This dreaded dump month is only going to look worse considering all the terrific December releases we just saw: Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze, and the Coen Brothers’s three incredible films; Ron Burgundy’s hilarious return; and David O. Russell’s pretty good movie. Even with 47 Ronin kind of stinking up the joint, it couldn’t ruin last month’s holiday filmgoing spirit. December ended a satisfying year on a tremendous note.
Of course the start of 2014 can’t live up to all those award contenders, not even with I, Frankenstein going to bat for it. Frankenstein’s monster turned pretty boy action hero should at the very least give us something to talk about, but if the trailers are any fair indication, I, Frankenstein is not one of the five must see movies of the month.
Here are the films you should kick this new year off with:
The Best Movies of 2013
Now (mostly) available.
Our year end rundown of 2013’s best offerings is diverse, with a few beloved exceptions. Since this month isn’t brimming with high-quality, you can spend some time away from the theater catching up or revisiting 2013’s greatest offerings. There was a staggering amount of good films last year, so all of them should keep us occupied until some truly great films start rolling our way.
Opens nationwide January 11th.
What isn’t one of those great films, but darn comes close, is director Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor. Universal gave the film a limited release last month for award reasons, but now it’s receiving a wide release this month. With the exception of its tech work, Lone Survivor isn’t an awards film, but it is an intense experience that must be experienced on a big screen, not in a living room. Berg lost his way a little with Battleship, but he’s bounced back in a major way with this true life story of, if you hadn’t guessed, a lone survivor. Of course, it’s to Berg’s advantage having star Mark Wahlberg giving the film his all.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Opens in theaters January 18th.
The return of Jack Ryan was initially planned for Christmas this year, but, after delaying The Wolf of Wall Street and facing an already packed December, Paramount wisely postponed director and co-star Kenneth Branagh’s reboot of Tom Clancy’s thinking man’s hero, who’s now played by Chris Pine. The trailers have sold this as an simple B-popcorn film, but with Branagh behind and in front of the camera, playing the villain, expect that formula to be done with style and smarts.
Big Bad Wolves
Opens in limited release January 18th.
Putting aside its glowing buzz, I know nothing about Big Bad Wolves. All I know is critics are loving it, especially our own Rob Hunter. Hunter says the film is “dark, wonderfully twisted and laugh out loud funny … but it might just leave you questioning exactly why you enjoyed it so much. And you will enjoy it.” That’s all I need to hear to see this film, and the same should go for you unbeknown readers.
Opens in theaters January 31st.
Jason Reitman’s adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s novel of the same name looks like a promising new direction for Reitman. There’s an inherent beauty to the book and the period Maynard depicts, and based on the heartwarming trailer, Reitman is staying close to that mood. Reitman is a director whose voice is obvious by now, so seeing him make an unexpected choice is exciting. This coming-of-age/love story has potential to make for a good ‘ol fashioned picture, and based on Kate Erbland’s review from Toronto, that’s exactly what it is.