Tom Tangney’s 10 most anticipated movies of the holiday season

Dec 5, 2014, 10:49 AM | Updated: Dec 25, 2014, 10:58 pm
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Except for the award-winning Australian horror film “The Babadook,” there are not a lot of new movie options for audiences this weekend. But that’s just because Hollywood is gearing up for a month-long onslaught of high-profile movies, starting next weekend. Of the 25-to-30 big movies opening up between December 12 and January 9,Tom Tangney has come up with his Top 10 most anticipated films. While new movies like “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” Ridley Scott’s biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” and another remake of the musical “Annie” will have legions of fans, Tom is more interested in the following films.

10. “Big Eyes”

In theaters December 25

Count on Tim Burton to make a movie about the husband and wife team behind those phenomenally successful (and cheesy) paintings of kids with great big eyes, sold in hardware stores and gas stations across America in the 1950’s. Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz star as the couple whose secrets get exposed during some rather messy divorce proceedings. Ed Wood Redux?

Watch the trailer

9. “American Sniper”

In theaters December 25

Clint Eastwood directs this true story about the best marksman the American military has ever known. Bradley Cooper plays Navy S.E.A.L. Chris Kyle who is credited with more than 150 “kills” in the battlefield. If this movie is as good as the trailer, it could be another Oscar winner for Eastwood.

Watch the trailer

8. “Mr. Turner”

In theaters December 19

The last time I interviewed director Mike Leigh, he was lamenting the fact that his dream project, a bio-pic of the British painter J.M.W.Turner, might never come to fruition because he couldn’t raise the necessary funds. So I’m thrilled to see he’s pulled it off, at long last. Actor Timothy Spall, who spent two years learning how to paint before rehearsals even began, has already won some major acting awards (Cannes, New York Film Critics Circle.)

Watch the trailer

7. “Wild”

In select theaters

Reese Witherspoon is expected to be an Oscar contender for her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed, a woman who overcame personal crises by hiking solo the Pacific Crest Trail. Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name, “Wild” is directed by Jean Marc Vallee whose most recent film, “Dallas Buyers Club” won Oscars for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. FYI, Rachel Belle loves the book.

Watch the trailer

6. “Foxcatcher”

In select theaters

Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before, playing the socially off-kilter heir of the DuPont family. In the 1980’s, John DuPont bankrolled the U.S. Wrestling team with tragic consequences. Bennett Miller (Capote) directs this true story about one of the saddest chapters in American Olympic history. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo also star as two champion wrestlers.

Watch the trailer

5. “The Imitation Game”

In theaters December 25

One of the Oscar frontrunners for both Best Picture and Best Actor, “The Imitation Game” tells the true story of mathematical genius Alan Turing. During World War II, he cracked the Nazi’s Enigma code and in the process invented the first computer, (which were once called Turing machines.) Benedict Cumberbatch, one of the hottest stars of the moment, plays the tortured loner who was also prosecuted for his sexuality.

Watch the trailer

4. “Selma”

In theaters January 9

A movie about the 1965 voting rights marches in the South. It should make for a fascinating companion piece to the Seattle Rep’s current productions of “All the Way” and “The Great Society.” Both the movie and the plays cover much the same ground, with the film concentrating on civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and the plays on President Lyndon Johnson.

Watch the trailer

3. “Unbroken”

In theaters December 25

Angelina Jolie directs this remarkable true-life story about a one-time Olympic track star who gets shot down over the Pacific during World War Two. This film has been seen by so few insiders, that an air of tantalizing mystery envelops it. Sight unseen, it’s already an Oscar frontrunner. We’ll see if that changes once it is seen. But count me curious as hell.

Watch the trailer

2. “Into the Woods”

In theaters December 25

Stephen Sondheim is a musical theatre genius, and “Into the Woods” is probably his most popular work, since it’s become a staple of high school and college productions throughout the land. Sondheim is musically and dramatically tricky though, so I hope the cast, which includes Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Anna Kendrick, is up to the task. I have high hopes for Rob Marshall, who directed the last movie musical to win the Best Picture Oscar, “Chicago.”

Watch the trailer

1. “Inherent Vice”

In theaters January 9

I can’t wait to see what happens when my favorite American director, Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood,” “Punch-Drunk Love”) takes on the challenge of adapting – for the first-time ever – my favorite American writer, Thomas Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow) to the big screen. Even if it’s a mess, it should at least be a brilliant mess. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a private eye investigating the disappearance of the boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend in this comedy/drama set in 1960’s psychedelic LA.

Watch the trailer

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Tom Tangney’s 10 most anticipated movies of the holiday season