[Image: 20th Century Fox]1/6
[Image: 20th Century Fox]
Movies for kids and big kids at heart
With temperatures set to plunge it is imperative that parents find plenty of indoor activities for their kids to partake in. Top of that list is heading straight to the cinema, especially as most films aimed at children nowadays also appeal to adults, too. Take “Ferdinand” (Dec 15) for example, which boasts the comedic talents of Kate McKinnon and revolves around a Spanish Fighting Bull that’s actually a pacifist at heart. The good folks over the pond in England have also proven adept with such films, too. “Paddington 2” (Jan 12) will look to match the success of its predecessor, “Peter Rabbit” (Feb 9) instantly looks adorable, boasts a superb vocal cast, and comes from “Easy A” director Will Gluck, while Aardman Animations’ stellar stop-motion track record means “Early Man” (Feb 16) is clearly a must see. Even “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” (Jan 26) will give action junkie kids their fix, too.
[Image: Warner Bros]
In the Oscar hunt
The first two months of the year is when Hollywood really likes to pat itself on the back and celebrate their most recent achievements. This year that will culminate in the Oscars on March 4, but in order for that to be a success they need rich, serious, and thought provoking movies. Thankfully they will have those in droves, as Margot Robbie and Allison Janney in the Tonya Harding biopic “I, Tonya” (Dec 8), Jessica Chastain and Aaron Sorkin for “Molly’s Game” (Dec 25), and Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis for “Phantom Thread” (Dec 25) are all destined to be in contention. The Christian Bale led western “Hostiles” (Dec 22) and Alexander Payne and Matt Damon for their climate satire “Downsizing” (Dec 22) are outsiders, too, while there’s simply no way that the Academy will be able to resist Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” (Dec 22), as it stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and is all about the pursuit and importance of a free press in the US. Even going in to the New Year there are a couple of awards season contenders being released, including Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland in "Leisure Seeker" (Jan 19), and then Clint Eastwood's "The 15:17 To Paris" (Feb 9). Just a pity they won't be eligible until the 2019 Academy Awards.
Hollywood goes musical, again
After the huge success of “La La Land” it was to be expected that various copycat films would follow. Not that audiences are complaining, because Hugh Jackman as the all singing and all dancing P.T. Barnum in “The Greatest Showman” (Dec 20) looks particularly eye-catching and dazzling, especially as its musical lyrics come from Pasek & Paul and it also sees Zac Efron returning to the genre for the first time since “High School Musical 3.” Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and the rest of the singing Pitches are back in “Pitch Perfect 3” (Dec 22), too, while Netflix’s “The Polka King” (Jan 12) will see the always watchable Jack Black belting out tunes as the polka sensation Jan Lewan.
Hopefully more good than bad
The first few weeks of the year are also used by studios to dump films that they have little hope for. So that’s why it is hard to get too excited about “Insidious: The Last Key” (Jan 12), “Den Of Thieves” (Jan 12), “12 Strong” (Jan 19), or “Arctic Justice Thunder Squad” (Jan 26). There’s more hope for “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle” (Dec 20), because of its terrific leading foursome and some good early buzz, and “Bright” (Dec 22), which is Netflix’s attempt to make a big-budgeted fantasy blockbuster led by bona-fide Hollywood royalty Will Smith, while Liam Neeson being an action star still hasn’t got old, even as he does, which means “The Commuter” (Jan 12) should deliver. The same can’t be said for “War With Grandpa” (Feb 23), which is another Robert DeNiro comedy, while the fact that “Fifty Shades Freed” (Feb 9) even exists is something we should all be embarrassed by.
Now that the briskness of fall has turned into the cold of winter the warm glow of the cinema becomes more and more appealing. Thankfully, Hollywood studios have obliged audiences this year with a fine array of eclectic releases, and with the Oscars on the horizon there are some genuinely good movies to take in, as well as the usual fare that always puts bums on seats and smiles on faces.
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There’s only one place that we can really start when it comes to the upcoming batch of films, and that’s in a galaxy far, far away. You’ve probably heard that the latest installment to the most beloved franchise in movie history is almost with us, as “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will hit on December 15. “Star Wars” films always attract a huge audience, but the chance for viewers to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher means “The Last Jedi” should be even more popular. There’s plenty more bombastic sci-fi spectacle to take in, though. The mysterious “God Particle” (Feb 2) is the third installment to the “Cloverfield” franchise, which tantalizingly takes it to space. Marvel will surely continue their domination of the superhero world with “Black Panther” (Feb 16), but make sure you keep an eye out for Alex Garland’s follow-up to “Ex Machina,” “Annihilation” (Feb 23), which stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Oscar Isaac, and Tessa Thompson and is a sci-fi, fantasy, action, horror hybrid that has the potential to blossom into a critical and financial smash hit.
You can check out the rest of our choices for you to watch this winter in the gallery above, which includes a breakdown of the Oscar contenders, movies that kids and adults alike will enjoy, and a selection of the films that we're still on the fence about, but are hopefully will turn out well.