Lisa Johnson Mandell gives you the run down on her picks for must see movies of the season
So. The first thing everyone always asks me is, “Any must see movies out now?” I usually respond with a short list of one or two, but this time of year I have numerous suggestions — after all, ’tis the season for studios to release their Oscar hopeful so they’ll be eligible for 2016 but still fresh in voters’ minds in February.
That being said, here’s a list of must see movies you really don’t want to miss, that are all currently playing at your local cineplex. Some you’ve heard a lot about, some you’ve heard a little about, but they’re all certainly right up there with the best films of the year.
So, in order of preference, here is:
Lisa’s List of Must See Movies Currently in a Theater Near You
La La Land: This is the film that got my vote for Best Picture of the Year at the Critics Choice Awards. It’s a good old fashioned musical in a current day setting, with all the music and dancing you love, plus cell phones and L.A. traffic jams. A love letter to Los Angeles, it’s the story of an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and an aspiring jazz musician (Ryan Yum Yum Gosling) and their complicated relationship. The fact that the two leads are not (until now) professional dancers and singers makes it all the more endearing.
Lion: Based on a true story, this is the heart-rending tale of the most adorable little boy you’ve ever seen (Sonny Pewar) getting tragically separated from his family in India, and winding up adopted by a compassionate family in Tasmania–the mother is played by Nichole Kidman. Flash forward 20 years, and the boy, now a man (Dev Patel), decides to try and find his original family, to let them know he is no longer lost. Even my husband cried in this one.
Hidden Figures: This is also based on a true story, and you won’t believe has not been told previously. It follows Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)–three brilliant African-American women working at NASA, as they serve as the brains behind the launching the first American astronaut into space. The trio crossed gender and race barriers to inspire everyone. The three leads, plus Kevin Costner, all give award-worthy performances.
Passengers: Many other critics have problems with the basic concept of this film, but I found it highly stylish and entertaining. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt play space pioneers who are among 5,000 passengers that are supposed to sleep through a 120 year flight, and wake up to populate a new planet. These two, however, are mysteriously awakened after only about 30 years, and face some fascinating challenges and decisions. It’s great for “What would you have done?” conversations afterwards.
Moonlight: This remarkable film is not for everyone–it’s wildly original and tender, and about as far from a CGI-packed blockbuster as you can get. It also defies genre — it’s unlike any coming of age, bullying, African American or sexual orientation exploration movie you’ve ever seen. Lyric and beautiful, it elicits compassion, understanding and tears, plenty of tears. Mahershala Ali (House of Cards), Janelle Monáe, and Naomi Harris are the actors you will most readily recognize.
For times and tickets, go to Fandango.com.
For my hubby’s picks, see: Guys Guide to Films — James Mandell’s Annual Holiday Round-Up
Lisa’s List of Must See Movies Currently at a Theater Near You