7 New films to see in January

Farhana Gani

January delivers everything we expect from the movies, from the epic to the intimate. There’s song and dance, quests and journeys, grief and despair, creeps and thrills and a true story that shows us anything is possible. Superstars aplenty and potential Oscar winners, too!

A Monster Calls

Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones headline in this deeply moving and cleverly animated drama about a young boy struggling to cope with his mother’s terminal illness. One night the imposing tree he can see from his bedroom window turns into a giant monster (Neeson) who consoles the boy by telling him stories to help him come to terms with his anger, grief and guilt.

Video interview: Liam Neeson discusses A Monster Calls

 

Silence

Martin Scorsese’s beautifully filmed epic stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two 17th century Christian priests who travel to an inhospitable Japan to look for their missing-believed-dead mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). Japan ruling forces have no time for Christianity and don’t hold back from torturing believers publicly, requiring them to relinquish their faith or die. Silence is a provocative film, asking the big philosophical questions around faith and God.

Video interview: Liam Neeson talks about faith and Scorsese

 

La La Land

Rising star Damien Chazelle caused a stir with his Oscar-winning Whiplash. His latest film is a lovingly extravagant song-and-dance homage to the golden age of the Hollywood musical.

Aspiring LA actress Mia (Emma Stone) meets purist jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), and their bittersweet romance—as they pursue dreams of success in the “city of stars”—plays out against an unforgettable soundtrack (you’ll be whistling the theme tune long after the final credits roll). With stunning performances from Gosling and especially Stone, immaculate direction and fabulous set designs, Chazelle is surely destined for more Oscar magic. 

 

Manchester by the Sea

This astonishing family drama is an unsentimental story of a bereft man. Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) leads a solitary life as a janitor. After his brother dies suddenly, Lee returns to his Cape Cod hometown to learn that he’s now the legal guardian of his teenage nephew. Flashbacks reveal the truth about Lee’s early life as he makes funeral arrangements and comes to terms with what lies ahead.

 

Jackie

The enigmatic First Lady wipes the blood from her face as she looks at her reflection in a mirror. Minutes earlier she cradled her husband’s smashed skull in her lap. With poise, despair and memories, the grieving widow and mother will now make funeral arrangements and consider her future.

Natalie Portman gives her deepest performance yet as Jacqueline Kennedy in her final days at the White House, capturing her manner and speech impeccably.

 

Lion

Nicole Kidman stars as an Australian woman who adopts two Indian boys in this intimate Oscar-worthy true story. Dev Patel, star of Slumdog Millionaire, is Saroo, a young man who embarks on an epic search for his Indian family he was accidentally separated from as a five-year-old. The shining star of the film is cub actor Sunny Pawar, who delivers an astoundingly real and penetrating performance, including a bathtub scene with Kidman that will stay with you forever. There will be tears.

 

Split

M Night (“I see dead people”) Shyamalan is back with a creepy film starring James McAvoy as Barry (or is it Kevin? Or Dennis?) a man with a multiple personality disorder – 23 personalities in total. Three teenagers on their way to a friend’s party are kidnapped, chloroformed and wake up in windowless basement. How many of Casey’s alter egos are involved and will his sessions with his psychiatrist, Dr Fletcher help him, or the girls? And who or what is The Beast. This is a horror thriller like no other. You’ll be shocked and disturbed, and you’ll definitely be tricked!

 

Read more: Our favourite films of 2016

 

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