With the New Year comes the inevitable resolutions. For 2016, how about making one you might not only keep, but actually enjoy? Repeat after Londonist: “this year I vow to see more at the cinema than just Spectre with mum”. Which will be surprisingly easy because i) there will be no new Bonds in 2016 and ii) each month Londonist brings you a handy round up of the must-see movies, particularly those with a London-y twist (some more tenuous than others, we'll admit).
January’s finest include several of the London Critic Circle’s Film Of The Year nominees, plus selections from the recent London Film Festival now entering general release. Get booking!
The Danish Girl – London Talent
Director: Tom Hooper Certificate: 15 Release Date: 1 Jan 2016 Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw, Matthias Schoenaerts
Londoner and Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper, will be hoping for a second bite at the Academy’s cherry with another biopic of a troubled individual. If you’ve somehow missed the immense publicity, Eddie Redmayne puts his exquisite cheekbones to good use as Einar Wegener, who underwent pioneering transgender surgery in an attempt to become a woman. Eddie’s performance is nabbing most of the headlines but Alicia Vikander, who is actually Swedish despite her impeccably cut glass accent, completely steals the show with a stunning turn as his wife.
Director: David O. Russell Certificate: 12A Release Date: 1 Jan 2016 Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper
Joy sees everyone’s favourite A-listers, J-Law and Bradley, team up together for the FOURTH time. If we were their other halves we’d be asking questions. The true story of a single mum turned multi-millionaire entrepreneur, it’s the classic American Dream fairy tale with a good sprinkling of Hollywood sparkle. Critics are already falling over themselves to lavish gushing praise on yet another sterling performance from J-Law, who is still only 25. We really want to hate her but she seems so nice.
The Hateful Eight – London Talent
Director: Quentin Tarantino Certificate: 18 Release Date: 8 Jan 2016 Stars: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir
Doubtless one of the most anticipated films of the month, Mr Tarantino’s latest contains all the sharp dialogue, controversial language and uber-violence that have become his trademarks. An homage to the classic western, it is also LOOOOOONG. A bum-numbing 182 minutes if you embrace your movie-geek and see the Ultra Panavision 70mm roadshow version, complete with overture and intermission. London lad Tim Roth is one of the eight. Although we’re sure he’s a very nice chap and not hateful at all.
Partisan – London Film Festival First Feature Competition
Director: Ariel Klieman Certificate: 15 Release Date: 8 Jan 2016 Stars: Vincent Cassel, Florence Mezzara, Jeremy Chabriel
Hollywood has had a fascination with cults in recent years, with Sound Of My Voice, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Dogtooth exploring the subject. Partisan takes it to a new level of disturbing. Vincent Cassel stars as charismatic leader Gregori, who trains children within his cult to carry out violent acts on random, innocent people. Upsetting and unsettling, it earned director Ariel Klienman a Best First Feature nomination at the recent London Film Festival.
The Revenant – London Talent; London Critic’s Circle Film Awards: Film Of The Year nominee
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu Certificate: 15 Release Date: 15 Jan 2016 Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter
Grrrrrr, this is one for Real Men. DiCaprio and Hammersmith boy Hardy hunt bears in the frozen American wilderness, flaunting their machismo with luxuriant chinwhiskers that would put the Hairy Bikers to shame. A tale of double-crossing, revenge and survival in the face of utmost adversity, it’s already nominated for four Golden Globes. Will it finally earn Leo his first Oscar? Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman cleaned up at the Academy last year, so Leo is in good hands.
Room – London Film Festival Official Competition; London Critic’s Circle Film Awards: Film Of The Year nominee
Director: Lenny Abrahamson Certificate: 15 Release Date: 15 Jan 2016 Stars: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Tom McCamus, Sean Bridgers
If you’re claustrophobic, look away now. Room centres around a mother and son confined to live in a single room (see what they did there?) by a man holding them captive. A man who is also the father of the son, having raped the mother. Cheery stuff. But stick with us, for Room is actually a moving and often uplifting story of the power of the human spirit and maternal bond. With stand-out performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, this looks likely to be a major player when the awards season gongs are dished out.
The Big Short – London Talent
Director: Adam McKay Certificate: 15 Release Date: 22 Jan 2016 Stars: Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Rafe Spall
Wowsers, just how much A-list testosterone can you pack into 130 mins? Actually, not nearly as much as you’d think. Don’t be put off by the chest-beating Alpha Men (plus Dulwich lad Rafe Spall, bless, how did he wangle his way in?) of the cast list — The Big Short is a clever, witty and quirky satire on the US housing market collapse. And yes, a plotline covering the nuances of credit default might cause some furrowed brows, but that’s OK because the filmmakers handily throw in Margot Robbie in a bathtub to explain some of the more complex jargon.
Spotlight – London Critic’s Circle Film Awards: Film Of The Year nominee
Director: Tom McCarthy Certificate: 15 Release Date: 29 Jan 2016 Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber
Another awards season contender, another hard-hitting and controversial subject, namely the Boston Globe’s expose of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Are you now thoroughly depressed and vowing to eschew January cinema-going completely? Don’t, for Spotlight is a proper, old school ensemble newsroom drama of the type Hollywood does so rarely and so well. A David and Goliath tale of plucky persistence overturning institutional malpractice, stellar performances and a smart script tackle the difficult subject with intelligence and sensitivity.
Youth – London Film Festival release
Director: Paolo Sorrentino Certificate: 15 Release Date: 29 Jan 2016 Stars: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Jane Fonda
Aka The Bonkers One. Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel play a pair of grumpy old chums holidaying together in the Alps. Michael, a retired composer and the grumpier of the two, receives a summons from the Queen to conduct his most famous work for Prince Phillip’s birthday. Being grumpy, Michael refuses, something Her Majesty is unused to. What follows is a surreal meditation on music, age, youth, beauty and loss. Mad and moving in equal measures, it’s worth seeing for Jane Fonda’s stupendous diva cameo alone.
Dirty Grandpa – London Talent
Director: Dan Mazer Certificate: tbc Release Date: 29 Jan 2016 Stars: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Julianne Hough, Dermot Mulroney
So you’ve seen all of the awards contender titles above and are now awash with depression and consternation. Well done, you’ve paid your movie dues. Let’s end with some light relief. The title ‘Dirty Grandpa’ should be self-explanatory but if you need any more guidance, Robert De Niro plays the aforementioned perverted geriatric who cons his grandson, Zac Efron, into taking him on a road trip. Director and Londoner Dan Mazer is a long time Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator, so it looks set to be a gratuitously crass, bumpy and hilarious ride.
By Ruth Sloss