I know, January is usually a real dumping ground for films. That’s normally true, but if you look hard enough, you can find worthwhile titles hitting screens. This year is no exception, as 2017 has a handful of pretty strong movies hitting in its first month. I can personally vouch for a couple that I’ve seen already, so there’s that. Your mileage may vary with these, but if you look hard enough, you’re sure to find a few things to enjoy. Without any further delay though, here are the first batch of 2017 titles that don’t appear to be wastes of time. At least one is legitimately great too…
Here now are ten January releases in particular to look forward to:
10. Detour – An unusual film noir that I had split feelings about when I saw it at the Tribeca Film Festival, this is still an independent title worth making note of. The cast is strong, including Emory Cohen, Bel Powley, and Tye Sheridan. Plenty of folks at Tribeca liked it more than I did, but here in January, this is an indie option worth considering.
9. The Comedian – Robert De Niro is solid in this mixed bag of a dramedy. Really though, Leslie Mann is the stand out in a key supporting role. This was never going to be good enough to be an awards player, but if you like the thought of De Niro doing something different, this has some appeal. You can definitely do better this month, but you can do a lot worse as well.
8. A Dog’s Purpose – I’m a sucker for dog movies. This new one appears to be something a bit on the different side. My fingers are crossed that it doesn’t become a faith based sort of thing or that it goes too hard for tears, but I suspect I’d cry regardless. Britt Robertson is among the solid cast, with Josh Gad providing the voice of the title character. I’m intrigued.
7. The Bye Bye Man – Horror at the beginning of the year tends to be poor, but this could reverse the trend. Yes, it’s been long delayed, which isn’t promising, but the concept is so eerily efficient, I remain optimistic. Maybe we’re about to see Stacy Title become the next big female horror filmmaker?
6. The Book of Love – I missed this at the Tribeca Film Festival, back when it was called The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. An indie melodrama starring Jason Sudeikis, it didn’t get particularly strong reviews, but there’s a ton of talent here, so there’s still potential. As an interesting side note, the score here is composed by none other than Justin Timberlake.
5. The Salesman – Asghar Farhadi is slowly becoming perhaps the best “foreign” filmmaker in the business. After the masterpiece that was A Separation, many would follow him wherever he’d choose to go next. Luckily, his last few movies have been very strong, with this one no exception. It’s potentially going to be an Oscar nominee, so be sure to seek it out!
4. Gold – A last minute bump to 2017, this one time Oscar hopeful is mainly known now for being an odd Golden Globe nominee in Best Original Song. Even from those who have seen and didn’t care for it, Matthew McConaughey has gotten consistent praise. He’s as watchable an actor as there is right now, so that’s enough for me…
3. Split – A definite genre film, this could finally be the return to form for filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, who has been in a funk for a while now. Those who saw it on the festival circuit has strong things to say, in particular for star James McAvoy. I won’t expect The Sixth Sense from him ever again, but if we can get away from The Happening status, I’d be happy.
2. The Founder – Technically, this title still can’t really be talked about. I’ll just say that I find it surprising that this is the case (also, look where I put it on this list). Michael Keaton has a hell of role in Ray Kroc, while the strong cast also includes Laura Dern, John Carroll Lynch, and Nick Offerman. Stay tuned for more on this one soon…
1. Between Us – One of the best things I saw last year the Tribeca Film Festival, this relationship drama is absolutely heartbreaking. The film stars Olivia Thirlby and Ben Feldman as a couple navigating troubled waters and pressure to get married. I don’t want to say more, since there are surprises, but just know that it’s brilliant. See this one at all costs. You can thank me later.
Be sure to check these films out as the month of January rolls on!