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Director: Michael Haneke
Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud
Release date: December 19

When one enters a theater to watch a Michael Haneke film, he or she (hopefully) knows enough to expect an experience that's anything but uplifting. Through magnificent yet deeply unsettling and cold pictures like Funny Games (1997), The Piano Teacher (2001), and The White Ribbon (2009), the German-born Austrian writer-director has earned a reputation as one of cinema's greatest purveyors of downbeat art. But a curious thing happened earlier this summer, when Haneke's new effort, Amour, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival: A Michael Haneke film, while also being recognized for its thematic weight, was described by critics with adjectives like "touching," "tender," and "gentle."

Come January, Amour could very well also be discussed using "Best Picture nominee" and "multiple award winner." The plot couldn't be any simpler: A happily married couple in their 80s sees their communication and relationship deteriorate after the wife suffers an attack. Predominantly taking place in their Parisian apartment, Haneke's Palme d'Or winner (the Cannes fest's top prize) watches the elderly lovers as they struggle to hold onto everything they've ever shared together; for anyone who's ever watched a loved one's life slip away, Amour will really hit close to the chest. Stock up on those Kleenex boxes, people.