The fall movie season is quickly transitioning into winter, which means audiences can expect a slew of exciting, new films to choose from in the coming weeks, as each studio ramps up for a last-minute Oscar push. This week’s staff picks for the weekend’s hottest releases include a seasonally appropriate Christmas holiday film, an incredible music journey through modern-day Los Angeles, and the second directorial effort from Tom Ford. So let’s jump in and look at some new movies, courtesy of your friends here at The Cheat Sheet.
1. Office Christmas Party
Every year, the Christmas season brings us a December release that stands alone as a raunchy, R-rated comedy. 2015 gave us the Seth Rogen-led The Night Before, as well as the utter joy that was Krampus. This Christmas, we have Office Christmas Party. Led by Blades of Glory co-directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon, it features an A-list comedy cast that includes T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, and tons more.
With that much talent on board, the expectation is that we’ll at least be treated to a passable comedy, and for the most part, that seems to be what early reviews are promising. Despite a less than stellar 42% Rotten Tomatoes score, critical consensus does concede that the film’s “cast of gifted comics is good for a handful of laughs.” Anyone looking for a decidedly more adult holiday movie experience need look no further than Office Christmas Party.
2. La La Land
Damien Chazelle entered Hollywood in style back in 2014, writing and directing the Oscar-nominated instant classic, Whiplash. Chazelle’s bold creative vision designed to challenge our very concept of what it is to achieve greatness made Whiplash into not just one of the best movies of 2014, but of the last decade as well. He’s back in the director’s chair two years later with La La Land, and if critics are to be believed, he hasn’t missed a beat.
Visually, the film is a pleasure to look at, lifted up by a series of musical numbers, and strong performances from both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It goes far deeper than that though, with Chazelle once again tackling the complex idea of what it takes to truly pursue your dreams. A strong 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating certainly doesn’t hurt either, with Entertainment Weekly describing it as “stunningly ambitious and thrillingly alive.”
3. Nocturnal Animals
Another sophomore director’s film lands on our list of must-see movies this week. Tom Ford’s own debut was similarly heralded, when A Single Man scored Colin Farrell a Best Actor nomination from the Academy. Nocturnal Animals promises to be an equally interesting story, following a divorced couple “discovering dark truths about each other and themselves.” Amy Adams stars in the lead, continuing her stellar 2016 that saw Arrival become one of the year’s best films. Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Isla Fisher star alongside Adams, rounding out a solid cast under Ford’s creative leadership.
Critically, while not quite at the level of La La Land, Nocturnal Animals still checks in at a solid 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, buoyed by a critical consensus that dubs it “well-acted and lovely to look at.” It’s certainly not a glowing description on par with some of the year’s bigger releases, but the film is clearly still worth your time if you’re looking for something a little different this weekend.
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