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A Prophet (Un Prophäte)

This gutsy French crime drama nearly snagged an Oscar at this year's Academy Awards. Both timely and timeless, the story introduces us to Malik (Tahar Rahim), a 19-year-old Arab immigrant sent to a brutal French prison. In this sink-or-swim situation, our protagonist learns how to survive by kissing up to a Machiavellian criminal kingpin—and eventually turns the tables on his boss to build his own criminal empire behind bars. Rahim gives a mesmerizing performance, generating a curious sympathy even when he's killing fellow inmates with a razor blade. In French, Arabic and Corsican with English subtitles. 155 minutes R.