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15 Films to See in December

Written by on November 30, 2016 


The year is coming to an end, and as you catch up on all the excellent offerings from home, there’s remain a plethora of reasons to make your way to the theater. It should be noted that many of the below titles will expand wider come January, so check your local theater listings. If you’re in NYC, one of the year’s best documentaries, I Am Not Your Negro, will be getting a one-week run at Metrograph starting December 9, so seek it out of you’re close by, and look for it in this feature come February.

Matinees to See: Harry Benson: Shoot First (12/9), The Wasted Times (12/23), The Founder (12/16), Patriots Day (12/21), Passengers (12/21), Assassin’s Creed (12/21), A Monster Calls (12/23), and Live By Night (12/25)

15. Frank & Lola (Matthew Ross; Dec. 9th)


Synopsis: A psychosexual noir love story, set in Las Vegas and Paris, about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption.


Why You Should See It: After last month’s Nocturnal Animals and Loving, Michael Shannon has returned to the big screen with this Sundance premiere. We said in our review, “Frank & Lola, a noirish erotic thriller from journalist-turned-director Matthew M. Ross, finds leads Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots in top form. They excel as lovers in this tightly-wound psychosexual love story that has elements of the best of Eyes Wide Shut.”

14. Gold (Stephen Gaghan; Dec. 25)


Synopsis: An unlikely pair venture to the Indonesian jungle in search of gold.


Why You Should See ItSyriana helmer Stephen Gaghan is finally back in the director’s chair with Gold, led by Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez. The Weinstein Company recently moved its wide release back a month, but it’ll still get a qualifying run at year’s end. We’d be there solely for the fact that it’s shot by Robert Elswit, but with Gaghan’s talent this looks to be an entertaining, Wolf of Wall Street-esque tale. 

13. Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi; Dec. 25th)


Synopsis: A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.


Why You Should See It: In America’s current state, it’s apparent that there can be no shortage of reminders of our history’s racial barriers. The latest film in this category is Hidden Figures, from St. Vincent director Theodore Melfi and starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. With early reactions hinting at a stirring, feel-good story of inspirational achievements in the space race, it’s definitely something to look for in this crowded season.

12. I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach; Dec. 22nd)

I Daniel Blake 3

Synopsis: A middle aged carpenter who requires state welfare after injuring himself, is joined by a single mother in a similar scenario.


Why You Should See It: Ken Loach was back at Cannes this year, returning after what was thought to be his swansong, and where he picked up the Palme d’Or. We said in our review, “There was a lingering sense that the passion might have gone, but the great social realist has returned to the Croisette this year with fire in the belly and injustice on the mind. I, Daniel Blake is his most urgent and perhaps finest film in years.”

11. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards; Dec. 16th)


Synopsis: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans to the Death Star.


Why You Should See It: Despite the bad buzz surrounding its massive reshoots, I’m still holding out hope that Gareth Edwards‘ prequel will be one of the better Star Wars entries, considering the pedigree both in front of and behind the camera. With a cast led by Felicity JonesBen Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelson, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed, Jonathan Aris, and James Earl Jones, it’s certainly the most varied, promising ensemble yet in this franchise, and we’ll soon find out if they pulled it off.

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