Welcome to the best month for movies, when all of the studios are aiming for the Oscars. TheBlot put together a carefully selected list of the best of the best. Enjoy the popcorn and M&M’s as you get swept away in the dark. Your best bets are…
“Out of the Furnace”
Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) is a bitter veteran home from Iraq. When he mysteriously disappears, Rodney’s older brother Russell (Christian Bale) goes vigilante. Woody Harrelson plays the psychotic heavy in this racing thriller directed by Scott Cooper. The top-tier cast includes Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe and Sam Shepard. Opens wide in theaters. Crime, drama, thriller. Rated R. 116 minutes.
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
Written and directed by the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan. Expect quirky characters and dark comedy. The story covers one week in 1961. Our protagonist Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is a Bob Dylan wannabe in Greenwich Village, freezing in the harsh New York City winter. As he schleps through his hard knocks he lives on the kindness of strangers and friends’ couches, but overstays his welcome. Justin Timberlake has a cameo and sings beautifully. In fact, everybody sings beautifully. There is a lot of music. Carey Mulligan and John Goodman are a riot. Opens in limited theater release on Dec. 6, opens wide Dec. 20. Dramedy, drama, dark comedy. Rated R. 105 minutes.
“The Last Days on Mars”
Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) plays lead character Vince Campbell, an astronaut on Mars, in this sci-fi horror thriller. Big fans of this genre will especially enjoy the zombies in space. This is Ruairi Robinson‘s first stab at directing a feature and it earned Official Selection at Cannes. The impressive cast includes Romola Garai (“The Hour“), Elias Koteas (“The Killing“), Goran Kostic (“In the Land of Blood and Honey“) and Olivia Williams (“Anna Karenina“). Opens in limited theater release and available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Instant and VOD. Horror, sci-fi, thriller. Rated PG-13. 98 minutes.
This one is an action-packed thriller with twists and turns in a tight noir script. You definitely haven’t seen this plot before, and the ending is so satisfying. Craig Lahiff wrote and directs this must-see indie. Colin (David Lyons) is driving through the Australian outback heading for a job interview, but he is on the wrong road at the worst possible time and witnesses a car crash. Colin tries to save the wrong damsel in distress (Emma Booth). The blonde siren is married to the wrong man, played brilliantly and maniacally by Jason Clarke. Opens in limited theater release Dec. 6, opens wide Dec. 20. Available on iTunes and Blu-ray. Rated R. 86 minutes.
Based loosely on the true story of the Abscam sting to catch corrupt public officials in the 1980s, the crime drama stars Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner. The cast also includes Robert De Niro and Elisabeth Röhm. David Russell co-wrote and directs. If all of that isn’t enough to convince you, the synopsis will. Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) with his smart and sexy partner (Adams) go to work for rogue FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper). Renner plays Carmine Polito, a politico caught between cons and feds. Lawrence plays his reckless, impulsive wife. Check out cool pix on Tumblr. Crime drama. Opens in limited release on Dec. 13, opens wide Dec. 18. Rated R. 129 minutes.
“Walking With Dinosaurs 3D”
Looking for a family flick? This is the pick. The CGI dinosaurs in 3D will transport you back millions of years. The hero Patchi the Pachyrhinosaurus is an underdog. He’s a thick-nosed lizard dino from the Cretaceous period. Patchi overcomes extreme obstacles and does anything to protect his brother. The creatures’ voices include Justin Long and John Leguizamo. You’ll meet dinosaurs including Gorgosaurus, Edmontosaurus, Troodon, Edmontonia and Quetzalcoatlus. Here’s the long list of credits. Warning: Your kids will want the action figures and games. Animated action thriller. Opens wide. Rated PG. 87 minutes.
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
Originally slated for Nov. 15, the release of “The Wolf of Wall Street” was pushed back to Christmas Day, the top spot for Academy Award contenders. Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), it centers on a slick stockbroker who blasted to the top. DiCaprio — Martin Scorsese’s new De Niro — looks sexy in his pinstripe suits. It’s fun watching him play a Gatsby-type Wall Street rock star and is reminiscent of “Catch Me If You Can.” Alas, Belfort’s partying and crime led to big troubles with the feds. Scorsese directs, so ’nuff said. The full-to-bursting stellar cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze, Jean Dujardin and Rob Reiner. Crime biography comedy. Opens wide. Rated R. 165 minutes.
“August: Osage County”
This one’s a high drama about family dysfunction starring a powerhouse of A-listers. Meryl Streep is the matriarch Violet Weston. You can expect a best actress nomination for Streep this year for playing this hateful woman with bitter daughters, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Karen (Juliette Lewis) and Ivy (Julianne Nicholson). Sam Shepard plays the M.I.A. father. The cast includes Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin and Dermot Mulroney. The screenplay was written by Tracy Letts, who also wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning play. It’s directed by John Wells. Opens wide. Dramedy, dark comedy drama. Rated R. 130 minutes.
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
This comedic, fantastical (read: delusional) tale is based on a short story by James Thurber and directed by Ben Stiller, who also stars. The cast includes Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig and Shirley MacLaine. Opens in limited theater release. Adventure, comedy, drama. Rated PG. 114 minutes.
“The Invisible Woman”
The tragic love story of an unhappily married Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and his mistress makes for a gripping tale. Fiennes masterfully directs this slice of Dickens’s life when he met and fell in love with Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones). Catherine (Joanna Scanlan) plays the humiliated wife. Kristen Scott Thomas is Nelly’s concerned mother. Abi Morgan wrote the screenplay based on the book by Claire Tomalin. Opens in limited theater release. Available on DVD early 2014. Biography, drama, romance. Rated R. 111 minutes.