November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

1st

Arctic Dogs – Entertainment Studios Motion Picture, AMBI Group

Swifty the Fox (Jeremy Renner) discovers a devious plan by Otto Von Walrus (John Cleese) to drill beneath the Arctic surface to unleash enough gas to melt all the ice. With the help from his friends – an introverted polar bear, a scatterbrained albatross, a crafty fox and two paranoid otters – Swifty and the gang spring into action to foil Otto’s plot and save the day. The voice cast also includes James Franco, Heidi Klum, Laurie Holden, Alec Baldwin, Omar Sy, Michael Madsen and Anjelica Huston.

 

Harriet – Focus Features, Story Gold Features, Martin Chase Productions, New Balloon

The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s (Cynthia Erivo) escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. Harriet co-stars Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Clarke Peters, Deborah Ayorinde and Janelle Monae.

 

Motherless Brooklyn – Warner Bros., Class 5 Films

Based on the novel by Jonathan Lethem, and directed by Edward Norton; set against the backdrop of 1950s, Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Motherless Brooklyn co-stars Willem Dafoe, Leslie Mann, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Kenneth Williams and Alec Baldwin.

 

Terminator: Dark Fate – Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Skydance Media, Lightstorm Entertainment, Tencent Pictures

Directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool), Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and a hybrid cyborg human (Mackenzie Davis) must protect a young girl (Natalia Reyes) from a newly modified liquid Terminator (Gabriel Luna) from the future. Dark Fate co-stars Diego Boneta, Edward Furlong and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Thoughts: The Terminator franchise doesn’t have the best history since the release of Judgment Day, but everyone is touting that Dark Fate is getting the franchise back on track. Of course, that’s studio people, it’s really all about the fans, and from the looks of it…they could be right. It helps that Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor for one, and it’s going back to its rated-R roots (which may or may not help who knows). It can’t be as bad as Genisys right? RIGHT?

 

 

8th

Limited Release – Honey Boy

Written and starring by Shia LaBeouf – it is a semi-autobiography of his life – a child actor works to mend the relationship with his hard-drinking, law-breaking father. Honey Boy stars LaBeouf (as his father), Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, FKA Twigs, Maika Monroe and Clifton Collins Jr.

 

Playing with Fire – Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Nickelodeon Movies, Broken Road Productions

A crew of rugged firefighters meet their match when attempting to rescue three rambunctious kids. Playing with Fire stars John Cena, John Leguizamo, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane, Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery, Finley Rose Slater and Judy Greer.

Thoughts: What is this movie!?

 

Last Christmas – Universal Pictures,

Directed by Paul Feig, and co-written by Emma Thompson – Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a young woman subscribed to bad decisions. Her last date with disaster? That of having accepted to work as Santa’s elf for a department store. However, she meets Tom (Henry Golding) here. Her life takes a new turn. For Kate, it seems too good to be true. Last Christmas co-stars Thompson, Patti LuPone and Michelle Yeoh.

 

Midway – Lionsgate, The Mark Gordon CompanyD

Directed by Roland Emmerich, the story of the Battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the sailors who fought it. Midway stars Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart, Keean Johnson, Alexander Ludwig, Mandy Moore, Darren Criss, Nick Jonas, Ed Skrein and Dennis Quaid.

 

Doctor Sleep – Warner Bros., Vertigo Entertainment, Intrepid Pictures

Based off the novel by Stephen King, years following the events of The Shining, a now-adult Dan Torrence (Ewan McGregor) meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal. Directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House), Doctor Sleep co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Chelsea Talmadge, Cliff Curtis and Bruce Greenwood

Thoughts: A sequel to one of the most popular horror films, maybe ever, Doctor Sleep looks like it’s going to be a healthy mix of nostalgia and being its thing. It also helps that the film is directed by the very talented Mike Flanagan. So yeah, Doctor Sleep could potentially be one of the best movies of the month.

 

 

15th

Limited Release: Waves

Written and directed by Trey Edward Schults (It Comes at Night); Traces the journey of a suburban African-American family – led by a well-intentioned but domineering father (Sterling K. Brown) – as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. Waves co-stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Clifton Collins Jr.

 

The Good Liar – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema,

Based on the novel by Nicholas Searle, and directed by Bill Condon; career con artist Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life. The Good Liar co-stars Jim Carter, Laurie Davidson and Russell Tovey.

 

Charlie’s Angels – Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Brownstone Productions,

When a young systems engineer  (Naomi Scott) blows the whistle on a dangerous technology, Charlie’s Angels (Ella Balinska and Kristen Stewart) are called into action, putting their lives on the line to protect us all. Charlie’s Angels co-stars Elizabeth Banks, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo and Patrick Stewart.

