This week’s movie releases

Jake Gyllenhaal makes the news in ‘Nightcrawler,’ as Michael Mann returns with ‘Blackhat’

Nightcrawler sees Jake Gyllenhaal put in a startlingly intense performance as Lou Bloom, a young oddball making his mark in the grim world of Los Angeles video crime journalism. Monitoring police frequencies, he and his freelance crew scour the city for accidents and murder scenes to film and sell on to the news channels. With scant regard for ethics, he’s soon thriving, but then starts to push his luck too far. Also starring Rene Russo and Bill Paxton, the film marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Dan Gilroy, brother of fellow writer-director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, The Bourne Legacy).

No stranger to the noirish streets of L. A. himself, Heat and Collateral director Michael Mann is back this week with his first feature since 2009 period gangster drama Public Enemies. Set firmly in the present day, Blackhat is a tech thriller starring Chris Hemsworth as a convicted hacker let out of prison to help US and Chinese authorities track down a gang of cyber criminals wreaking havoc in nuclear power plants and financial markets across the globe.

Wild, the new film from Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée, marks a return to form for Reese Witherspoon, who stars as a young woman who decides to walk a 1,000-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail to help her get over a divorce and the death of her mother. Adapted by British novelist Nick Hornby from Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, it has earned Oscar acting nods for both Witherspoon and co-star Laura Dern.

A Will Smith-produced update of the 1977 Broadway musical – previously adapted by John Huston in 1982 – Annie stars young Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) as the chirpy orphan girl rescued from a hellish New York orphanage by a kindly millionaire. Here the original’s Daddy Warbucks becomes Jamie Foxx’s cellphone tycoon Will Stacks, while Cameron Diaz stars as horrible orphanage chief Miss Hannigan.

Remaking history

Project Almanac is a found-footage sci-fi drama about a group of friends who stumble across the blueprints for a time machine and get into all sorts of trouble after they put it together and start using it to put the past right. Newcomer Dean Israelite directs.

Spanish relationship comedy Las ovejas no pierden el tren stars Inma Cuesta and Raúl Arévalo as a couple who, after finally fulfilling their dream of moving to the countryside, find things tougher than they thought. Candela Peña, Irene Escolar and Alberto San Juan also feature in director Álvaro Fernández Armero’s movie.