11 Films to See in January

  • Publish Date: December 30, 2017
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This month's notable theatrical releases

Below, our editors have selected the most interesting films debuting this month, listed in alphabetical order.

Have a Nice Day Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Animation | January 26 | Directed by Jian Liu

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This Chinese animated feature received excellent reviews when it premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last year. Writer-director Liu Jian combines gritty realism, black comedy, crime, and fantasy to reveal the lives of the people in a small town in southern China through a story kicked off by a driver stealing a million dollars from his boss to pay for his fiancée’s plastic surgery.

Hostiles Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Western | January 5 (limited) / January 19 (wide) | Directed by Scott Cooper

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In 1892, a reluctant Army Captain (Christian Bale) escorts a dying Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. Traveling from New Mexico to Montana, their party picks up a widow (Rosamund Pike) whose family has been murdered. Along the journey, director Scott Cooper (Black Mass, Out of the Furnace) puts his characters through violent trials that change them. The film has earned good early reviews and features strong supporting work from Adam Beach, Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Timothée Chalamet, and Q’orianka Kilcher. Following an awards-qualifying LA/NY debut last month, the film adds a few cities on Friday before opening nationwide on the 19th.

In Between (Bar Bahar) Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | January 5 | Directed by Maysaloun Hamoud

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Writer-director Maysaloun Hamoud’s debut feature follows the lives of three Palestinian women sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv as they try to find a balance between traditional and modern culture. Leila is a successful and independent criminal lawyer, Salma is an easy-going DJ and bartender, and Noor is a younger, more religious Muslim studying at the university. Together they navigate friends, family, and men in these changing times, creating a vivid picture of three different women rarely seen on film.

In the Fade Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | additional cities through January | Directed by Fatih Akin

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After the critical success of Head On, The Edge of Heaven (best screenplay at Cannes in 2007), and Soul Kitchen, director Fatih Akin failed to impress most critics with The Cut. But his newest film has been praised by a majority of critics thanks to Diane Kruger’s performance as Katja, a woman who seeks justice and then revenge when her husband and child are killed in a bomb attack. Kruger took home the best actress prize at Cannes this year and has an outside chance at an Oscar nomination. As Germany’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, In the Fade has made the nine-film shortlist. You can find the film in New York and a few California cities right now, and it will head to additional cities throughout the month.

The Insult Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | January 12 | Directed by Ziad Doueiri

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Kamel El Basha won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his performance as Yasser, a Palestinian refugee who gets into a legal dispute with Tony (Adel Karam), a Lebanese Christian. One of nine films vying for a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, director Ziad Doueiri’s follow-up to The Attack looks at Lebanon’s complicated history through this modern story.

Lover for a Day Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | January 12 | Directed by Philippe Garrel

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The last part of a black-and-white trilogy that began with Jealousy and continued with In the Shadow of Women, the latest from director Philippe Garrel is another humane look at the relationships between men and women. Gilles (Eric Caravaca) is a philosophy professor whose daughter, Jeanne (played by the director’s daughter Esther Garrel, recently seen in Call Me by Your Name), comes home after a bad breakup only to discover that her father’s girlfriend (Louise Chevillotte) is the same age as her. The constantly shifting dynamics between the three results in an intriguing film that placed sixth on Cahiers du Cinéma’s 2017 top ten list.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Animation/Family | January 18 | Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

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Carrying on the animation tradition of Studio Ghibli, the debut feature from Studio Ponoc reunites producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and director Hiromasa Yonebayashi of When Marnie Was There. Based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 children's novel The Little Broomstick, the film follows Mary, a young girl in a rural British village who discovers a magical flower that leads her to a mysterious school for witches above the clouds. Early reviews have been excellent. A one-night nationwide screening on January 18 (via Fathom Events) will be followed by a limited theatrical run on the 19th.

Mom and Dad Watch trailer(s)
Horror/Thriller | January 19 | Directed by Brian Taylor

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Brian Taylor (Crank, Crank: High Voltage) reunites with his Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance star Nicolas Cage for his solo debut feature, and the result could be the first-ever green Metascore for the writer/director. Cage stars with Selma Blair as parents committed to killing their kids (Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur) after a virus is unleashed on their suburban town, inciting all parents to filicide. According to critics, Cage and Blair are highlights in this heady mix of black comedy and graphic violence.

Paddington 2 Watch trailer(s)
Family/Adventure | January 12 | Directed by Paul King

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Sure, it's literally as early as it gets, but what you have here is the best movie of 2018 so far. The sequel to Paddington catches up with the Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw), now happily settled with the Brown family. In hopes of surprising Aunt Lucy on her 100th birthday, Paddington takes on a series of jobs to buy the perfect present, only for it to be stolen. Boasting even better reviews than the first film, Paddington 2 returns director Paul King, as well as Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi and Jim Broadbent. Joining the fun are Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson.

Phantom Thread Watch trailer(s)
Drama | expands nationwide January 19 | Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

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One of the best-reviewed films of 2017—it is already playing on a few screens, and will open everywhere on the 19th—Phantom Thread is the second collaboration between director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis, following 2007's There Will Be Blood, a best picture nominee (and one of critics' favorite films of the century). The star, in what he has declared to be his final film role, plays a fashion designer in 1950s London. Co-stars Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville are also drawing acclaim for their performances. At a minimum, expect both the film and Day-Lewis to land Oscar nominations later this month.

The Post Watch trailer(s)
Drama | expands nationwide January 12 | Directed by Steven Spielberg

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Speaking of awards contenders, films don't get any more Oscar bait-y than this. Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in this drama about the efforts of the Washington Post and The New York Times to declassify the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Streep plays The Post’s Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American paper, and Hanks plays Times editor Ben Bradlee. With a story as important then as it is now, Oscar winners behind and in front of the camera, word of a standing ovation at an early screening, and an impressive ensemble (Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, and Zach Woods), The Post seems like a lock for a best picture nomination. The film launched an awards-qualifying limited run last week and will open nationwide on January 12th.

Bonus picks: Streaming on Netflix

A Futile & Stupid Gesture Watch trailer(s)
Drama | January 26 | Directed by David Wain

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David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) directs this Netflix biopic about the life of National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney, played by Will Forte. The strong cast also includes Joel McHale (playing Chevy Chase), John Gemberling (playing John Belushi), Jon Daly (playing Bill Murray), Domhnall Gleeson, Martin Mull, and Thomas Lennon. Based on Josh Karp’s 2006 book, the film will debut at Sundance this month before heading to the streaming service.

The Polka King Watch trailer(s)
Comedy/Drama | January 12 | Directed by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky

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Jack Black, Jenny Slate, Jackie Weaver, and Jason Schwartzman star in an adaptation of John Mikulak and Joshua Von Brown's documentary The Man Who Would Be Polka King (which is also available to stream on Netflix on the 12th). Written and directed by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (Infinitely Polar Bear), the film traces the strange rise and fall of Polish émigré Jan Lewan (Black), who bilked investors to build a musical empire. Reviews were decent (though mixed) at the film's Sundance premiere a year ago.

What do you think?

Which films are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments section below. For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming film releases by date, including films arriving later in 2018, visit our Movie Calendar.

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