Even though the Oscars list has been announced, there are plenty of movies that are just making their way to the big screens for first viewings. These are the movies you’ll be voting on at the next Oscars ceremony, and they’re also the ones that you will have to chose from when you and your date need to go out on Valentine’s Day. So what’s looking good to you this February?
A young woman named Julia (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) finds herself on the receiving end of a terrifying curse when her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) decides to investigate the urban legend of a mysterious video said to kill anyone who watches it seven days later. She soon realizes that there is a “movie within the movie” no one has ever seen before, but what does that mean for the curse? Drama, Horror. Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, thematic elements, some sexuality and brief drug material. 1 hour and 42 minutes. My First Opinion: I’m a little hesitant about the PG-13 being scary, but the original Ring (2002) was PG-13 too and that is still pretty damn scary.
The Space Between Us
Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) is the first human to be born on Mars. Since his mother died giving birth to him, he has never known his father and never seen his home planet. While searching for answers, Gardner begins an online friendship with a girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson) and he decides that he wants to go to Earth and find his answers for himself. The scientists living with him determine that his body cannot handle the stress of Earth’s atmosphere, but Gardner is eager to find the answers to his life, and so escapes the scientists in a race against time to learn about his family and Earth itself. Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi. Rated PG-13 for brief sensuality and language. 2 hours and 1 minute. My First Opinion: I have been seeing trailers for this movie for months, and I still think the same thing every time – someone read a John Green novel and decided to combine it with the current fascination with space movies. Will there be a Taylor Swift song playing as well?
I Am Not Your Negro
Writer James Baldwin and narrator Samuel L. Jackson tell the story of race in modern America through Baldwin’s unfinished novel Remember This House. Documentary. Rated PG-13 for disturbing violent images, thematic material, language, and brief nudity. 1 hour and 35 minutes. My First Opinion: This film has been nominated for an Oscar (Best Documentary) but especially after watching 13th (2016), which is also up for the same award. Either way, the message should be getting across somehow.
The Comedian takes a look at the life of Jack Burke (Robert De Niro), an aging insult comic who works his way back to the limelight with the help of his new friend Harmony (Leslie Mann). Comedy. Rated R for crude sexual references and language throughout. 1 hour and 59 minutes. My First Opinion: This trailer (and whole idea really) gets a resounding “Meh.”
Four friends break into the abandoned insane asylum ‘Eloise’ in the hopes of finding a death certificate that will grant one of them rights to an enormous inheritance. That becomes the least of their worries quickly as it becomes apparent that Eloise holds a dark history that may connect to their own tragic pasts. Horror, Mystery, Thriller. Rated R for language and horror violence. 1 hour and 29 minutes. My First Opinion: Though it is set in one of the most stereotypical horror movie hideouts, I do like bringing fears into the storyline. Let’s see how it goes.
Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns home after twenty years to find his old friends Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) are still waiting. There are other old friends waiting for him too – love, longing, addiction, fear, regret, and self-destruction – and they are all ready to welcome him home with a vengeance. Drama. Rated R for drug use, language throughout, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and some violence. 1 hour and 57 minutes. My First Opinion: I had no idea a previous Trainspotting (1996) existed, but something about it does seem interesting. Plus, you know, Ewan McGregor.
Fifty Shades Darker
Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) decide to rekindle their romance, but this time without rules and without secrets. But Christian still has to wrestle with his inner demons, and Anastasia is suddenly confronted by the anger and envy of the women who came before her in Christian’s life. Drama, Romance. Rated R for strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language. 1 hour and 55 minutes. My First Opinion: Although this definitely looks like it has more plot than its predecessor, it still seems like it’s porn that is considered appropriate for mainstream theaters. Still, it’s just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The LEGO Batman Movie
Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) is not only tasked with cleaning up the streets of Gotham and capturing criminals, but also with raising the young boy that he recently adopted (Michael Cera). Is Batman up to the task? Animation, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy. Rated PG for rude humor and some action. 1 hour and 44 minutes. My First Opinion: I was never much of a LEGO player, really – they just made houses for my other toys – so even though it’s cool animation, I’d rather watch Batman in almost any other way.
