The year in movies ends on a high note, with December offering a couple of the most anticipated movies of the year. Quentin Tarantino returns to screens, bringing his latest violent offering to screens over Christmas, the frontrunner for the Foreign Film Oscar makes a qualifying run, and Jennifer Lawrence sheds Katniss’s quiver for another turn as David O Russell’s leading lady.
Youth – I imagine making a movie after you’ve won an Oscar is a bit like writing a second book after a best-seller or painting a decent portrait after you’ve finished the Mona Lisa. Such is Paolo Sorrentino’s challenge with Youth, his follow-up to the Oscar-winning The Great Beauty, a truly breathtaking – if quirky – piece of cinema. A mostly English offering starring Michael Caine, Jane Fonda, Paul Dano, Rachel Weisz and more, the cast alone make it worth a look. Watch the trailer
Life – The lack of conversation around this one should have me thinking twice about checking it out, but the premise is interesting – a Life magazine photographer is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean. Directed by Anton Corbijn, who also helmed The American and A Most Wanted Man, it could have a real edge to it. Watch the trailer
Hitchcock/Truffaut – This doc’s premise is a cinephile’s dream as it revisits conversations between Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut’s conversations and the resulting filmmaking bible, Cinema According to Hitchcock, and its influence on modern filmmakers. Unfortunately, every “modern filmmaker” interviewed in the movie is a white male, quite a glaring oversight in these unacceptably homogenous times. I caught an early screening and while I’d recommend it, it’s probably fine to wait for it to hit Netflix. Watch the trailer
In The Heart Of The Sea – There was a time Ron Howard’s name attached to a film carried some serious weight. Backdraft. Apollo 13. Even A Beautiful Mind. It’s been pretty mediocre since The Da Vinci Code, and yet he’s still making big-budget action flicks like this sea-faring man v. nature period piece battle. How much more can you cram on that boat? Watch the trailer
Legend – Tom Hardy is crafting a very interesting resume with every role he takes on, and in Legend he’s outdoing himself by taking on two interesting roles, playing twins Ronald and Reggie Kray, mafiosos in London. I know, I didn’t know London had gangsters either. Watch the trailer
The Big Short – A late entry into the year-end awards conversation, The Big Short just premiered at AFI Fest last month, and did so to quite positive buzz no less. Staring a (white, male) all-star cast (Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt) as “outsiders in the world of high-finance,” it’s the latest take on the economic crash. And unless it’s also a raunchy, sophomoric comedy (it’s not), it should prove to be a considerable break from form for director Adam McKay, who’s better known for that sort of thing. Watch the trailer
Sisters – I’m never going to say no to a new project that puts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler back in my life, so I don’t care how predictable or derivative Sisters looks, I will see it just to spend an evening with new material from these ladies. Watch the trailer
Son of Saul – The early favorite for this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar, Hungary’s submission is a World War II drama set in the depths of Auschwitz, as a father tries to find a way to survive the horror of his every day existence. While I haven’t managed an early screening just yet, a coworker has and, according to him, it lives up to the hype. Watch the trailer
I don’t plan on seeing any movies ON Christmas Day, but I do plan on seeing a whole bunch that weekend.
The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino has only directed 8 films, yet each one is more excitedly anticipated than the last; The Hateful Eight is no exception, with theaters clamoring to nab one of the limited 70mm prints for exhibition. This latest offering proves as self-indulgent as ever for Mr. Tarantino, an ensemble cast set in the wild west with plenty of bullets to go around. Watch the trailer
Joy – I may be alone in this, but I’m ready for the Jennifer Lawrence / Bradley Cooper / David O. Russell trifecta to break up. Silver Linings Playbook was sweet enough, but we all could’ve done without American Hustle. I’ll give them one more shot with Joy, the story of the woman who invented the Miracle Mop and all drama that came with it. Watch the trailer
Concussion – I haven’t seen a Will Smith movie in years. Maybe a decade. I have seen the Frontline episode on traumatic brain injury in NFL players, however. And that shit is crazy. Concussion (not to be confused with Concussion) sees Smith portraying one of the doctors spearheading awareness of the sport’s devastating effects on players. Watch the trailer
The Revenant – Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu made the most cinematically exceptional film of 2014 in Birdman, solidifying him as a filmmaker whose films I will always seek out. Pairing up with Leonardo DiCaprio for this brooding drama about an 1820s frontiersman out for revenge. Watch the trailer