the attorney Bryan Stevenson's 2014 bestseller, has already become a touchstone of criminal justice writing for helping change the conversation around capital punishment in America. It tells the true story of Stevenson's efforts to free a poor black man in Alabama, Walter McMillian, who spent six years on death row for a murder he plainly did not commit, imprisoned on flimsy evidence brought forward by a white sheriff and district attorney.

Adam Sandler has been playing jerks and sleazebags for most of his career, but until now his movies didn't make a habit of acknowledging it. So it's exhilarating to watch Uncut Gems, a gritty indie funhouse ride that sets Sandler loose in a world just as manic and angry as his character — a world in which his absurd, impulsive actions have real consequences. Like every straight male under the age of 40, the writer-director brothers Benny and Josh Safdie grew up with the sound of Sandler's screech in their brains.

The woman must not know that she is being painted. Her portrait is intended for some faraway suitor, and she refuses to pose for it, because sealing her likeness in a frame is the first step toward sealing her entire self inside a loveless marriage. And so the painter accompanies her subject on walks, gathering details of her face in furtive glimpses: the shape of her ears, the piercing stare of her eyes. Later, in secret, she will commit her memory of this face to the forbidden canvas — an act of love that isolates the lover.

In 21 Bridges, Chadwick Boseman is a policeman so haunted by the memory of his own cop father's death in the line of duty that he's built his entire reputation around his itchy trigger finger. He's the "cop killer" killer, the guy the force calls in when they need someone to enact white-hot revenge and spare families from the agony of a trial — shoot first, don't ask questions at all.