Before we get to the new releases to see in January, our highest viewing recommendation would be to catch up on the 50 best films of 2016, many of which are expanding this month, including Paterson, 20th Century Women, Silence, and Toni Erdmann. When it comes to our January preview, we’ve also included a few 2016 films that had one-week qualifying runs, but are now officially opening (and there are also a few to definitely avoid in that category). Check out the feature below and let us know what you are most looking forward to in the comments.
10. Split (M. Night Shyamalan; Jan. 20)
Synopsis: 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: After a less-than-stellar big-budget tentpole streak, Shyamalan seems to have found his sweet spot working at a smaller scale with Blumhouse. We said in our review, “M. Night Shyamalan movies are almost always better when he’s having fun. Like The Visit, Split makes mischief out of the balance between horror and comedy, continually throwing up situations that are simultaneously absurd and terrifying.”
9. Trespass Against Us (Adam Smith; Jan. 20)
Synopsis: A man looks to find a way to escape the criminal ways of his outlaw family.
Why You Should See It: Jumping back from a disappointing 2016, Michael Fassbender will be featured in three of our most-anticipated films of the year (Song to Song, The Snowman, and Alien: Covenant), but first he has Trespass Against Us. While the drama didn’t receive the best of reviews following its TIFF premiere, we’ll be there for anything starring Fassbender, and doubly so if he’s not wearing a cape. We said in our review, “It’s clear within the first few minutes of first-time director Adam Smith’s Trespass Against Us — as a muddy Subaru races after a bounding rabbit in the U.K. countryside, with a young boy at the wheel — that the film to follow will be a disorienting experience.”
8. The Daughter (Simon Stone; Jan. 27)
Synopsis: The story follows a man who returns home to discover a long-buried family secret, and whose attempts to put things right threaten the lives of those he left home years before.
Why You Should See It: A highlight on the fall festival circuit two years ago, Simon Stone‘s directorial debut The Daughter, is finally getting a release this month. As a longtime theater director, Stone amassed a strong ensemble for the drama, including Geoffrey Rush, Ewen Leslie, Paul Schneider, Miranda Otto, Anna Torv, Odessa Young, and Sam Neill. We said in our review, “The acting is superb, headed by two Antipodean heavyweights in Rush and Neill, both in restrained less-is-more modes.”
7. I Am Michael (Justin Kelly; Jan. 27)
Synopsis: A gay activist and magazine founder is saved from his homosexuality after turning to God.
Why You Should See It: There was no way of seeing one of James Franco‘s best performances of the last few years, unless you caught it on its festival run back in 2015, but thanks to a recent acquisition, one will now have the chance. I said in my review, “Sure to ignite many impassioned discussions, I Am Michael tackles complex issues of sexuality and faith with a balanced view. The directorial debut of Justin Kelly, a past collaborator with Gus Vant Sant (who produces here), the drama’s formal elements aren’t as compelling as the ideas it wrestles with, but it does make for one of James Franco‘s more accomplished and complicated performances.”
6. Behemoth (Liang Zhao; Jan. 27)
Synopsis: A documentary chronicling miners and steel workers in China.
Why You Should See It: Finding a previously unexposed corner of industry and bringing to light all of its muck, fire, noise, pain, and bizarre end results, Zhao Liang‘s Behemoth mingles intimacy with intensity in a way only well-considered documentaries could even manage. Though more abstract than the standard exploration of economic and ecological devastation, its mingling of fantastical elements with some rather amazing footage of miners at work might hit a sweet spot for many viewers. – Nick N.
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