The last month of the year sees a lot of movies hitting the big screen in order to qualify for Awards recognition after the new year. Some of them are already winning awards, too. Which is good news, indeed.
Wild – The “memoirs that get adapted to the big screen” genre is alive and well since Julia Roberts ate, prayed and loved her way through Elizabeth Gilbert’s life. Reese Witherspoon is the latest to play a real-life heroine, as Cheryl Strayed, a woman who hiked hundreds of miles in order to recover from a devastating break-up and the loss of her mother. Trailer
Miss Julie – Jessica Chastain pops up in her second film of four (!) this year (I think? Intersteller, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and then A Most Violent Year before the end of the year, see below) in Liv Ullman’s adaptation of the play about an aristocrat and the valet (Colin Farrell) she orders to seduce her. Trailer
Still Alice – Julianne Moore was named Best Actress by the National Board of Review for her portrayal of an accomplished university professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and sees her life disappearing right before her eyes. With a supporting cast including Kristen Stewart, Alex Baldwin and Kate Bosworth, it’s drumming up some late-in-the-game buzz, even without a proper trailer. You can watch a clip here.
Life Partners – File this one solidly as the kind of charming indie I’d love to write one day. Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs star as best friends whose relationship is threatened when the latter pairs off and reprioritizes their friendship, and based on the trailer and the festival buzz, this one’s a winner. Trailer
Inherent Vice – There are a handful of directors who create films in such a way that when you go to see them, you know what to expect. With Paul Thomas Anderson, it’s crazy long run times, convoluted plot lines and Joaquin Phoenix. Based on a Thomas Pynchon novel, the trailer has this one seeming oddly bright. But still totally convoluted. Trailer
Top Five – When I was at Toronto Film Festival a couple months ago, I walked down from the Industry office and just about right into Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson in the hotel lobby. At first confused by their presence, it soon became clear when the trades blew up with news of Top Five’s sale during the festival, the biggest deal of the event. Trailer
If You Don’t, I Will – A personal addition to this list, this is one of Film Movement’s releases. Our last of the year, it’s a modern, dry romcom about a couple that’s been together so long they can’t quite remember why they’re still a they at all. When the couple is two of France’s most acclaimed actors, the 90-odd minutes become a pleasure to watch. TrailerDecember 19
Mr. Turner – Timothy Spall is not one known for his leading roles. I know him best as the smarmy sidekick from Enchanted. Here, he’s a British painter and Mike Leigh is the artist behind this biopic. Tried to catch an advanced screening in Chicago, but I couldn’t fit it in so I’ll have to check it out when it opens. Trailer
Into The Woods – I should know more about this Stephen Sondheim show than I do. In all my hours spent singing along to musicals, this one was never one of them! All signs point to this star-studded song-filled storybook romp being a much more enjoyable holiday release than last year’s abysmal Les Miserables adaptation. Trailer
Big Eyes – Tim Burton’s latest isn’t a re-imagined children’s story made to cartoonish extremes. Instead, he recounts the story of painter Margaret Keane, who’s signature style was a sort of pre-Burton Burton look, what with their caricatured, googly eyes and all. Christoph Waltz co-stars as the dastardly husband who takes credit for her work. Trailer
December 31 (or thereabout)
Unbroken – Angelina Jolie continues her efforts behind the camera as director of this true life story of an Olympian soldier who survived as a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II. What are you doing with your life? Trailer
Selma – I think this one is slated for a January release, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets a qualifying run before the end of the year. A film by Ava DuVernay (a Sundance darling after Middle of Nowhere), it’s a civil rights epic about one of the most contentious episodes in this country’s history. And Oprah stars. Trailer
A Most Violent Year – The dashing Oscar Isaac hit everyone’s radar with his hipster style and musician’s brooding in last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis, and to see him garnering additional attention and more interesting roles is exciting stuff. Jessica Chastain continues her chameleon-like career evolution taking on a crime-boss wife role in this 1980s-set drama. And now that it’s been named Best Film of the Year, it’s a must see. Trailer