The festive season is upon us and, with it, comes another month of movies in the UK. We’re yet to hit the stride of awards season in the New Year, but there are still plenty of films to fill the silver screen in December.
There’s one enormous blockbuster in the shape of a Middle Earth epic, the latest in biblical spectacle from Ridley Scott, a toe-tapping musical reboot and, of course, Santa Claus.
So, here are the ten films you have to see in UK cinemas this month.
10. Annie (Dec 26)
The 1980s musical classic Annie is fondly remembered by many moviegoers for its uplifting message and memorable tunes. In 2014, it’s back on the big screen with Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis taking the lead role.
Wallis’ plays the eponymous youngster, who is taken in by super-rich businessman and politician Will Stacks, played by Jamie Foxx. On villain duties is Cameron Diaz as the control freak foster home owner Miss Hannigan.
As long as the music hits and the performances are good, this could have feet tapping until New Year.
9. Penguins of Madagascar (Dec 5)
Having stolen the show in the Madagascar films, everyone’s favourite band of Antarctican animals have won their own spin-off movie – Penguins of Madagascar.
The penguins find themselves butting heads with an octopus voiced by John Malkovich before they are rescued by a secret organisation, which is led by Benedict Cumberbatch as a wolf. That’s right.
These guys are always the best thing about the Madagascar films and the addition of a terrific voice cast can only benefit them. The gags in the trailer largely hit home, so this could easily be the film that gets the family vote over the Christmas period.
8. Exodus: Gods and Kings (Dec 26)
This has been the year in which biblical epics have made a triumphant return to the big screen. Following in the footsteps of Darren Aronofsky’s bonkers adaptation of Noah is Exodus: Gods and Kings, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale as Moses.
Bale’s character rises up against the tyrannical Egyptian Pharoah Ramses – played by Joel Edgerton – and leads 600,000 slaves on a huge journey as a series of deadly plagues hit the country.
Trailers paint a picture of a truly epic movie. Given Scott’s experience on Gladiator, he is clearly capable of managing epic spectacle. Exodus: Gods and Kings could be something really great.
7. Dumb and Dumber To (Dec 19)
It has been 20 years since Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels appeared as slapstick duo Harry and Lloyd in hit comedy Dumb and Dumber. Rumours of a sequel have been persistent ever since and the film spent three years languishing in development hell, but now it’s finally here.
Dumb and Dumber To will follow a reunited Harry and Lloyd as they travel across the country in an attempt to track down Harry’s daughter, who was adopted as a child.
It’s certainly not going to win awards, but Dumb and Dumber To could be a nice, silly pleasure over the holiday period.
6. St Vincent (Dec 5)
There’s no doubt that, at this point in his career, Bill Murray is nothing short of cinema royalty. His latest film, St Vincent, looks set to give him plenty of room to flex his comedy muscles.
Murray’s drunken title character is asked to look after the son of next-door neighbour Melissa McCarthy. He is an increasingly bad influence on the boy, taking him to strip clubs and dog tracks, but as the two grow closer together, they begin to learn from each other.
With such a talented comedic cast, this could be an excellent film and the trailer certainly points to a very smart script.
5. Get Santa (Dec 5)
This year, the search for a new festive classic film continues with British comedy Get Santa. In a piece of seemingly perfect casting, it’s Jim Broadbent who will don the red attire and fake beard to play Father Christmas himself.
In this film, however, it’s far from plain sleighing for Jolly Old Saint Nick as he loses his reindeers and ends up behind bars. As is common for festive films, it’s down to one kid and his skeptical father (Rafe Spall) to rescue Santa Claus and save Christmas.
Get Santa looks like a lot of fun and Broadbent’s casting is spot on. There’s also Warwick Davis as an elf. Merry Christmas!
4. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Dec 12)
It’s been a long slog, but we’ve finally reached the climax of The Hobbit on the big screen. Due to Peter Jackson’s frankly insane extension of the book into a trilogy, it’s taken nearly six hours of screen time to reach the epic conclusion in – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
After two lackluster films, The Battle of the Five Armies could finally be the adaptation that the book deserves. With genuinely exciting material to cover, this stands a real chance of succeeding where The Hobbit has failed thus far.
3. Black Sea (Dec 5)
In the trailer for Black Sea, lead actor Jude Law does a genuinely terrible Scottish accent. Thankfully, the film looks a lot better than his brogue.
It tells the story of a former submarine captain who takes on an extra-curricular job to explore the wreck of a Nazi U-boat for a huge sum of money. However, dissent amongst his men soon leads to danger below the surface.
Accents aside, Black Sea looks to be a gripping and enthralling thriller with an embarrassment of acting riches on its cast list.
2. Big Eyes (Dec 26)
Tim Burton is best known for his unique, oddball style of filmmaking that embraces paranormal darkness. On the face of it, artist biopic Big Eyes seems like a bit of a change of direction for him.
The film follows Amy Adams’ painter in the 1950s, who creates a unique style around the big eyes of the title. Her husband – Christoph Waltz – takes credit for the work and becomes famous, claiming to her that people do not want to buy art produced by a woman.
Few actresses are as overdue an Oscar as Amy Adams is and Big Eyes has a lot of the right ingredients for awards season, including the backing of The Weinstein Company. Could this be her year?
1. Unbroken (Dec 26)
Jack O’Connell has had a hell of a year. He shone in Troubles thriller ‘71 and gave the best performance of his career in brutal prison drama Starred Up. Next up is Angelina Jolie’s true-life tale Unbroken, which has him tipped for an appearance at the Oscars.
O’Connell is former US Olympian Louis Zamperini, who becomes a Japanese prisoner of war after a plane crash over the Pacific Ocean. The film follows his journey through multiple POW camps and the struggles he faces at the hands of the enemy.
There’s plenty of awards buzz around O’Connell and the Coen Brothers get writing credits, which adds yet more prestige. This could be the film that catapults one young lad from Derby into the A-list stratosphere.
Do you agree with my film choices? Which movies will you be trying to see in December, and which ones will you be avoiding like the plague?