Thoughts: I wasn’t completely sold on the new Charlie’s Angels movie, but I’ll admit the FIRST trailer at least had me in for the idea of the reboot. This second trailer though, oof.

 

Ford v. Ferrari – 20th Century Fox, Chernin Entertainment

Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine, Logan) – American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Ford v. Ferrari co-stars Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe and Tracy Letts.

Thoughts: This one has been in the works for a while, and it’s finally here and it looks pretty solid. The film already has a great backstory so hopefully that will bring people out to watch.

 

 

22nd

Limited Release – Dark Waters

Based on a real story and magazine article by Nathaniel Rich; A corporate defense attorney (Mark Ruffalo) takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution. Dark Waters co-stars Anne Hathaway, William Jackson Harper, Bill Pullman, Bill Camp, Victor Garber and Tim Robbins.

 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Sony Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Tencent Pictures, Big Beach Films

Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and journalist Tom Junod. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood co-stars Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper.

Thoughts: You ready to cry? I’m not ready to cry. Because we’re going to cry.

 

21 Bridges – STX Entertainment, AGBO, Huayi Brothers

Thrust into a citywide manhunt for a duo of cop killers, NYPD detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) begins to undercover a massive conspiracy that links his fellow police officers to a criminal empire and must decide who he is hunting and who is actually hunting him. During the manhunt, Manhattan is completely locked down for the first time in its history – no exit or entry to the island including all 21 bridges. 21 Bridges co-stars Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, Stephan James, Keith David and J.K. Simmons.

 

Frozen 2 – Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom. Frozen 2 voice cast also includes Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown.

Thoughts: You ready for the next “Let it Go” to be played over 100 times? ARE YOU?

 

 

27th

Queen & Slim – Universal Pictures, BRON Studios,

A couple’s (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) first date take an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over. Queen & Slim co-stars Indya Moore, Chloe Sevigny, and Bokeem Woodbine.

 

Knives Out – Lionsgate, Media Rights Capital, FilmNation Entertainment, Ram Bergman Productions

Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), a detective (Daniel Craig) investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. Knives Out impressive cast includes Chris Evans, LaKeith Stanfield, Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, Riki Lindhome, Jaeden Martell, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis  and Christopher Plummer.

Thoughts: Knives Out has gotten a lot, A LOT, of love in the film festival circuit, so Knives Out looks to be one of those movies that you’re going to need to watch opening weekend.

 

What are you looking forward to?

My Best/Favorite Films of 2016

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!

There were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.

The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time. Also, the list won’t include limited release like Live By Night, A Monster Calls, Patriots Day or Silence since they didn’t open in my area, so I’ll include those in my list of 2017 (assuming they make the list of course). Then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, surprises of the year, honorable mentions and then the big ones.

 

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

Anomalisa

American Honey

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Café Society

Captain Fantastic

Eye in the Sky

High Rise

Indignation

I Saw the Light

Loving

Miss Sloane

Swiss Army Man

The Birth of a Nation

The Hollars

The Invitation

The Light Between Oceans

The Wave

 

 

Just Missed The List

Demolition

Don’t Think Twice

Lights Out

Nocturnal Animals

The Magnificent Seven

Train to Busan

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Bad Moms (STX Entertainment/Block Entertainment)

If you told me that Bad Moms would be as funny as it was at the beginning of the year, I’d probably walk away from our conversation. But, I gave Bad Moms a chance and I actually had an enjoyable time watching it. It isn’t perfect, but there are plenty of laughs with a great lead cast in Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn.

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Ouija: Origin of Evil (Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Platinum Dunes/Hasbro/Allspark Pictures)

I never watched the first Ouija (and I still don’t at this point), so walking into Origin of Evil knowing it was a prequel, I didn’t know what to anticipate. Thankfully, the sequel/prequel really worked, and honestly, worked better as a family drama than it did horror. Although some of the horror moments by Mike Flanagan, who directed films like Oculus and Hush, worked really well and of course it helped that he had a great cast, especially standout and young star Lulu Wilson.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Universal Pictures/Party Over Here/The Lonely Island/Apatow Productions)

Popstar was one of those films that I watched the trailer and found out what it was about, I couldn’t see myself watching it. Add the fact that I’m not that big of an Andy Samberg fan, but boy was I wrong. The movie was way more funnier than the trailers, and the mockumentary really adds to the movie as a whole, especially the bee “scene.” I’m okay with being wrong this time around.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Cross Creak Pictures/Head Gear Films/Handsomecharlie Films/QC Entertainment/MadRiver Pictures)

I had actually been looking forward to this for a long time now, and while it wasn’t perfect, I still really enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies knew what it was and didn’t try to overdo it or be something else.

