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Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard,Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt
Synopsis: Chronicles Jackie Kennedy's transition from first lady to national widow.
What’s The Word: Another attempt to understand the enigmatic political figure — except this one works. A New York Times critic's pick, Manola Dhargis calls Jackie "Intensely affecting and insistently protean." Note: no one thinks this film is cheery. Scott Tobias of NPR praises Portman's performance, saying that it "suggests Jackie as a ghostly figure who's haunting the wreckage of her own life." The Nerdist says, bluntly, "Jackie is not a feel-good movie." It's not a date night movie, but it's definitely worth a watch.
Released December 2
Starring: Shia LaBoeuf, Gary Oldman, Kata Mara, Jai Courtney
Synopsis: After returning home from war, a soldier (Shia LaBeouf) searches for his son and wife (Kate Mara).
What’s The Word: This movie is receiving the type of scathing reviews that are probably more entertaining than the movie itself. The film's nonlinear storyline has been declared confusing and unreliable to the point of exasperation. The New York Times called it "a sadistic and ghoulish spectacle," so there's that. The real reason to see this movie is Shia LaBoeuf, looking sullen, shaven, and really in love with Kate Mara.
Released December 2
Starring: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Auli'i Cravalho
Synopsis: A young Polynesian girl enlists the help of God Maui (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) to remove a curse from her homeland.
What’s The Word: Hands down, this is the movie you should see this weekend. It has an incredibly high score on Rotten Tomatoes, but, more importantly, R29's own Arianna Davis says it's the "diverse, feminist story" that we need. We love it, the critics love it, and the moviegoers love it — The Atlantic calls the film, "an absolute delight, a lush, exuberant quest fable full of big musical numbers and featuring perhaps the most stunning visuals of any Disney film to date." So, you have the vocal stylings of The Rock, an animated tropical escape, and one badass feminist. Enough said.
Released November 23
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston
Synopsis: Jessica Chastain is Miss Sloane, a femme fatale in the guise of a Washington lobbyist.
What’s The Word: Miss Sloane can't be blamed for its flaws. Meant to be a high-stakes political thriller, the film premiered on the heels of the 2016 election, and the story misses its mark. To be fair, the mark has been blown to pieces and scattered across the country. Lindsey Bahr, a writer for The Associated Press, says the film "already feels woefully out of date." Miss Sloane takes no prisoners, and adheres to no moral compass. All of this would be permissable if it weren't for the out-of-whack moral compass in the country.
Sheila O'Malley of Rogerebert.com calls the film "old-fashioned." According to O'Malley, Miss Sloane comes from "a more innocent time (say, three weeks ago) when politics as usual actually had some meaning." The country has had all the political entertainment it could possibly want — why would we need to watch a movie?
Chastain, a critical darling, remains above reproach, but with the movie's faulty time, an Oscar nod is doubtful.
Released November 24
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard
Synopsis: Max (Brad Pitt), a Canadian wing fighter in World War II, is tasked with assassinating his wife, Marianne (Marion Cotillard), when she is suspected to be a German spy.
What’s The Word: It's a steamy spy movie starring Brad Pitt — and that may be where the story ends. Writing in the New York Times, A.O. Scott calls Allied a "deft and diverting" film that "offers the comfort of elegant escapism." The same accolades have not been awarded to Pitt's performance, which Scott compares Pitt's performance to that of a wooden canoe — ouch.
Anthony Lane of The New Yorker shares the sentiment. He declares, "Rarely have I seen a movie star look tenser or more unhappy than Brad Pitt does in Allied." Nevertheless, critics have praised Cotillard's performance as the enigmatic Marianne, equal parts femme fatale and engénue.
The movie explores familiar territory — many have complained that it stinks of Casablanca — but it still manages to deliver. It's sleek, efficient, and sexy, like a brand new car. You'll enjoy the vehicle, but it's just a machine.
Released November 22