Christmas is coming, which means annoying family members giving you an excuse to hit the movie theater if only to escape from their incessant babbling. Or maybe that’s just how I settle things in my family? Regardless, in honor of the twelfth month, this month’s Must-See List is celebrating its own twelve days of Christmas with two additional movies worth seeing. What do you have planned for your Christmas movie watching list? Check our list (twice) below.
“Out of the Furnace”
Synopsis: Russell Baze (Christian Bale) is trying to catch a break in life. When his veteran brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck) goes missing, Russell must navigate the seedy backwaters of his community to find him.
What You Need to Know: Scott Cooper lit a lot of fires with his 2009 directorial debut, “Crazy Heart.” After the film led to an Oscar for its leading man, Jeff Bridges, critics and fans were eager to devour whatever work Cooper brewed next. Four years have since passed, and Cooper’s second feature boasts an amazing cast including Bale (having his own stellar year with two movies out this month), Affleck, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Shepard. Playlist writer Charlie Schmidlin caught “Out of the Furnace” during AFI Fest a few weeks back, giving the movie a “B” grade; he praised Cooper’s “well-executed, tense set pieces and a fantastic cast to pull them off.” The cast coupled with the intense premise detailed in the trailers should present this as an intriguing kick-off to Oscar month.
Release Date: December 4th
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
Synopsis: A week in the life of a 1960s folk singer named Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he navigates the world of Greenwich Village, searching for meaning within the music.
What You Need to Know: The anticipation for “Inside Llewyn Davis” is intense. Anytime Joel and Ethan Coen have a movie out it feels as if the world is sitting with bated breath; back when the duo announced their desire to feature the 1960s folk scene of Greenwich Village audiences believed it was perfect for them. Kevin Jagernauth was one of the first to see the movie back at Cannes, calling it “an excellent study…of an ordinary man caught in a tailspin.” Since then, the film traveled to the BFI London Film Festival, where Oliver Lyttelton similarly sang its praises. The movie has also garnered three Independent Spirit Award nominations (including one for Isaac). Its Oscar chances appear pre-ordained and you can expect “Inside Llewyn Davis” to be another knockout for the brothers Coen.
Release Date: December 6th in limited release with expansion on December 20th
Synopsis: Based on a true story, “American Hustle” tells of a con artist (Christian Bale) and his mistress (Amy Adams) forced into helping the federal government take down a politician after they’re caught.
What You Need to Know: David O. Russell is on a tear after the Oscar success of both “The Fighter” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Suffice it to say, audiences were chomping at the bit to hear what Russell was doing next. When he announced his take on the infamous ABSCAM con and a cast comprised of Bale, Adams, Jeremy Renner, Academy Award-winner Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper, the buzz went through the roof. Since then, the movie has been deliberate in its release of footage, recently showing the first six minutes at AFI fest at the beginning of November and having New York and LA critic screenings only a week ago. Early buzz has been building and audiences will definitely turn out for the all-star cast.
Release Date: December 13th in limited release; wide December 18th
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
Synopsis: Continuing the journey laid out in last year’s first installment, hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) must face the evil dragon, Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) in order to restore the kingdom of Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage).
What You Need to Know: Last year’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was a huge success despite a prodigious three-hour runtime—par for the course with director Peter Jackson. Since then, fans have been vocal about their likes and dislikes with this second film, ranging from questioning the amount of invented source material and characters, to asking why another movie (set for 2014) is even necessary. If you aren’t a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s prior installment, seeing this movie at all might be irrelevant. The fact there’s another movie to close out the trilogy could compel casual viewers to just wait to binge-watch all three; I’m assuming that would take a week with their lengthy runtimes. Either way, the trailers showcase a beautiful and intricate world, and fans that started the unexpected journey last year are eager to continue.
Release Date: December 13th