January is a great time for awards season lovers like me. The critically lauded films that have been out in the US for a few weeks finally drift across the pond to be released in the UK, just in time for the Oscar nominations to be announced on the 24th. And this time, there are a few corkers, including Martin Scorsese’s religious epic, Silence, Ben Affleck’s latest stint as director in the ominously named Live by Night and the best advert for Google Earth ever, Lion. We’ve compiled a list to help guide you through the month.
A Monster Calls – 1st January
When author Siobhan Dowd died of breast cancer in 2007, her last book remained unfinished. It told the story of a young boy, struggling with not only bullying at school, but also his mother’s terminal illness. Soon, however, he meets a giant tree-looking monster that helps him cope with the turmoil in his life.
To say this story is rooted in a heart-breaking truth is rather obvious, but that doesn’t take away from the profound sorrow at the centre of this film. Adapted from the book that he helped finish, Patrick Ness writes a screenplay that combines fantasy and reality in his exploration of grief and hope; fans of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth are likely to enjoy this.
Assassin’s Creed – 1st January
For those who can’t wait for the somewhat dark and dreary films of awards season to be over, this is the blockbuster that promises they will soon be a thing of the past. Based on the eponymous video game series, Assassin’s Creed stars Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, a criminal whose life is changed when he uses something called the Animus.
Although initial reviews for this have been less than kind (in his one-star review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw described the film as “mysteriously, transcendentally boring”), if you’re in the mood for a great cast (including Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Rampling and Brendan Gleeson) as well as large-scale action, this is the one to watch.
La La Land – 13th January
In his follow up to 2014’s astonishing Whiplash, Damien Chazelle directs a film that is currently leading the race for Best Picture. In this love letter to modern day Los Angeles, La La Land is jam-packed with musical numbers and beautifully choreographed sequences.
In addition, if the trailers are anything to go by, the cinematography looks astounding – in particular, one scene shows Sebastian and Mia (played by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, once again proving they are a perfect pairing) floating into the stars at Griffith’s Observatory. If you want to be transported back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, La La Land is one of a kind.
Christine – 27th January
There are occasions when real life becomes so incredulous that it transcends seamlessly into film. Such is the case with Christine, a film depicting news reporter Christine Chubbuck in the days leading up to her suicide on live television.
Of course, this is going to be a hard film to watch – in fact, it will probably have a tone that is somewhat akin to 2013’s police brutality drama, Fruitvale Station, where you know that the story will end in tragedy but you’re so mesmerised you struggle to look away. That inability to detach your eyes from the screen is probably not helped by Rebecca Hall’s portrayal of Chubbuck, which – if early reviews are to be believed – is the best of her career to date.
Then again, if you’ve already got a bad case of the post-Christmas blues, this might not be the film to watch…
Sing – 27th January
As far as animated films go, Sing kicks things off at the end of the month. From the creators of The Secret Life of Pets and Despicable Me, comes a film that, judging by the trailers released so far, looks like a lot of fun.
Buster’s (Matthew McConaughey) anthropomorphic world comes crashing down when the theatre he owns runs into some financial trouble. In a bid to recreate its glory days, he decides to hold a singing competition that soon becomes the talk of the town.
Featuring (take a deep breath with me) Reese Witherspoon, Taron Egerton, Scarlett Johansson, Seth McFarlane, Jennifer Saunders, Jennifer Hudson and so many more, there’s hope that this film will be as good as the Minions are annoying.
T2 Trainspotting – 27th January
Choose your future. Choose life. But why would you want to do a thing like that? You choose not to choose life. You choose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got a sequel to Danny Boyle’s drugged-up, high-octane 1996 film, Trainspotting?
If you’re already a fan of the first movie, I’m sure I don’t need to convince you.
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Media courtesy of Cloud Eight Films, Apaches Entertainment, Regency Enterprises, BorderLINE films, Hammer and Tongs, Black Label Media