12 Years a Slave

Awards season at the movies should just be called something else, like “The Glut” or “The Influx” or “You’re Never Going To See All The Films You Want To (And Should),” but some wily studios are capitalizing on audiences’ inability to see everything right away by re-releasing (or majorly expanding) favorite features that have been hanging around the multiplex for awhile now. It’s not a unique thing to do, and it does tend to happen in fits and starts every year, but it certainly seems to be a release strategy that’s getting some legs when it comes to the big contenders (remember back in 2011 when Sarah’s Key got a re-release to build buzz? Remember how you’d never even heard of the film and that last minute push didn’t change that? That’s not happening these days).

As of now, at least three big contenders are fixing for limited theatrical re-releases (including 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, and Blue Jasmine), but we have a few ideas about three other films that deserve the same treatment, or at least another shot at big screen enjoyment.

12 Years a Slave

If you’ve so far missed Steve McQueen’s jaw-dropping feature about a free man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) sold into slavery (for, well, twelve years) in pre-Civil War America, we don’t blame you. It’s not exactly the kind of film you might want to take the kids to, or a date, or your family. Repeated cries about how brutal and wrenching the film is probably aren’t helping matters, but the film isn’t so upsetting that you’re going to have to sink into a vegetative state after seeing it, you just might want to take some time to breathe and think.

Fox Searchlight will re-release the film in limited theaters on January 17th.

Blue Jasmine

Star Cate Blanchett has been in the Oscar talk mix since Woody Allen’s latest debuted over the summer, but plenty of people haven’t seen why yet. While the plotline of the film – Blanchett’s Jasmine flees Manhattan after her douchebag husband (Alec Baldwin) leaves her for someone else’s nanny and goes to jail for financial chicanery, and the spoiled socialite tries to make her way in San Francisco (while living on her beleaguered sister’s dime) – sounds kind of depressing, it’s a sharply observed and often very funny feature. Even better? If you’re not sold on Blanchett (or, hell, if you already are), the film is packed with a ton of wonderful supporting performances that just might come back up again come Oscar time (including both Sally Hawkins and Andrew Dice Clay).

Sony Pictures Classics expanded the film into limited theaters last weekend.

Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks may have a couple of very different bids for awards glory in the mix right now, but his work in the final twenty or so minutes of Paul Greengrass’ fact-based film isn’t just the best thing he’s done this year, it’s the best thing he’s done in whole years. Just see it if you haven’t yet.

Sony Pictures will expand the film (still in some theaters) to a further 1,000 locations on January 17th.

Pain & Gain

While plenty of year-end top-whatever lists are bound to feature a bevy of the same titles, Michael Bay’s fact-based tale will likely only pop on just a few – but that doesn’t mean it’s not in need of some reconsideration when it comes to the awards season conversation. This film is insane, the sort of perfect accompaniment to The Bling Ring and Spring Breakers, and in need of a more clear-headed look from people who initially dismissed it (especially people who dismissed it and didn’t even bother to see it). Released back in April, even fans of the film may have forgotten its potent wackiness or that it was indeed released this year. If nothing else, the big screen needs more tank tops right now.

Fruitvale Station

The Sundance darling got saddled with an awkward summer release date that didn’t exactly scream “serious movie here!” While director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan are still getting notice for the fact-based story, Fruitvale Station as a whole is deserving of more heat. How to fix that? Yup, a December or January re-release. Listen, if The Weinstein Company gave one to Sarah’s Key (we do apologize for making Sarah’s Key are proverbial whipping boy here), they can give on to Fruitvale Station. That would at least, well, bear some fruit.

Short Term 12

Another film festival winner, Destin Daniel Cretton’s lovely feature has garnered plenty of well-deserved notice for its star, Brie Larson, but the rest of the film’s cast (especially Keith Stanfield, John Gallagher Jr., and Kaitlyn Dever) is in need of some accolades, too. The film never hit more than seventy-five theaters and its scant box office take of around one million dollars is far less than it should have earned. This is a film that needs to be seen – both for its own merits and the wealth of rising talent within it – and even a small re-release could give it new blood.


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