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Storks (Warner Bros. Animation/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Stoller Global Solutions)

Storks didn’t grab my attention at all until the second trailer came out, and even then I wasn’t completely sold on it. Then I watched it and I was glad I did. I genuinely had a great time watching the film. It had solid jokes that had me laughing for a good while after, and a very touching story with a satisfying ending that I didn’t think it would.

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The Shallows (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Ombra Films/Weimaraner Republic Pictures)

Another film I had no expectation for but ended watching anyway was the Blake Lively-trying-not-to-get-eaten-by-a-shark film. But, The Shallows wasn’t all that bad, in fact, it kind of made me change my mind on Lively as an actress. Granted it was one film, and it had everything to do with the material she was given, but The Shallows hands down is my surprise film of the year that didn’t suck.

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Honorable Mentions

10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Spectrum Effects)

Considering the title for the film came out of nowhere, many were waiting to see what 10 Cloverfield Lane would bring to the table. Thankfully, it came in the form of a great film than probably most people didn’t anticipate. The third act twist to make it connect to the overall world of Cloverfield and all the online marketing threw a lot of people off, but nothing can take away what this film was able to do, in the short time we had to adjust. 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the best thrillers of the year.

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Christine (The Orchard/Great Point Media/Fresh Jade/BorderLine Films)

Based on a true story I didn’t know before this film, I was still excited to see how they would approach the material. Also, knowing what was going to happen didn’t affect the final product at all. Rebecca Hall is a standout in this and her performance is amazing to watch from beginning to end.

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Deepwater Horizon (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Participant Media/Di Bonaventura Pictures/Closest to the Hole Productions/Leverage Entertainment)

Peter Berg feels like he’s become a “based on a true story” director, which is fine if they’re anything like Deepwater Horizon. Whether you think the concept of making a film based on the BP oil spill is a “good” idea, the film was more about the actual workers there. Not only that, the film is heavily emotion that I will not lie, made me tear up.

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Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Marvel continues its trend of changing the way they make their films and keeping the fans on their feet. Doctor Strange introduced magic to the already well-oiled machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filled with trippy, and great, visuals Doctor Strange may not be the best Marvel film, but one that definitely sticks out, and will leave a lasting impression.

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Don’t Breathe (Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Ghost House Pictures/Stage 6 Films/Good Universe)

Fede Alvarez had a lot of eyes on him after he directed the not-as-bad-as-people-thought-it-would-be remake of Evil Dead, and Don’t Breathe was a worthy follow-up. The film was filled with great tension throughout that was helped by the great sound design. Not only that, the film was vastly different from what the trailers made you think you were walking into, which is always nice.

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Eddie the Eagle (20th Century Fox/Marv Films/Saville Productions/Studio Babelsberg)

Based on the real life of Eddie the Eagle, Taron Egerton continued to prove that he is one of the best young and upcoming actors working today. Add in the fact that he’s playing a real person whose story was not only a feel-good one, but one that is truly inspirational was great to watch. Also, anytime we get to see Hugh Jackman is a plus, right?

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Finding Dory (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

Many, myself included, worried whether a sequel to Finding Nemo was even necessary, but doubting Pixar at this point has been a bad move. Not only was Finding Dory a worthy sequel, it was a ton of fun. The film never tried to be like the previous film, and instead did things differently to tell its story, and thankfully it paid off.

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Found Footage 3D

One of the highlights of the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was Found Footage 3D. Keeping true to the title, the film is shot in found footage in 3D, and as terrible as that may sound to some, Found Footage 3D is a lot of fun and worthy to seen. I’ll say this about the film, it’s the Scream of found footage movies.

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Ghostbusters (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/LStar Captial/Feigco Entertainment/Pascal Pictures/The Montecito Picture Company)

Yes, I actually enjoyed Ghostbusters. The film didn’t deserve all the hate it got. Was it perfect? No, but it wasn’t terrible either. And yes, the female-led cast actually worked. The film was funny, and the last act – although fell into typical Summer Blockbuster Movie tropes – had some cool things going for it, like ghosts taking over Time Square.

