Look Out For… January

A new month, a new year, a new set of films to look forward to.

In Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman once again transforms himself in a performance that’s hotly tipped for awards glory. Speaking of which, the Bulgarian-Greek drama Glory depicts a platelayer (Stefan Denolyubov) who becomes embroiled in a corruption cover-up after discovering a life-changing amount of money.

After the major success of Get Out last year, Blumhouse Productions releases the fourth instalment (second in the film franchise’s internal timeline) in their Insidious series, Insidious: The Last Key. But if you prefer a more dilute, kid-friendly horror, Pixar’s latest, Coco, sees the aspiring musician Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) enter the beautifully-animated Land of the Dead. And of course, there are a slew of award-bait films to look out for this month.

Molly’s Game – 1st January

While most screenwriters are lucky if they have any further input on a finished product beyond their script, the very nature of Aaron Sorkin’s work immediately demands this and more. The ‘Sorkinisms’ that inundate his work – incredibly fast-paced dialogue, esoteric references to a multitude of topics, and, of course, the walk-and-talk – may be considered as self-indulgent by some, or quirky by others. But the point is, Sorkin’s writing speaks for itself in spite of its director. So why not just cut out the middle-man?

Sorkin’s directorial debut presents the polymath Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), an Olympic-level skier turned empress of a high-stakes underground poker ring, all achieved by the age of 26. Although her business is booming, with interest from Hollywood A-listers and the Russian mafia, it soon attracts some unwanted attention from the FBI.

Based on a memoir by Bloom herself (entitled with Sorkian loquaciousness: Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker), recent reviews are enough to whet anyone’s appetite. After a rocky few years – an early cancellation for The Newsroom, a snub from the Academy for the underrated Steve Jobs – this should hopefully set Sorkin back on his feet.

All the Money in the World – 5th January

Ridley Scott’s latest directorial effort adapts the true events in the days during the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) by the Mafia, and the refusal to pay the ransom by his grandfather, the billionaire J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer, no relation to Charlie).

Even though the plot may sound crazy, the production around the film is even more unbelievable. Following numerous sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey – the original actor in the role of J. Paul Getty – in October, the role was swiftly recast with Plummer being ushered in – and, apparently, does a fine job as the oil tycoon. Adamant to maintain the mid-December US release date, Scott carried out extensive reshoots in multiple countries in just ten days, relying on a mix of CGI and live-action to achieve the final product.

The film itself has already been relatively well received, but nevertheless this is an unprecedented feat.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 12th January

Perhaps the film I’m most anticipating this month, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri follows the aftermath of a child’s violent murder, and the crime’s impact on the local community. Frustrated by the police’s apparent apathy in finding the perpetrator, Mildred (Frances McDormand), the mother of the victim, decides to use three billboards (outside – you guessed it – Ebbing, Missouri) to write a message that should catch the police’s attention…

As one would expect from a Martin McDonagh movie (whose previous works include 2008’s In Bruges and 2012’s Seven Psychopaths), this film is a mix of black comedy and deep tragedy. The highlight, however, is McDormand, who gives a career-defining performance.

The Post – 19th January

Despite the extraordinary success of their respective careers, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep have never worked together on the big screen. Who better to unite them than the legend himself, Steven Spielberg?

Set in the 1970s, Streep and Hanks play Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee (a publisher and journalist, respectively, at The Washington Post) as they fight to publish the Pentagon Papers, which described the extent of the US’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

If the trifecta of Streep, Hanks and Spielberg isn’t enough of a draw, then the timeliness of this movie should surely be enticing. In an age of ‘Fake News’, The Post acts as a reminder of the importance of integrity and persistence in the pursuit of good journalism.

Sarah Quraishi

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