It’s finally the month of the Oscars, and while you catch up on the best films of last year, there’s also a wealth of promising new films to check out in theaters. From horror to action to documentaries to the top Sundance winner to a Polish cannibal horror mermaid musical, there’s something for everyone. We should also note that, for those looking to repertory options, Josef von Sternberg’s newly restored final film Anatahan will start rolling out this week.
Matinees to See: Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back (2/3), Youth in Oregon (2/3), The Space Between Us (2/3), David Brent: Life on the Road (2/10), The Great Wall (2/17), Land of Mine (2/17), Kiki (2/24)
15. XX (St. Vincent, Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin, Sofìa Carrillo, and Jovanka Vuckovic; Feb. 17)
Synopsis: An all-female horror anthology.
Why You Should See It: After the anthologies V/H/S and The ABCs of Death ran their course, it’s time to put horror in the proper hands. XX offers four tales in the genre, all directed by females: Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), Karyn Kusama (whose The Invitation was one of 2016’s best films), Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound), and Jovanka Vuckovic (former editor of Rue Morgue magazine). With a cast including Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey, Breeda Wool, and Christina Kirk, reactions from Sundance indicate a hit-or-miss quality, but we’re there to see St. Vincent’s first effort behind the camera.
14. Imperial Dreams (Malik Vitthal; Feb. 3)
Synopsis: A 21-year-old reformed gangster’s devotion to his family and his future is put to the test when he is released from prison and returns to his old stomping grounds in Watts, Los Angeles.
Why You Should See It: In the three years since the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Imperial Dreams, life has greatly changed for John Boyega. He’s shot two Star Wars films, he’s in the middle of shooting a Pacific Rim sequel, and worked with James Ponsoldt and Kathryn Bigelow on new features. After being in distribution limbo, Malik Vitthal’s drama will now get a Netflix release this week and it looks to be a strong drama, which audiences already have embraced as it won the Audience Award in its Next section after its Sundance premiere.
13. A United Kingdom (Amma Assante; Feb. 10)
Synopsis: Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana causes an international stir when he marries a white woman from London in the late 1940s.
Why You Should See It: Belle director Amma Asante has returned with another historical drama, A United Kingdom, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. Premiering back at TIFF and now set for a release this month from Fox Searchlight, we said in our review, “the production is near flawless in period look and coherence towards what’s a rather complicated political issue consisting of numerous moving pieces. We understand why Britain looks to divide Khama’s family and why he’s desperate to stop them.”
12. Kedi (Ceyda Torun; Feb. 10)
Synopsis: A profile of an ancient city and its unique people, seen through the eyes of the most mysterious and beloved animal humans have ever known, the Cat.
Why You Should See It: Shaping up to be the Citizen Kane of cat movies, Kedi follows a few of the hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats in Istanbul. Judging from the trailer, and positive acclaim from its year-long festival run, this will be the most adorable film of 2017.
11. The LEGO Batman Movie (Chris McKay; Feb. 10)
Synopsis: Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted.
Why You Should See It: The self-awareness that was utterly absent from Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is thankfully showing up in The Dark Knight’s latest adventure. Before Justice League and his stand-alone movie, another take on the superhero is coming shortly. Led by Will Arnett‘s angsty, hilarious, and lonely Caped Crusader, the perfecting voice cast includes Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera), Barbara Gordon/Batgirl (Rosario Dawson), The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), and Gotham’s mayor (Mariah Carey). We imagine this will be the best DC film of the year.
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