We’ve made it to the final month of the year and while awards chatter clouds up the airwaves, we’re here to help sift through the many promising options at the theaters. In fact, there’s so many that a number of matinees could have easily made our top rundown. Check out the list below and return at the end of the month (and throughout) as we look back on the year in cinema.
Matinees: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (12/7), Heleno (12/7), In Our Nature (12/7), Save the Date (12/14), The Guilt Trip (12/19), Not Fade Away (12/21), On the Road (12/21) and West of Memphis (12/25)
10. The Impossible (Juan Antonio Bayona; Dec. 21st)
Synopsis: An account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time.
Why You Should See It: Despite the overly saccharine trailer for this tsunami drama, Bayona has proven to have a strong grasp of tone in his last film, The Orphanage, and he looks to continue it here. Back during its TIFF premiere, we praised the film, saying it works “a heartfelt eulogy rather than a shameless attempt at manufacturing grief and sorrow for the wrong motivations.” Despite the promising leading duo of Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, it’s their child (played by Tom Holland) that’s the one to watch for.
9. Les Miserables (Tom Hooper; Dec. 25th)
Synopsis: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. This fateful decision changes their lives forever.
Why You Should See It: As a Christmas release approaches, it is difficult to ignore what will be the most extravagant, booming motion picture of the month. While this adaptation of the classic story from The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper is said to have a stellar performance from Anne Hathaway and excellent first act, I’m curious if the rest makes for a worthy, nearly three-hour musical.
8. Jack Reacher (Christopher McQuarrie; Dec. 21st)
Synopsis: A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims.
Why You Should See It: It’s difficult to imagine Tom Cruise’s return to December action lead will be as successful as last year’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but Christopher McQuarrie‘s latest is shaping up to be one of the more purely entertaining entries into the genre this season. Add in Werner Herzog as the villain, and my ticket is already bought.
7. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson; Dec. 14th)
Synopsis: A curious hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug.
Why You Should See It: Although initial reviews were of the middling variety, there seemed to one consensus: it’s nice to be back in Middle Earth. Few filmmakers can successfully capture an entire world like Peter Jackson and while the first step in this new trilogy may be rocky, I’m greatly looking forward to the experience of his new HFR technology, for better or worse.
6. This Is 40 (Judd Apatow; Dec. 21st)
Synopsis: A look at the lives of Pete and Debbie a few years after the events of Knocked Up.
Why You Should See It: Despite the many producing efforts he’s involved in, few directors are able to replicate Judd Apatow‘s knack for mixing comedy and drama. While he went a bit overboard in the latter category with his last effort, Funny People, his latest — a spin-off of his successful Knocked Up — sees him taking on the familiar territory of being middle-aged and all the joys (and pain) that come with it.
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