Megan Leavey

Kate Mara sets the tone for this gritty Iraq war drama, playing a young burnout who flees her dead-end town and nagging divorced mom (Edie Falco) to join the marines. The military provides the young woman with discipline, though she finds purpose only after earning an assignment to train police dogs and shipping out to Ramadi with her German shepherd, Rex. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Blackfish) renders the IED searches and combat scenes with nerve-racking realism, and her skillful postwar sequences show how the trauma of Leavey’s teen years resurfaces under the shroud of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is an affecting story about loyalty, sacrifice, and the forging of identity. With Ramón Rodríguez, Bradley Whitford, Tom Felton, and Common.