Saying goodbye to 2018 feels a little bittersweet. After all, it was the year that brought us the blockbuster event of the century in the form of Avengers: Infinity War, an outstanding directorial debut in the form A Quiet Place, and, to top off an outstanding year, a truly delightful animation in the form of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But if this month’s releases are anything to go by, it looks like 2019 could be even better; let’s take a look.
The Favourite, dir. by Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz
Release Date: 1st January
As director of one of the Greek Weird Wave’s central films, Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos has made quite the splash across the film industry in the last decade or so. His latest film, The Favourite, moves away from Greece and straight into 18th century England, but looks certain to have the classic gritty and comedic Lanthimos stamp. The basic premise appears to go something like this: Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) rules with a backdrop of war with France, but behind the seemingly period narrative is a mischievous and playful atmosphere characterised by a battle between the Queen’s counsel, Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and newcomer Abigail (Emma Stone). If the trailer is anything to go by, The Favourite descends pretty quickly into absolute madness. So why should this film be on your radar? Of course, there’s the fact its a Lanthimos film, a director who just keeps getting better and better with every film he releases. Then there’s those three stars, Colman, Stone and Weisz, who would each alone be enough to draw audiences in alone. Throw in the fact that The Favourite has been raking in the acclaim, including five Golden Globe nominations, before its even released UK shores, and I think it’s safe to say that this raucous-looking comedy should be on the watchlist for January.
Glass, dir. by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Sarah Paulson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, James McAvoy
Release Date: 18th January
There are always some pretty mega ensemble casts in January, but Glass seems to top them all off this month. Starring the likes of Sarah Paulson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest quite literally brings together the worlds of two of the director’s previous works, Split and Unbreakable, and in doing so, has all the potential to be his best work so far. Even if it doesn’t end up being his best, there is no doubt that Glass is certainly Shyamalan’s most intriguing, with the premise of joining together the two existing narratives once again showing that the director is one of the most unique around right now. Split may have divided audiences, but it certainly generated some impeccable meme content, the least we can hope is that Glass will do the same. If the current hype is anything to go by, it looks like it will do a hell of a lot more.
EDITOR’S PICK: Beautiful Boy, dir by. Felix van Groeningen
Starring: Steve Carrell, Timothee Chalamet, Amy Ryan
Release Date: 18th January
Choosing this month’s editor’s pick was a pretty easy decision, partly because I am lucky enough to have already caught a screening of Beautiful Boy at the London Film Festival back in October. Few will be familiar with the work of director Felix van Groeningen – although earlier work The Broken Circle Breakdown is a staggering film – and this true story looks set to be his step into the limelight. Starring Steve Carrell and Timothee Chalamet (a pair of names that should immediately conjure interest, particularly Chalamet who has been nothing short of a wonder in recent years), the film follows the father and son relationship between David and Nic Sheff as Nic’s drug addiction spirals out of control. The dynamic between the two, created by a set of powerhouse performances, is the beating heart of the film, making us continually question our assumptions about each character, and pivotally reminding us that there is no solution to Nic’s ‘disease’. It’s safe to say that this isn’t exactly a happy film, and as events unfold the tearjerking soundtrack and dream-like cinematography bring us uncomfortably closer to the Sheff family than we could ever imagine (or like to be, for that matter). Beautiful Boy is, however, incredibly poignant; its ability to pull us from our comfort zones making it an essential watch. Just remember to take some tissues, you’ll need them.
Notable other releases:
Collette – dir. by Wash Westmoreland, starring Keira Knightley
Stan & Ollie – dir. by Jon S. Baird, starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly
The Front Runner – dir. by Jason Reitman, starring Hugh Jackman
Mary Queen of Scots – dir. by Josie Rourke, starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie
Vice – dir. by Adam McKay, starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Steve Carrell
Green Book – dir. by Peter Farrelly, starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali