Whiplash (R): Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) is the music academy pupil aspiring to become a drummer and J.K. Simmons is his unforgiving teacher, who will stand for nothing other than perfection. It may sound like The Karate Kid, but this thrilling, exhilarating movie is one of the year’s best. Also, Simmons will land a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Bet the farm.
Birdman (R): Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, Amores Perros) directs Michael Keaton as a fading actor who once played a superhero and is now trying to restart his career with a Broadway play. Although camera trickery was involved, the entire film appears to be filmed in one single, uninterrupted shot. Take that, Alfonso Cuaron!
Nightcrawler (R): Jake Gyllenhaal stars as an ambitious reporter who plunges into the cutthroat world of L.A. crime journalism, where being too good at your job could get you killed.
Before I Go to Sleep (R): Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who has no memory of a traumatic accident from her past. But then she starts to remember and begins doubting everyone from her husband (Colin Firth) to her doctor (Mark Strong).
Horns (R): Daniel Radcliffe leaves Harry Potter behind in this adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel, directed by Alexandre Aja (Piranha), who wakes up hung over and sporting a gigantic set of horns on his head.
Boardwalk Empire (9 p.m. Sunday, HBO): We can only imagine what the body count will be when this show ends its distinguished run tonight. Will Nucky (Steve Buscemi) survive the all-out war he’s been waging?
2 Broke Girls (8 p.m. Monday, CBS): In the Season 4 premiere, Kim Kardashian drops by. But, no, she’s certainly not broke.
Frontline (10 p.m. Tuesday, PBS): “The Rise of ISIS” is a chilling, in-depth look at how the brutal terrorist group became such a major force so quickly.
Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC): The show continues its 40th anniversary celebration by welcoming back alum Chris Rock (1990-’93) as tonight’s host. He’ll be joined by Prince, serving as the musical guest.
Contra Costa Times