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12 Great Movies Released in January

By  · Published on January 12th, 2010

Last night on Reject Radio, four people (our biggest audience yet!) listened to Rob Hunter and me discuss and lament the January Problem. Everyone knows that it’s become a dumping ground for schlock movies, but after positively reviewing and suggesting audiences to go check out two of the releases this week (Youth in Revolt and Daybreakers) we took each other to task to come up with 5 films apiece that show at least a hint of talent lying under the usual dung pile of the beginning of the year.

And we succeeded.

Not in making a resounding case for January, but by simply showing that there’s a strong amount of great movies that have been dumped there too alongside the rubble.

And we’re willing to bet you can think of even more. Without further ado, Reject Radio presents:

12 Movies That Prove January Isn’t Absolutely Devoid of Great Movies

MASH (1970)

Even though it only proves that January wasn’t always worthless, MASH is a fantastic film and one of Robert Altman’s best. There’s never been a war movie or comedy like it, as Elliot Gould, Donald Sutherland and a great cast strike a difficult balance between huge laughs and the harshness of war. -CA

Blazing Saddles (1974)

This is the funniest movie ever made. A month can’t be all bad if it released the funniest movie of all time, can it? -CA

Changeling (1980)

George C Scott stars in this truly scary haunted house movie. It’s not flashy or gory, but it is frightening and features a resolution with more emotional staying power than any number of supposed horror films made since. Scott solidifies his place in Hollywood as a talented and significant actor here… four years before he would throw it all away with his portrayal of Injun Joe in Firestarter. -RH

The Final Countdown (1980)

That’s right, great January releases can be cheesy fun too. Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen head an all-star cast, err well a cast anyway, in this sci-fi flick about a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that time-warps back to December 1941… right before the attack on Pearl Harbor! Can you imagine that?! What do you do!? Smack down the Japanese and alter history, or turn you head and allow it to happen? -RH

Mr. Frost (1990)

Is Jeff Goldblum the world’s best actor? No, but the guy is fascinating to watch nonetheless. Here he portrays a serial killer arrested and placed in an asylum for psychiatric evaluation by Kathy Baker. He reveals quite calmly that he’s the devil in human form, and he’s returned to Earth to remind mankind of his existence. Is he crazy, or is he telling the truth? -RH

Closet Land (1991)

Alan Rickman gives a stellar performance (of course) as a government interrogator attempting to get a confession out of an author of childrens books played by Madeline Stowe (also stellar). These two are the only actors in the entire movie, but they carry you expertly through a story about personal freedoms, abuse, and inner strength. It may have been funded by Amnesty International, but don’t hold that against it. -RH

Zero Effect (1998)

A great comedy that has only been seen by twenty-four people in the entire world. If you’re one of them you should congratulate yourself for having such good taste. Bill Pullman stars as the world’s greatest detective, and Ben Stiller plays his put-upon assistant. Great chemistry between them, solid mystery, and plenty of laughs. -RH

Varsity Blues (1999)

I realize that Friday Night Lights is a far better movie, but Varsity Blues is not only a staple of late 90s culture, it’s a really good movie. It tells a very real story about a small Texas town, the whip cream bikini-wearing cheerleaders in it, and the pressures of its football community. Plus, it has strong performances from Jon Voight and James Van Der Beek – who still doesn’t want our life. -CA

Orange County (2002)

It might be difficult, but try to think back to a time when Jack Black wasn’t annoying. There. Doesn’t that feel better? This January gem is a highly underrated movie, a great coming of age story about escaping your family and embracing the insanity of a world you don’t fit into. It’s also about getting naked and starting the revolution. -CA

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

Director Kevin Reynolds gives a classic piece of literature a fantastic and rousing big-screen adaptation. Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce star in one of the best-known tales of revenge, and they do the book justice.Solid action and strong performances highlight this January release that like all of my choices deserved a much better fate at the box-office. -RH

Coach Carter (2005)

It’s my guess that the other 11 Samuel L. Jackson films coming out that year had already snagged all the other months for release, so this fantastic inspirational flick got relegated to January. Either that or they wanted it to coincide with high basketball season. Either way. -CA

Cloverfield (2008)

Yes, yes, it’s the ultimate fanboy choice, and I should have picked Taken, but there you have it. No one seems to admit that they like the movie now, but when it came out in January of 2008, people were losing their minds over it and wondering what why such a great movie was doing in the cinematic dumping grounds in the first place. -CA

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