Being that it’s the Christmas season, let’s start off with a little joy. Although not a Santa Claus movie, “Joy” still offers snow and an uplifting feeling. Jennifer Lawrence takes the title role, that of an ordinary young woman who rises above expectations, founding a business dynasty selling mops on TV. Austin Chronicle observes, “The film showcases the remarkable way Lawrence can command a movie ... Her focus never wavers in bringing out the best of this version of the American dream. What a joy for any moviegoer to witness.” And Associated Press adds, “Lawrence makes Joy easy to believe and easy to root for, no matter what she’s selling.”
Next we have “The Big Short,” a star-strewn movie about the banking collapse of 2007-2010. Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, and Christian Bale introduce us to the based-on-real-life characters who profited by betting against the housing credit bubble. Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it “a smart, snarky crisis tragicomedy from the real estate boom and bust.” And Toronto Star says, “The really neat feat of ‘The Big Short’ is getting us to care about these dollar-hungry sharks and other erstwhile profiteers, and to laugh at their desperate dealings, even if we don't always understand what it is they're doing ...”
“The Danish Girl” is also based on a real person -- Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo man-to-woman sex reassignment surgery. The somewhat fictionalized biopic stars Eddie Redmayne as Lili/Einar. MLive.com sees it as “classic Oscar bait, a picture with stately tones, an air of self-importance, a theoretically daring central performance.” Yet Cinemaphile.org concludes, “This is one of the best films of the year, and certainly one of the most cautious and compassionate I’ve seen about the issues it raises.”
Surprisingly uplifting despite its horrifying subject matter, “Room” stars Brie Larson as a woman held captive for 7 years as a sexual slave. However, the focus is on her son Jack, raised in a 10” x 10” room, unaware of the world outside. Newsday says, “This dramatic thriller is small-scale but profound, with great performances.” And Laramie Movie Scope expounds, “It is a great, original, story and very compelling. The film is also expertly directed by Lenny Abrahamson who does a great job of showing us the world through the eyes of a child. This is one of the year's best films.”
“Spotlight” is a worthy companion to “All the President’s Men,” a bust-this-town-wide-open newspapering story. In this case, we have the true recounting of a team of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe who uncover the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. Aisle Seat gushes, “Riveting from its first second to its last. With a smart script, perfectly paced direction, and superb acting, this is a work that manages to be as entertaining as it is important.” And Cinema Crazed calls it “The best drama of the year.”
And for a holiday treat, join James Bond as your favorite spy with a license to kill takes on “Spectre,” an international criminal organization that’s behind all 007’s troubles. Contractmusic.com notes, “For his latest adventure, James Bond mixes the personal drama of ‘Skyfall’ with the vintage globe-hopping action of the previous 23 movies.” And CinemaDope sums it up, “Feels like a Best of Bond compilation …”
Six movies, six holiday gifts. So after you deck the hall and sing fa-la-la, go catch a movie at the Tropic!