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Green Room (A24/Broad Green Pictures/Film Science)

One of the main attractions of Green Room for many I’m sure was seeing the always loveable Patrick Stewart play a terrifying Neo-Nazis leader, and that’s what he did indeed. Also, it later turned out to be one of the last films by Anton Yelchin. With all that said, Green Room did turn out to be much more than those points. While the film had some horror elements, Green Room works better as a survival thriller.

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Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Cross Creak Pictures/Demarest Media/IM Global)

Say what you want about Mel Gibson, and maybe he still deserves it or maybe not, but the man can direct a damn movie! Hacksaw Ridge is a powerful film that, like some films on the list, is based on a true story that maybe not a lot of people knew, and props to Andrew Garfield for bringing not just the character, but the actual man, to life. The war scenes were brutal, sure, but it was Garfield’s performance that really made this movie shine.

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Headshot (Infinite Frameworks Studios)

Headshot was the newest film that starred The Raid and The Raid 2 stars Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yullisman. The film does lean more on the drama side before the action kicks into overdrive and becomes the martial arts film that the trailers promised.

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Here Alone (Vertical Entertainment/Lola’s Productions/Easy Open Productions/Manhattan Productions/Gentile Entertainment Group/Preferred Content) 

One of the biggest surprises of the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was not really too much of a horror film, but a thriller drama that follows a woman trying to live her life in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The film sounds simple but it is so much more than the synopsis has you believe. The film surpassed any sort of expectations I had for it, which was none, because I didn’t know anything about it before hand.

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Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox/Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films)

This could have gone in my surprises of the year, but I ended up really liking Hidden Figures a lot more than I had original thought. Along with a story that really happened, I had to include it in my list of films of the year. The film was smart, funny and highly entertaining from beginning to end. Also, the wide release is early January, but I managed to see a “Special Engagement” showing, so I was able to put it on my list for 2016.

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Midnight Special (Warner Bros./Tri-State Pictures/RatPac Dune Entertainment)

Another film that I wished more people got to see was this film. Midnight Special may have the backdrop of a sci-fi film, but it really is a story about family and what a father would do for his son. The film is a independent film to the truest point, and even when the sci-fi elements come into play, it never undermines the family drama.

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Moonlight (A24/Plan B Entertainment) 

There’s something special about Moonlight when watching it. The film’s decision to follow our main character from childhood to adulthood was an interesting move, but also made sense when you remember everything that was shown beforehand. The film’s theme was also something that was handled extremely well, and since the trailer – at least from what I remember – didn’t say or hint at anything about it, I was surprised and floored. Moonlight takes the risk and it pays off.

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Pete’s Dragon (Walt Disney Productions)

I had never seen – or at least don’t remember – the original Pete’s Dragon, and I’m kind of glad of that because this iteration is great. It did feel like more of a older crowd film, but there was enough for kids to enjoy and understand. The film also didn’t have a hard time pulling on the heartstrings, and Elliot the Dragon, was worth the price of admission alone.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (IFC Films/IFC Midnight/IM Global/Impostor Pictures/42)

Directed by Trollhunters director Andre Ovredal, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of those films that just came out of nowhere, and one you should see if you get the chance without knowing too much about it. All you need to know is Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch have great chemistry as father and son coroners who have to deal with a mysterious body and creepy as things going down.

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The Edge of Seventeen (STX Entertainment/Gracie Films)

This was a film I wasn’t too excited about just based off the premise, but once the cast came together and watching the first trailer, it went to must-watch watch. The Edge of Seventeen is a great coming-of-age film that is lead by Hailee Steinfeld and had a great supporting cast. It wasn’t the best coming-of-age film this year, but one of the best for sure.

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The Handmaiden (Amazon Studios/CJ Entertainment/Magnolia Pictures/Moho Film/Yong Film)

Directed by Chan-wook Park, this erotic thriller – to put it lightly – was like nothing I ever thought it would be like. I mean, seriously, like. Nothing. I. Never. Thought. It. Would. Be.

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The Witch (A24/Parts and Labor/Rooks Nest Entertainment/Code Red Productions/Mott Street Pictures/Code Red Productions/Maiden Voyage Pictures)

The Witch was one of those films that I couldn’t shake off after watching. That doesn’t happen often, and that’s saying something coming from a guy that watches a lot of films in general. From start to finish, the film grabs you with its unique cinematography, eerie setting, and overall sense of dread.

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Zootopia (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

After watching Zootopia, I thought, that’s it for animated films this year right? Well, no, but Zootopia is still right there on top of the list. Filled with smart social commentary and a great voice cast, Disney has done it again with their animated films.

