Monthly Movie Preview: December 2014

Welcome to Oscar-Month! While last month was a little slow, this month is packed with potential Academy Award winners. Be careful of the minefield of crap movies, too, as not every film is slated to be a knock-out.

December 5 – She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

Starring: Various activists for Women’s Rights

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry is a documentary coming out from The International Film Circuit that talks about the women’s movement of the 60’s and 70’s. I am utterly stoked about this film and feel it’s high time for something like this to come out. As one of the women says “the bitter lessons are that no victories are permanent.”  Which is true. It’s important to look back on our history and the mistakes that women have made in the movement and move it till now. I like the fact that black women’s liberation was mentioned and I hope the film talks about the divide in the movement. I don’t know about you, but the trailer has me revved up to watch it. – Jené

December 5 – Dying of the Light

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Iréne Jacob

My initial thought following my first viewing of the preview for Dying of the Light was, “This is going to be awful… Just awful!” Before I share my second thoughts let me tell you a little about the film. Evan Lake is a retired CIA agent that ends his stint on the couch to take down an international rival and terrorist, thought to already be dead. Lake simultaneously struggles with dimension and some other personal demons in his attempt to close this troubled chapter of his life. The plot feels pretty intense and it seems that this film has all the qualities of an all-around “good movie.” Except for one thing… Nicolas Cage… I’m convinced that casting this man is a most assured way to make your movie flop. In re-watching the trailer, and replacing Cage’s face with, oh say, Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck or Brad Pitt I instantly become more interested. It’s rare that one man can be so powerfully deterring. Perhaps that’s reason to see this film. I for one, will wait until this flick hits Red Box. Again, at face value (excluding Nicky boy’s face), this movie seems like it will be pretty good. – Taylor

December 5 – Murder of A Cat

Starring: Fran Kranz, Nikki Reed, JK Simmons, Blythe Danner, Greg Kinnear

This is sure to be the silliest movie of the month, maybe the year. Murder of A Cat stars Dollhouse and Cabin in the Woods‘ Fran Kranz and is part Harriet the Spy, part Mystery Team. Clinton (Kranz) is having a bad day, a day that started with his beloved cat, Mouser, struck dead with an arrow. Determined to solve the case, Clinton enlists the help of Sheriff Hoyle (Simmons), and finds out that his cat was living a double life, and had a second family on the side. This film is guaranteed to make you laugh, and its direct release onto iTunes should help people who want to watch the movie but can’t justify paying to see it in theaters. For those of you with a soft spot for the Whedonverse, catching a straight-to-digital movie with Dollhouse‘s Topher in it will be hard to pass up. However, if you’re a cold, heartless soul with no love for Joss Whedon’s creations, you may want to skip out on this one. – Sherif

December 5 – Life Partners

Starring: Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Gabourey Sidibe, Adam Brody

This film comes from Mangolia Produciton and stars Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs who are incredibly close friends; one is gay and the other is straight. It seems like this will be an interesting friendship meets awkward unrequited lesbian romance. It’s a story I have seen play out in the real world time and time again. While it can be a sad and frustrating one, I am glad it’s a story that finally happening on screen. The potential funny and drama that this story can create is endless and I’m surprised I haven’t seen it before.  I hope the two women end up together in wedded bliss like all those romantic comedies are supposed to. I’ll have to go see the movie in order to find out. – Jené

December 5 – The Pyramid

Starring: Ashley Hinshaw, Dennis O’Hare, James Buckley, Christa Nicola, Amir K

The Pyramid marks Gregory Levasseur’s debut as a director, although he has become somewhat well known as a write in the horror genre with titles like P2, High Tension, and The Hills Have Eyes. In my opinion, none of the films were to die for (pun NOT intended) but they ranged from good enough to okay-ish. Needless to say, for me this does not create a whole lot of anticipation for The Pyramid. The film follows young archeologists and their seemingly cool mentor type professor as they unearth and explore a previously undiscovered Egyptian pyramid for the first time. Of course they get lost and become hysterical and desperate as they realize that they are not alone down there. From the trailer it seems like there will be some jump out scares, but not a whole lot else. The whole thing just reeks of another The Descent, Quarantine, Catacombs, and in all honesty The Hills Have Eyes. Call me crazy, but I’m a sucker for originality and this movie doesn’t seem to offer any of it. It probably won’t be bad, but will most likely be your bargain bin run of the mill horror movie. Personally, I most likely won’t be giving The Pyramid a watch unless I find myself bored and surfing Netflix with no other options. However, I do have to acknowledge that Dennis O’Hare may be the sole reason to give this movie a shot. Any fans of True Blood or American Horror Story should know that that guy is freaking awesome. – Keriann

December 12 – Inherent Vice

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Benecio del Toro, Maya Rudolph, Michael K Williams (Omar!)

