Synopsis: A man is kidnapped and held captive for fifteen years, with no explanation. Once released, he must find out who imprisoned him, and why they have let him go.
What You Need To Know: A remake of the terrific Park Chan-wook hit from 2003, “Oldboy (2013)" should by rights be the sort of thing that we all disapprove of—a U.S. retread of a foreign-language original that is already so stylish and uniquely auteur-imprinted that there really seems no creative reason to remake it bar as a crutch for people too lazy to read subtitles. Yet the calibre and profile of the talent long attached to this project sets it apart from the standard remake schtick—for a while it was even a suggested vehicle for Will Smith and Steven Spielberg. Now that the chips have fallen Spike Lee's way, with Josh Brolin stepping into the lead role, and with Lee insisting that his film actually goes back to the manga upon which Park's film was based and not the resulting film (which differed from the manga in important ways, including one of the notorious twists), and with the initial materials from the film looking promising, our lingering doubts about this project are giving way to genuine anticipation. Besides which, even if Lee's version falls short of Park's, we have some exciting supporting performances to look forward to from Sharlto Copley, Elizabeth Olsen, James Ransome and Samuel L. Jackson, and at least we won't have been forced to, like, read the dialogue.
Release Date: November 27th
Synopsis: Based on the true story of the FBI Abscam sting operation of the late '70s/early '80s, which ended up ensnaring both criminals and politicians and charging them with a wide range of offenses.
What You Need To Know: After last year's triumphant, Oscar-winning "Silver Linings Playbook," director David O. Russell could have done anything. The fact that he chose to do a sprawling, serio-comic crime epic, based on a 2010 Black List-ed script that reunites much of his 'Silver Linings' cast with a few of his favorites from "The Fighter" is awesome indeed. With Bradley Cooper as an FBI agent and Christian Bale as his criminal informant, Adam Adams as Bale's mistress and Jennifer Lawrence as his wife, plus Jeremy Renner as a "volatile" politician and Louis C.K., Robert De Niro, Michael Pena, Jack Huston and Colleen Camp rounding out the star-studded cast, the film boasts a lot of potential performance-wise—all of them decked out in fabulously awful '70s attire and highly questionable wigs. The teaser trailer certainly makes the film look like an embarrassment of riches, with the entire cast seemingly having the time (and hairstyles) of their lives, and if anyone can walk the fine line between serious drama and screwball comedy, and deliver something that audiences and critics alike will love, it's Russell.
Release Date: December 13th (limited); December 25th (wide)
"Out of the Furnace"
Synopsis: A tale of two brothers living in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, one of whom is lured into one of the most violent crime rings in the Northeast before disappearing, prompting the other to go into the belly of the beast to get him back.
What You Need To Know: Director/writer Scott Cooper demonstrated he could handle gritty and soulful with the music drama "Crazy Heart," but “Out of the Furnace” should prove to be something tonally much darker and rawer—a story about cruel fate, justice, redemption and brotherly love. But the real reason we've reserved our seat up front (actually middle-middle) for this revenge thriller is the astounding cast—Christian Bale and Casey Affleck star as the two brothers, with (deep breath) Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe and Forest Whitaker in support. And the initial trailer looks like the film may indeed deliver some pretty powerhouse performances, even if the on-the-nose choice of track rather mars the effect—let's hope that the heavy signposting is only a factor in the promo, for a film which was kept on the down low until pretty late in the game. It's a story Bale called "uplifting and tragic at the same time" and Cooper certainly has the sensitivity, and the actors, to be able to deliver something well above the average revenge thriller.
Release Date: December 6th
"Anchorman: The Legend Continues"
Synopsis: Times have changed in the tv news game, and the Channel Four News Team moves to adapt to the 24-hour news cycle that the brave new decade, the '80s, heralds.
What You Need To Know: In the years following the 2004 release of the gritty, hard-hitting "Anchorman," which shockingly exposed the nefarious behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing at tv news station in the '70s, and made an instant hero/icon out of tough, uncompromising newsman Ron Burgundy, the public clamor for a sequel only grew louder. Initially it looked like "Anchorman 2" was going to have life as a Broadway musical (though quite how anyone thought they were going to make a glitzy stage show about the cutthroat rough-and-tumble of television news and the sobering questions of journalistic ethics the original film raised is beyond us), but thankfully sanity prevailed and we get to revisit the Channel Four News team nearly one decade on, as they face the challenges of a new era with hope, integrity and, probably, scotch. It's a testament to the sequel's quality that legendary tragedians Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate and Steve Carell are all undergoing the requisite draconian weight loss/gain necessary to reprise their roles, while being joined this time out by thespians James Marsden and Kristen Wiig. Per the film's trailer, it appears this time returning auteur Adam McKay will be fearlessly tackling the period's race politics with a similarly incisive eye to that he previously brought to bear on gender perception in the 1970s, and with a laundry list of Hollywood power players lining up for cameo roles like this is goddamn Altman or something, suffice to say that it's going to be an effort to stay classy till Christmas, but we're going to have to try.
Release Date: December 20th