As I have been doing for the traditional Oscar season in the autumn months, I present the December movie releases of note. Here’s the first half of December broken down into which films are likely to matter in March.
Macbeth – This highly anticipated adaptation of the Shakespeare classic has awards season branded on its right buttock. Starring possibly the biggest star in Hollywood right now, the Fassbender, this dark and furious-looking take on the tale of Scottish succession is high on my must-see list for the whole year, with a fabulous cast. Stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, David Thewlis, and Paddy Considine, directed by Justin Kurzel.
Chi-Raq – It feels like quite a while since Spike Lee’s last politically important narrative piece (it’s been 11 years since Sucker Free City). With Chi-Raq he adapts Aristophanes’ play, Lysistrata, about a woman who tries to end the war by getting all the women to withhold sex until there is peace, to the violent streets of modern day Chicago. Hmmm… risky choice Mr. Lee, I can’t wait to see it. Stars Teyonah Paris, Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, and Samuel L. Jackson, directed by Spike Lee.
In the Heart of the Sea – Based on the 2000 nonfiction book of the same title, this awesome and epic-looking new film from Ron Howard tells the story of the whaling ship Essex, which was sunk in 1820 after being destroyed by an angry sperm whale. More notably, it served as one of the main inspirations for Melville’s 1851 classic, Moby Dick. Last time Howard and Hemsworth got together, they delivered the fantastic 2013 film Rush, so I have high hopes. The cast is out of this world; the true story is amazing. Stars Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Brendan Gleeson, directed by Ron Howard.
The Big Short – In terms of star power and subject matter, this film will undoubtedly be in the mix unless it’s secretly horrible. It’s about the 2008 financial crash and it’s based on the book by Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball & The Blind Side, so buckle up for some intolerable and obnoxious dinner debate with your friends afterwards, assuming of course you have any friends anymore who are not of your political party. This one has tons of promise, but again, the secretly horrible possibility is lurking. Stars Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt, directed by Adam McKay.
Don Verdean – I’m torn on this one. It’s got one of the best comedic casts of any film all year, but it’s also from the team of Jared and Jerusha Hess who are talented, but have a certain clean-language oddball shtick I often find off-putting. This time the story is about a “biblical archaeologist” who has to start falsifying finds. Actually that just sounds amazing. Stars Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Danny McBride, and Will Forte, directed by Jared Hess.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens –
Ugh. I don’t need to tell you anything about this movie. You know exactly what it is and either you’re on board or you’re not. Sadly this ridiculous-looking thing will legitimately be in the Best Picture nomination discussion. That was left on the editing room floor in the Back to the Future II predictions for 2015. For being too preposterous. Stars Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker, directed by JJ Abrams.
Sisters – The last comedy duo to have as much chemistry as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler was probably Abbott and Costello, so any time they get together, you have to give it a chance. I hope this one works out better than their ill-conceived Baby Mama. Stars Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, John Leguizamo, Kate McKinnon, Diane Wiest, Ike Barinholz, and John Cena, directed by Jason Moore.
By Ygal Kaufman