Picks:

Zero Dark Thirty (Columbia Pictures) – Release Date: Opens Nationwide January 11

Although this film is technically a 2012 release (it came out in very limited distribution in December), Zero Dark Thirty will receive its nationwide rollout next week (its already playing in the Bay Area this week….suckas!). This film is a strong contender to win Best Picture and its directed by Kathryn Bigelow, director of 2008’s Best Picture winner, THE HURT LOCKER. This movie looks even better than THE HURT LOCKER and despite what some Congressional leaders are saying about the story (that much of it is highly exaggerated), I think its well worth watching if nothing else than watching Jessica Chastain (one of the brightest actors working today). This film continues to prove that women directors can indeed direct films that are widely considered the domain of male directors.

Gangster Squad (Warner Bros.) – Release Date: January 11

I’m listing this under my January picks only because of its strong cast (Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, and Nick Nolte) and its director, Ruben Fleischer (ZOMBIELAND). However, I fully expect this movie to disappoint mainly because 1.) the film was delayed from its September 2012 release to January 2013 (officially because of the Aurora, CO shooting, but I call bullshit on that because if the film was any good, the studio would not relegate this film to the trash heap of movie releases that January is known for) and 2.) Ruben Fleischer’s follow up film to the superb ZOMBIELAND was 30 MINUTES OR LESS, a horrendous piece of shit. Nevertheless, I’m a sucker for the time period the story is set in and how can you not drool over that cast?

Non-Picks:

The Last Stand (Lionsgate) – Release Date: January 18

Arnold’s return to the big screen (EXPENDABLES 2 notwithstanding, where Arnold played a supporting role next to a bunch of other stars). The trailers look horrible as does the premise, which we have seen a thousand times. The only hope this film has to offer is that it is directed by South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-Woon (director of the amazing I SAW THE DEVIL). This is Kim Jee-Woon’s U.S. directorial debut and based on what I have seen so far, I’m afraid that he’s succumbed to the same studio pressures that other successful foreign directors (e.g. John Woo) have fallen to when they bring their talents stateside. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

A Haunted House (Open Road Films) – Release Date: January 11

The film stars Marlon Wayans. Need I say more?

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