Oscar season so far seems to consist of one or two good films each week, accompanied by the films studios just want to bury and forget about. That’s the only explanation for a bunch of films that should be summer films being released in January. Still, besides that we’ve got the guy who made Anchorman being justly nominated for an Oscar, British black comedy (cause, let face it, black comedy is our thing), and an Oscar nominated, Cannes award-winning martial arts film.
Up first is Taiwanese martial arts film The Assassin. The film follows (surprise, surprise) an assassin, in 8th Century China, who is tasked with killing a powerful military governor and her former betrothed. From acclaimed director Hou Hsaio-Hsien (A City of Sadness), The Assassin is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film – last year it competed at Cannes, where it won Best Director, so this is definitely probably a good’un. It receives limited release on Friday.
Next is this week’s obligatory Best Picture film: The Big Short. Starring Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt (in his yearly Oscar-film), and directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers), the film is a biographical-comedy-drama (you know, that clearly defined, easily identifiable genre of films?) that looks at the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8. Fun. Nominated for a bunch of Oscars (five), including Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor (for Bale), The Big Short has received lots of acclaim already, and more than doubled its modest budget at the US box office. Released this Friday.
Next up is French film The Last Diamond – a heist move where, you guessed it, people try to steal diamonds. Directed by Eric Berbier (The Serpent), and starring Bérénice Bejo (The Artist – for which she was Oscar nominated), the film, which was originally released in France back in 2014, has received moderate praise from critics. If you’re feeling the itch of a foreign language film, this may not be the best one to go for this week (hint: The Assassin). The film is out this Friday, in select cinemas.
Also out this week is British black comedy Lost in Karastan. The film, directed by Ben Hopkins, tells the story of a filmmaker hired to make a film in Eastern Europe by a corrupt dictator. It stars Matthew MacFadyen (Ripper Street, Pride & Prejudice), MyAnna Buring (Downton Abbey, The Descent – two totally similar productions right there), and Noah Taylor (Submarine, The Double), and has received moderate praise from critics. Released Friday.
Our fifth film this week is the catchingly titled Our Brand is in Crisis, which sounds like it could be the working title for that film FIFA made last year. It’s actually a political-comedy about a battle-hardened political consultant (I know what all these words mean individually, but together… I got nothing) who is tasked with re-electing a controversial Bolivian President. Seriously, that’s the name they came up with for this? The film stars Sandra Bullock (Speed 2: Cruise Control), Anthony Mackie (he’s Falcon, guys), and Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa), and has received – well, to be honest, pretty crappy reviews. The film is released on Friday.
Wrapping things up this week is Ride Along 2. A police-comedy thingy starring Ice Cube that isn’t a Jump Street film. El Cubo is joined by Kevin Hart and Ken Jeong in this film, which sees characters from the previous film having to solve a somewhat different case, while no doubt being fleshed out in a way they weren’t before. I don’t know, it’s a crappy sequel to a crappy film (this based on the overwhelming 14% Rotten Tomatoes score). It could be fun, you’ll just have to go see it and find out. It’s released on Friday.