Winter movies promise big thrills, chills, and spills

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      Huge Movies

      Star Wars: The Force Awakens
      The main thing you need to know about J. J. Abrams’s entry in the Star Wars canon is that he wrote it with Lawrence Kasdan, the guy who helped pen The Empire Strikes Back, which is as good as Star Wars gets. (December 18)

      The Danish Girl
      Eddie Redmayne reteams with director Tom Hooper for an entirely different kind of misérable, playing sex reassignment pioneer Lili Elbe in a film that’s brought both accolades and a healthy share of controversy. (December 18)

      The Hateful Eight
      The latest from Quentin Tarantino had a bumpy stagecoach ride from leaked script, to temper tantrum, to cancelled project, to this motherfuckin’ 70mm epic, starring sexy Channing Tatum alongside Tarantinites Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, and Kurt Russell. (December 25)

      Point Break
      Kathryn Bigelow’s snazzy 1991 action pic gets a reboot with Édgar Ramírez and Luke Bracey out-“whoa”-ing Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. (December 25)

      The NFL is presumably none too happy that Concussion is coming to the big screen. Will Smith stars as Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who discovered that repeated blows to the head courtesy of ’roided-up berserkers can have a serious impact on your health. (December 25)

      The Revenant
      Leonardo DiCaprio takes on a bear, Tom Hardy, and the Albertan winter—reports from the set were dire—in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s first film after Birdman, which he shot using only natural light, the nut. (January 8)

      A nonbeliever’s tale of the Resurrection is the hook behind this epic, with Joseph Fiennes as the Roman protoskeptic Clavius trying to figure out how that bearded little hippie did it. It’ll be interesting to see if Risen also resurrects the career of Waterworld director Kevin Reynolds. (February 19)

      Gods of Egypt
      Set and Horus battle for Egypt in Alex (Dark City) Proyas’s new film, starring reliably ancient and God-like Gerard Butler. (February 26)


      Funny Movies

      Haven’t the people of Paris suffered enough? Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) remain really ridiculously good-looking in Zoolander 2.

      Taking a rare break from Chekhov, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler play the midlife-crisis-suffering siblings of the title. (December 18)

      Daddy’s Home
      Mark Wahlberg turned out to be one of Will Ferrell’s best foils in 2010’s The Other Guys. This time, they’re fighting over errant-dad Wahlberg’s kids. (December 25)

      Dirty Grandpa
      Remember Zac Efron’s impersonation of Robert De Niro in Neighbors? It must have been prophetic, as the two head down to Daytona Beach for a spring break Viagra adventure. (January 22)

      Zoolander 2
      Derek and Hansel are back. Justin Bieber and Kanye West are among the stars willing to appear next to the world’s handsomest men. (February 2)


      Essential Movies

      Jean-Pierre Léaud stars in Jacques Rivette’s 13-hour magnum opus Out 1, which the Cinematheque is mercifully screening in four parts in February.

      Hitchcock/Truffaut retrospective
      The Vancity Theatre screens 12 from the master, Vertigo included, and four by the student. Psycho kicks things off on December 18.

      Arabian Nights
      Six hours of cinematic genius from Miguel Gomes, employing One Thousand and One Nights to contemplate Portugal’s political and social decline (which is way more fun than it sounds). At the Vancity Theatre, starting January 1.

      Quay Brothers
      Weirdo kings of the stop-motion-animation world get a 35mm retrospective curated by Christopher Nolan, complete with an introductory doc by Mr. Dark Knight himself, starting January 21.

      Out 1
      Vancouver was the location of a famous screening of Jacques Rivette’s 13-hour magnum opus in 2006. Pack a few lunches and check it out again when it screens as a four-parter at the Cinematheque, starting February 4.


      Scary and Fantastical Movies

      Downton Abbey ’s Lily James is in period dress once again for the slightly gorier Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

      The Forest
      Natalie Dormer escapes The Hunger Games but ends up in a Japanese forest infamous for suicides and other assorted horrors. (January 8)

      The 5th Wave
      Chloë Grace Moretz is kicking ass again, this time trying to protect her younger brother from one of those apocalyptic alien invasions we keep having round here. (January 15)

      The Boy
      Remember freaky Canadian horror film Pin? Of course not! The Boy seems to have a similar premise, featuring a doll that might be alive. The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan stars. (January 22)

      Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
      Downton Abbey’s Lily James scored the plum role of Elizabeth Bennet in this bloody improvement on a 19th-century novel that would have been so much better if Jane Austen had just applied some imagination. (February 5)

      Marvel’s most cynical character gets his own big-budget coming-out meta-party, while lucky Ryan Reynolds gets one more whack at making us forget Green Lantern and the Georgia Viaduct gets its epitaph. (February 12)

      Shut In
      Poor Jacob Tremblay finally escapes the Room just in time to get lost in a forest during a blizzard. It’s down to frantic agoraphobe Naomi Watts to find him. (February 19)

      Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
      Psychopathic billionaire and messianic space alien battle over truth, justice, and another piece of your wallet. (March 25)


      Classy Movies

      George Clooney really stretches out by playing a Hollywood movie star in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! .

      Director Paolo Sorrentino follows up his Great Beauty by sending Michael Caine off to the Alps for a profoundly moving late-career highlight. (December 18)

      David O. Russell hopes to “miracle mop” up at the box office, reteaming Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro in the story of Ingenious Designs CEO Joy Mangano. (December 25)

      Son of Saul
      Laszlo Nemes’s Hungarian Holocaust drama was the winner of this year’s Grand Prix at Cannes. (January 15)

      This take on The Virgin Suicides arrives from Turkey, one of the hottest countries on the planet moviewise, and an unlikely new force in feminist filmmaking. (January 15)

      45 Years
      Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling are a couple facing that notoriously difficult 45th year of marriage in this festival favourite. (January 22)

      It feels cheap to mention this, but Charlie Kaufman’s deeply affecting animated comedy-drama features the best puppet sex scene in movie history. (January 22)

      Where to Invade Next
      Hopefully, we’ll still be wondering when Michael Moore’s newest arrives in theatres. Said to be his best for a while. (January 22)

      The Lady in the Van
      Maggie Smith is the bag lady of the title, from a true-life script by stately old Alan Bennett. (January 29)

      Hail, Caesar!
      The Coen brothers lampoon Hollywood’s golden age, minus Barton Fink. Josh Brolin, George Clooney, and Tilda Swinton lead the star-packed cast. (February 5)

      What An Idiot
      “I’m gay!” says Vancouver’s Peter Benson to his hot new boss, played by spouse Julia Benson, meaning he’ll obviously get inside those pants at some point. (February 5)

      Two rural brothers who haven’t spoken for decades team up in this Icelandic Cannes favourite to save the one thing that will always heal a broken family—its sheep. (February 12)

      The Club
      Like the upcoming Colonia, No director Pablo Larraín’s latest looks at an institution whose crimes were encouraged and covered up under Pinochet. (February 19)

      Coconut Hero
      Crazy old Udo Kier breaks character to play a therapist in this Canuck indie, about a morose teen who’s quite happy to learn that a walnut-sized tumour has made itself comfortable in his brain. (February 19)

      The Bronze
      Melissa Rauch is a heroically assholish Olympic gymnast in this scabrous comedy somewhere in the Bad Santa dimension. Unsung genius of the screen Gary Cole costars. (March 11)

      Follow Adrian Mack on Twitter @AdrianMacked.