‘Tis the Season… December Releases

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… awards season is underway! Nominations and wins are already being announced, with a few films leading the pack. It’s almost the end of 2013, and there are still loads of new releases on the way. Surprisingly, there’s very little “holiday” related content in the films scheduled for release this holiday season – but tons of awards hopefuls like Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Her. Here’s what’s coming up…

December

Out of the Furnace (December 6)

A fantastic cast, including Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepard, Willem DaFoe, and Casey Affleck (the “other” Affleck). From Scott Cooper, director of Crazy Heart, comes the story of two brothers in dire straits. Rodney Baze (Affleck), a returning veteran, mysteriously disappears in the underbelly of the Rust Belt. When law enforcement fails to find him, his older brother, Russell (Bale), takes matters into his own hands to find justice. The story seems generic, but the cast is the pull here. Known for great performances, Affleck and Bale lead Oscar nominees/winners galore in a film that looks gritty and melancholy, far from expected holiday fare, but definitely in contention for awards season.

Inside Llewyn Davis (December 6)

After big wins with the Gotham Awards, Cannes Film Festival and New York Critics Circle, there’s huge awards season buzz surrounding the new Coen brothers film. Set in the early 1960’s, we follow a week in the life of young folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene, and struggles to make it as a musician. According to Joel Coen, “The film doesn’t really have a plot. That concerned us at one point; that’s why we threw the cat in.”

Like most Coen films, I expect it to be quiet, slow-moving, thoughtful, and darkly funny.  A truly charming cast has been thrown together, with John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake (yes…JT…Mr. N*Sync), Adam Driver and Garrett Hedlund supporting Isaac. The soundtrack is enchanting, with performances from the cast and popular musicians including the Avett Brothers and Marcus Mumford. Looking forward to this quirky and extremely “indie” flick.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (December 13)

Peter Jackson’s adaptation of a single book into three incredibly loooooong films continues! Continuing from where The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen), continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch…Cumberbitches rejoice!). Expect a long running time, with exceptional visuals and attention to detail. This time, the trailer promises more action and less…walking around?

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (December 20)

News Team, ASSEMBLE! Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team are BACK…and it’s kind of a big deal! Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate)  join in on this rowdy adventure with an impressive list of cameos including James Marsden, Vince Vaughn, Tina Fey, Kanye West, Harrison Ford, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Poehler, Luke Wilson, John C. Reilly, Liam Neeson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jim Carrey, and Kristen Wiig!

The marketing campaign for this flick has been phenomenal – and it’s up there with one of my most anticipated comedies of the year. We’re in the 80’s, and Ron’s taking on New York’s first 24-hour news channel! Hoping it’s insanely quotable and that it lives up to the hype!

American Hustle (December 20)

It’s already won best supporting actress (Jennifer Lawrence), best screenplay and best picture from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards – so expectations are high for American Hustle. David O. Russell taps his award winning talents from The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook to pull together what looks like a supremely cool film. Starring a pudgy Christian Bale (the man loves his physical transformations), disco-vixen Amy Adams, jheri-curled Bradley Cooper, pompadour sporting Jeremy Renner and a sinfully sexy Jennifer Lawrence – the film is about gangsters, con artists and dirty politicians…in New Jersey. Beyond excited to see this.

Her (December 20)

Quirky, offbeat and unique, much like it’s director Spike Jonez, Her is the story of Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely writer who develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson’s sultry voice) that’s designed to meet his every need. Oddly enough, Scarlett Johansson’s voice has already garnered awards nominations! The trailer is lovely, and I’m absolutely in love with the concept of this film. Her has been named the best film of the year by the National Board of Review!

August: Osage County (December 25)

All-Star Cast Alert! Meryl “OSCAR WINNER” Streep leads an A-list cast featuring Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Margo Martindale in this adaptation of Tracy Letts’ dark comedic play of the same name. It tells the story of the women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. It’s Oscar-bait, but intriguing Oscar-bait.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (December 25)

Ben Stiller directs and stars in this film about Walter Mitty, a day-dreamer escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. Looks visually interesting, actually, it might have made a great music video – Walter Mitty might get lost in the sea of bigger and more buzzed-about films.

 

The Wolf of Wall Street (December 25)

Leo DiCaprio and Marty Scorsese…. Need I say more?

This is without a doubt the film that I am MOST excited about seeing this “holiday” season. Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, the film chronicles his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life and his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. It looks over-the-top, loud and obnoxious – lifestyles of the rich and ridiculous. Will Leo finally break his Oscar-Curse?! All I want for Christmas is to see this film.

Oddly, the only “festive” film on slate for the December releases is Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (December 13),  and it’s one that I definitely won’t be seeing. I don’t see the appeal – but – given Perry’s track record, this one could be a hit at the box office. I’m not sure what it’s about, probably a whole lot of racially charged jokes and a big dude dressed up as a big ol’ lady.

Saving Mr. Banks (December 20) features everyone’s favorite nice guy, Tom Hanks, playing Walt Disney as he tries to woo P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) into adapting her novel Mary Poppins into a motion picture. If there wasn’t already a (horrible) movie called America’s Sweethearts, I’d probably use it as an alternate title for Saving Mr. Banks.

There’s also family entertainment with the star-studded vocal cast of Walking with Dinosaurs (December 20), action adventures with Keanu Reeves’ 47 Ronin (December 25) and Mark Wahlberg’s Lone Survivor (December 27), and a match-up between an aging Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta, I mean Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro in Grudge Match (December 25).

Definitely an eclectic mix of December releases – all making way for a truly exciting awards season. It’s beginning to look a lot like awards season…

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