The festive period may be over, but a new year means new films to look forward to, and January certainly doesn’t disappoint.
If you’re a fan of network darling This Is Us, then its creator Dan Fogelman brings generational drama Life Itself – which, despite some lacklustre reviews does at least boast a fantastic cast.
Long gone are his The Office days, as Steve Carell starts in three very different movies, all based on true events: Beautiful Boy, showing a father’s relationship with his drug-addicted son, Welcome to Marwen, about a man who builds a miniature village to help him cope with his trauma, and Vice, which is discussed later. If you’re sick of The Greatest Showman but still want a little Hugh Jackman in your life, then might I suggest The Front Runner – an intriguing look into how a 24-hour news cycle became critical to a political campaign.
But if none of those float your boat, then no need to despair! There’s still plenty more to look forward to this month.
The Favourite – 1st January
It might be strange to call a three-time BAFTA winner (two of which were on the same night), two-time Emmy nominee and a Golden Globe winner underrated, but Olivia Colman is just that. Thankfully, however, Hollywood has finally seen the light as Colman takes centre stage in The Favourite.
Set in early 18th century Great Britain, during the reign of Queen Anne (Colman), the Duchess Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) realises that her position as the Queen’s court favourite is in jeopardy upon the arrival of her lowly cousin, Abigail (Emma Stone). So ensues a farcical rivalry as each try to one-up the other.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos has made a name for himself with his previous fantastical films – even five minutes into his Oscar-nominated 2015 film The Lobster, you know that you’ve never seen anything like this. While such absurdity may not be to everyone’s taste, in exploring those themes within the constraints of a period piece, Lanthimos may have a little gem on his hands.
Monsters and Men – 18th January
Perhaps the least well known of this bunch, Reinaldo Marcus Green makes his feature directorial debut with Monsters and Men, demonstrating that his is a talent to be reckoned with.
When Manny (Anthony Ramos) videos a police officer killing a black man, he makes the difficult choice to share the harrowing footage with the public. However, his decision inadvertently impacts not only his own family, but also his entire community – including a black police officer (John David Washington, son of Denzel) who must reckon with his own loyalties.
Since leaving the original Broadway cast of Hamilton, Ramos has made the most of bit-parts in films like 2017’s Patti Cake$ and 2018’s A Star Is Born. Now, however, Ramos finally takes on a leading role, tackling hard-hitting subject matter with aplomb. If you’re in the mood for a heavier watch, look no further.
Second Act – 25th January
On the other end of the movie spectrum, is Second Act, a rom-com from Peter Segal, director of 50 First Dates.
Maya (Jennifer Lopez) is a down-on-her-luck 40-year-old woman stuck in a low-paying job who can’t help but ruminate on what might have been. However, due to an administrative error at a finance firm that she is interviewing for, she is mistaken to be a business consultant at the top of her field, and is hired as such. Although initially this second chance seems like a dream come true, the stress of maintaining her lie soon starts to catch up with her.
In all likelihood, this is probably not going to be the best film you’ve ever seen. But sometimes you just want to sit back in your dressing gown, with a cup of tea tea and some biscuits and watch something light-hearted and fun. Second Act looks like it could fit into that picture.
Vice – 25th January
Having successfully made the transition from somewhat crude comedies (like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Step Brothers) to more “serious” comedy-dramas (with 2015’s The Big Short), Adam McKay continues to surprise audiences and critics alike with his latest film.
Vice depicts the rise of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale, in yet another unrecognisable transformation) from alcohol-dependent Yale graduate to – what many considered to be – the most powerful Vice President in the history of the US, making key decisions regarding foreign policy and the country’s defence, with the help of his wife, Lynne Cheney (Amy Adams) and mentor, Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell).
While all of that may sound a little dry, McKay has proven that he has a knack for bringing out the best of jargon-heavy topics. No matter what your opinion may be regarding George W. Bush (played here by Sam Rockwell), Cheney himself or the American Republican Party in general, this will be an intriguing look into how power is obtained, demonstrated and maintained – and how Cheney’s power has reverberated on both sides of the Atlantic.
Featured image courtesy of Georgia Butcher.
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