John Wick: Chapter 2
After returning to the criminal underworld from retirement to pay a debt, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) discovers that a large bounty has been placed on his life. Action, Crime, Thriller. Rated R for strong violence throughout, some language, and brief nudity. My First Opinion: With little to no knowledge of the first John Wick, my only thought is that the last few minutes of this trailer are a little more Matrix (1999) than I think they were intending to be.
A United Kingdom
The country of Botswana and the rest of the world is thrown into an international uproar when Prince Seretese Khama (David Oyelowo) chooses to marry Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) of London, causing a rift in the British empire. Biography, Drama, Romance. Rated PG-13 for some language including racial epithets and a scene of sensuality. 1 hour and 51 minutes. My First Opinion: This looks both delightfully sappy and like a story that you won’t read about in your history books. Just the kind of history I like.
Don’t Hang Up
An evening of drunken prank calls between friends quickly becomes a nightmare when a mysterious stranger turns the game against the two, only this time the consequences are more deadly. Horror, Thriller. Rated R for disturbing violence and language, including sexual references. 1 hour and 23 minutes. My First Opinion: This kind of looks like Scream (1996), only all on the phone and less humor. Should be fun.
In a world where greeting card writers are on the same level as celebrities, romance writer Ray (Bob Odenkirk) used to be the best in the business. He tries to recapture the feelings that once made him great and quickly becomes entangled in a web of lies and murder as writers fight to create the perfect card for a new holiday: Girlfriend’s Day. Netflix Original. Comedy, Drama. Not Yet Rated. 1 hour 5 minutes. My First Opinion: I’m not even entirely sure what this is, but I definitely know that with or without a date, it’s not what I’ll be watching on Valentine’s Day.
The Great Wall
The mercenary warrior William Garin (Matt Damon) is imprisoned in the Great Wall of China when he attempts to discover the secret of their exploding black powder. His quest soon turns from fortune to survival when he realizes that the Great Wall hides a secret – beyond it is a horde of monstrous creatures attempting to cross into the world of humans, stopped only by an army of elite warriors stationed at the Wall. Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Thriller. Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy action violence. 1 hour and 43 minutes. My First Opinion: After A Dog’s Purpose (2017), this is the frontrunner for “Most Controversial” this year. But it doesn’t look bad.
When English teacher Campbell (Charlie Day) gets fellow teacher Strickland (Ice Cube) fired, he is challenged to an all-out fight in the parking lot after school. Comedy. Rated R for language throughout, sexual content/nudity, and drug material. 1 hour and 31 minutes. My First Opinion: This doesn’t really look as though it has enough material for an hour and a half. Maybe not even an hour.
A Cure for Wellness
The ambitious young executive Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from the mysterious “wellness center” in the idyllic Swiss Alps. He soon begins to suspect that all is not as it seems with the spa’s miracle treatments, but when he attempts to unravel its terrifying secrets, he runs the risk of being diagnosed with the same disease that keeps all patients locked away and losing their sanity. Mystery, Thriller. Rated R for disturbing violent content and images, sexual content including an assault, graphic nudity, and language. 2 hours and 26 minutes. My First Opinion: Not only is this one of the longest films coming out this month, but considering the fact that Johnny Depp has appeared in 5 of director Gore Verbinski’s past 6 movies, I am almost expecting a cameo appearance at some point (though I can’t guarantee that).
Land of Mine
In 1945 Denmark, after the fall of Germany in World War II, veteran Sergeant Carl Rasmussen (Roland Møller) is tasked with defusing and removing 2.2 million mines from the beaches on the Danish West Coast. He is sent a group of teenage German prisoners of war, and they are promised that once all the bombs are cleared, they will be free to return to Germany. Drama, History, War. Rated R for violence, some grisly images, and language. 1 hour and 40 minutes. My First Opinion: This is another Oscar nominee (Best Foreign Language), and it definitely looks as though it deserves it. I’m hoping to get a chance to see it before the awards are handed out.
