Christmas is one of the biggest movie days of the year.
This year, eight movies will come out on Dec. 25.
If you’re heading to theatres, and aren’t sure what to see, we’ve compiled which films are worth checking out and which you should wait for on DVD.
1. Pass: “Unbroken”
What it’s about: Based on a true life story, the World War II movie follows former track star Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) as he spends over two years in Japanese prisoner of war camps after surviving a plane crash.
Why to see it: The survival story is Angelina Jolie’s third time behind the director’s chair with a script from the Oscar-winning team of Joel and Ethan Coen (“Fargo”).
Why to pass: While the film covers a lot of ground, reviews suggest the movie doesn’t completely capture the essence of Zamperini while shortchanging on a few significant scenes from Laura Hillenbrand’s book of the same name.
The film failed to gain any big nods at the Golden Globes which doesn’t bode well for the film at the Oscars.
2. Must See: “The Imitation Game”
What it’s about: The World War II film follows mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he leads a secret team on a mission to crack a code that will allow the British to decipher secret German codes and help win the war. The film is getting its wide release on Christmas.
Why it’s a must-see: See the film for Cumberbatch and co-star Keira Knightley alone. Both are masterful on screen. Cumberbatch has a knack for playing awkwardly humorous geniuses on screen.
The story of Turing and how he helped win the war was a long held government secret that took a tragic turn due to the mathematician’s homosexuality which was illegal at the time. This part of the film feels slightly rushed through.
Both Cumberbatch and Knightley received Golden Globe nominations for their roles. Cumberbatch is almost certainly a lock for an Oscar nomination.
3. See: “Selma”
What it’s about:The film follows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) as he attempts to lead a voting march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.
Why to see it: Powerful and emotional, it’s impossible to watch this film without thinking of the parallels between the protests today in light of the Eric Garner and Ferguson cases. David Oyelowo is the perfect embodiment of Dr. King.
One scene that sticks out in particular is a hard-to-watch portrayal of Bloody Sunday in which 600 marchers were brutally attacked.
As our reporter Brett Arnold points out in his review, it’s an important film not only to see where we came from but to help show how much farther we need to go as a nation.
4. For the family/musical lover: “Into the Woods”
What it’s about: The adaptation of the book and musical of the same name follows a group of fairy-tale characters from “Cinderella,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel,” and “Little Red Riding Hood” after a curse is placed upon a baker and his wife by an evil witch (Meryl Streep).
Why to see it: Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and more singing. Need we say more?
Disney not only has an all-star cast, but composer Stephen Sondheim, the lyricist behind plays including “West Side Story,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Into the Woods.”
The four other movies coming out Christmas Day:
5. “Big Eyes”: Tim Burton’s comedic drama based on the true-life story of artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) whose husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) started taking credit for her successful paintings of characters with big eyes. Both actors were nominated for Golden Globes. See it.
6. “The Gambler”: Mark Wahlberg stars as a professor who has a double life as a gambler and gets involved with a student. Skip.
7. “American Sniper”: Clint Eastwood’s second film this year (“Jersey Boys”) is based on the New York Times’ best-seller of the same name starring Bradley Cooper as United States Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who was known as the deadliest sniper in US history. See it.
8. “Leviathan”: The Russian drama is about a man fighting against a corrupt mayor to retain ownership of his property. The film is currently sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with over 30 positive reviews. The film won best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival this year. A good alternative from the ordinary.
Other films to check out:
If you don’t want to see any of those movies, here are a few recent releases you should consider seeing over the holidays.
Release date:Dec. 12
Chris Rock’s return to theatres is both funny and and an introspective look at fame. Rock plays Andre Allen, a washed-up actor known for a franchise in which he plays a cop in a bear suit called “Hammy the Bear.” Years later, Allen tries to rejuvenate his career with a more serious role; however, most reporters just want to talk about his old franchise. In many ways, the film echoes this year’s earlier film “Birdman,” starring Michael Keaton but without the feeling of a dramatic one-shot.
Fans hoping to see Kevin Hart, who has been a regular in promos for the film, will be disappointed by a short cameo from the comedian. However, there are a few other big cameos in the film to make up for it.
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
Release date:Dec. 17
The best of “The Hobbit” trilogy, director Peter Jackson’s final instalment takes us back to Middle Earth one last time to battle a dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) and a handful of armies who descend upon a mountain filled with treasure.
While not perfect, this is the movie with the majority of the action that fans have been waiting for through two other installments. The film is already performing very well overseas and should end up with one of the largest hauls at the box office this year by the end of its run.
“The Theory of Everything”
Release date: Nov. 7
Eddie Redmayne’s magnificent portrayal of Stephen Hawking not only earned him a Golden Globes nomination, but also wowed Hawking himself. As a result, he allowed filmmakers to swap out a synthetic voice they created for Hawking’s character with his own trademarked version.
Redmayne trained for four months to play the cosmologist, reading everything and watching every video he could find on the theoretical physicist. He also regularly worked with a choreographer and visited a neurology clinic where he spoke to patients.
Not only does the film narrates Hawking’s life, but also the hardships it brought upon his relationship with wife Jane, beautifully played by Felicity Jones.
Release date:Dec. 12 (limited). Wide release is Jan. 9
Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon reunite in a wacky detective tale where Larry “Doc” Sportello (Phoenix) investigates the disappearance of an ex girlfriend.
Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, our own Brett Arnold says the film is worth a watch for Phoenix’s performance alone as a “pot-smoking hippie who obliviously stumbles from one major clue to the next.“
Phoenix received a Golden Globe nod for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical.
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