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“Kung Fu Panda 3”: Ten Movies to see in January

With the Oscar nominations out of the way, we can momentarily take a look instead at what else movie theaters will have playing this month, besides Academy Award hopefuls. I do this every single month, as you all know, so I didn’t want to exclude January. Of course, this month gets a reputation as the worst for new releases, and while that’s often well founded, if you look closely enough you can find some worthwhile cinematic ventures. Consider this list a public service for those of you who have seen all of the Oscar contenders and nominees already. You might even find a gem amongst the rubble…

Here now are what I think the ten best bets for movies are throughout the month of January:

10. Mojave – Getting to see Oscar Isaac chew scenery as a villain in a film noir of sorts is fairly appealing. I can’t say that I loved the movie overall, but it offers up Isaac having a ton of fun, so that probably counts for something, especially if you’re an Isaac die hard, like many are these days…

9. The Benefactor – Richard Gere is excellent here, even if the flick itself never matches his talents. This one came out over the weekend and is available to watch now, so if you’re a fan of Gere’s, this could be worth checking out. Just keep your expectations on the low side.

8. Martyrs – I’m a big fan of the original French horror film, so I’m very curious about this American remake. I have a hunch that it’s nowhere near as good, but anything is possible, right? Gore hounds could potentially latch on to this one.

7. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – I haven’t seen this new Michael Bay movie yet, but by some accounts it’s actually not bad. A few folks actively hate it, but it’s getting almost kind reviews, by comparison at least to what Bay normally receives. If it’s truly apolitical, that’s a plus too. It’s out now, so if you stayed away last week, perhaps it’s worth reconsidering?

6. Moonwalkers – This flick has an intriguing premise, basically positing that the conspiracy theory of Stanley Kubrick orchestrating a fake moon landing is at least partially based in fact. It’s a ridiculous idea, but one that lends itself fairly well to comedy. The final product is solid enough, though I’d love to see someone else really run with this idea. Still, if you’re into the conceit, this film, which is out now, might very well entertain you.

5. Anesthesia – A very solid ensemble drama, with terrific performances by Kristen Stewart and Sam Waterston, this is the latest effort from multi hyphenate Tim Blake Nelson. It’s sort of what someone like Paul Haggis often does, though I found this to be more successful. It was an early month release, so it’s very much available if you’re looking to once again be impressed by Stewart.

4. Kung Fu Panda 3 – This isn’t a franchise I go nuts over, but I know many people dig it, so I’m sure this is very much anticipated. I’m sure this will be the first big financial hit of 2016 (not counting residual Star Wars money), and probably rightly so. This sequel probably won’t be the last we hear of Kung Fu Panda going forward either, as it shows no signs of slowing down.

3. The Finest Hours – The early release date gives me some pause, but the cast here is just too good to ignore. Casey Affleck, Eric Bana, Ben Foster, and Chris Pine? Yes please. I have no idea what this will be like, quality wise, but I’m without question keen to check it out.

2. Dirty Grandpa – Is this movie probably terrible? Yes. Am I still kind of excited to see it in a few days? Absolutely. Robert De Niro curses like no other actor, so letting him loose in a raunchy comedy certainly has potential. It’s likely a dumpster fire, but I’ll be at the screening, regardless.

1. Jane Got a Gun – This film has had such a rough road to screens, I can’t help but be fascinated by it. It’s shed a director, cast members, and what seems like a dozen release dates. It’s finally coming out this month, albeit without the benefit of advance screenings for press. Make of that what you will, but I’ll still hold out a bit of hope that this isn’t a disaster…

Be sure to check these films out as the month of January rolls on!

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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