The new working week is looming but boy, do we have some magnificent movies coming your way. Banish those Sunday blues with a look ahead at these unmissable treats.
La La Land (opens Thursday 12th January)
What's the story? Red-hot Hollywood stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone lay on the charm in this infectious, beautiful and bittersweet musical comedy-drama.
In contemporary Los Angeles, coffee shop worker Mia (Emma Stone) aspires to escape her humdrum reality and become a celebrated actress. Meanwhile across town, musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) refuses to give up on his dream of owning his own jazz club. When these two opposites meet, magic is made and a sweet relationship develops – but the course of true love refuses to run smooth. Can they make it last?
In a complete turnaround from his savagely gripping Whiplash, director Damien Chazelle here unleashes a heartfelt symphony of emotion in which tender romance mixes with dazzlingly choreographed song and dance numbers. With winning performances from its two leads, the movie is already being positioned as a 2017 Oscar favourite.
Manchester by the Sea
What's the story? Casey Affleck gives a towering performance in this heart-wrenching drama of loss and redemption.
Rude, withdrawn and quick to anger, Boston handyman Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is clearly a troubled man. When he receives news of the sudden death of his beloved brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) from heart failure, Lee sets off alone for his Massachusetts home town of Manchester-by-the Sea.
Here he learns that he has become guardian of his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). But returning home also means confronting his troubled past and the tragic events that forced him to leave, separating him from his wife, Randi (Michelle Williams).
Exceptionally skilful writer/director Kenneth Lonergan succeeds superbly in drawing us into these brilliantly sketched lives, withholding key information for maximum emotional effect. He's magnificently served by an outstanding cast and gets a career-best performance from Casey Affleck. Little wonder this soulful, intimate and deeply moving film has received universal critical acclaim, along with several Golden Globe nominations.
Underworld: Blood Wars
What's the story? Kate Beckinsale is back in black.
In the latest Underworld movie, vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) continues her struggle against the Lycan clan and the vampire faction that betrayed her, with both sides trying to use the blood of her and her daughter to become Vampire-Corvinus hybrids. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Kate Beckinsale returns to kick more vampire ass in this fifth film in the action-packed Underworld series.
Live By Night
What's the story? Ben Affleck returns to the director’s chair with this stylish and violent period thriller.
It’s Prohibition-era America. Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is a family man, World War I veteran and son of the Boston Police deputy superintendent. He’s also a gangster, albeit one with a strict moral code. Nevertheless when he expands his operation from the frigid climes of Boston to the sultry Florida heat of Tampa, Joe is soon forced into extreme measures into order to ensure his own survival and that of his loved ones.
New Batman Ben Affleck is set to deliver another knockout directorial effort following his acclaimed trio of Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo. Working from the gritty novel by Dennis Lehane, it promises to blast away the winter cobwebs with a good-looking blend of historical authenticity and a starry cast also including Brendan Gleeson (Calvary), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon).