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Cinema: What’s on This February

Moonlight. Altitude Films.

It’s February: it’s cold, it’s rainy. Why would you want to go outdoors? A nice warm cinema is the best place to be right now, and with the Oscars coming up later this month, there are plenty of top-notch films hitting screens in the coming weeks. We take a quick scan of what to look out for.

Oscar Hopefuls
The trophies are being polished and the red carpets hoovered. It’s awards season and – politics permitting – the news will be awash with glitzy photos and critic predictions. Out in cinemas at the moment are the much-lauded Jackie (starring Best Actress nominee Natalie Portman), Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge (Best Picture dark horse), and the omni-present La La Land (in the running for just about everything). You also have a few more days to catch the brooding Manchester By The Sea and Dev Patel’s Lion, both audience hits.
Arriving soon is Fences, a family drama exploring race and class in a 1950s African American neighbourhood. The film is up for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, and actors Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are both strong candidates in their respective acting categories.  Moonlight explores similar themes in contemporary Miami, and is the belle of many critics’ eyes (even if it seems oddly out of favour for the main awards).  This touching coming-of-age story is released on 17 February, and is the must-see movie of this month.

Blockbuster Yarn
For once big blockbusters aren’t lumbering about centre stage – but there are still plenty of barn-storming action romps for you to enjoy in the coming weeks. The Lego Batman Movie, the long-awaited (kind-of) sequel to The Lego Movie is out 10 February. Voices are supplied by Ralph Fiennes (as Alfred), Michael Cera (as Robin) and Arrested Development favourite Will Arnett (as Batman) - a perfect half-term treat for kids. Also out this month is American-Chinese collaboration The Great Wall, starring a pony-tailed Matt Damon, and the fast-shooting John Wick 2.
And finally – yes, it’s come round again – Fifty Shades Darker. If you liked the first film, chances are you’ll enjoy round two. If you didn’t like Fifty Shades of Grey … well, you can work this one out. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan’s risqué-romance flick is out 10 February, just in time for Valentine’s Day…
Into the Art-house
An interesting side note to Oscar season is the raft of excellent art-house pictures that get oddly overlooked – and this month seems to be packed full of them. The much-loved director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee has a new film out soon – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. A war movie examining the treatment of returning heroes, this glamorous think-piece is an exploration of American patriotism at its most bombastic – fitting for the current political climate. There is also the latest release from critics’ favourite Jeff Nichols. The man behind Mud and Midnight Special returns with Loving, the story of an interracial couple in 1950s Virginia and the protracted legal battles surrounding their marriage.
Also out on 3 February is Toni Erdmann. This German language comedy took Cannes by storm last year and is the front-runner for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Released at the end of the month is Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World. The wunderkind French-Canadian director has gathered an all-star cast (including Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel) for this story of family feuds, tipped to be a big breakout hit.

If you watch all these this month, well done! Make sure you also find time for eating and sleeping. See you in March!