The film opens with Hank Thompson (Paul Dano) being stranded on a deserted island, literally at the end of his rope, ready to give up hope of ever being rescued. He is startled when he sees another man (Daniel Radcliffe) wash up on the shore. Hank goes to rescue the man, but finds that he is already deceased. Despite this fact, this man’s body is able to perform an assortment of magical abilities that help Hank find freedom from the island. As they journey home, the body slowly comes to life as Hank begins to teach it about the world and what there is to live for.
Swiss Army Man is as unique of a story that can possibly be told, which is what makes it so attractive in an industry filled with cliché stories and reboots. It’s a beautiful story about friendship and how important it is to share and communicate with the people around us. This movie has a fair amount of adult humor, but this humor is complemented by the story’s beautiful views and lessons about life.
Radcliffe’s performance is particularly worth noting, as he plays a dead man who is slowly coming back to life and remembering what it means to truly live. The beautiful friendship that blossoms between these two characters is transcended to another level with a film score that uplifts the viewer with feelings of happiness toward the success of their travels back to civilization. With this being the directorial debut by the co-directors and co-writers simply known as Daniels, it begs the question, “What will these two come up with next, and how can they possibly top what they’ve already accomplished?”
A funny and quirky story about a man and the experiences that change his life while on a business trip in the Middle East. There, he ultimately finds peace and harmony where he least expects it!
A Hologram for the King stars Tom Hanks and is based on a Dave Eggers novel of the same name.
Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame star as an honest police detective who goes after the gangsters who killed his wife and the gangster’s girlfriend who switches her allegiance. Police corruption and a conspiracy drive the plot. I consider The Big Heat to be one of the best noir movies of the 1950s. If you like classic film noir, add this tense, dark, and gritty film to your must-see list.
Check out our list of other 1950s Noir films.
John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones play America’s sweethearts (Eddie and Gwen): they’re actors who married, starred in several movies together, then split publicly and messily (sounds like real life, right?). The studio needs them to promote their final movie, and sends veteran publicist Lee (Billy Crystal) to control the chaos. Add Julia Roberts as Kiki, Gwen’s sister/assistant, and you’ve got America’s Sweethearts, a comedy about love and the ridiculousness of Hollywood.
In the mood to binge watch romantic comedies? We’ve got romantic comedies you’ll love – part 1 and part 2.
Inspired by the Sudanese civil war that began in the 1980s and the Lost Boys of Sudan, The Good Lie is a beautiful movie. The story begins in Africa, focusing on three noble children—the sons and daughter of the village chief. When Northern Sudanese soldiers kill most of the people in their village, only a small group of children survives. It is then up to their new chief, himself a child, to lead them hundreds of miles across Sub-Saharan Africa to the safety of a refugee camp in Kenya.
Thirteen years later, four young people from this group are happily sent to the U. S. as refugees. They soon discover though that this country is a totally alien place, with its strange customs and mystifying technology. The film then centers on their struggle to adjust, while still maintaining their sense of dignity and humor, their unity and faith. Reese Witherspoon is brilliant here as the put-upon job agency rep, who is assigned to find this odd and skill-less group gainful employment. A bittersweet treat.
It’s Christmas Eve and Gus (Dennis Leary) is a burglar whose partner abandons him when their latest heist goes south. He is forced to take hostage Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) – who are on their way home from marriage counseling – making them drive him to their home. Slowly, the rest of the family begins to arrive for their annual holiday celebration and Gus pretends to be Lloyd and Caroline’s marriage counselor. Little does he know that he will become the “counselor” for the entire dysfunctional family while he figures out a way to elude capture by the police.
The Ref is a dark comedy that takes the idea of a holiday movie and turns it on its head. The script is biting and sharp. Leary is best known for his sarcastic delivery and shines in the role of Gus. Spacey and Davis also are outstanding as the bickering couple who eventually realize they do love and care about each other. The rest of the cast is top notch and there are a number of well-known actors in cameo or supporting roles: B. D. Wong (Oz; Law & Order) as Dr. Wong, the Chasseur’s original marriage counselor; Christine Baranski (Cybill; The Good Wife) as demanding sister-in-law Connie; and J. K. Simmons (Law & Order; The Closer) as Siskel, the commander of the military school Lloyd and Caroline’s son Jesse is attending (little do they know that Jesse is blackmailing Siskel).
Granted, I know this movie isn’t for everyone. But, if you like dark comedies, a sharply written and delivered script, and something a little different to supplement all the maudlin and saccharin holiday fare that comes on this time of year, give this one a chance. It may just win you over.
Set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this classic courtroom drama features a winning cast of small town characters. Jimmy Stewart plays Paul, the ex-District Attorney who would much rather be fishing or playing jazz piano than practicing law. He is perfectly content with getting by on the odd legal job, but his perpetually tipsy (yet surprisingly astute) sidekick, Parnell, has other ideas. At Parnell’s urging, Paul takes on a local murder case that brings them both out of their semi-retirement.
Other engaging characters abound, including a visiting judge, Paul’s secretary, and of course, the defendant and his wife. These characters along with a well-placed plot, the almost light-and-breezy tone—despite its dark subject matter—and the hip music of Duke Ellington make Anatomy of a Murder just plain fun.
Check out our list of Lawyers in the Movies for other films.
The Lonely Island, perhaps known best for their SNL music videos and digital shorts, hit a home run with this musical mockumentary. Parodying documentary style films of popstars like Justin Bieber, this film focuses on star Connor4real (Andy Samberg), a former boy band member turned international sensation, whose sophomore album has just dramatically flopped. Connor struggles to figure out who he is when he isn’t being adored by millions of fans and is forced to confront the fallout with his former best friend when he quit the boy band of which they were once part.
Popstar is full of laughs, inside jokes, and pop culture references, and is positively littered with comedy and musical stars, including Usher, Adam Levine, Sarah Silverman, Joan Cusack, Jimmy Fallon, and Chelsea Peretti, just to name a few.
Based on the true series of unofficial ceasefires that occurred along the western front during World War I, Joyeux Noel portrays a truce by Scottish, French, and German troops on Christmas Eve 1914 in the midst of a bloody battle. This is a poignant human interest tale of men at war with each other coming out of the trenches to exchange greetings, sing Christmas songs, and play soccer.
Depending on the nationality of the soldiers, they are speaking in French, German, or English. English subtitles are available.
For other World War I movies see our list of recommended titles. If you like Christmas movies, see our lists of Christmas Movies and Family Christmas Movies.
Although this is a movie you can watch any time of year, I always seem to revisit Love Actually in December. Set in London, the film follows eight loosely related couples in the month leading up to Christmas. It’s not all happy endings in this romantic dramedy, but I’d still call this one a feel good movie. One of my favorite moments is Hugh Grant’s dance scene through 10 Downing Street (he plays the prime minister). You’ll see lots of other familiar faces including Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Andrew Lincoln, and Martin Freeman.
In the mood for a Christmas movie? We’ve got a whole list.