Movies Not to Miss: January 2016

Movies Not to Miss: January 2016

Which of these are you going to watch?

The year of movies always starts out dry. While Hollywood dumps its most unwanted titles from last year into January like unwanted Christmas leftovers, there is also the side benefit that we get to start seeing the serious contenders as Hollywood gears up for Oscar season.

While there are certainly a few of those this January, we are also delighted to see a healthy mix of titles outside of Hollywood (including a couple from Malaysia) that are coming to our screens to fill the lack of genre fares from Hollywood.

So here are the movies to open the new year of 2016!

When an eccentric hedge fund manager calculates that the U.S. housing market is headed towards a free fall from subprime loans, he begins seeking building a fund to bet against the market.

The sub-prime mortgage crisis hasn't been a subject that has been explored enough in films since the bubble burst, as it still bears fascination as to how such an economical disaster could have systematically gone unnoticed. While J.C. Chandor's "Margin Call" highlighted the amoral decisions that corporations had to make to save their own skins during the impending days of economic collapse, "The Big Short" shows the immoral propensity for greed at the expense of someone else's financial doom, even when given foresight that could save lives.

Adapted from the non-fiction book of the same name by Michael Lewis, this is a major swing from the nonsensical comedy that we have come to associate with director Adam McKay, who has assembled a much more serious ensemble cast with Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, and Brad Pitt, ready to not sell us short on tough performances set during tougher times.

General Release Date: 7 January

When Max and his extended family have come together for Christmas, the dinner is celebrated without any of the cheeriness of the holidays. Snowed-in and without electricity, the dysfunctional family will have to put up with each other until everything is back to normal, when they are visited by someone who they think has come to spread some Christmas joy...of death.

Originally intended for a Christmas release last year before it was shuffled to its new release date this year, our anticipation to see "Macbeth" bears repeating, just to show how much we love to see our Shakespeare on screen. In case, you haven't read about what we had to say about it last month, this adaptation by Justin Kurzel has already been hailed as one of the most promising adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy, possibly since Roman Polanski's adaptation of it in 1971, having the brave confidence to compete for the Palm d'Or. So if Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard's casting as the cursed couple to seize the throne, the haunting cinematography and of course, the violence and gritty treachery is one that we don't want to wash off our hands after seeing it.

General Release Date: 7 January

After growing tired of peddling ancient trinkets on the streets of New York, a team of grave robbers are hired by a mysterious woman to acquire an ancient stone that has the power of resurrection, secreted in a tomb in Inner Mongolia.

Adapted from the popular novel series by Tianxi Bachang centered on a trio of skilled grave robbers, akin to a team of Indiana Jones of China. Admittedly there may be very low expectations in the plot in this high adventure, but "Mojin: The Lost Legend" is made to be seen in the biggest screen you could find. Already the highest grossing 3D Chinese movie in its native China, this would make an interesting substitute if you can't find a ticket to your fifth viewing of "The Force Awakens", and you would see how close is China in making big CG spectacles with Hollywood. Besides, with a cast that has Shu Qi, Angelababy, Chen Kun and Huang Bo only just sweetens the deal.

General Release Date: 7 January

An obedient heir to a thriving family business, Alif finds there is more to life when he falls in love with a country girl, Khadijah, as they face challenges and obstacles to be together through perseverance.

Few Malay directors could lay claim in knowing how to make a Malay romance as director Osman Ali, who broke the box office with "Ombak Rindu" during its heyday, despite the controversies surrounding it. Produced through Astro Shaw, "Langit Cinta" has all the production value going for it, even if the sappy love story is only meant to draw the melodramas at heart. We see little reason why "Langit Cinta" would not be talked about for the whole of 2016, but that would pin on the couple chemistry between Keith Foo and Nur Fazura.

General Release Date: 7 January

Born on the same day as Singapore, Eric Kwek is adopted by Getai singer Master Lo Man, and grows up learning to sing the classic Hokkien melodies. As the popularity of Getai music is slowly dying, Eric tries to revive the music genre with by assimilating the classic tunes with a spattering of Singlish to win a younger audience.

In a time when novels, comic books and video games are simply picked up and turned into a movie, the idea that even a viral music video could be the basis for a feature length movie left us stunned like vegetable. Shot quickly in just 2 weeks after the unexpected hit the unbelievable music video had become, it was a clever decision on director Ong Kuo Sin to bank on the new found fame of the character from the Singaporean sitcom. We are ready to be the popcorn to this caramel, just for the sake of being on this silly joke.

