Matthew Lickona 9:30 a.m., Jan. 18
For his directorial debut, skilled deadpanner Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief) goes full sad clown. Here is my unalloyed pain; I dare you to laugh. Because nothing is funnier than someone else's suffering, right? To help matters, his character - a 40-year-old proofreader who has found a way to compete in a children's spelling bee - expresses his interior suffering through glibly sociopathic nastiness and a touching disregard for conventional mores. (His gift to the Indian waif who hits him up for companionship: proving that all women have nipples by paying a prostitute to put the goods on display. Ho ho!) Along the way, he alternately insults and screws an intrepid girl reporter (Kathryn Hahn) who seems to think there's both a good story and a good man somewhere behind those blue and joyless eyes. The self-examining narration sprinkled throughout is hard to reconcile with the man on the screen at first, but once the end comes in view, the point and the pain become plain - and simple. 2014.