Throughout December, Ben Sachs and I will take turns writing about our ten favorite films that had their Chicago premieres this year.

A great movie can take you someplace you’ve never been before, even if it’s someplace you don’t particularly want to go. Beautiful Boy, the debut feature of writer-director Shawn Ku, recounts in minute and surely observed detail the agony of a suburban couple (Maria Bello, Michael Sheen) after their only son kills 16 people and then himself in a collegiate shooting rampage. I wrote about the movie at length in June, the week after it opened, then discovered to my dismay that I was too late: it closed after seven days on a single screen at River East 21. (Perhaps I should have known: Zero Day, another devastating look at an American shooting massacre, was similarly ill-attended when it played at Gene Siskel Film Center in 2004.)