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Hollywood Contenders – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”: Ten Films to see in December

Harrison Ford Star Wars
First of all, I hope all of you enjoyed your turkey yesterday! Now, with the month of November all but over, it’s time to turn our attention to December, the final month of the year. After this, we start fresh, with a whole new set of releases, but with the next few months to come being on the weaker side, this is really the pinnacle. Oscar contenders, blockbusters, it all hits theaters between December 1st and December 31st, and I’m running down the best for you. Below you’ll see the ten top titles opening this month, along with some bonus picks as well. Take a look and make sure you schedule your cinema going accordingly…

Here now are the ten best bets for flicks to see in the month of December:

10. Concussion – Can Will Smith take home a Best Actor trophy? Will folks turn on the NFL after they see this drama? Time will tell on both accounts, but many are anticipating this one, even after a somewhat mixed debut at AFI Fest. Provided it does well at the box office, I suspect it’ll keep Smith in the Oscar conversation all year. Stay tuned to see what happens…

9. Son of Saul – In all likelihood the inevitable winner in Best Foreign Language Feature, this holocaust set tale from up and coming filmmaker László Nemes is rather beloved by most who have seen it. I find it very good, not great, but that’s really just splitting hairs. Expect to see this one honored quite a bit over the course of the precursor season.

8. In the Heart of the Sea – A potential X factor in the race, Ron Howard’s story of what inspired the book Moby Dick was pushed to December as a show of confidence by the studio. A real big campaign is planned, so if this one gets some strong critical word of mouth going, we’ll have one more Academy Award hopeful to consider this year. If nothing else, it looks like an exciting flick for the holiday season.

7. Youth – I loved this moving film when I saw it a few weeks ago and can’t say enough about the performances from Michael Caine, Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, and Harvey Keitel. All do nomination worthy work, with Caine, Fonda, and Keitel potential threats in their categories. I’ll be writing a lot more about this one next week, so sit tight, but just know this…it’s a gem.

6. The Big Short – The late entry into the 2015 awards race, I’m quite fond of this one, in particular the performances of Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling. Filmmaker Adam McKay makes a great leap from comedy to drama with this look at the financial crisis from the point of view of some insiders who were ahead of the curve. It’s heady stuff, but very well done. The question is, will voters go for it?

5. Anomalisa – I see this critical darling on Monday, and so far all I’ve heard is how wonderful Charlie Kaufman’s stop motion animated flick is and how much I’ll love it. As such, I’m really looking forward to this one, which could be a dark horse in a number of fields. It’ll be a tough sell, but Kaufman has a definite following within the Academy, so we shall see. Stand by for more on it.

4. The Revenant – I’ve seen this highly anticipated title but can’t say anything just yet about it. My embargo lifts during the first week of December though, so it won’t be too long a wait until I reveal if Alejandro González Iñárritu has another Oscar player on his hands. Trust me though, I’ll have plenty to say about him, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki when the embargo lifts…

3. Joy – The only remaining unseen Oscar contender is this latest team up from Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell, which many have poised to be an Oscar juggernaut. I think it can do very well, but I’m hedging my bets until I see it. The ingredients are obviously there and the Academy likes both Lawrence and Russell quite a bit, so it’s certainly folly to bet against this one right now.

2. The Hateful Eight – I get to see this one on Tuesday, but also am under embargo for a bit on it. That being said, it’s Quentin Tarantino, so you’ll know it’ll get noticed by voters in one way or another. I’ve heard rumblings about this one, but I’ll keep it to myself. When I can say what I think about it, trust me I will. Until then, stay tuned for a bit longer.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Then we have the granddaddy of them all…Star Wars. Yes, the re-launch of this saga from J.J. Abrams and company is only a few weeks away, as I mentioned yesterday. How cool is that? I know I can’t wait, and I’m certainly not alone in feeling that way either. This won’t be the last I write about this film, that’s for sure. Bet on that much.

Honorable Mention: 45 Years, Bleeding Heart, Chi-Raq, Krampus, The Lady in the Van, and Macbeth

Be sure to check out all these movies over the course of the month of December!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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