Our New Year’s resolution? More moviegoing! And we’re looking for other film lovers to join us. So, here’s to enabling you in 2017. We’re starting this year off right with your January Film Guide (click the title for the trailer).
UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS (January 6th)
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Peter Andersson, Charles Dance
Director: Anna Foerster
Synopsis: Death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) must fend off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the vampire faction that betrayed her. Joining forces with allies David (Theo James) and Thomas (Peter Andersson), she embarks on a quest to end the eternal war between the two races, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.
Why you should see it: Kate Beckinsale returns as our favorite vampire, Selene, in the fifth installment of this action-adventure franchise. With cinematographer, Anna Foerster (White House Down) in the director’s chair, you can be sure that the action sequences will have you on the edge of your seat.
A MONSTER CALLS (January 6th)
Cast: Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell
Director: J.A. Bayona
Synopsis: 12-year-old Conor, dealing with his mother’s illness, a less-than-sympathetic grandmother, and bullying classmates, finds a most unlikely ally when a Monster appears at his bedroom window. Ancient, wild, and relentless, the Monster guides Conor on a journey of courage, faith, and truth.
Why you should see it: Based on the acclaimed children’s novel of the same name, A Monster Calls has already received positive reviews during its limited release, with an 89% score on Rotten Tomatoes. A heart-felt tale with a stellar cast, this coming of age story may tread familiar territory in the midst of awards season. Yet, it’s sure to deliver a refreshing take.
HIDDEN FIGURES (January 6th)
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner
Director: Theodore Melfi
Synopsis: Three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.
Why you should see it: With a limited Christmas opening, Hidden Figures expands its reach this January. Derived from true events and portrayed by a talented cast, the film has awards buzz written all over it, especially for the lovely Octavia Spencer who is nominated for a 2017 Golden Globe ®. It’s also received glowing reviews from critics and audiences alike. And if you’re history nerds like us, it’ll be nice to see a little-known, but inspirational story brought to life on the big screen.
I, DANIEL BLAKE (January 6th)
Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Natalie Ann Jamieson
Director: Ken Loach
Synopsis: When an ill carpenter finds himself in need of state welfare, he meets a desperate single mother who needs the same thing. Together, the duo discovers that negotiating through the red tape is a challenge.
Why you should see it: I, Daniel Blake is another film with a limited December release, expanding its theatrical run this January. Featured at several of this year’s prestigious film festivals (with Cannes among them), the movie has won 4 British Independent Film Awards and a slew of others. With the talented Ken Loach (The Wind that Shakes the Barley) at the helm, the film has been noted for its social commentary on government bureaucracy.
PATRIOTS DAY (January 13th)
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, John Goodman
Director: Peter Berg
Synopsis: Tragedy strikes on April 15, 2013, when two bombs explode during the Boston Marathon. In the aftermath of the attack, police Sgt. Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) and Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) join courageous survivors, first responders and other investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the suspects and bring them to justice.
Why you should see it: The Berg-Wahlberg dynamic duo are back with another action-drama. With their two previous collaborations (Love Survivor, Deepwater Horizon) generating positive reviews, the two prove that they work together. And the critical reception of Patriots Day seems to support that claim.
LIVE BY NIGHT (January 13th)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper
Director: Ben Affleck
Synopsis: It’s the Roaring `20s and Prohibition hasn’t stopped the flow of booze in an underground network of gangster-run speakeasies. The opportunity to gain power and money is there for any man with enough ambition and nerve, and Joe Coughlin, the son of the Boston Police superintendent, long ago turned his back on his strict upbringing for the spoils of being an outlaw. But even among criminals there are rules, and Joe breaks a big one: crossing a powerful mob boss by stealing his money and his moll.
Why you should see it: Affleck is a triple threat, writing, directing, and starring in this gangster period piece. And with the help of cinematographer, Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, Hugo), Live By Night is sure to be a well-shot gangster flick. And if the director, cinematographer, and cast are not convincing enough, then let’s take a look at the film’s source material. The novel of the same name, is penned by Dennis Lehane whose previous works include Mystic River, Shutter Island, and The Drop–all of which were adapted into critically acclaimed films. So, we’re definitely bracing ourselves for this one.
