Arts, Movies, Column

All I Want For Christmas: A Wish List For The Holiday Movie Season

The holiday movie season is upon us, and The Heights is ready with its Christmas list.

Well, it is that time of year again. Peppermint replaces pumpkin spice as the Boston College girl’s latte of choice, and boys don their festive Patagonia fleeces. Nearing the end of the semester and start of the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of studying, shopping, and tree-trimming. This year, however, taking a break from exams and the stresses of the season can be accomplished best by heading to the movies. Much how the average toddler writes a Christmas list to jolly old St. Nick, I have compiled a list of requests regarding a few of the films set to be released this season.

Before I Disappear – Nov. 28

This year for Christmas, I want brilliantly filmed indie movies such as Shawn Christensen’s Before I Disappear to finally get the attention and appreciation they deserve. In Before I Disappear, a feature based on Christensen’s Oscar-winning short “Curfew,” Richie is asked to take care of his estranged sister’s 11-year-old daughter Sophia for the night. Over the course of the next few hours, this burnout brother struggles to connect with his niece, but eventually this insightful type-A preteen and down-on-his-luck drug addict warm to each other. The snippet of simple cinematography appears to capture the stark realities of life—addiction, pain, and self-doubt. Peppered with sporadic, comical one-liners, the film is expected to have a lighthearted tone, despite its serious and somber nature. Hitting theaters on Nov. 28, the offbeat film is a revamped— and hopefully superior— Uptown Girls for this decade.

Penguins of Madagascar – Nov. 26

If Penguins of Madagascar was a holiday-themed treat, it would be your great aunt’s untouched fruit cake at the end of the night. Like a mysterious loaf at the end of the dessert table, the Madagascar spin-off begs the question: why is this even here? Without Chris Rock and Ben Stiller’s guaranteed quality, it will be a miracle if four crime-fighting Arctic fowls can have success. After its release on Nov. 26, it is certainly time to “smile-and-wave” goodbye to the Penguins of Madagascar.

The Imitation Game – Nov. 28

Set during World War II, The Imitation Game depicts the struggles of code-breakers. The Imitation Game is an intellectual’s dream. Like Russell Crowe’s character in the A Beautiful Mind (2001), Benedict Cumberbatch plays an introverted genius hired by the government. With the future of the world weighing heavily on his shoulders, Turing (Cumberbatch) must juggle encrypting Nazi codes, the given love interest, and his inability to work well with his fellow geniuses. In select theaters Nov. 28, The Imitation Game should be a compelling thriller from the computer-generated special effects to the set and costume design.

Wild – Dec. 5

Much like the questionable edibility of Easy Bake Oven mac and cheese that I always wanted from Santa but never received, Wild looks promising, yet probably fails to meet its exceedingly high expectations. Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a woman with a recently broken heart that can apparently only be fixed by a solitary 1,000-mile hike. While most rom-com characters cope with the pain of a messy breakup by submitting to pints of Ben and Jerry’s, Strayed takes to cross-country backpacking after experiencing the aforementioned tragedy. The film could be incredibly stirring with its unconventional story and emotional theme of achieving self-actualization. In theaters Dec. 5, this seemingly inventive and inspiring film better drive us “wild” with excitement and praise.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – Dec. 9

Every year, I receive the same pair of holiday knee socks from the same aunt at Christmas, and similar to the utter confusion and dejection I feel each year are the sentiments I have for yet another Night at the Museum movie. The newest installment to Ben Stiller’s museum-mayhem saga will open nationwide on Dec. 19. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is the third and final piece to the trite trilogy whose plot this time involves—you guessed it— a secret about a tomb. Despite getting relocated from New York to London, there appears to be little change to the general plot and tone of the film. Simply stated, the animated artifacts participate in their usual hackneyed hijinks, and Ben Stiller is stuck restoring the hallowed halls of the museum to their original state. This winter, a little creativity would be perfect. Throw in a major plot twist or two and this film might be worth wasting precious hours of your life sitting in a movie theater.

Taken 3 – Jan. 9

Contrary to popular belief (thanks, Mariah Carey), all I want for Christmas is Liam Neeson. Like the accumulation of snow on a winter’s night, the more of Neeson films, the better. Due to his incredibly unfortunate family’s proclivity for getting into rather difficult situations, Bryan Mills (Neeson) is at it again, fighting for the safety of his beloved wife. With all the pomp and circumstance of a typical Taken film—namely the car chases, explosions, and riveting deep-voiced conversations with villains over the phone—Taken 3 is expected to dominate the box office long after its Jan. 9 release date.

Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Photo Illustration

November 9, 2014