Black Mass

Based on a nonfiction book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, this crime saga details the corrupt partnership between South Boston crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger (a balding, unrecognizable Johnny Depp) and FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), an old pal who cultivated Bulger as an informant but may have done more to help his criminal empire than Bulger did to help the bureau. The 20-year web of intrigue, which also encompassed Bulger’s war with the Boston mafia and his brother’s career as a state senator, has been efficiently plotted by screenwriters Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth. They don’t waste much time looking for a human center to Bulger, portrayed by Depp as an ice-cold killer; their primary concern is how he controlled and intimidated everyone in his orbit. Directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), this is the sort of movie Sidney Lumet might have made in his prime—intelligently written, handsomely mounted, and loaded with top actors (Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Adam Scott, Juno Temple, Julianne Nicholson).