I’m leading off with Star Wars because you’re expecting it and I want to get it out the way, giving me more time to talk about other films. Following the exciting if formulaic Force Awakens and the very uneven Rogue One, it’s the turn of director Rian Johnson (Looper and some top notch Breaking Bad episodes) to push the central story onward. Will Kylo Ren still be moody? Will Rey follow her path to becoming a Jedi master? Are the Porgs the new Minions? All will be revealed on December 14th. Apart from the Porg one. We already know they’re the new Minions.
Writer Aaron Sorkin has been creating a strong portfolio of incredible scripts from TV show The West Wing to loose biopics Steve Jobs and the masterpiece The Social Network. After working with Fincher and Boyle, Sorkin has decided to take the directors chair himself with this biopic of Molly Bloom. Jessica Chastain brings the star power and acting talent in this story of illicit gambling, Russian mobsters and the FBI. If the trailers are anything to go by, it’ll be as thrilling as Sorkin’s other writing credits with as many top class monologues to boot.
Since Donnie Darko, Jake Gyllenhal has marked himself out as a talent to be reckoned with, consistently offering transformative performances that elevate his films. It is this which primarily draws me to Stronger, a film based on the true story of a man who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon bombings. A biopic like this could easily descend into schmaltz but the promise of another incredible performance from Gyllenhal, as well as a supporting role from Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, give me hope that Stronger will be… STRONGER than the competition. Yeah, I’ll move on.
Probably the oddest film on the list, I’ve had my eye on Brigsby Bear since Sundance and thanks to the Screen Unseen strand at the Odeon, I can heartily recommend it. Conceptually, it’s a little like Room but if Jacob Tremblay was a weird looking dude in his thirties with an obsessive love of one specific TV show. In execution however, it’s much more spectacular, being a heartwarming celebration of creativity as ex-captive James (Saturday Night Live‘s Kyle Mooney) tries to create the ending of his show. Anyone who has fallen in love with art will identify a bit of themselves in this oddball, laughing along with his discovery and getting your heart thoroughly warmed.
In the last couple of years, Westerns have had a bit of a resurgence, sometimes set in the actual Wild West (Bone Tomahawk), and some borrowing thematically and set in completely different times and places (Hell or High Water). Hostiles fits in with the former, appearing to capture the bleakness and violent nihilism of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian as much as is possible without a mass scalping scene. Christian Bale is the perma-scowling lead with Rosamund Pike as his tortured wife, making this one to watch for those who find Christmas too joyous.
The Disaster Artist
Finally, my most anticipated film of the month by a long way (no, I’m not sorry). The Disaster Artist is based on the book of the same name about the making of infamous “so bad it’s good” film The Room. Casting James Franco in the role of idiot-savant Tommy Wiseau is a masterstroke and the rest of the cast is filled with an embarrassment of names that would just destroy my word count were I to list them. Getting the chance to see it in a crowded showing at the Picturehouse recently, I can’t recommend the film enough. It’s hilarious yet also oddly touching and while either alone would work to keep a movie afloat, together they create something magical. If you haven’t seen The Room, watch it (heavily intoxicated, with friends) and then go see this, possibly the most essential film of the year.