Our top 5 film picks for January

Tom Browne

We've selected five of the latest films out this month for you to watch. From the dramatic Room to ballet documentary Bolshoi Babylon.

Room 

Five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his mother Joy (Brie Larson) are held captive in a tiny room by a man referred to as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). Although Joy tries to protect her son from the reality of their situation, circumstances eventually force her to enlist Jack’s help in a plan of escape.

Author Emma Donoghue has done a fine job of adapting her own 2010 novel, and she’s ably assisted by director Lenny Abrahamson, the man behind 2014’s marvellous Frank.

As you’d expect from a story inspired by the notorious Josef Fritzl case, this is intense viewing at the best of times, but the stunning performances by Larson and newcomer Tremblay—along with some fine support—make this an early contender for film of the year.

 

Sleeping With Other People

12 years after a college entanglement, Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) attempt to pursue a platonic relationship in New York, despite a deep-seeded attraction.

This is essentially When Harry Met Sally with fruitier dialogue, although the comparison is somewhat flattering. Still, if you’re looking for an undemanding date movie with cheeky laughs, you could do worse.

 

Bolshoi Babylon

This fascinating account of the 2013 acid attack on Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin explores the dark underbelly of professional ballet, also hinted at in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.

Like all good documentaries, it’s the wider issues highlighted by the subject matter—ambition, resentment and politics both inside and outside the theatre walls—that really draw the viewer in. Compelling stuff.

 

The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne scooped the Best Actor Oscar in 2015 for his epic performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, and he has every chance of repeating the dose with this love story based on the life of transgender woman Lili Elbe.

Director Tom Hooper (who also won an Oscar for The King’s Speech) handles the material with sensitivity, and there are solid supporting turns from Alicia Vikander and Ben Whishaw.

Read our interview with Tom Hooper

 

Youth

Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel play old friends reminiscing about their lives and loves within the confines of a Swiss hotel, populated by some decidedly offbeat guests.

The ingredients of this surreal drama are rather disparate—and some clash rather than complement each other—but the final dish is still a tasty and satisfying one.

We interviewed Harvet Keitel about his role in the film. 

 

You can read our picks early every month with a copy of Reader's Digest magazine