The end of the year also marks the start of Oscar season. Studios push their films into the market to capitalize on the weak memories of Academy Award voters and to reach the eligibility deadline of Dec. 31 so they can win those all-important golden statuettes. Here are five movies hitting theaters just in time for the final stretch.
Release date: Dec. 2
Director: Steve McQueen
“Shame” premiered at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this year and received rave reviews, particularly for Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of a sex addict opposite his sister, played by Carey Mulligan. Fassbender has had an incredible breakout year so far. He played a multilayered Rochester in April’s “Jane Eyre,” was the best part of “X-Men: First Class” as Magneto and portrayed famous psychologist Carl Jung in David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method.” “Shame” marks his second collaboration with director Steve McQueen, who put Fassbender in the spotlight in 2008 with “Hunger.””
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Release date: Dec. 9
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Alfredson launched himself on the international cinema stage with his beautiful Swedish vampire film “Let the Right One In” in 2008. His first English-language movie is an adaptation of John le Carré’s famous Cold War spy novel of the same name. The movie has already been released in Europe to positive reviews, particularly for its strong cast consisting of Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciarán Hinds.
“We Need to Talk About Kevin”
Release date: Dec. 9
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Upon its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, audiences were surprised that “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” the adaptation of the award-winning book by Lionel Shriver, left without a single prize. Praise for the drama-thriller was nearly universal and many have claimed that Tilda Swinton gave one of her best performances. This film also marks the return of acclaimed British director Lynne Ramsay after a nine-year absence — her last major effort was “Morvern Callar” in 2002.
Release date: Dec. 16
Director: Roman Polanski
With the hoopla around Roman Polanski’s, ahem, moral integrity, this film almost never was. Based on the play “Gods of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza, this dark comedy stars Jodi Foster and John C. Reilly as parents whose child got into a fight with the child of Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. Interestingly, the entire movie is set in a single apartment with the two parents battling out their differences, each standing behind their child’s moral integrity.
Release date: Dec. 25
Director: Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg hasn’t had a movie out since 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.” Since then, he’s mostly been busy as a producer for both television and films, such as last year’s “True Grit,” this year’s “Super 8” and a couple of “Transformers” movies because he inexplicably loves Michael Bay. This year has been one of his most productive years ever, with not only the previously-mentioned productions but also two movies he directed. “War Horse” opens only four days after “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.” While “Tintin” is his more commercial effort, “War Horse” is a drama based on the Michael Morpurgo novel of the same name about a boy who, after his horse is taken away to serve in war, goes after him despite being too young to enlist. The movie has a typically excellent Spielberg crew, including musician John Williams, cinematographer Janusz Kamiński and editor Michael Kahn.