This month's notable theatrical releases
Below, our editors have selected 10 interesting films debuting this month, listed in alphabetical order.
American Sniper Watch trailers
R Action/Drama | Expands nationwide January 16 | Directed by Clint Eastwood
Also by this director (10 most recent):
54 Jersey Boys (2014)
59 J. Edgar (2011)
56 Hereafter (2010)
74 Invictus (2009)
72 Gran Torino (2008)
63 Changeling (2008)
89 Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
79 Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
86 Million Dollar Baby (2004)
84 Mystic River (2003)
While reviews haven’t been as good as some might have hoped, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has still landed on the year-end top ten lists of a dozen critics and had one of the highest per-screen averages ever for an opening weekend, bringing in $633,000 from just four theaters in Los Angeles and New York last week. (The film opens nationwide on January 16th.) Eastwood seems to have been a good second choice to original director Steven Spielberg for this adaptation of Chris Kyle’s autobiography starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper who recorded the most kills of any American military sniper in history. Sienna Miller plays Kyle’s wife, and a robot plays their baby, but don’t let that distract you.
Blackhat Watch trailers
R Thriller | January 16 | Directed by Michael Mann
Also by this director:
70 Public Enemies (2009)
65 Miami Vice (2006)
71 Collateral (2004)
65 Ali (2001)
84 The Insider (1999)
76 Heat (1995)
76 The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
78 Manhunter (1986)
14 The Keep (1983)
78 Thief (1981)
Michael Mann’s first feature since 2009’s Public Enemies looks at the world of cybercrime through the actions of those trying to prevent it. Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker recruited to hunt down a man threatening the globe. He teams up with Viola Davis, Tang Wei, and Wang Leehom as they track the mysterious cyber-terrorist from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta. It will be interesting to see how Mann applies his slick, precise style to such a timely theme.
The Duke of Burgundy Watch trailer
NR Drama | January 23 | Directed by Peter Strickland
Director Peter Strickland’s proper follow-up to Berberian Sound Studio will surely land on a number of top ten lists at the end of 2015. The film charts the intimate relationship between Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen, star of the acclaimed Danish TV series Borgen) and Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna), lesbian lovers whose lives are beginning to strain under the pressure of their daily, ritualistic S&M games. Excellent reviews from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival mark this as one that should not be missed.
Girlhood Watch trailer
NR Drama | January 30 | Directed by Céline Sciamma
Water Lilies and Tomboy director Céline Sciamma’s latest coming of age tale was lauded by critics at Cannes last year, with lead actress Karidja Toure earning heaps of praise for her performance as Marieme, a teenage girl in the suburbs of Paris who falls in with a gang and struggles to find her own identity. Could the best reviewed films of 2014 and 2015 be Boyhood and Girlhood? Possibly.
Mommy Watch trailer
NR Drama | January 23 | Directed by Xavier Dolan
Also by this director:
Speaking of Cannes hits, French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s fifth film (though his fourth, Tom at the Farm, has not yet been released in the States) shared the Jury Prize at last year's festival (with Jean-Luc Godard’s first 3D feature, Goodbye to Language 3D). Mommy focuses on the relationship between a widowed single mother (Anne Dorval, in a critically praised performance), her troubled son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) and their patient neighbor (Suzanne Clément). Mommy was Canada’s official entry in the foreign-language category for this year’s Academy Awards, but it surprisingly failed to make the shortlist. Don’t worry; the Academy has made plenty of mistakes before in selecting a best foreign language film. Maybe Mommy’s odd 1:1 aspect ratio turned voters off.
Mortdecai Watch trailers
Action/Comedy | January 23 | Directed by David Koepp
Also by this director:
Johnny Depp plays Charlie Mortdecai in this adaptation of the fourth book in Kyril Bonfiglioli’s Mortdecai series (Craig Brown wrote the last chapter after Bonfiglioli’s passing). The movie follows the titular art dealer’s attempt to track down a stolen painting that could lead to a stash of Nazi gold. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Paul Bettany, Jeff Goldblum, Aubrey Plaza, and Oliver Platt have supporting roles in a caper that has a mad-cap energy quite different from director David Koepp’s first collaboration with Mr. Depp, Secret Window.
A Most Violent Year Watch trailers
R Drama/Thriller | LA/NY now; other cities later in January | Directed by J.C. Chandor
Much like his first two films, Margin Call and All Is Lost, writer-director J.C. Chandor’s third feature is receiving plenty of praise from critics. Thriller A Most Violent Year stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain (already a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress) in a story set in New York City during the winter of 1981, one of the most violent years in the city’s history. Chandor’s script focuses on Abel (Isaac), an immigrant trying to expand his heating oil business during this tumultuous time. Selma’s David Oyelowo plays a district attorney investigating Abel’s business, and Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola, and Catalina Sandino Moreno have supporting roles. A Most Violent Year was named best film of the year by The National Board of Review.
Paddington Watch trailers
PG Comedy/Family | January 16 | Directed by Paul King
It's not often that a last-minute casting change and a release delay to January are signals of a quality movie, but Paddington appears to be a rare exception. An impressive cast (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi and Julie Walters) has gathered to support an animated bear voiced by Ben Whishaw (who replaced Colin Firth) in director Paul King’s live-action/CGI adaptation of Michael Bond’s classic children’s book series. The film follows the Peruvian bear as he’s taken in by the Brown family in London, where he also catches the eye of an evil taxidermist (Kidman). An early teaser trailer left the impression that the film could be a rare misstep by Harry Potter producer David Heyman, but very good early reviews from the film’s UK release have put that concern to rest.
Still Alice Watch trailers
PG-13 Drama | January 16 | Directed by Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Also by these directors:
Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, a Columbia University linguistics professor struggling with early-onset Alzheimer's in this adaptation of Lisa Genova’s 2007 novel from the writing and directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. Moore’s lead portrayal has already earned her numerous best actress honors, including Golden Globe and SAG nominations, and she appears to be a strong contender for an Academy Award nomination as well. Alec Baldwin co-stars as her husband, and her children are played by Hunter Parrish, Kate Bosworth, and Kristen Stewart. The latter has also received positive reviews for portraying an aspiring actress struggling to cope with her mother’s illness.
Timbuktu Watch trailer
NR Foreign/Drama | January 28 | Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako
Also by this director:
81 Bamako (2007)
Abderrahmane Sissako’s follow-up to his acclaimed 2007 film Bamako earned excellent reviews when it premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The film looks at the impact of jihadists and their enforcement of sharia law on the people of Timbuktu by focusing on a moment of tragic violence in the life of Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed), a cattle herder, his wife Satima (Toulou Kiki), their daughter Toya (Layle Walet Mohamed), and the 12-year-old shepherd, Issan (Mehdi A.G. Mohamed), who helps watch their herd. Timbuktu is one of nine finalists (out of 83 submissions) still eligible for a nomination later this month in the foreign language category at the 87th Annual Academy Awards.
What do you think?
Which films are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments section below. For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming film releases by date, including films arriving later in 2015, visit our Movie Calendar.