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10 Films To See In January

Written by on January 3, 2012 

We’ve shared the best films of 2011 and now it is time to move on. 2012 has arrived and we’ll countdown our most-anticipated later this month, but first we have a taste of what to expect in January. Infamous for the dumping ground of the year, there is certainly a lot of crap left off (Contraband, One For the Money, Underworld 4, etc), but with a few limited releases and some promising big-budget films, this is actually shaping up to be a strong month.

As always, please look at our previous Films To See lists to be alerted of limited releases expanding in your area. And as the VOD market expands, look forward to titles like Kill List, The Innkeepers, and Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie hitting the format bu check back for their inclusion in future lists as they get theatrical bows.

See:

10. Declaration of War (Valérie Donzelli; Jan. 27th)

Synopsis: A young couple wrestle with their child’s cancer diagnosis.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: After getting praised at the Cannes Film Festival, France’s Best Foreign Oscar entry will be getting a limited release via IFC this month. A counterpart to last year’s 50/50, it looks to be a well-told story with some beautiful visuals.

9. In Darkness (Agnieszka Holland; Jan. 27th)

Synopsis: A dramatization of one man’s rescue of Jewish refugees in the Nazi-occupied Polish city of Lvov.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: Coming from the the director behind the Oscar-nominated Europa Europa, as well as episodes of The Wire, The Killing and Treme, we have a new Holocaust drama this year. If you are in for some dire circumstances, Poland’s foreign Academy Award entry looks to fit the bill.

8. Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes; Jan. 20th)

Synopsis: A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: Ralph Fiennes’ blistering directorial debut is a tough watch, but his Shakespearean adaptation features excellent performances from everyone, especially including supporters Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Redgrave. During TIFF I said, “interest wanes during overlong stretches of dialogue, but Fiennes’ vision of Coriolanus remains a brute tale of authority and what happens when power oversteps its boundaries.”

7. Beauty and the Beast 3D (Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise; Jan. 13th)

Synopsis: Belle, whose father is imprisoned by the Beast, offers herself instead and discovers her captor to be an enchanted prince.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: What else can be said about this animated classic? The first film in its class to be nominated for Best Picture is getting a 3D redux after Disney’s similair treatment to The Lion King proved to be a huge financial success. With that conversion actually proving to be worthwhile, I look forward to seeing one of my childhood favorites in theaters.

6. Crazy Horse (Frederick Wiseman; Jan. 18th)

Synopsis: A cinéma vérité look inside Paris’ Crazy Horse, a club that boasts the greatest and most chic nude dancing in the world.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: The documentary pioneer has tackled everything from hospitals to high schools and now he heads into the nude cabaret scene. Garnering great reviews in its festival run, Crazy Horse will finally get a limited release this month.

5. Once Upon a Time In Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan; Jan. 4th)

Synopsis: A group of men set out in search of a dead body in the Anatolian steppes.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: The subtle, minimalist drama Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is Turkey’s foreign Oscar entry and is finally getting a small US release. At Cannes, we praised the combination of “the mystery of a dead body buried in the hills of Anatolia with the spark of an existential journey for its protagonist” as “the drama mirrors issues the country faces today.”

4. Norwegian Wood (Anh Hung Tran; Jan 6th)

Synopsis: Upon hearing the song “Norwegian Wood,” Toru (Matsuyama) remembers back to his life in the 1960s, when his friend Kizuki killed himself and he grew close to Naoko, Kizuki’s girlfriend. As the two try, in very different ways, to contend with their grief, Toru forms a bond with another woman, Midori.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: Adapted from Haruki Murakami‘s beloved novels, this Japanese film is finally getting a limited release this month stateside. The story of love and loss is guided by a score from Radiohead‘s Jonny Greenwood, one of my main reasons to seek this out.

3. The Grey (Joe Carnahan; Jan. 27th)

Synopsis: In Alaska, an oil drilling team struggle to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. Hunting the humans are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: Joe Carnahan is returning to his grittier roots with this wilderness survival story. Re-teaming with his A-Team star Liam Neeson (in his obligatory early year action release), The Grey received fantastic reviews out of BNAT and is perfectly timed to hit theaters during the cold winter months.

2. Haywire (Steven Soderbergh; Jan. 20th)

Synopsis: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: Seeing a big-budget Steven Soderbergh film hitting theaters in January is a bit odd, but this month we have his spy/action thriller Haywire. MMA fighter Gina Carano leads the fantastic ensemble cast including Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Angarano and Channing Tatum. Reviews out of its “secret” AFI Fest premiere were great, making this one of my most-anticipated of the month.

1. Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo; Jan. 20th)

Synopsis: The story of a young woman clinging on to her dream to become a beauty contest queen in a Mexico dominated by organized crime.

Trailer

Why You Should See It: Ever since loving it at Cannes, we’ve been itching for this crime drama to finally get a release. Gerardo Naranjo’s “no-holds thriller” is Mexico’s Foreign-Language Oscar entry and when we caught it again at Vancouver film fest we called it a “nightmarish look into the cruelty of humanity and the injustice of wrong often prevailing over right.”

Check out matinees to see here.

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