The 10 Movies You Need To Watch This Winter

Yes we know the cinema is expensive these days, but no you can't just wait till this lot are out on Sky Box Office

Yes we know the cinema is expensive these days, but no you can't just wait till this lot are out on Sky Box Office or DVD.

Some pieces of film-making require a big screen to do them justice, whether it's for the lushness of cinematography or the intensity of the performances, or the fact that they're happening now, for all assembled, and you can't nip into the kitchen for a Horlicks top-up half-way through.

Plus, it's the time of year when really good films come out, all plump and ready for awards season, so if ever there was a time to venture out, this is it. Here's what to see.

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A United Kingdom

Out on 25 November 


Two of Britain's finest actors, David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, head up director Amma Asante's real-life account of an episode of our recent history about which we might feel less inclined to crow.


In 1947, Seretse Khama, a young African law student in London, met and fell in love with Ruth Williams, a willowy English typist, a relationship that was controversial not just because of the different colours of their skin, but because he was in fact the prince of what is now Botswana. Their union would create suspicion among his people, and, because of the colonial economic interests they wanted to protect, castigation from hers. 


Must-see rating: 3/5

La La Land

Out on 13 January


Prepare to go ga-ga for La La Land, as the movie that has been the toast of every film festival finally gets its mainstream release. And really, how it could it fail? It features  two of the most likeable stars around in Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) and Emma Stone (Mia), and comes from writer-director Damien Chazelle, who was responsible for the electrifyingly brilliant 2014 drummer  drama Whiplash


Plus, it's a musical about the dreams and failures of aspiring actors and musicians in Hollywood. And if you don't come out of it even slightly tempted to invest in a pair of tap shoes, then your heart is officially made of granite.


Must-see rating: 5/5

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Paterson

Out on 25 November 


So far in this list we've had psychopaths, aliens, terrorists and assassins (some of which we may not have mentioned, but trust us, they're in there), and now we have… a bus driver. And not a psychopathic, homicidal one; a regular one, called Paterson, who drives a bus, in Paterson, which is in New Jersey. 


And yet director Jim Jarmusch's capacity for restraint, inflection and nuance, and star Adam Driver's capacity for the same, means this small film, with small ambitions, about an isolated but not unhappy man who loves his wife, writes poetry and enjoys listening to strangers' conversations, will leave a monumental impression.


Must-see rating: 4/5

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Out on 6 January


American heroism of a questionable kind is the subject of Ang Lee's new movie, an adaptation of Ben Fountain's astonishing novel of the same name. 


Taking place on  a single day, or rather, a single American football game, the film follows the titular Billy, played by British newcomer Joe Alwyn, as he is paraded in front of a stadium crowd at Thanksgiving to honour him for services in Iraq that he would rather forget. 


Fountain's book is a biting satire about jingoism, trauma and desensitisation on a personal and national scale — it will be fascinating to see how Lee wrestles these themes in a cinematic medium. 


Must-see rating: 4/5

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ALLIED

Out on 25 November


We are assuming that Angelina Jolie won't be the first person in the queue for tickets to see Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as Second World War assassins who meet and fall in love in North Africa while on a mission to kill a dastardly German. (Or actually, it turns out that one of them might be a double agent, so maybe Angelina will be attending after all.) 


Allied, which also stars Jared Harris, is directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away) and comes from a screenplay by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke, Peaky Blinders), which is a collaboration of which we can wholeheartedly approve. 


Must-see rating: 3/5

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Out on 13 January 


Casey Affleck — smaller, weirder brother of Ben — was born to play emotionally stunted blue-collar workers from snowy New England towns. 


So it's no surprise that he's mesmerising in this quiet masterpiece, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, about a lonely janitor who, following the death of his brother, finds himself in charge of his teenage nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). 


It sounds cheesy but is anything but, as the two negotiate the new terms of their relationship, which are uncomfortable and unsatisfactory for both, but for different, heart-wrenching reasons. Yet there are jokes, too. As films go, you couldn't ask for more. 


Must-see rating: 5/5

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Arrival

Out now


Amy Adams seems to be many a director's favourite actress just now, perhaps because she looks so unbelievably sweet and American and marketable and yet has an acting range that is far more expansive than that. 


This time, Denis Villeneuve has cast her as an interpreter who seems to be the only person with a chance of discerning the intentions of some alien visitors who have arrived on Earth in what looks like a gigantic black contact lens. 


Extraterrestrial invasions will always be a field that's ripe for intrigue and imagination, but in an age of heightened hysteria about immigration, the figurative resonance of the topic is stronger than ever.  


Must-see rating: 4/5

Sully

Out on 2 December


You remember Sully, right? White moustache, goofy smile, landed a plane on the Hudson River that time, saving the lives of all on board? 


Well if you don't, allow director Clint Eastwood to remind you, in this rootin' tootin' — all right, shriekin' freakin' — recreation of the famous feat pulled off by Captain Chesley Sullenberger III at the helm of US Airways Flight 1549 on 15 January 2009, and a somewhat monkeyed-around-with version of what happened after, involving intransigent safety-obsessed bureaucrats who wanted to take the shine off Sully's heroism. And who do you get to play the crinkly eyed crusader? Tom Hanks, silly!


Must-see rating: 3/5

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American Pastoral

Out on 11 November 


American Pastoral was always the film that couldn't be made, despite crying out to be. Philip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1997 novel about a family torn apart by a daughter's extreme political affiliations (or were the seeds of destruction already sown?) has been in development purgatory for at least 10 years. 


Now it finally comes into existence courtesy of Ewan McGregor, who both stars as Swede Levov, the former high school sports star and paterfamilias, and also directs the film following the departure of Phillip Noyce. Be it cinematic epic or epic fail, the attempt at least is worthy of attention.  


Must-see rating: 3/5

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

Out now 


Tom Ford likes his movies as he likes his clothes: slick, sleek and surprising. Coming seven years after his debut, A Single Man, this one is more than worth the wait (and to be fair, he's had some other things on, such as running his eponymous fashion empire). 



It seems, at first, to be set in a gilded world, examining the troubled relationship between art dealer Susan (Amy Adams) and her husband (Armie Hammer). However, when Susan is given the manuscript for a novel that her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), is writing, and starts to read it, a very gritty and grisly subplot begins to unfurl, which has profound consequences, both visceral and symbolic, for all involved. 

Must-see rating: 4/5