January is posed to be bursting with quality cinema, it’s also the height of the Oscar contenders season but really that’s just a benefit for audiences to receive so many great films in one month.
A Monster Calls (01/01)
Directed By: J. A. Bayona
Starring: Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Lewis MacDougall, Toby Kebbell, Geraldine Chaplin
Plot: 12-year-old Conor, dealing with his mother’s illness, a less-than-sympathetic grandmother, and bullying classmates, finds a most unlikely ally when a Monster appears at his bedroom window. Ancient, wild, and relentless, the Monster guides Conor on a journey of courage, faith, and truth.
Why You Should See It: With raving reviews pouring in and a story that should not only touch your heart but give it a kick, it’s much more than your average family film. A coming of age film with a dark and emotional twist, that will bring out more than a few tears.
Assassin’s Creed (01/01)
Directed By: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Michael K. Williams, Charlotte Rampling
Plot: Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
Why You Should See It: This film has the potential, based on a great cast and all around decent team behind it, to become the first worthwhile and satisfying video game adaptation. From what’s already been seen, it looks to be visually pleasing as well as action packed and ready to unleash Fassbender on 15th Century Spain.
La La Land (13/01)
Directed By: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend, Rosemarie Dewitt
Plot: The story of Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, struggling to make ends meet while pursuing their dreams in a city known for destroying hopes and breaking hearts. With modern day Los Angeles as the backdrop, this musical about everyday life explores what is more important: a once-in-a-lifetime love or the spotlight.
Why You Should See It: This is one section that doesn’t really need to be explained but claiming to bring back the classic Hollywood musical and put a sense of romance into cinema with the doubly charming combination of Stone and Gosling, this should be one you shouldn’t forget any time soon.
Click here for the review
Live By Night (13/01)
Directed By: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Scott Eastwood, Chris Messina, Brendan Gleeson
Plot: It’s the Roaring `20s and Prohibition hasn’t stopped the flow of booze in an underground network of gangster-run speakeasies. The opportunity to gain power and money is there for any man with enough ambition and nerve, and Joe Coughlin, the son of the Boston Police superintendent, long ago turned his back on his strict upbringing for the spoils of being an outlaw. But even among criminals there are rules, and Joe breaks a big one: crossing a powerful mob boss by stealing his money and his moll.
Why You Should See It: Another in the growing list of Affleck behind, as well as in front of, the camera; his fourth directorial feature, another adaptation of Dennis Lehane. There are no guarantees with this one and the reception so far has not been entirely flattering but it should still be an interesting watch.
Read the review here
Manchester By the Sea (13/01)
Directed By: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Gretchen Mol, Kara Hayward, Heather Burns, Tate Donovan
Plot: Lee Chandler is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother’s heart has given out suddenly, and he’s been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren’t enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.
Why You Should See It: Though Lonergan’s last film as director was the rather awful, but enjoyed by some, Margaret, this film has gone over as a smash, a hard to watch but emotionally powerful film. This is generally a type of film that doesn’t appeal to everyone but if you’re willing to give it a chance, should be rewarding.
Read the review here
Directed By: Pablo Larrain
Starring: Natalie Portman, Caspar Phillipson, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Cudrup, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant
Plot: After her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy’s (Natalie Portman) world is completely shattered. Traumatized and reeling with grief, over the course of the next week she must confront the unimaginable: consoling their two young children, vacating the home she painstakingly restored, and planning her husband’s funeral. Jackie quickly realizes that the next seven days will determine how history will define her husband’s legacy and how she herself will be remembered.
Why You Should See It: What should be the best performance to date by Portman and a closer look at the life of first lady still talked about 50 years after her time in the White House; Portman isn’t always given roles suited to her talent but this should turn that around in a significant way. Released to raving reviews in the US and should be the strong female performance to start the year off well.
Directed By: Garth Davis
Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Bharate
Plot: Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.
Why You Should See It: A fantastic and emotional true story of an incredible journey that’s almost difficult to believe. Patel gives everything he has in his performance and makes a slow burning but well worth watching film, it may start off slowly but you’ll fall in love with young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) and be captivated for the rest of the film.
Click here for the review
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Kim Director, Jessica Sula
Plot: After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others.
Why You Should See It: Although we came close to seeing McAvoy do such a role in Trance and Filth, he’s never quite gone full on crazy but now is the chance to see it happen with Split; it’s going to be a huge test of his ability as an actor having to embody so many different personalities that should be fascinating to watch. Shyamalan’s last feature as director, The Visit, may have been a slightly more unusual and odd creation, but this should put him back on form.
Hacksaw Ridge (27/01)
Directed By: Mel Gibson
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughan, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths
Plot: The extraordinary true story of conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss who saved 75 men in Okinawa, during the bloodiest battle of WWII, without firing a single shot. Believing that the war was just but killing was nevertheless wrong, he was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon. As an army medic Doss single-handedly evacuated the wounded near enemy lines – braving enemy fire and putting his own life on the line. He was the first conscientious objector to ever win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Why You Should See It: Gibson’s return to the director’s chair after 10 rather turbulent years is another that has received rave reviews and should be the second memorable performance from Garfield this month, the first being Scorsese’s Silence (not included in this list as it’s much more of an acquired taste). It’s another incredible story, how much of it is fact or fiction is always hard to tell but none the less, it should be a worthy war film which is fairly rare these days.
Find out if it was worth watching here
T2 Trainspotting (27/01)
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly Macdonald, Shirley Henderson, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Anjela Nedyalkova
Plot: Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) reunites with Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and other old friends after returning to the only place that he can ever call home.
Why You Should See It: After the original film became a cult classic, reunions being an extremely popular form of film these days was probably inevitable and here it is, though of course based on the follow up novel by Irvine Welsh, the unfortunately titled Porno. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see these characters together again and the mayhem they can cause in 90 minutes.
13/01: The Bye Bye Man, Irreplaceable, Underworld: Blood Wars, The Young Offenders
20/01: xXx3: The Return of Xander Cage
27/01: Christine, Denial, Sing, The White King