By Keith Walther | Rose Law Group Reporter
It’s December and you know what that means, plenty of Oscar hopefuls and blockbusters upon which to feast your eyes. Be sure to clear out your schedule and avoid holiday parties to fit in what should be an outstanding month for film. Will one of these films be good enough to topple the clear favorite “Oppenheimer” for Best Picture? Here’s a preview to shed some light on the biggest releases.
For the second straight year, the holiday month begins with a violent R-rated action film. Last year was “Violent Night,” and this year it’s “Silent Night” directed by action guru John Woo, which will be his first film in six years. This looks to be a classic revenge storyline starring Joel Kinnaman, a well-recognized actor who has been hopping back and forth from film to TV. If you’re looking for a mind-numbing action romp, “Silent Night” may be the movie for you.
“Godzilla” fans rejoice! That’s right, your favorite city destroying reptilian monster is back on the big screen. “Godzilla Minus One” is actually a period piece set in post-war Japan during the American occupation in the 1940s, showing the origin story of this titan. Important to note is this is a Japanese made film with English subtitles, but it is getting many early positive reactions from audiences and critics alike, so it may be worth watching. Also, this is a standalone feature that is not tied to the recent American made films and TV series.
Releasing this day is the first of December’s Oscar hopefuls. “Poor Things” is a fantastical type of story featuring Emma Stone in the lead role as a young woman resurrected by a brilliant scientist played by the incomparable Willem Dafoe. It’s a different kind of take on the “Frankenstein” premise directed by Yorgos Lanthimos who is a three-time Oscar nominee for his previous films, “The Favourite” and “The Lobster.” The buzz being generated by this film makes it appear this could be his best film yet and could also earn Emma Stone her fourth Oscar nomination. This is easily one of the most anticipated movies of the month.
In the category of animation, there have been very few feature films worthy of Oscar consideration so far this year. “The Boy and the Heron” is an anime film from legendary anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, who received his first Oscar nomination and win for Best Animated Feature in 2003 for “Spirited Away.” This film should be a shoe in for his fourth Oscar nomination and quite possibly his second win. Anime fans will undoubtedly love his latest effort, which is a semi-autobiographical fantasy.
On this date comes another origin story with a lot less scales and fire breathing, but a lot more hype. “Wonka” is a family-oriented blockbuster that shows how everyone’s favorite chocolate-maker got his start to become the infamous Willy Wonka. Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet will don the top hat to play the title role of that wacky, fun-loving inventor. Paul King, the director of those “Paddington” movies (which are quite good btw), helms this massive undertaking. Hopefully, these two will be able to recreate the magic everyone fell in love with back in 1971.
Get your snorkel and flippers, it’s time to dive into the ocean once again to visit the king of Atlantis. DC returns with “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” with Jason Mamoa reprising the role. With diminished quality prevalent in recent superhero movies and the resulting waning interest, it’s very difficult to drum up much enthusiasm for this sequel, especially when the first installment was decent but not great. This is one blockbuster that could sink to the box office floor if comic book movie trends continue.
Instead of another potential superhero flop, set your sights on “The Iron Claw.” This is a true story about the Von Erich brothers of professional wrestling fame that is loaded with Oscar potential. Zac Efron is almost unrecognizable, having bulked up considerably for the starring role. There is a compelling nature to this story of family, fame, and unrelenting pressure that could make this a must-see film.
Unlike Disney’s “Wish,” here comes an animated film that is sure to be a big draw for families during the holiday season. “Migration” is the newest film from Universal’s Illumination, the studio responsible for the celebrated “Despicable Me” franchise. With voice acting from the likes of Danny DeVito, Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key, and Eliabeth Banks, this animated feature about a family of ducks going on an adventure filled vacation is sure to be a lot of fun for everyone to enjoy.
Rounding out this jam-packed release date is a winner of the Toronto Film Festival and another major Oscar contender. “American Fiction” looks to be a hilarious comedy that confronts our culture’s tendency to relegate people into extreme stereotypes. Star Jeffrey Wright is an extremely talented actor who could take one of those five spots for Best Actor come Oscar time with this role. At the very least, the movie looks to be very funny and captivating.
If an Italian sports car is on your wish list for Christmas, then you’re in luck. “Ferrari” is the biographical drama of Enzo Ferrari with Adam Driver ironically in the lead role and four-time Oscar nominee Michael Mann directing. With one of America’s more legendary directors, a highly talented actor, and an intriguing story, “Ferrari” could speed its way into audiences’ and the Academy’s hearts.
Another curious release on Xmas is a remake of a classic. “The Color Purple,” which earned 11 Oscar nominations back in 1986 but sadly took home nothing, is being remade except into a musical. Classic films being remade is always a hard sell, as they rarely match the original, and to be turned into a musical is another significant risk on top of that. Add to that an inexperienced director and cast, and it looks like a recipe for disaster on the surface. Hopefully they do Steven Spielberg and this story justice, but best to wait for the reviews before committing time and money.
Last but not least is another biographical true story about a group of underdogs trying to row their way to gold at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. “The Boys in the Boat” is directed by George Clooney, who has plenty of acting accolades under his belt, but he’s also an accomplished director, previously earning an Oscar nomination for “Good Night, and Good Luck.” This has all the makings of a great, feel-good story of overcoming obstacles and tenacity, and is a safe bet to take the whole family to watch on the big screen.