Jake Gyllenhaal is the very definition of serpentine in this scathing look at TV news and the lengths producers and stringers will go to for ratings and a payday. When Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a desperately unemployed man, happens upon a car accident in L.A., he notices men filming the incident and selling the footage to news outlets. He procures his own camera and proceeds to do the same, eventually forming an alliance with a struggling news director (Rene Russo) and proving there is really nothing he won’t do to get his footage on the news. Gyllenhaal lost a bunch of weight to play the greasy Louis, and he achieves a physical creepiness to go with his character’s infected soul. Louis is sinister and deeply scary in a very Travis Bickle/Taxi Driver sort of way. Gyllenhaal is excellent here, his second great 2014 performance after playing twins in Enemy. The guy is really stretching out. According to Nightcrawler, gone are the days of dignified anchormen and heroic news gatherers. The tie-wearing talking heads and scrappy field reporters have been replaced by bloodsuckers and sycophants, with the likes of Louis Bloom leading the sick charge. The baser instincts that may’ve been a small part of an intrepid news reporter’s makeup have taken over and, unfortunately, they appear to be delivering what the people want.

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