SLEEPLESS (January 13th)
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Gabrielle Union, Michelle Monaghan
Director: Baran Odar
Synopsis: Undercover Las Vegas police officer Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) finds himself caught in a high-stakes web of corrupt cops, internal affairs and murderous gangsters. When a failed heist leads to the kidnapping of his teenage son, Downs must race against time during a wild and restless night to save him and bring the criminals to justice.
Why you should see it: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Luckily, Sleepless is a remake of the highly acclaimed French language action feature, Sleepless Night. And Jamie Foxx has already proven his ability to headline these sorts of films–Miami Vice, Stealth, White House Down–so, we know that we’re in good hands.
THE BYE BYE MAN (January 13th)
Cast: Carrie-Anne Moss, Lucien Laviscount, Douglas Smith, Faye Dunaway
Director: Stacy Title
Synopsis: People commit unthinkable acts every day. Time and again, we grapple to understand what drives a person to do such terrible things. But what if all of the questions we’re asking are wrong? What if the cause of all evil is not a matter of what…but who? When three college friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, they discover that there is only one way to avoid his curse: don’t think it, don’t say it. But once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control. Is there a way to survive his possession?
Why you should see it: Who doesn’t love a good horror film? And with so many solid scary movies in 2016, we’re hoping that 2017 can keep the ball rolling. So, we’ll be sure to check out The Bye Bye Man.
20th CENTURY WOMEN (January 13th)
Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup, Greta Gerwig
Director: Mike Mills
Synopsis: In 1979 Santa Barbara, Calif., Dorothea Fields is a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie, at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women — Abbie, a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home and Julie, a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor — to help with Jamie’s upbringing.
Why you should see it: Here, we have another film generating awards buzz. With such strong critical reviews, Annette Bening is nominated for a 2017 Golden Globe for her performance. So, 20th Century Women may even stick around for the Oscars.
THE BOOK OF LOVE (January 13th)
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Maisie Williams, Jessica Biel
Director: Bill Purple
Synopsis: Henry (Jason Sudeikis) is a widowed architect who strikes up a friendship with Millie (Maisie Williams), an independent but troubled teen. Hoping to find her long-lost father, Millie asks Henry to build her a raft that can sail across the ocean. After agreeing to do so, the unlikely duo embark on an incredible adventure that deepens their bond and lifts their spirits.
Why you should see it: Can’t wait the four months for Game of Thrones? We don’t blame you, especially since we all love Arya Stark! So, we’ll seize any opportunity to see actress, Maisie Williams, on the big screen. Couple that with a score from Justin Timberlake and we’re sold.
ALONE IN BERLIN (January 13th)
Cast: Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Brühl
Director: Vincent Perez
Synopsis: A German couple lose their son in WWII, prompting them to become secretly anti-Nazi.
Why you should see it: Though Alone in Berlin hasn’t received the strongest reviews, we find it hard to believe that Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson aren’t worth the price of admission. Besides, the historical setting alone makes us intrigued (we told you, we’re history fanatics).
100 STREETS (January 13th)
Cast: Idris Elba, Gemma Arterton, Tom Cullen
Director: Jim O’Hanlon
Synopsis: Three different stories covering infidelity, adoption and a drug dealer turned actor are intertwined as characters meet in the streets of London.
Why you should see it: Character-driven tales in a famous city setting are a recipe for success. Just look at Paris, Je T’Aime. And even if the critical reviews aren’t amazing, there’s still room for charm, especially with actors like Idris Elba and Gemma Arterton.
SPLIT (January 20th)
Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jessica Sula
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Synopsis: Though Kevin has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.
Why you should see it: M. Night Shyamalan is back! And we’re not talking about The Happening M. Night. No. We’re talking about the Sixth Sense, Unbreakable M. Night! And how we’ve missed his intellectual thrillers. Don’t get us wrong, we enjoyed The Visit, but Split seems to harken back to the skill that made us love Shyamalan in the 90s. Maybe it’s the beginning of his renaissance?
