“Blame” and “The Final Year”: Films to see in January

I know, I know, this month is not one to get excited about at all, new release wise. January is usually a real dumping ground for films. That’s normally true, but if you look hard enough, you can find worthwhile titles hitting screens. This year is no exception, as 2018 has a handful of pretty decent movies hitting in its first month. I can personally vouch for a couple that I’ve seen already, so there’s that. Your mileage may vary with these, but if you look hard enough, you’re sure to find a few things to enjoy. For sure, the expanding 2017 titles are superior, but it’s not all about those. Without any further delay though, here are the first batch of 2018 titles that don’t appear to be wastes of time. At least one is legitimately very good too…

Here now are ten January releases in particular to look forward to:

10. Insidious: The Last Key – The Insidious franchise presses on with this latest sequel. The series now revolves around Lin Shaye’s Dr. Elise Rainier, though it’s still just an excuse for jump scares. For some, that will be enough. For others? Not so much. The original was terrific though, so hope springs eternal.

9. 12 Strong – Middle America should dig this war film, though if the quality was so great, it probably wouldn’t be a January release. The cast especially is strong enough that it suggests that a better product probably was intended. Time will tell though, I guess. Maybe we’re in for a surprise?

8. Proud Mary – One of a few B movies scheduled for this month. This particular one will feature Taraji P. Henson as a hit woman, and that could have some fun attached to it. If nothing else, Henson kicking ass is worth at least considering. She’ll be having a blast, that’s for sure.

7. The Leisure Seeker – Given the Golden Globe nomination for Helen Mirren, this becomes a curiosity. There were plenty of screening options in 2017, but it slipped under my radar, for what that’s worth. My guess is that Mirren is good but it’s overall a forgettable flick. We shall see…

6. Paddington 2 – After the surprise hit that was the first one, Paddington is now officially a franchise. The cute bear has plenty more adventures in him, so if this is the success I suspect it will be, get ready for Paddington 3 in a couple of years. The sequel potentially will offer diminishing returns, but if not, this is one to actually be a tiny bit excited about.

5. The Commuter – Liam Neeson once again defies his age in an action flick. This time around, he’s on a train. Early reviews are actually pretty solid, which is a nice little surprise. Neeson as an action hero is something we won’t have much longer, so appreciate it while you still can folks!

4. Please Stand By – This independent film is the latest directorial outing by The Sessions filmmaker Ben Lewin, starring Dakota Fanning in a slightly baity role as an autistic woman on the run. Assuming it doesn’t fall through the cracks, it could even be a crossover hit. Fanning is due this sort of showcase, so count me in.

3. Mom and Dad – The most fun film of the year so far, this is an insane action/comedy/horror hybrid with Nicolas Cage chewing some scenery as only he can. I’ve already seen it and really dug the movie. It’s nuts, but in a really smile inducing way. Filmmaker Brian Taylor commits to a crazy premise and just has the time of his life. It will rub off on the audience too, trust me there.

2. Blame – A standout at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, this drama is all the more impressive when you look at who made it. Writer/director/star Quinn Shepherd began working on this movie when she was 15, completed it at 20, and now sees it come out at the ripe old age of 22. A take off on The Crucible, it’s a great little flick that deserves to find an audience. Don’t sleep on this one…

1. The Final Year – One of the best documentaries I saw last year, it finally hits theaters this month. A look at the final year (get it?) of the Obama Administration, especially the foreign policy team, it’s a super compelling and inside baseball look at politics.

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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