After a decidedly lukewarm December (with the obvious exception of Star Wars, which was…y’ know, Star Wars), a new month and a new year sees the start of what is in equal measure the best and most pretentious period of cinema in the UK – awards season. So, after dragging yourself kicking and screaming from the food/alcohol induced haze of the last few weeks, come on down to see Eddie Redmayne being a girl, and Jennifer Lawrence being excited about inventing a mop. The lengths people will go to win an Oscar.
Our first film this week is At Any Price, an American drama written and directed by Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop) back in 2012 which is finally receiving a UK release. The film, starring Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow, Far From Heaven) and Zac Efron (17 Again, High School Musical), tells the story of a father and son who clash over their respective ambitions for the future – one wants to create some kind of agricultural corporate empire (I think), and the other wants to be a race car driver. The film received a collective “meh” from critics, with the exception being Roger Ebert, who gave the film 4/4 (take that as you will) upon its original US release several years ago. At Any Price receives a limited release on Friday.
Secondly, and the first big film of 2016 (by big I mean the kind of film that has “give us all the Oscars” stamped on its every inch, and by 2016 I mean the year after last but before next), is The Danish Girl. Made by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables), and based on the novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, the film is a (kind of) biopic about Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery. Starring Eddie Redmayne (Jupiter Ascending), and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, Anna Karenina), the film has received moderate praise, all aimed squarely at Redmayne and Vikander, as well as an awful lot of criticism from some in the LGBT community for not casting a trans actor in the main role (because god forbid the person with the best acting talent get the role), and for softening and Hollywoodising Elbe’s life. Still, this is a film you’ll hear about come the Oscars, so you might as well just bloody watch it, mightn’t you?
Up next is a historical biopic about the Kray twins. And it isn’t Legend, and it doesn’t star Tom Hardy. It’s called The Fall of the Kray Twins, and, for a small, indie British film it probably wouldn’t be too bad, or get looked down on all that much, had it not been for it’s much glitzier, and more impressive cousin popping up four months ago. Directed by Zackary Adler, and starring George Webster and Simon Cotton, the film receives a limited release on Friday.
Another biggie to help kick off the New Year is the return of David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence in Joy. After his “iffy” previous film, Joy comes with the hope of a return to form for Russell – it follows the eponymous Joy Mangano, a single mother who strives to become a self-made millionaire. Early reviews of the film praise Lawrence’s performance, but criticise Russell’s directing as being a bit too aimless. So, basically American Hustle all over again. The film is released throughout the UK on Friday.
Wrapping things up this week is an American romantic-comedy film thingy-ma-do called Sleeping with Other People. Starring Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers) and Allison Brie (Community, The Lego Movie), the film follows a womaniser and a serial cheater who do the whole boy-meets-girl rom-com thing. The film has received largely positive reviews, despite struggling at the US box office (because, well, Star Wars).