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Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Arrival (Paramount Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

Arrival was one of those films you make you feel comfortable until it hits you with all the emotions it’s gathered up throughout the film. It’s also one of those films that leaves you thinking way after watching the film, and start asking questions about what you would do. It’s a great film that came out of nowhere, and one we need a little more of.

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Captain America: Civil War (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios)

The Civil War story in the comics is unbelievable, so when Marvel announced they were going to put it on the big screen, I was a little hesitant – even though I trust Marvel. So when I watched Civil War, all I could think about was how great they were able to bring their own story into the film, and make it work and make Captain America: Civil War one of the best Marvel films so far.

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Carol (The Weinstein Company/Film4/Killer Films/Number 9 Films)

Technically a 2015 film, but considering its wide release rollout – which is when I saw it – wasn’t until 2016, I’m putting Carol here. Of course, it doesn’t really matter where you put this film because it is such a great film. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara made these characters and story feel so real that even with the period piece, you can easy see how modern the story is as well.

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Deadpool (20th Century Fox/Marvel Enterprises/TSG Entertainment)

Deadpool could also be labeled a Surprise Film of the Year, but let’s face it, Deadpool belongs in a favorite films of the year list. Considering it took so long to get this film made, all the kudos goes to Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to bring, arguably, one of the most hardest comic book characters to life on the big screen.

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Everybody Wants Some!! (Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Detour Filmproduction)

Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused is so relatable to many, it’s kind of weird. We’ve all been there at some point of our lives and Linklater has this ability to find actors that we can relate to and root for it’s almost impossible.

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Hell or High Water (CBS Films/Lionsgate/Oddlot Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/Film 44)

Hell or High Water is one of those films you watch and wonder, why didn’t this get a bigger release? It had great performances by the cast all around, the story and cinematography were great, and feel of the film is constant throughout. If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and watch this film!

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (The Orchard/Piki Films/Defender Films/Curious Film)

This is one film I didn’t know too much about before going to see it. All I knew was it was getting rave reviews and it was directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Flight of the Conchords, Thor: Ragnarok). I loved Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and one of the reason I loved it was because it was so different in its own quirky, weird, fun way.

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I Am Not a Serial Killer (IFC Midnight/Fantastic Films/Floodland Pictures/Winterland Pictures/Liquid Noise Films/Level 5 Films)

Having read the novel a few years back, I didn’t even know a movie was being released until it premiered on the film festival circuit. However, I Am Not a Serial Killer is definitely of those rare films that surpasses the source material, and what helped was the casting of Max Records and Christopher Lloyd.

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Jackie (Fox Searchlight Pictures/LD Entertainment/Wild Bunch/Why Not Productions/Protozoa Pictures/Bliss Media/Fabula)

Natalie Portman gives an absolutely crushing and great performance as Jackie Kennedy. The film is built and carried by her as we see Portman literally go through every emotion she can go through bringing the former First Lady to life that lost her husband in front of her, who also happened to be the President of the United States in a very public way.

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Kubo and the Two Strings (Focus Features/Laika Entertainment)

Laika Entertainment’s fourth film, and for me personally, their best, Kubo and the Two Strings is a beautifully done film with tremendous production design and awesome score. The story at times feels simple, but man did I fall in love with this film.

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La La Land (Summit Entertainment/Black Label Media/Marc Platt Productions/Impostor Pictures/Gilbert Films)

I was blown away by La La Land! I didn’t think the film would be as good as people were saying it was, but I’m glad it was. The film was beautifully done and filled with a great and emotional soundtrack that I’ve slowly become addicted too. The fact that is also feels like an old Hollywood film is what makes the film go above the rest.

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Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions/B Story/Big Indie Pictures/Pearl Street Films/CMP/K Period Media)

Films about grief are common in Hollywood every year, however what makes Manchester by the Sea stick out is that it feels overly real than the rest. There’s no pouring his emotions out by Casey Affleck’s character, and the film shows people go through grief in their own ways. Add on the breakout performance by Lucas Hedges, and the small but powerful performance by Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea is one of the best films of the year.

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Moana (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Disney Animation continues to bring powerful, emotional and beautifully done films, and it felt like this year was a great year for them. Moana tells a great story through its character, but also its amazing soundtrack, which probably makes sense since they had Lin-Manuel Miranda helping them out.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Allison Shearmur Productions)

Let’s face it, Rogue One was a huge risk for Lucasfilm. Another prequel? Really, did they learn nothing from the past? Well, we were wrong! Rogue One was not only a great prequel to A New Hope, but a great Star Wars film in general. It brings a whole new level to the franchise, and whether you are a hardcore fan, a moderate fan, and someone who is just starting, Rogue One is a ton of fun, action-packed and filled with great characters.

