Monday, 29 December 2014 12:45

Winter Movie Preview

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Foxcatcher Foxcatcher

Not too long ago, last year's crazy polar vortex threw a giant wrench into the proverbial cogs of everyone's winter plans. Businesses suffered and Grand Rapids blew through its entire winter road commission budget in what seemed like seconds. Yeah, we tried to block that from our memories, too.

This year we're hoping Mother Nature is a bit kinder. James Sanford, creative manager at Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo hopes so too, because they have a lot of great winter movies they want people to come out and see.

I'm really hoping for some milder weather,” Sanford said. “I'm also hoping for some better product in January, February and March than we had last year.”

So far this winter has already had some big hits, like The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, as well as the film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical, Into the Woods.

It's great material. It's really kind of surprising that it's taken this long for somebody to get around to filming Into the Woods,” Sanford said.

If you're afraid the best winter films have already debuted, then put those fears to rest, moviegoers. The latter part of winter looks promising as well, and there are plenty more upcoming films making waves amongst cinephiles.

Sanford himself is especially excited to see Foxcatcher, which got a limited release in December, with nationwide releases following in January and February.

It's a terrific film,” Sanford said. “It has Steve Carrell literally as you've never seen him before. It takes a moment to even recognize him. And it's some of the best work I've ever seen Channing Tatum do as well.”

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Whether you're into action, comedy, romance or any other genre, we have compiled a list of some of the biggest winter films that have yet to make their debut. As Michiganders collectively get ready to pine for warmer Spring days, we suggest you make the most of what this winter has to offer and head down to your local theater to check out some of these cinematic gems.


Release date TBA

While Steve Carrell is more well-known for his comedic roles ("The Office," The 40 Year-Old Virgin), he's always flirted with more serious roles. With Foxcatcher, he's flirting with Oscar nods. The biographical drama follows the story of Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz (played respectively by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) and their interactions with Dave's paranoid schizophrenic friend, John du Pont (Carrell).

Jan. 9
Taken 3

If there's one thing Liam Neeson is good at, it's being a badass. In the third and final installment of the Taken trilogy, Neeson plays a badass who's trying to prove his innocence and find his wife's killer. He employs his infamous “particular set of skills” (which includes a lot of punching, shooting and making bad guys feel the hurt) to help him along the way. If you needed any more proof that Neeson is not to be messed with, look no further than this movie.

Jan. 16

According to film logic, the best way to combat a criminal mastermind is to release an equally intelligent criminal from jail to help you do your dirty work in exchange for their freedom. Better yet, get People magazine's Sexiest Man of 2014 (Chris Hemsworth) to play the lead former-felon-computer-hacker-turned-secret-agent and then make sure the computer hacking scenes are balanced with a generous dose of gunfights. And while it may seem odd to see Hemsworth without his trusty hammer Mjölnir, chances are he's still going to kick plenty of ass in this fast-paced action thriller.


While hanging out at the Paddington train station in London, a young British boy befriends a talking Peruvian bear, because that's not creepy. Of course when said bear has a soft spot for marmalade sandwiches and is voiced by award-winning actor Ben Whishaw, it's difficult not to find him somewhat endearing. At any rate, the boy's family soon adopts Paddington into their family, and all goes well until the local museum's taxidermist takes an interest in the peculiar bear. This movie is sure to provide family friendly entertainment and at the same time bring the red-hat-with-duffle-coat look back into vogue.


Feb. 6
Jupiter Ascending

The Wachowskis are no strangers to epic sci-fi. Their Matrix trilogy forever changed audiences' expectations of special effects in films, while their 2012 release Cloud Atlas polarized audiences and critics alike. With a mind-bending story and explosive special effects, the Wachowskis have billed their latest effort, Jupiter Ascending, as an epic space opera. Mila Kunis stars as an Earth-born janitor who happens to be the rightful heir to Earth, and Channing Tatum stars as a genetically modified ex-soldier and Kunis's love interest, because that's just how space operas work, OK?

The Seventh Son

Watch The Dude duke it out with supernatural baddies. Jeff Bridges stars as an aging fighter of everything evil who seeks a younger, sexier apprentice to take his spot. Things start to get out of control though when Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement and threatens to wreak havoc on the community. Sure, this film isn't going to win any Oscars or anything, but how can you say no to a movie filled with swordfights, trolls, ghosts, witches, dragons and basically every other form of otherworldly beast known to man?

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

In the latest iteration of the Spongebob franchise, everyone's favorite boxy, yellow sponge leaves Bikini Bottom in search of a stolen recipe. Patrick, Mr. Krabbs, Squidward and Sandy join Spongebob as he traverses dry land in full fledged 3-D animation, causes trouble and starts up a rivalry with the Krabby Patty-loving pirate Burger-Beard (played by Antonio Banderas). Oh yeah, and Slash makes an appearance, too.

Feb. 13
Kingsman: The Secret Service

Colin Firth stars in this outlandish film adaptation of the comic book that follows a veteran secret agent as he trains his younger protege to join the Kingsmen, a prestigious group of international spies. Their first mission finds them up against a lisping, blood-phobic villain (played by Samuel L. Jackson) and his henchwoman who has blades for legs (yes, you read that correctly). Bonus points to this film for having Elton John and Lady Gaga making appearances.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Suburban moms and college girls everywhere are sure to be waiting with bated breath as their favorite socially acceptable piece of erotic fiction makes its big-screen debut. For those unfamiliar, Fifty Shades of Grey follows literature student Anastasia Steele as she sets out to interview the successful businessman Christian Grey. The only outcome of such an endeavor obviously includes scenes of bondage and sadomasochism. All in time for Valentine's Day!

Jane Got a Gun

Natalie Portman plays Jane Hammond, a woman seeking protection from her criminal husband's gang after comes home riddled with bullets and on the verge of death. With her husband down for the count, the only person she can turn to is her ex-lover Colin McCann, portrayed by Ewan McGregor.

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