Everybody Loves Somebody
On the surface, Clara Barron (Karla Souza) has her life all put together – she has a great job as an OB-GYN, a house in LA, a loving family – but she has never quite figured out her love life. Pressured by a family in Mexico, she asks a co-worker (Ben O’Toole) to pose as her boyfriend for the weekend, only to be caught off guard when her ex-boyfriend (José María Yazpik) shows up after disappearing from her life for ten years. Clara is torn between going back to the past and opening her heart to new and unexpected opportunities. Comedy, Romance. Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and language. My First Opinion: This movie does look really cute, but now I can’t get the Dean Martin song out of my head. And that means I’m watching the season 5 finale of Friends in my head.
After feeling neglected by her husband, Sarah (Riley Keough) embarks on a last-minute road trip with her daughter, and her best friend Mindy (Jena Malone). Along the way, the relationship between the two women intensifies greatly before they are forced apart. Years later, Sarah seeks to rebuild this connection in the days before Mindy’s wedding. Drama. Not Yet Rated. 1 hour and 24 minutes. My First Opinion: This looks to be an artsy and profoundly deep film. Whether that kind of film makes it to small-town Iowa is anyone’s guess.
My Name is Emily
A teenage girl named Emily (Evanna Lynch) runs away from her foster home with the boy who is in love with her in order to locate her father, a visionary writer who has been locked away in a psychiatric institution. Drama. Not Yet Rated. 1 hour and 40 minutes. My First Opinion: This one looks like it will be a pretty story, good cinematography, but the story may be for a bit of a niche crowd.
A young couple grieving the recent death of their daughter move to the countryside in an attempt to heal. But even there, they are haunted by their tragedy and by a sinister darkness that plagues the house. Drama, Horror, Thriller. Not yet Rated. 1 hour and 30 minutes. My First Opinion: I think there are more horror movies coming out in February than in October, and that’s when most people want to be scared!
A young African American man (Daniel Kaluuya) visits his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) family estate for the first time, and he soon learns that many of its black residents have recently gone missing. He is warned by another frantic African American to “get out”, only he comes to realize that it is easier said than done. Horror. Rated R for violence, bloody images, and language including sexual references. My First Opinion: FINALLY I have been waiting for this movie to come out for months! Hopefully it is actually as scary as it looks. A bit timely too, I think.
My Life as a Zucchini
Courgette (Gaspard Schlatter), aka Zucchini, is a nine-year-old boy who is deserted by his mother and befriends police officer Raymond (Michel Vuillermoz). He is taken to a foster home filled with other children his age where he struggles to find his place in a strange and sometimes hostile environment. But with Raymond’s help and some new-found friends, Zucchini might learn to trust and find true love after all. Animation, Family. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and suggestive material. 1 hour and 6 minutes. My First Opinion: Another Oscar Nominee (Best Animated Feature), and this one coming right before the ceremony on the 26th. It’s too bad that there are so many good nominees in this category, this one does look very interesting.
An artist falls in love with a young married woman while he is commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip Mania of the 17th century Amsterdam. Drama, Romance. Not Yet Rated. 1 hour and 47 minutes. My First Opinion: Dane DeHaan must be having a busy month. I will admit though that I have next to no clue what the Tulip Mania of Amsterdam is.
Between the two World Wars, the tyrant Joseph Stalin engineered a genocidal famine called Holodomor. It created a powerful tale of love, honor, rebellion and survival at a time when Ukraine was forced to adjust to the territorial ambitions of the Soviet Union in one of the most dangerous episodes in the history of Europe. Drama, Romance, War. Rated R for violence and disturbing images. 1 hour and 43 minutes. My First Opinion: If they don’t let Samantha Barks sing, they’ve really missed an opportunity there. Otherwise this looks like a period piece for next year’s Oscars.
When a radio falls from the sky into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, he decides to leave home and fulfill his dream of becoming a musician. This sets into motion a series of completely unexpected events for dogs everywhere. Animation, Comedy, Family. Rated PG for action and language. My First Opinion: What even is this…it almost looks like Secret Life of Pets (2016) and Zootopia (2016) had a less well-animated baby.
So how is the month of romance shaping up for you? As a horror fan, I myself am fairly excited. And it’s worth keeping an eye on these, if only because these are the first movies you forget when the Oscars are nominated next year. What movies are you looking forward to most this February?