Thursday, January 5, 2017 6:50 am ·  0 Comments
With the holiday season ending this weekend, the next several days provide an exciting opportunity to head out to the movies. Whether with families, friends, that special someone, or just a fun time for yourself – the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s is always the busiest time of year at the multiplex.
Hollywood studios know this too, and often hold some of the best titles (and best selling features) for the December holidays, when most have some time off work and kids are out of school. It’s also exciting to see several of the films hopeful to win big at the Academy Awards, many of which are released in this two-week window.
2016 was no exception, as 14 new movies were released in Oakville during the last three weeks of the year. In that same time frame, the domestic box office (Canada and the United States) grossed nearly $1 billion, pushing the year’s grand total to a record-setting $11.4 billion.
Because of the overwhelming number of new movies, this week’s feature is a set of mini-reviews, each about some of the most popular films released in December, and all now playing in Oakville. While you may have already been to the movies recently, this weekend (Thursday-Sunday) is your last chance to enjoy the lucrative holiday movie rush before the (typical) January slog of boring flicks comes to the screens.
Each film has a short biography about the movie along with a short, bare bones review. There is also a trailer for each, followed by where you can see it playing this weekend. Finally, there are links to my full reviews from the last few weeks, each full stories about popular films that are still in theatres.
The movies reviewed below are listed in order of their original release dates. Next week will see the return to the usual format of long-form reviews of single films. 2016 has been a terrific year at the movies. Happy Holidays!
An artful film and heart wrenching story about a family in searing pain. It’s one of the best dramas of the year, with Casey Affleck starring as a single man returning to his Massachusetts hometown after an accident. He’s a sure-win for Best Actor at the Oscars this year. If you’re looking for breezy escapism, stay away. This is serious acting by serious actors with a smart screenplay. Entertaining? Not always. Brilliant? Absolutely.
One of those movies that has a major point to the story and what actually happens in the movie they leave out of the trailers, and it changes everything. Will Smith is a father and CEO who writes letters to the universe, and he starts getting replies while he tries to keep his company and friends afloat. I enjoyed the unexpected set-up, but it was personal to me. I don’t want to see it again, and even at less than 90 minutes, I can’t recommend it in good conscience.
Two people wake up on a spaceship ride 90 years too early, and they soon become pals. I really wanted to like this movie. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are captivating to watch, and the cinematography and effects? Beautiful. It’s even a neat premise and story. But there’s one specific detail about the plot that makes things so unpleasant, and makes the movie about something else entirely. If you’re dying to see it, it’s a fine, shallow blockbuster. There’s worse things to see.
This is one of those “worse things to see”. Great talent (the whole cast is great) and a funny premise (parents meet nightmare boyfriend for Christmas) are totally destroyed by long, unfunny gags and an absurd amount of pointless vulgarity. It has a sweet ending, and a few redeeming scenes. Although I did laugh quite a bit, it was out of pity and cringing shame I paid money to see this. I had to look away half the time; one of the worst movies of 2016.
3 1/2 out of 4 stars.
PG, 139 minutes. Historical Drama.
Starring Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, and Jovan Adepo.
Released December 25th, playing at Film.Ca, Winston Churchill, and Oakville/VIP.
Denzel Washington both stars and directs the screen adaptation of August Wilson’s legendary stage play about a disapproving father building a backyard fence. Tension bubbles when his wife faces a tragedy, and his son struggles to follow his father’s legacy for better or worse. The movie is faithful to the play, and while the editing and direction are top-notch, there are some slow-paced stretches, and sometimes feels too authentic to the play. But if it’s great drama, story, and characters you want – Fences delivers big time.
3 out of 4 stars.
PG, 126 minutes. Historical Space Drama.
Starring Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, and Kevin Costner.
Opens January 6th (Tomorrow), playing at Winston Churchill and Oakville/VIP.
The untold true story about three women of colour who were (unadvertised) mathematicians and pioneers in engineering for NASA in the early 1960s. The three leading ladies (Henson, Monae, and Spencer) are dynamite, each exuding charisma, heart, wit and tenacity with every line. But they also have lots of fun on camera, from their personal interactions to scribbling on chalkboards. I applaud the depiction of the civil rights story in Hollywood by focusing on a different social revolution of the same time. If you’re looking for the go-to fun movie with talent and charm, this is my pick.
Click below for the December 16th review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Click below for the December 21st review of Sing!.
Click below for the December 25th review of La La Land.
2016, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Adaptation, Bryan Cranston, Casey Affleck, Chris Pratt, Christmas, Collateral Beauty, Comedy, December 25th 2016, Denzel Washington, Drama, Edward Norton, Fences, Film.Ca Cinemas, Hidden Figures, History, Holidays, James Franco, Janelle Monae, Jennifer Lawrence, Jovan Adepo, Kate Winslet, Kevin Costner, Kyle Chandler, La La Land, Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea, Megan Mullally, Michelle Williams, Movies, Naomi Harris, Oakville, Octavia Spencer, Passengers, reviews, Rogue One, Romance, Sci-Fi, Sing, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, Why Him?, Will Smith, Zoey Deutch