Based off the book of the same name by Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice follows pothead Detective Doc Sportello (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who is investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriends current boyfriend.  The book has so many characters, it is unlikely that the movie will follow the book to a tee, but with an all-star cast, it surely will not disappoint.  It looks absolutely irreverent and hilarious.  Set in the 70’s, it will be slightly reminiscent of last year’s American Hustle, but with a little more mystery. – Adrian

December 12 – Exodus: Gods and Kings

Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver

Oh, great. Another movie about the exodus from Egypt of Moses and his people. If 1998’s Prince of Egypt didn’t do it for you, there’s very little chance that a live-action one will do it for you in 2014. I mean, forget about the historical inaccuracies, which are just about as close to history as Christian Bale’s other films (TerminatorBatman BeginsAmerican Psycho), but they have the roles of Ramessess II by Australian actor Joel Edgerton. That’s right, the King of Egypt, played by an Aussie. It doesn’t stop there, because Kingsley, Weaver and Turturro are all prominent Egyptian figures in history. Sigourney. Weaver. It can’t all be a loss, because they have some knockout actors, and it is a classic tale they are retelling. I just don’t understand how a production company could put $140 million into a story that’s been told so many times. Maybe they are riding on the coattails of Noah, but expect this movie to get washed away from the box office just like [SPOILER] the Egyptian army. – Sherif

December 12 – Top Five

Starring: Chris Rock, Gabrielle Union, Rosario Dawson, Hayley Marie Norman, Kevin Hart, JB Smoove and a LOT of celebrity guest appearances

Chris Rock’s newest film, and possibly his comeback, Top Five looks absolutely hysterical.  And not for the typical reasons, which is why this indie film, bought by Paramount for 12.5 million, will likely be a major hit.  The story is one that follows closely with what the Hollywood of today is like; a major comedian (Chris Rock) is trying to reinvent himself as a serious actor and is also engaged to a reality T.V. star (Gabrielle Union).  Their nuptials are to be televised.  Because of all the hype, Rock’s character is being interviewed by a young journalist for The New Yorker.  All of that sounds like a drama, but with Chris Rock’s quick wit and sharp writing, this is more than likely to be the dramedy of the year.  But I also just really love Chris Rock right now because of this interview. Jump on the Chris Rock bandwagon with me people! – Adrian

December 17 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage

If you’re not on the Tolkien train yet then shame on you good sir or madam! Hop on! The conclusion to Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy is in theaters this month. Even if you struggle gettin’ down with wizards, dragons, trolls, elves and all other fantastic wonders of Middle Earth, you should still go see this movie! The cinematic quality and overall experience alone will be worth it. For fans and aficionados of Bilbo and team – you can guarantee that release day has been circled on their calendars for a long time! Previews and early glimpses of content promise a mystifying and realm altering battle. The title of the film is Battle of the Five Armies after all. Personally, I’m more excited about this film that the previous two. The Two Towers is my favorite LOTR movie primarily due to the Battle for Helm’s Deep at the end. It still give me chills! If The Hobbit can bring it like The Two Towers then this is sure to be a very fun ride. I highly encourage you add this film to your list this month. – Taylor

December 19 – Annie

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale

Who hasn’t grown up with Annie?!  Every little girl wanted to be adopted by Daddy Warbucks at some point in their lives.  Today’s generation of little girls gets to relive the magic with an updated cast and plot line.  Starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx, the classic musical is sure to resonate with a new group of young girls.  It is very refreshing to see a movie that portrays black people in a positive light, and will both stars will surely be adored by all races of children in this country. – Adrian

December 19 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and really just a lot of funny people

The trilogy comes to an end this month with Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. The first two movies were lots of fun and great family movies and I expect nothing less from this one. Although it will be a bit bittersweet for those of us who grew up on Robin Williams. This was his last live action film. The Tablet of Ahkmenrah is losing its powers and Larry Daley, Ben Stiller, is trying to save it’s magic or lose his friends forever. It’s great that the cast has remained almost entirely unchanged through the three films. Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and Steve Coogan are back in their roles and are helping Larry on his mission to keep the magic alive. I mean, they don’t want to turn back into statues either. Ben Kingsley makes an appearance, this time around, as Merenkahre, creator of the tablet. I think he’ll be a quality addition to the cast. If Secret of the Tomb is as well does as the previous two there nothing to really worry about here. This one should be good for all ages. – Scott

December 19 – The Gambler

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Michael K Williams (Omar again!)

