Every month, our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum shares her insights and tips on all things cinematic. From film festivals to must-see new releases – and of course, the awards season – she’ll be our expert guide to the silver screen. In this dispatch, Greenbaum shares her list of the can’t-miss films currently in theaters. A superhero rises, a star is born, and Barry Jenkins returns. These are the movies people will talking about this month.
a perfect month to head to the movie theater
January is the perfect month to go to the movies. Of course, we all love staying cozy at home and streaming endless hours of content on Netflix. But sometimes going to the theater can bring a little something extra to the movie-going experience.
This month, as we dive into awards season, you may want to head out and reserve one of those recliner seats at a theater near you to catch some of the best movies out right now.
It can be hard to decide what to see, so we’ve made you a list to help guide your selection process. Whether you love film, or just need to be sure you can keep up with the conversation at the gym or the dinner table, these are the movies people will be talking about this month.
the top films you need to see this month
1. The Favourite
The second English-language release from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose film “The Lobster” both confounded and delighted audiences in 2015, is a melodramatic masterpiece.
Though it may seem on the surface like any other historical drama, complete with characters based on real royalty, and gorgeous (if sometimes garish) costumes, in fact The Favourite is like nothing else you will see this winter (and not only because it is the only movie to feature duck racing).
Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are unforgettable, and often hilarious, as they duel for the affections of the ailing Queen, who is played the Golden Globe-winning Olivia Colman. The movie uses all of the idiosyncrasies of this era as its strength, and creates a completely new universe, where nothing is too over-the-top to happen on screen. You don’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind movie, which puts a new spin on the classic period piece.
2. If Beale Street Could Talk
Based on the 1974 James Baldwin novel of the same name, this eagerly-awaited new release from Barry Jenkins (director of the 2017 Oscar’s Best Picture, Moonlight) is so stunning, it deserves to be experienced outside of your living room. Jenkins’ use of color and light is such that watching the film is something akin to visual poetry.
The entire cast delivers incredible and raw performances, creating a deeply-felt meditation on race, family, heartbreak and young love. Kiki Layne and Stephen James are incredible to watch as the film’s young couple, and Regina King picked up a Golden Globe for her outstanding performance as the lead character’s mother. This is another movie certain to collect even more awards over the next two months, and you’ll want to be able to say you saw it on the big screen.
3. A Star Is Born
Though released back in October, Bradley Cooper’s remake of the iconic Judy Garland film is still playing in many theaters, thanks to the huge response the movie received.
Cooper’s directorial debut is a musical epic, grabbing for your heartstrings with the first notes of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. It’s the kind of movie that aims to enchant even when it is shatteringly sad. Seeing Lady Gaga’s performance as the titular star of the film is worth every teardrop.
If you’ve heard and loved the Golden Globe-awarded “Shallow,” you’ll definitely appreciate hearing Gaga’s other soul-piercing ballads, and watching this devastating romance between Ally and Jackson Maine unfold on screen.
Shoplifters is the rare film that benefits from a repeat viewing. Boasting a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s film first debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May of last year, where it won the Palme D’or.
It stars Lily Franky and Sakura Ando as part of an ensemble cast, who play a makeshift family living together in poverty in Tokyo, Japan. The film grapples with questions of what brings people together and what pulls them apart, and while it is full of love and warmth in many places, it does not shy away from examining the darkness that lurks inside each person and community.
Set in California, this fast-paced thriller from director Karyn Kusama packs more of an emotional punch than some others in the genre.
The movie tells the story of an undercover agent, played by Nicole Kidman, who is haunted by the choices and tragedies of her past. Though it relies more on questions of shame and ethics than suspense, it never loses grip of the viewer as it forges ahead through the gritty, and often hopeless, story it is trying to tell.
This is the perfect movie for any night you want to settle down in front of a big screen with some popcorn, and escape into the desert landscape of this emotional roller-coaster.
6. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
Not just for children, the family-friendly Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse is so good, that it is definitely worth seeing, even without any children to bring along.
In an era over-saturated with superhero films, this one reveals itself as possibly the best one yet. Miles Morales’ Spiderman (voiced by the talented Shameik Moore) is as vivid a character as any superhero we’ve seen on screen, and is certainly one of the most relatable. Into the Spiderverse is both fun and meaningful, making new and innovative use of a genre that has certainly seen its fair share of releases in the past few years.
Alfonso Cuarón’s gorgeous film about a family in Mexico City won him a Golden Globe for Best Director, and is absolutely one of the must-see movies of the season. It manages to show both a dense and evocative slice of life, while also telling a deeply moving and cohesive story. Yalitzia Aparicio, who stuns with her emotional performance as the family’s nanny Cleo, was never trained as a professional actress, and does a remarkable job as the movie’s lead.
And yes, if it’s too cold outside for you to want to go out to your nearest theater, Roma is also available to watch on Netflix.
Those are my recommendations for the top films you need to see this month. I’m heading to Sundance soon, and I’ll fill you in on what’s in store for the new year when I return. Have a great month.
Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.
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