January is usually known for its awful selection of low budget horror films, but in the UK, January is great for films as serious awards contenders make their way over from the USA. There’s a lot to look forward to over the next couple of weeks, so I’m just going to give my quick thoughts on what I would like to see for the rest of January. It’s extremely likely that I won’t get to see all of these in their initial release at the cinema, but I would certainly like to look out for these in the future on Blu-Ray releases etc. Films such as Underworld: Blood Wars (13th), xXx 3 (19th), and Sing (27th) do look like fun films, but I’m not seriously anticipating them.
A Monster Calls (1st January 2017)
Already released in the UK, A Monster Calls at first glance looks like a children’s film. However, on further inspection to its plot and themes, the film interestingly takes a fantasy premise and applies it to real and human issues, with what looks to be an extremely emotional viewing. The special effects of the tree monster who visits a child whose Mother is terminally ill look incredible, and the voice of Liam Neeson will definitely provide a rich personality to the character. With a seemingly powerful performance from Felicity Jones and Lewis MacDougall, this looks to be an interesting and moving story. Also, on a side note, Director J A Bayona has proven he can create emotional films with The Impossible, so I have faith that even with a seemingly bizarre premise, Bayona will be able to achieve similar success.
La La Land (13th January 2017)
With 7 Golden Globe wins, 11 BAFTA nominations and an almost certain success story at the Academy Awards, La La Land looks to be a special film. Throwing back to an old fashioned style Hollywood musical, Damien Chazelle (Director of one of my favourite films of 2014 Whiplash) has created a film that is taken the industry by storm. Musicals aren’t my favourite genre, yet I am genuinely intrigued to see this film. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone look as though their on screen chemistry will be captivating and believable, the musical numbers look well-choreographed and the set/costume design look authentic and beautiful. This one has such high praise at the moment that I’m cautious about going into it with such high expectations, but I’m definitely expecting good quality here.
Manchester by the Sea (13th January 2017)
With multiple Golden Globe nominations (along with a win for Casey Affleck for leading Actor) and a number of BAFTA nominations, Manchester by the Sea also looks to be another touching story. Whereas A Monster Calls was based on a fantasy premise, this film takes an extremely realistic situation and explores relationships within the family. Casey Affleck plays an Uncle who must become a guardian to his Nephew after his Brother (The Nephew’s Father) dies. Casey Affleck looks to have given the performance of his career thus far, and Michelle Williams looks to also provide an affectionate performance. The film looks to be packed with raw emotion which may not be an easy watch, yet the filmmakers should be commended for seemingly handling such a difficult subject with care, looking to be one of the standout films of the month.
Lion (20th January 2017)
Based on a true story, Lion tells the story of an adopted Indian male who sets out on a journey to find his family that he lost 25 years earlier. I’m a big fan of the lead actor Dev Patel who has given memorable performances in Slumdog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films. There is also an amazing supporting cast with Rooney Mara (who was incredible in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Nicole Kidman. Not only that, but the film looks to tell a truly inspirational and emotional story. This also seems to be a success for Garth Davis, as Lion is his feature film directorial debut. With noticeable awards recognition in terms of the nominations at the Golden Globes, and an exciting cast with an incredible story, this film definitely earns a place on the list.
Split (20th January 2017)
M. Night Shyamalan is possibly the best example of a hit and miss Director. He’s created one of the most memorable twists in film history in The Sixth Sense, yet has also made some of cinema’s most disliked films in the form of The Last Airbender and The Happening. Despite this, Shyamalan made a decent return in 2015 with The Visit, and now Split, his latest thriller looks to cement the fact that Shyamalan is back. Telling the story of three girls who are kidnapped by Kevin, (James McAvoy) a man who has 23 different personalities, with a secret 24th that seems to be more dangerous and terrifying than the rest. It’s interesting to see McAvoy play the villain in the film, as he has shown a darker side in Filth, but audiences now know him for the calm and wise Professor X in the X-Men films. With an intriguing premise and extremely positive early reviews, Split looks to be an intense thriller that will excite audiences.
T2 Trainspotting (27th January 2017)
Possibly the largest risk of the month, a sequel to Trainspotting is coming at the end of the month. The first Trainspotting was such an important film, putting Ewan McGregor in the spotlight, and exploring the issue of drug addiction in a stylish and a darkly comedic way. Thankfully, Director Danny Boyle is back along with the original cast of main characters, with all the actors approving the script agreeing to come back to make the sequel (giving me hope that this will be a risk that will pay off). With an outstanding trailer that looks to deal with similar issues raised in the first film as well as raising new ones, I can’t help but be extremely excited for this film. It probably will be as unsettling and as disturbing as the first film, yet looks to have some truly funny moments. This will unquestionably be a mature film in terms of its themes and content, and I can’t wait. If I had to rank my anticipation for films coming out this month, this would be at the top.
Hacksaw Ridge (27th January 2017)
Andrew Garfield is really standing out at the moment. Not only did he give an incredible performance in Martin Scorsese’s Silence, but he’s getting even more praise for his role in Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge (A seemingly solid return to excellent filmmaking from Gibson). Telling the amazing true story of a conscientious objector who refused to handle a weapon during battle in World War 2, Hacksaw Ridge looks to be an intense, violent and brutal war film. Gibson is no stranger to violence with films such as The Passion of the Christ, and dealing with war we can expect some truly unnerving sequences. There also seems to be an interesting supporting cast, with Sam Worthington and Vince Vaughn giving surprisingly dramatic and layered performances. The trailer looks to build Garfield’s character Desmond Doss as a layered individual who not only has to deal with the lack of a weapon on the battlefield but the doubts of his fellow soldiers who from the trailers seem to mock and bully him. This is also one of my most anticipated films, so look out for a review towards the end of the month for this one.
So overall, the rest of January looks to include some memorable films, emotional films and a risky sequel. Even though there aren’t the large scale well known blockbusters that will start to be released consistently In March, there’s a lot to be excited for at the beginning of 2017. This will become a regular post I do towards the end of each month looking forward to the month ahead. Thank you for reading