Davis: Lots of movies to take in over holidays

Critics are calling The Big Short a well-acted, scathingly funny indictment of its real-life villains.

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy.

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy.

With Star Wars breaking records at the box office, one would think that movie companies would stay clear of the competition. However, there are seven movies opening on Christmas Day and The Hateful Eight opening on Dec. 30.

The movie that may suffer the most from the competition is Point Break, the remake of the 1991 classic starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.  Australian actor Luke Bracey takes over for Reeves as Johnny Utah, an FBI agent who goes undercover inside a group of skilled extreme athletes turned criminals led by a man name Bodhi (Swayze in the original, played here by Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez).

Another movie that might suffer from the competition is Daddy’s Home, reuniting Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg who previously starred together in The Other Guys. Ferrell plays a mild-mannered radio executive who strives to become the best stepdad to his wife’s two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father (Wahlberg) arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.

After finding success with Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, director David O. Russell re-teams with Jennifer Lawrence with Joy, the fact-based but comedic story of single mother of two Joy Mangano who invented the Miracle Mop and the struggle to manage both her business and her family.  Nominated for two Golden Globe awards, including one for Lawrence, Joy also stars Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Édgar Ramírez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen and Isabella Rossellini.

Another comedic take on a true story is The Big Short, the story of four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse in 2008 and decided to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed. Not only is the cast of Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt getting attention, but critics are calling the movie a well-acted, scathingly funny indictment of its real-life villains and approaches a serious and complicated subject with an impressive attention to detail.

Yet another true story is Concussion, a dramatic thriller about Dr. Bennet Omalu’s race against time to publicize CTE ( HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_traumatic_encephalopathy” o “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy” chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in American football players and the attempts by the NFL to deny the problem and to disparage the doctor. The entire cast is getting acclaim, but Will Smith’s performance is being called the best of his career.

Eddie Redmayne follows-up his Academy Award win in The Theory of Everything with portraying Lilli Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery.  While the characters in The Danish Girl are based on actual people, the movie is a fictitious love story inspired by the lives of Danish artists Elbe and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

In Brooklyn, Saoirse Ronan plays an Irish immigrant landing in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within. Ronan’s performance is nominated for a Golden Globe.

And finally, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight sneaks in just before the end of the year, a western set in post-Civil War Wyoming about a group of bounty hunters trying to find shelter in a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception.  Tarantino has again gathered an impressive cast including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern and Michael Madsen.


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