Put your feet up and settle down to the best home entertainment on show over the next couple of weeks…
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo
Carell rightly earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the supremely weird billionaire John Du Pont, who plays benefactor to a young Olympic wrestler (Tatum) only for the relationship to fall tragically apart. Shot with restraint by director Bennett Miller, this is not an easy film to love. It’s also the kind of movie that seeps into your marrow. Still, it’s a shame that Tatum was ignored by the awards committees – his fragile and authentic performance of a damaged and simple man is the best of his career.
A Most Violent Year
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo
Writer/director JC Chandor has turned heads with his previous work, notably excellent indie Margin Call about the financial crisis and the experimental seastorm drama All Is Lost. This is more traditional fare about businessmen (read: gangsters) in 1980s New York, but is once again impressive for its authenticity and some epic performances. Whether Chandor stays in this budget range remains to be seen, but his cinematic eye is certainly one to watch.
Into The Woods
Starring: Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt
Musical fans will appreciate this lush adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s famous tuner based on classic fairytales, which gets the full big-screen treatment with a healthy budget and bombastic cast. The songs aren’t as hummable as other shows (not that the writer would necessarily care about that kind of thing), but with a R-rated tinge to proceedings, it’s got some bite.
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadowski
Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about her soul-searching 1,100-mile solo hike has a cult following and it was a good choice by star-producer Witherspoon to turn to director Jean-Marc Vallée, who should have got more plaudits for his brilliant work behind the camera on Dallas Buyers Club, to bring it to the screen. The actress is more raw than usual (there’s sex and drugs) and screenwriter Nick Hornby (yes, that one) manages to evoke the primacy of America’s Pacific Crest Trial. The result is one part nature documentary, one part gritty grief drama. The mix works.