Matthew Lickona 4:30 p.m., May 20
Germany's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards (it didn’t make the cut) is an unyielding Cold War drama set in East Germany, 1980. Barbara (Nina Hoss), a capable young doctor, is sentenced to a small town clinic after an application for an exit visa results in her being booted from Berlin. No one except her West German lover (Mark Waschke) — they’re planning on defecting together — is to be trusted, not even a seemingly sincere co-worker (Ronald Zehrfeld), who could be compiling a file on her for the Stossi. Barbara is not another flimsily constructed propagandistic docudrama; director Christian Petzold (Jerichow) expertly sustains dramatic tension while smuggling in his political agenda. Hoss’s performance as the pent-up medico is a stunning exercise in self-control, and the clincher packs an electrifying wallop. Well worth your time. 2012.