Happy new year dear Playlist readers (or: how I learned to stop worrying and try to forget that 2016 ever happened). As we move forward in these crazy times, we look to the movies for not just entertainment, but perhaps a little hope, guidance and perspective. And so, we kick off 2017 with a look at what’s coming to theaters this month.
As per usual, this time of year sees most theaters still packed and playing awards titles and the latest Disney mega blockbuster (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is, of course, still killing it at the box office), with slim pickings in the truly new release department. While we’d be remiss to not mention all the titles on last month’s column that are actually going wider now in the coming weeks (make sure to look at our honorable mentions list at the end if you need a reminder), there are still enough worthy new titles to highlight. Take a look and let us know what you’ll be seeing in January.
Synopsis: A cop with a connection to the criminal underworld scours a nightclub in search of his kidnapped son.
What You Need To Know: Twas not all that long ago French action thriller “Sleepless Night” played the festival circuit and surfaced as a minor key cult feature. As is usually the case with these things, the idea has been redone via Hollywood and now we have “Sleepless,” starring Jamie Foxx in the leading role with Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, Gabrielle Union, David Harbour, T.I., and Scoot McNairy in support, in a tale about an undercover cop who has one night to set things right after a heist goes bad, putting his son in immediate danger. Swiss director Baran bo Odar is making his Hollywood debut here, and here’s hoping he’s got the goods to make this remake sing.
Release Date: January 13th
“The Red Turtle”
Synopsis: Follows the major life stages of a castaway on a deserted tropical island populated by turtles, crabs and birds.
What You Need To Know: This French co-production with Studio Ghibli has been charming critics ever since it premiered at Cannes last year, where it went on to win a special jury prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the fest. We’ve no official review at the moment, but our awards writer Greg Ellwood loved it enough to put it on his personal top 10 list, saying “to this day I will not understand why this film was not part of the main competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Michaël Dudok de Wit and Studio Ghibli’s near masterpiece is a stunning example of telling a universal story with clarity and unique artistic vision. It’s simply beautiful.” Yeah, that’s enough for us to make this a must see.
Release Date: January 20th (Limited)
Synopsis: The story of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc.
What You Need To Know: This biopic was once a high awards priority for the Weinsteins, but the film seemed to lose steam (and Harvey potentially lost interest, instead looking to “Lion” as his Oscar player) as several release dates we’re shuffled until now, where it will finally bow in regular release. So, if the Oscar chances are out, is it still worth your time? Of course! Starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, Linda Cardellini, Laura Dern, B.J. Novak, and John Carroll Lynch and directed by John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side,” “Saving Mr. Banks“) the drama tells the true story of the man behind the McDonald’s brothers, who turned their burger joint into a mega franchise that changed fast food forever. The Keaton comeback is still worth following, even if he won’t be in a Best Picture winner this year.
Release Date: January 20th
Synopsis: After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities, they must find the different personalities that can help them run away from the others and stay alive.
What You Need To Know: Yeah, that’s a supremely weird and ridiculous synopsis for this latest from the once big-deal-then-a-joke-and-now-coming-back (maybe?) M. Night Shyamalan, but audiences and most critics seemed to respond pretty well to his previous effort, the lower budgeted Blumhouse production “The Visit.” After a positive premiere response out of Fantastic Fest for “Split,” maybe M. Night should stick with Jason Blum to keep his mojo going. The trailer is goofy but looks playful, with lead James McAvoy looking like he’s having fun playing a gonzo crazy with too many personalities to keep track of. As his kidnapping victims, we’re glad to see more from“The Witch” star Anya Taylor-Joy as well, so hopefully she gets more to do than just play a damsel in distress.
Release Date: January 20th
“Trespass Against Us”
Synopsis: A man looks to find a way to escape the criminal ways of his outlaw family
What You Need To Know: We reviewed this UK crime dramedy at TIFF last year, and found much to appreciate. Even beyond the always awesome Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson starring in a crime movie (what more do you need to know?), our critic noted its centerpiece heist and several thrilling car chases: “While it’s tricky to pin down exactly what ‘Trespass Against Us’ means to be, it’s easy to enjoy what it actually is. Gleeson helps transform Colby Cutler into a memorable menace. He’s a philosophical patriarch, who doesn’t have much respect for traditional education… [He] seems to be having a ball delivering Siddons’ flavorful dialogue, which is full of twisted turns of phrase like, ‘God’s medicine, prison can be.’”
Release Date: January 20th (Limited), now playing on DirecTV