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Sing Street (The Weinstein Company/FilmNation Entertainment/Likely Story/PalmStar Media)

I remember watching the trailer for Sing Street and automatically knew it was going to be something special, and it looked like I was right. Sing Street is one of those films that you may have seen before, but the cast and soundtrack they were able to pull together makes this film not only one of my favorite films of the year, but one of the best films of the year.

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Star Trek Beyond (Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions/Bad Robot/Sneaky Shark/Perfect Storm Entertainment)

Star Trek Beyond is one of those films that I don’t think many people gave a chance because Into Darkness was underwhelming and disappointing. Which is a fair assessment. However, Star Trek Beyond was a better film and a more fun film that was reminiscent of the first film in the rebooted franchise.

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The Conjuring 2 (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Evergreen Media Group/The Safran Company/Atomic Monster)

At this point, I think I’ll follow James Wan anywhere. I don’t know if The Conjuring 2 was better than the first film, but it is a worthy sequel and one that works within the world that Wan created. Not only that, he continues to bring creepy as hell characters to the big screen to fill our nightmares.

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The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Pictures/Fairview Entertainment/Moving Picture Company)

Another worthy candidate for Surprise of the Year, The Jungle Book proved you can take an old property and do something new with it, and add to it. Also, the fact that the film only has one real person in it in Neel Sethi, and everything else was done in CGI that looked real in some cases, it’s rather impressive.

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The Nice Guys (Warner Bros./Silver Pictures/Waypoint Entertainment/Misty Mountains)

Shane Black’s return to the dark comedy and noir films proved to be a good move with his great film in The Nice Guys. It’s a shame that no one really went out to see it because they missed out on the great chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

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The Revenant (20th Century Fox/New Regency Pictures/RatPac Entertainment/Anonymous Content/Appian Way)

Like Carol, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s new film was technically a 2015 film, but didn’t get its wide release rollout until 2016, which is when I saw it. Of course, the film earned Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar, but it was also the performances of the other cast members like Tom Hardy and the reunion of Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Also, watching Leo go through the torturous journey is worthy of watching the film.

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So that was my year. What are your favorite/best films of the 2016.

‘Moana’ Review

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Directors: Ron Clements & John Musker (co-directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams)

Writer: Jared Bush

Cast: Auli’I Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Alan Tudyk, Nicole Scherzinger, and Jemaine Clement

Synopsis: In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Disney Animation is having a pretty great record recently. They’ve had smash hits in Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and of course the big one, Frozen. However, Moana feels completely different from all those films, and that is what makes the film work. Enriched with the culture behind it, and it’s great soundtrack, Moana is one of those films I think people will be talking about for a while.

Moana follows Moana, voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, is an adventurous teenager who has always been connected to venture into the ocean, but is forbidden by her father Chief Tui (Morrison), who instead wants Moana to lead the village. However, when an old darkness begins to take over the island, Moana sees this as her opportunity to finally get off the island and save her people, but she’ll need the help of the demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson).

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The film starts off by telling us a tale of Maui, and what essentially becomes the adventurous tale of finding and returning the heart of Te Fiti, a god amongst the Polynesian people. The tale is a great jumping in point for people not familiar with the Polynesian culture – of course it’s not all of the history – but it certainly makes you understand Moana, and why she has an adventurous spirit. The other nice thing that the film does is we get to spend a great deal of time with Moana and the people of the island. So you can understand when Moana leaves, it’s not only a big deal for her, but also for the people of the island.

Moana herself is a good character. She’s strong-minded and has a good sense of herself, but also naïve when it comes to certain things, which makes her a good character to follow. When it comes to Maui, well, there’s a reason they got The Rock to do the voice for the demigod. Johnson brings his huge and charismatic personality to Maui, and essentially feels like an extension to Johnson himself. But, like Moana, is a flawed hero himself and needs Moana as much as Moana needs him. The pairing of the two, and the voice actors of Cravalho and Johnson, is great to watch and hearing them go back-and-forth with each other would usually be a highlight, but does help.