General Release Date: 14 January

Mon is an outcast in her convent boarding school, who has the supernatural ability to not see, but smell spirits. When she encounters a male spirit who once studied at the school before it became a convent, the pair are off to solve a murder mystery that happened on the school grounds 50 years ago.

There is a sweet selection of Thai movies coming in January. While Chayanop Boonprakob's romance comedy of a girl who discharges electricity according to her heart rate is an adorable premise, if not playing it a little straight. That's why we find there is an intriguing mix of horror, romance and mystery with a slight twist in Wisit Sasanatieng's "Senior".

General Release Date: 14 January

An American nanny is hired to a remote mansion in England, where she finds her charge to be a porcelain doll of a boy. Feeling foolish in abiding by the strict rules that she to follow when taking care of him, the nanny carelessly breaks one of the rules; only to learn of the heavy consequences.

January has no shortage of horrors to choose from, whether you like them from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Hollywood. For our pick, we went for William Brent Ball's "The Boy" for the creep factor that at first had us thinking it was about the creepy old hats deluding themselves that the doll was their son, before we were proven to be very wrong. We appreciate the subtle scares over shocking screams but they are so much harder to do, and shows a competent director at work. Besides, we needed a new creepy doll to keep us awake at night after the disappointing "Annabelle".

General Release Date: 21 January

A fictional retelling of Malaysia's glory days in football during the 1970s, when a multicultural team must learn to put aside their differences to earn a spot in the Asian Games.

After sitting on top of the box office throne in 2014 with "The Journey", it was quickly dethroned by 2015's "Polis Evo". But with a promising multiracial story, set in a shared history and a common love for the Beautiful Game, we can't wait to see if director Chiu Keng Guan can reclaim the box office throne with "Ola Bola" in 2016. This will be the first movie told mainly outside of the Chinese context by Chiu, but once again banking on no big name actors, (except for Bront Palarae), and we think Chiu and Astro Shaw could have a winning formula on their hands. If the couple of football movies from 2015 didn't strike a goal, we hope that "Ola Bola" would be that football movie that Malaysia deserves.

General Release Date: 28 January

Told around the launches of three major Apple products, the personal and innovation life of Steve Jobs is examined during the interim days leading up to each product that defined him.

After a lackluster and mostly harmless biopic of the Apple co-founder by Joshua Michael Stern, there was a need for a hard biting take on the radical life that Steve Jobs had led. Adapted from the 2011 biography written by Walter Issacson, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, we already know this was going to be a powerful but difficult watch, without having to mention that Michael Fassbender will be putting on the turtleneck, and alienating a supporting cast with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. "Steve Jobs" sure didn't mind ruffling its feathers with controversy since it premiered at the 2015 Telluride Film Festival, especially for not gaining the approvals of Jobs' immediate family and the questionable accuracy to Jobs characterisation, but "Steve Jobs" deserves to be watched as a fictional interpretation of a fascinating figure who could be any modern genius living among us today.

General Release Date: 28 January

After being left for dead, hunter and trapper Hugh Glass seeks for revenge, but must survive through the wild nature of the Montana forest, avoid the ruthless native Indians and track the man responsible for his accidental 'death'.

Around this time last year, we witnessed the birthing of a new superhero-ish movie from director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and a year later, we are privileged to see his latest work that is way on the road for Oscar glory. Although we are not expecting another one-shot, long take rehearsal, but "The Revenant" is not short of challenging technical conventions, based on how harsh the production conditions were to make this film. Pitting Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy together as opposite leads, this could be another one of DiCaprio's best and why he deserves to win that first Oscar.

General Release Date: 28 January

Related Movies:
The Big Short (07 Jan 2016)
Macbeth (07 Jan 2016)
Mojin: The Lost Legend (Mandarin) (07 Jan 2016)
Langit Cinta (Malay) (07 Jan 2016)
Mr. Unbelievable (English / Mandarin / Hokkien) (14 Jan 2016)
Senior (Thai) (14 Jan 2016)
The Boy (21 Jan 2016)
Steve Jobs (Not Showing)
The Revenant (04 Feb 2016)
Ola Bola (English / Malay / Mandarin / Tamil) (28 Jan 2016)

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