8. Miss Bala (A-)
Cinephiles often question how the Oscars' foreign language film process affects the nominees by requiring a government committee to pick which film will represent their country. As good a demonstration as any that matters of national ego aren't a big deal would be this movie, Mexico's 2011 submission, which depicts modern-day Mexico as quasi-anarchic, its citzens caught between rival drug cartels and a corrupt police.
The film is anchored by the strong lead actress, Stephanie Sigman, who plays Laura, a young woman whose dream of entering the Miss Baja California pageant ends up getting her caught in the middle of the drug war. It's an essentially reactive performance (Laura behaves like a normal person would in all this), since I think she's supposed to be largely symbolic, but extremely well-done. The film also never precisely explains what's happening, hewing largely to Laura's POV, and she has no clue -- you can piece together the big picture fairly well, but they're not concerned with everybody following the big picture. Indeed, I think that's the point. Ordinary citizens like Laura have no real control or understanding of the wider struggle that's going on around them.
Home Video: 4
Computer: 1 (+1)