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The film is pretty much Moana and Johnson, but Rachel House plays an important role in the film and an important character in Moana’s life in her Gramma Tala, Disney go-to now Alan Tudyk does some voice work for Hei Hei, a brainless rooster who is sure to be a fan-favorite amongst youngsters, and the water, yes, the ocean is a character in itself that helps Moana on some occasion, although I kind of wished they would have used it more, but that’s just me being nitpicky. Finally, Jemaine Clement pops in as Tamatoa, a large crab that brings one of the more light-hearted songs of the film that makes sense for his character. Another potential fan-favorite set of characters are the Kakamora, which are coconut pirates – yes, coconut pirates – who are part of a action scene that is very Mad Max: Fury Road inspired.

The highlight of the film here is the music. Each song is catchy, highly entertaining, plays a role in the scene, and more importantly, beautifully done. I have no doubt you’ll be singing or humming these songs when you leave the theater or blast them on your drive home. The music also brings home many themes for not just the characters singing them, but also for the adventure themselves. They’re rather moving songs that even I’ll admit, had me on the verge of tears.

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All in all, Moana is another great addition of the Disney Animation category. Filled with rich visuals, history and music, time will tell how audiences treat Moana, but it is definitely worth your time. Does it fall into familiar territory sometimes? Sure, but it has enough to separate itself from the pack.

Moana

4.5 out of 5

November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

 

4th

Limited Release: Loving

Loving has been getting some great reviews on the film festival circuit, and it helps that the film is based on a true story. Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple, are sentenced to a prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married. The film also stars Will Dalton, Alano Miller, Chris Greene, Sharon Blackwood, Nick Kroll, Bill Camp, Marton Csokas, and Michael Shannon.

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Trolls (Animation – 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation)

Yes, a movie about those lovable toys from the 80s is getting a feature-length filmed. Does it really matter what it’s about? You’re taking your kids to go see whether you like it or not! The voice cast includes Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Gwen Stefani, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhane Wallis, Russell Brand, Ron Funches, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor and John Cleese.

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Hacksaw Ridge (Biography War Drama – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Cross Creak Pictures/Vendian Entertainment/Demarest Media/Icon Productions)  

Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair with this film that follows WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the Battle of Okinawa, who refused to pick up a gun and kill, and became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Say what you will about Mel Gibson, the man knows how to direct and the film looks great. Hacksaw Ridge also stars Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Rachel Griffiths, Matt Nable, Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving.

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Doctor Strange (Fantasy Action Adventure – Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures)

Marvel is once again being ambitious by bring the magic side of the comics to life. After his career is destroyed, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon gets a new lease on life when a sorcerer takes him under his wing and trains him to defend the world against evil. Scott Derrickson directs Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange aka Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Scott Adkins. The film looks pretty trippy and, yes, does have an Inception-vibe, but with a cast like this, and director Scott Derrickson onboard, we’re looking at another big hit for Marvel.

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11th

Limited Release: Elle

Based on the novel by Phillppe Djian, and directed by Paul Verhoeven, the film follows a successful businesswoman (Isabelle Huppert), who gets caught up in a game of cat-and-mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.

 

Limited Release in 3D: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Comedy Drama – Sony Pictures/TriStar Productions/Marc Platt Productions/Dune Films)

Directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel by Ben Fountain, 19-year-old Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks the film shows what really happened to his squad – contrasting the realities of war with America’s perceptions. The film doesn’t look that bad, and Ang Lee is doing the interesting move on filming the movie in a high-frame rate. The film will star Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Makenzie Leigh, Tim Blake Nelson, and Steve Martin.

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Shut In (Drama Thriller – EuropaCorp/Lava Bear Films)

A widowed child psychologist (Naomi Watts), who lives in an isolated existence in rural New England with her comatose son (Charlie Heaton), gets caught in a deadly winter storm. However, that’s not her only problem as she starts to question her reality and tries to find a boy (Jacob Tremblay) she recently lost under her care. The film looks pretty creepy, and the isolation aspect could lead to some great moments. The film also stars Crystal Balint, Tim Post, Clementine Poidatz and Oliver Platt.

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Almost Christmas (Comedy – Universal Pictures)

A dysfunctional family gathers together for their first Thanksgiving since their mom died. The cast includes Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher, Omar Epps, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, and Kimberly Elise.

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Arrival (Sci-Fi Drama – Paramount Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario), the film takes place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. Arrival has some good things going for it. Villeneuve is a great director and has a cast of Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma. It also helps that early reviews have been nothing but positive, even saying Arrival could be a surprise Oscar contender.

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18th

Limited Release: The Take (Action Drama)

A young con artist (Richard Madden) and former CIA agent (Idris Elba) embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France. The film was originally titled Bastille Day, a special holiday in France, the film was pushed back and delayed after the attacks in France, and is now getting a release date. The film also stars Kelly Reilly, Charlotte Le Bon, and Anatol Yusef.

