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MATTHEW LIEDKE COLUMN: Escape the freeze with films

Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) in "La La Land." (Photo Credit: Dale Robinette)1 / 2
Fox Searchlight Pictures2 / 2

December is right around the corner and in the world of film that means a lot of new releases and also the beginning of award season. Here's your guide.

Matthew Liedke

Dec. 2

Jackie, (Oscar contender)

• Director: Pablo Larrain

• Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup, Corey Johnson

• Won Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival and Larrain was honored for the film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"Jackie" will tell the story of Jacqueline Kennedy, played by Natalie Portman, in the aftermath of the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. Portman is already getting Oscar buzz for her portrayal.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Dec. 9

La La Land, (Oscar contender)

• Director: Damien Chazelle

• Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons

• Won: Stone won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival and the film won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The 2014 film "Whiplash" earned numerous Oscar wins and nominations and now its director is back with "La La Land." The film tells the story of a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress in L.A.

Office Christmas Party

• Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck

• Starring: Kate McKinnon, Jennifer Aniston, T.J. Miller, Jason Bateman, Rob Corddry.

Boasting a wide range of comedic actors and actresses, "Office Christmas Party" hopes to bring the laughs this holiday season. As the title suggests, the film centers around an office party, but it gets completely out of hand.

Dec. 16

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

• Director: Gareth Edwards

• Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker.

Unlike last year's "Star Wars" film, "The Force Awakens," "Rogue One" will not center on the tales of Luke Skywalker and company. Instead, this will be a stand alone film about a special ops unit of the Rebellion that's sent on a mission to steal Death Star plans. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards, who helmed 2014's "Godzilla."

The Space Between Us

• Director: Peter Chelsom

• Starring: Asa Butterfield, Gary Oldman, BD Wong, Carla Gugino.

Asa Butterfield stars as the main protagonist in this film about a boy who was born on Mars. The main character travels to Earth and experiences the planet for the first time.

Collateral Beauty

• Director: David Frankel

• Starring: Will Smith, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Helen Mirren.

Will Smith portrays a man trying to cope with tragedy in this star-studded flick.

Dec. 23


• Director: Garth Jennings, Christophe Lourdelet

• Starring (Voices): Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, John C. reilly, Leslie Jones.

Illumination Entertainment, the company behind the "Despicable Me" franchise, is releasing its latest animated feature just before Christmas. "Sing" tells the story of multiple animals from different backgrounds who come together in a singing competition.


• Director: Morten Tyldum

• Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Laurence Fishburne.

In this sci-fi epic, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt play two passengers on a spaceship traveling through a galaxy. Because of a malfunction, the two characters wake up 90 years earlier than they were supposed to on the craft and are subsequently stranded on the spaceship.

A Monster Calls

• Director: J.A. Bayona

• Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell

In this fantasy picture, a boy befriends a tree monster to cope with his mother's illness.

Patriots Day

• Director: Peter Berg

• Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, John Goodman.

This drama starring Mark Wahlberg tells the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the subsequent manhunt of the terrorists from the perspective of the first responders.

Why Him?

• Director: John Hamburg

• Starring: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Keegan-Michael key, Zoey Deutch

In this comedy, Bryan Cranston plays a father who comes to hate his future son-in-law, played by James Franco.

Silence, (Oscar contender)

• Director: Martin Scorsese

• Starring: Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield

His first film since 2013's "The Wolf of Wall Street," Martin Scorsese returns to the directing chair for "Silence." The film, starring Liam Neeson, is about two Jesuit priests who face persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor.

Dec. 30

Live by Night, (Oscar contender)

• Director: Ben Affleck

• Starring: Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson

Ben Affleck directs and stars in this picture set during the prohibition era. The film tells the story of a group of people involved in organized crime.

Hidden Figures

• Director: Theodore Melfi

• Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner, Janelle Monae.

A trio of women assists NASA with mathematical information needed to launch the program's first space missions.

Fences, (Oscar contender)

• Director: Denzel Washington

• Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby.

Taking place in the 1950s, "Fences" tells the story of an African-American father struggling with race relations in the United States while raising his family.


• Director: Stephen Gaghan

• Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Matthew McConaughey, Toby Kebbell, Corey Stoll.

This drama follows a group of people who travel to Indonesia in search of gold.

20th Century Women

• Director: Mike Mills

• Starring: Elle Fanning, Annette Bening, Billy Crudup, Alia Shawkat.

In this picture set in the 1970s, three women explore love and freedom in southern California.



• Director: Garth Davis

• Starring: Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel.

• Won the Audience/People's Choice Award at the Denver International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival and the Austin Film Festival.

An Indian man who was adopted by an Australian family returns to his home country to find his lost family in this drama.


• Director: Barry Jenkins

• Starring: Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris.

• Won the Audience Award at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

This drama tells the story of a young black man as he grows up in a rough Miami neighborhood and has to deal with many painful experiences.


• Director: Jeff Nichols

• Starring: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Will Dalton

• Nominated for the Palme d'Or award at Cannes Film Festival, honored at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Taking place in 1958, "Loving" tells the story of an interracial couple sentenced to prison in Virginia for their marriage.

Manchester by the Sea

• Director: Kenneth Lonergan

• Starring: Casey Affleck, Ben O'Brien, Kyle Chandler.

• Affleck won an award for his performance in the film from the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

This picture, set on the coast of Massachusetts, is about an uncle who has to take care of his nephew after the teen's father dies.

Award Schedule

• Nov. 30 - Gotham Awards

• Dec. 11 - Critics Choice Awards

• Dec. 12 - Golden Globe Nominations Announced

• Dec. 14 - Screen Actors Guild Nominations Announced

• Jan. 8 - Golden Globe Awards Ceremony

• Jan. 28 - Producers Guild Awards

• Jan. 29 - Screen Actors Guild Awards

• Feb. 4 - Directors Guild of America Awards

• Feb. 4 - Annie Awards for best in animation

• Feb. 12 - British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards

• Feb. 19 - Writers Guild of America Awards

• Feb. 25 - Independent Spirit Awards

• Feb. 26 - 89th Academy Awards

Sources: The Internet Movie Database, IndieWire.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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