The top 10 movies to see during the holidays in Toronto
With the usual cacophony of cack available to waste your time with on Netflix, CraveTV, Shomi, TMN, on-demand, Blurays, DVDs, torrents, streams and possibly still VHS, the holidays are actually a great excuse to get out of the house and rediscover what it's like to watch movies as they were intended - on a huge ass screen with extra salty popcorn and an engaged audience.
These 10 films do not represent the best of the year (which in my opinion would be the Holy triumvirate of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood and Interstellar), but they'll do in a pinch to soothe those intestinal turkey jams and booze-fuelled hangover doldrums.
Here are my picks for the top movies to see during the holidays in Toronto.
Paul Thomas Anderson's homage to stoner noir classics like The Long Goodbye (1973), Night Moves (1975) and The Big Lebowski (1998) is a blunt firecracker that will probably take a decade to appreciate (much like his other films). Based upon the mostly opaque writing of Thomas Pynchon, best to let the vibes wash over you and not knot up your brain trying to follow the labyrinthine plot laced with multiple Macguffins and enough second hand smoke to get you turbo high.
Fresh off his CG adventures with the Transformers, Mark Wahlberg regains some compromised filmic street cred with this homage to '70s crime films in which his gambling debts spiral out of control. For extra cool points, The Gambler also stars George Kennedy, maven of classic Hollywood who was already ancient in 1967's Cool Hand Luke.
After crashing his plane, Olympian Louis Zamperini is cast adrift 47 days on a raft before being caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp during the height of WWII. Angelina Jolie's sophomore turn as a director has an interesting lineage - it started life as a silent Coen Brother's film to star Brad Pitt (who no doubt showed the script to his misses) - and is surprisingly taut in a Castaway meets Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence Oscar bait-y kind of way.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
There will be tears as Peter Jackson's decades sprawling 6 film adaptation of J.R.R Tolkein's world come to a close as Bilbo and Company engage an army to stop the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and destroying Middle-Earth.
Two Days, One Night
Edging more on an Art house tip, this foreign drama comes from the highly respected film making brothers Dardenee of Belgium. Marion Cotillard plays a young mother who discovers that her co-workers have been offered an increased salary if they agree to fire her, leaving her only two days and one night to convince them otherwise. Long takes and pensive performances underscore a frightening situation we have all worried about.
Into the Woods
Whimsical melting pot of Brothers Grimm fairy tales supported by a Pantomime-esq cast featuring Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, and Emily Blunt.
Martin Luther King and the civil rights marches of Selma, Alabama, are brought to vivid life with a mostly foreign, non-American cast. Timely message and brilliant performances make this one a lock for award season.
Song of the Sea
Celtic legends are brought to life in this cool looking animated tale which doesn't seem a million miles off from the kind of amazing work Studio Ghibli put out on the reg.
Director Clint Eastwood follows up his severely limp rendition of Jersey Boys with the kind of thoughtful, bullet riddled red meat he's best known while Bradley Cooper turns in a proper muscle-headed method performance which sees him become real life Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. This is the same guy who was comic relief in The A-Team?
After a decade of duds, Gothic viz master Tim Burton returns to form with this bio-pic not starring Johnny Depp. Instead, Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz craft this tale of spooky painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and her subsequent legal battles with her husband who claimed credit for her art work in the 1960s. As with Ed Wood, Burton delivers a killer story based on real life.
What did I miss? Please add your suggestions for new movies to see in the comments. FWIW, The Interview was actually on this list until North Korea threatened to nuke the world over it.
Main image from Inherent Vice
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