 

Limited Release: The Eyes of My Mother (Horror Drama)

A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life. The film looks rather creepy to be honest, and the fact that the film is shot in black and white makes it all the more.

 

Limited Release: Manchester by the Sea (Drama)

An uncle (Casey Affleck) is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies, but is also dealing with his own personal troubles. Manchester by the Sea looks absolutely fantastic, and I’ve hear NOTHING but good things about this. The film also stars Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Matthew Broderick, Josh Hamilton and Tate Donovan.

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Limited Release: Nocturnal Animals (Drama Thriller)

Based on Austin Wright’s novel “Tony and Susan,” an art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale. Again, another film with a great cast that I’m surprised is getting a limited release. Nocturnal Animals stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laura Linney and Michael Shannon.

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Expanded Release: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

 

Bleed for This (Biography Drama – Open Road Films/Verdi Productions/Magna Entertainment/Bruce Cohen Productions/Younger Than You)

Based on the story of World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), who after a near fatal car crash which left him not knowing if he’d ever walk again, made one of sport’s most incredible comebacks. The film doesn’t look to bad really, and I’m a bit surprised it’s only getting a limited release. Bleed for This also stars Katey Sagal, Aaron Eckhart, Ted Levine, and Ciaran Hinds.

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The Edge of Seventeen (Comedy – Sony Pictures/STX Entertainment/Gracie Films)

High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) when her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), starts dating her older brother (Blake Jenner). I didn’t really think anything about this, I thought it would be just another teeny bopper movie, but I saw the trailer and it does looks pretty damn funny. The film also stars Woody Harrelson, Alexander Calvert, and Kyra Sedgwick.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Fantasy Adventure – Warner Bros.)

Set 70-years before the events of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling brings us back to the Wizarding World by following writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who ends up in New York with a secret community of witches and wizards, and has to track down fantastic beasts that have gotten out of his magical briefcase. Harry Potter series director David Yates comes back to direct and also stars Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, Samantha Morton, Dan Fogler, Colin Farell, Ron Pearlman, and Jon Voight.

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23rd

Expanded Release: Nocturnal Animals 

 

Rules Don’t Apply (Comedy Romance Drama – 20th Century Fox/RatPace Entertainment/New Regency Pictures/Shangri-La Entertainment/Demarest Films)

Warren Beatty returns behind the camera after twenty plus years, and follows an unconventional love story of an aspiring actress (Lily Collins), her determined driver (Alden Ehrenreich), and the eccentric billionaire (Beatty) who they work for. There was something about the trailer that doesn’t grab me, and if the trailer has trouble define what tone it’s going to take, that is a bit of a problem. The rest of the cast is also great with Haley Bennett, Alec Baldwin, Taissa Farmiga, Matthew Broderick, Steve Coogan, Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Candice Bergen and Martin Sheen.

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Allied (Thriller – Paramount Pictures)

Robert Zemeckis directs and Steven Knight (Locke, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Peaky Blinders) writes Allied. Set in 1942, Max (Brad Pitt), a French-Canadian spy, falls in love and marries French agent Marianne (Marion Cotillard), after a mission in Casablanca. Max is notified that Marianne is likely a Nazi spy and begins to investigate her. Allied also stars Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, Raffey Cassidy, Charlotte Hope and Jared Harris.

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Bad Santa 2 (Comedy – Miramax/Broad Green Pictures)

The long awaited sequel to Bad Santa will finally arrive, and fans look to be excited. The film will bring back Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) as he’s roped into another heist by his fresh-out-of-jail -sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox) to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve, the problem is that Willie’s mother, played by Kathy Bates, finds out and joins in. The film will also stars Christina Hendricks, Brett Kelly, and Ryan Hansen.

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Moana (Animation – Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

A young woman, Moana (Auli’I Cravalho) uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The film is being directed by longtime Disney animated film directors Ron Clements and John Musker, who have directed films like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog. The rest of the voice cast includes Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk.

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25th

Lion (The Weinstein Company/See-Saw Films/Aquarius Films/Screen Australia)

Based on the novel by Saroo Brierley, a five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Caluctta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he set out to find his lost family. The film stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham

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Miss Sloane (Drama Thriller – EuropaCorp/FilmNation Entertainment)

An ambitious lobbyist, played by Jessica Chastain, faces off against the powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass control legislation. The film also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Allison Pill, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Dylan Baker, Douglas Smith, John Lithgow and Sam Waterston.

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What are you looking forward to?