My man-crush!! Super stud Mark Wahlberg will be gracing theaters across America this winter as a hopeless, lecherous, conniving, and loveable college literature professor and gambling addict. Okay – I’m less sure about that loveable part, but you get the gist. The plot here is that Jim Bennett (Wahlberg) borrows a loan from a very powerful crime lord (I think played by John Goodman… if not it should be Goodman) using his own life a collateral. Good for him!! I’m guessing that things will likely not go well for Bennett and he will most likely have to conceive of some clever way of making good on his repayment while walking away with both legs and pumping heart intact. Oh – and he falls in love (lust?) with one of his sexy students (Brie Larson). Sounds like we’re in for a movie full of super-gambling, sex and guns! More exciting that the prospect of potentially seeing BOTH Larson and Wahlberg naked is the fact that The Gambler was written by William Monahan, the same man that wrote The Departed; my favorite and arguably the best gangster film ever. This one’s no joke Hush fans! Go see it! – Taylor

December 25 – American Sniper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Max Charles, Luke Grimes

If you know the name Chris Kyle then you also know you NEVER want to be on his bad side and at a distance. American Sniper is an exciting chronicling of real life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most decorated and deadly sniper-gunman in history. With more than 150 confirmed kills and completing four tours of duty, Kyle appropriately earned the nickname “Legend.” The preview had my heart racing and my hairs on end as Kyle (portrayed by Bradly Cooper) decides whether or not to take out a child carrying what might be a bomb while rushing toward an American-military convoy traveling through what looks like rugged alleys of an Iraqi village. This film will take us though not just the dangerous battles of this hero’s life, but also the critical struggle of balance a family from afar and functioning as a normal civilian. 150 kills and four tours is certain to leave some lasting marks on an individual. I’ve honestly never seen a war/soldier movie that I’ve disliked or felt wasn’t worth the price of my movie ticket. Especially when the film takes on the stories of actual patriots that have risked their lives and mental fortitude to protect the freedoms that many of us often take for granted. This one should definitely be on your list this month. – Taylor

December 25 – Into the Woods

Starring: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp,

If you have been in high school in the last 10 years, chances are, Into the Woods has been one of the spring musicals.  Now on the big screen, theater nerds are rejoicing.  With the recent successes of Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland, Disney is getting their formula down with live-action movies.  This musical, that began on Broadway over 25 years ago, follows a baker and his wife who are trying to have a baby, but must overcome a witch’s curse first.  Featuring Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood, Into the Woods is sure to thrill children, but most likely will be a bigger hit with adults. – Adrian

December 25 – The Interview

Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen and Lizzie Caplan

The comedic gentlemen duo of Franco and Rogen are back again with a plot to kill Kim Jong-Un. I’m game, I mean Pineapple Express was funny and this was written by the same people, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. So the idea here is that James Franco is a late night talk show host, Dave Skylark and Seth Rogen is his the show’s producer, Aaron Rapoport. Skylark and Rapoport are commissioned by and agent of the CIA, played by Lizzie Caplan, to go into North Korea under the guise of getting an interview with the glorious leader himself, Kim Jong-Un. In reality they are being sent in to assassinate the stout little dictator. This seems sort of like a comedy version of Argo, but with more dick jokes I’m sure. The Interview is has a good comedy foundation with its writers and stars and should be fairly funny taking those things into consideration. Of course we all thought that about Anchorman 2 also. – Scott

December 25 – Big Eyes

Starring: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter

I think everybody gets a handful of actors/actresses that they feel obligated to see their entire filmography. For me, Christoph Waltz is one of those actors. The former Jew Hunter from Inglorious Basterds plays the villain in Big Eyes, a Tim Burton film not to be confused with Big FishBig Eyes chronicles the life of painter Margaret Keane (Adams), whose signature paintings revolutionized printing. In order to sell more copies, her husband Walter (Waltz) convinced her to let them sell under his name. Things went downhill fast as the ruse ended up costing their marriage, yet Walter insisted on continuing to take credit for her work. I think it will make us take a long, hard look at who were are as a society – that a woman had to give credit to a man before her work was appreciated. – Sherif

December 25 – Unbroken

Starring: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson

Just in time for Christmas, Unbroken tells the story of the Louis Zamperini, Olympian, World War II hero, and Japanese POW.  Directed by Angelina Jolie, Louis’ story is finally being made to film, a wish he had for a long time.  The things Louis had to overcome are unbelievable, and are sure to inspire people everywhere.  While this is a movie geared towards the greatest generation, I, at 27 years old, am excited to see the triumphs of Louis Zamperini, too. – Adrian

December 31 – A Most Violent Year

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, Catalina Sandino Moreno

A Most Violent Year is guaranteed to be nominated for the Oscar.  That may detour some people from wanting to see it, but the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes prove otherwise.  A Most Violent Year is about a family in New York City in 1981, one of the most violent years for the city.  The family and their business is dragged into the demise of the city.  Starring previous nominees Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, this drama has the markings of award season written all over it. – Adrian