The 12 Films of Christmas (and beyond)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi..Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. ..© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi..Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. ..© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Blockbuster season is upon us. Without further ado, here are the 12 films you really should see before autumn.

 

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The success of 2015’s The Force Awakens means we can forget those prequels ever happened. A brilliant fusion of nostalgia and modernity, the first in this new trilogy gave us a bunch of young upstarts as engaging as the old friends from 1977. Head of the pack was Daisy Ridley’s Rey, who takes centre-stage here as Luke Skywalker’s apprentice. Expect to see young girls all over the country swinging lightsabers by Christmas.

Opens December 14, Rated CTC, 152 minutes

 

2. Paddington 2

Packed with top shelf British actors, the best kids film this summer should please parents as much as their offspring. Saving to buy his beloved Aunt Lucy a unique London pop-up book, Paddington finds himself crossing swords with faded actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), who wants the book for himself. Poor Paddington is packed off to prison, while the Brown family fight to clear his name. It’s a sheer joy — Hugh is hilarious and the action fast and funny. What’s more, our bear makes for a refreshing kids hero, whose day-saving superpowers are politeness and decency.

Opens December 21, Rated 5, 104 minutes

 

 

3. Lady Bird

For a film that scored the highest Rotten Tomatoes rating in the site’s history, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is surprisingly small scale. Christine (AKA Lady Bird) is in her last year of high school in Sacramento and desperate to get out. Unfortunately, her lack of a work ethic might scupper her plans to enrol in a prestigious east coast uni. Played by Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird is an utterly engaging character, driven by dreams she hasn’t quite worked out and largely blind to the shortcomings others keep pointing out. A delightful, true and very funny adolescent drama, it keeps the usual preoccupations (boyfriends, prom etc) on the sidelines to paint a touching portrait of mother-daughter love and angst.

Opens February 15, Rated CTC, 95 minutes

 

 

4. The Post

AKA Oscar Bait, Steven Spielberg’s triumphal thriller about newshounds fighting to expose government lies looks set to win big during the 2018 awards season. Part of that is down to the first-time pairing of Meryl Street and Tom Hanks as publisher and editor of the Washington Post attempting to declassify the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. But there’s no denying how timely this celebration of journalism feels, as another US government seeks to trash reporters as fake news.

Opens January 11, Rated CTC

 

5. The Darkest Hour

Back in 1940, the war is going badly for Britain. Thousands of retreating troops are camped on the beaches of France, waiting for… hang on, that’s Dunkirk. Hollywood never moves too far away from World War II, but this has been a bonzer year for return visits. Starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and set during the early days of the conflict, The Darkest Hour is less war movie and more gripping political thriller, with the fate of the Western world in the balance.

Opens January 11, Rated PG, 125 minutes 

 

6. The Shape of Water

The summer’s least likely romantic hit arrives in this bootleg reworking of the Creature From The Black Lagoon from the director of Pan’s Labyrinth. Mute laboratory cleaner Elisa  (Sally Hawkins) builds a wordless relationship with her work’s secret guest, a part-man, part-fish creature held for brutal experimentation. It’s a beautiful looking film and overseas buzz has been immense – Sally has already won best actress gongs for her silent heroine.

Opens January 18, Rated CTC, 123 minutes

7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

From the writer-director of sleeper hit In Bruges, this is a black comedy for fans of the Coen Brothers. Frustrated by the investigation into her daughter’s murder, Mildred (Frances McDormand) rents three billboards outside town to chide the local police chief (Woody Harrelson). This sparks a cycle of violence and anger, where a cast of aggrieved characters each vent their fury on the wrong person. McDormand is fiery and fantastic, while the script is sharp and surprising, laced with the sort of humour that will likely get funnier with a repeat viewing.

Opens January 1, Rated CTC, 115 minutes

 

 

8. Call Me By Your Name

One of the stars of this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival, this tender romantic drama from Italian director Luca Guadagnino is getting a wide release after a stunning reception around the globe (the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named it the best film of the year). Teen introvert Elio initially resents outgoing American exchange student Oliver (Armie Hammer), but soon enough the two find themselves smitten with each other. But is this a holiday fling or life-changing love?

Opens December 26, Rated M, 132 minutes 

 

9. Coco

Pixar’s latest is being billed as a return to form after the underwhelming Finding Dory and unnecessary Cars 3. Miguel is a 12-year-old boy in Mexico who dreams of being a musical legend. On playing a stolen guitar owned by one such, long-dead legend, he finds himself transported to the mythical Land of the Dead. There his dearly departed ancestors help him pursue his ambition. With tunes written by the songsmith behind Frozen and Book of Mormon, this is the studio’s most musical film yet. And also one of its funniest.

Opens December 26, Rated PG, 105 minutes

 

 

10. Pitch Perfect 3

The Bellas are back for one last bout of a cappella mischief. Years after their world championships victory, the team has split. Job opportunities are few and far between for a cappella singers, it seems. Brought back for an overseas tour, will they make all the same mistakes again? Rising Aussie star Ruby Rose joins the team for what is said to be the final chapter. But never say never.

Opens January 1, Rated CTC, 93 minutes

 

11. Phantom Thread

Auteur Paul Thomas Anderson makes an unlikely leap into the world of fashion for this 1950s period drama about obsession. Daniel Day-Lewis (in his last screen performance, apparently) plays celebrated London dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock. His fast-paced love life (where girlfriends rarely last the season) hits a hitch when he meets strong-willed muse Alma (Vicky Krieps).

Opens February 1, Rated CTC, 130 minutes

 

12. The Greatest Showman

Hugh Jackman plays PT Barnum, a down-on-his-luck journo turned circus impresario. From the look of the trailer, it’s been ladled in seasonal sentimentality and seasoned with the sort of garish, anachronistic pop that should appeal to anyone who found Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby to be too subtle. Which isn’t to say it won’t be terrific fun.

Opens December 26, Rated CTC, 120 minutes

 

 

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