THE FOUNDER (January 20th)
Cast: Michael Keaton, Laura Dern, Nick Offerman
Director: John Lee Hancock
Synopsis: The true story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) maneuvered himself into a position to buy the 1950s burger operation of Mac and Dick McDonald and create a billion-dollar fast food empire.
Why you should see it: Michael Keaton takes on a morally complicated role that generally works incredibly well for him. So, we can definitely expect a strong performance from him. Coupled with the direction of The Blind Side’s John Lee Hancock, The Founder promises to be a gut-wrenching drama that makes us love and hate its lead character.
xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (January 20th)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Deepika Padukone, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: D.J. Caruso
Synopsis: After coming out of self-imposed exile, daredevil operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) must race against time to recover a sinister weapon known as Pandora’s Box, a device that controls every military satellite in the world. Recruiting a new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself entangled in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of government.
Why you should see it: Honestly, we appreciate cinema’s nostalgia. Without it, we wouldn’t have so many new installments to films that excited us way back when. And with Vin Diesel reprising his role from the xXx franchise, we’re ready for the non-stop action headed our way. It’ll just get us more excited about The Fate of the Furious.
TRESPASS AGAINST US (January 20th)
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson
Director: Adam Smith
Synopsis: After an elaborate heist goes south, reluctant criminal Chad (Michael Fassbender) must find a way to escape from the clutches of his fierce outlaw father (Brendan Gleeson) and the encroaching police.
Why you should see it: Director Adam Smith may be known for his acclaimed documentary, The Chemical Brothers: Don’t Think, but he demonstrates his dramatic chops with Trespass Against Us. Distributed by A24 (Ex Machina, Moonlight), the feature is sure to be a compelling drama, especially with Fassbender and Gleeson in the starring roles.
RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER (January 27th)
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Synopsis: Picking up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.
Why you should see it: After 15 years, the beloved zombie saga is coming to an end. So, if you’ve followed Alice since 2002, here is where your dedication pays off. Though it’s hard to say goodbye, it’s also thrilling to see how things end. And with his commitment to the series, director Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Resident Evil: Retribution), will definitely give it a proper send off.
BASTARDS (January 27th)
Cast: Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, J.K. Simmons
Director: Lawrence Sher
Synopsis: Brothers Kyle (Owen Wilson) and Peter (Ed Helms) Reynolds were raised to believe that their dad died when they were young. They’re shocked to discover that their mother (Glenn Close) lied about his death because she never knew who the biological father was. As the siblings set out on an epic quest to find him, they start to learn more about their eccentric mom’s past than they ever wanted to know.
Why you should see it: From the cinematographer of The Hangover trilogy, War Dogs, and The Dictator, comes this Owen Wilson comedy. With so much comedic star power, we’re pretty sure that you’ll get laughs with Bastards.
GOLD (January 27th)
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Synopsis: Kenny Wells, a prospector desperate for a lucky break, teams up with a similarly eager geologist and sets off on an amazing journey to find gold in the uncharted jungle of Indonesia. Getting the gold was hard but keeping it is even more difficult, sparking an adventure through the most powerful boardrooms of Wall Street.
Why you should see it: Matthew McConaughey undergoes another drastic transformation, this time, packing on the pounds, instead of losing them. We’ve seen the results of Conaughey’s commitment with his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club. So, we’re looking forward to his portrayal of the eager Kenny Wells.
THE SALESMAN (January 27th)
Cast: Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Mina Sadati
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Synopsis: A high school teacher (Shahab Hosseini) seeks revenge against the perpetrator who attacked his wife (Taraneh Alidoosti) in their apartment.
Why you should see it: The Salesman is one of the nine promising films shortlisted for the 2017 Foreign Language Oscar. And it’s not hard to see why. Director Asghar Farhadi previously won the 2012 award for his film, A Separation. His other features including About Elly and The Past were also the subject of critical acclaim. So, most likely, you’ll see The Salesman at the upcoming Oscars ceremony.