Here we are, at the end of the year, and the film industry still remains captive to the coronavirus, much like we all are. Who knew that when we started this year, things would be the way they are at the end of it? I guess it is imperative, now more than ever, to hold on to silver linings – that we have streaming platforms to turn to for entertainment, that the end of the year marks a new year beginning, one that hopefully will begin to repair what 2020 has brought about.
As for new movies this December, there’s much to look forward to, with Netflix rolling out possibly Oscar worthy films, and all of us finally getting a taste of the superhero world after a year devoid of it. Well, technically there was André Øvredal’s Mortal, but we shan’t linger on that one. There are also a couple of films that release on Christmas Day itself – this is truly the season of giving.
1. Mank | December 4, 2020
Mank has yet to make its way onto Netflix, but it has already been certified as fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with over hundred critics having weighed in, proving that David Fincher has done it again. Mank is a biopic focused on a particular moment – screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane. Mank is something Fincher has wanted to do for a long time, since his father wrote the screenplay before passing away in 2003.
Considering how the Academy loves films about Hollywood (think La La Land), this film might really be Fincher’s ticket to a Best Director or Best Picture win at the Oscars.
2. The Prom | December 11, 2020
Theatre and musicals are slowly making their way into mainstream media due to streaming platforms, and I am so here for it. Disney released Hamilton on Disney Plus, Ryan Murphy was producer for The Boys in the Band, which was released on Netflix, and now, he’s back with a second film adaptation, this time of Broadway’s Tony-nominated musical The Prom. Murphy is the director of The Prom, and has selected an extremely talented cast to tell the tale.
The Prom follows Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden), New York City stage stars that starred in a major flop that flatlined their careers. We then have high school student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman), who is experiencing a very different kind of predicament: she and her girlfriend Alyssa (Ariana DeBose) have been banned from attending prom. Dee Dee and Barry decide that Emma’s problem is the perfect cause to revive their deflated careers, and along with Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells), they hit the road to find her.
3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom | December 18, 2020
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom revolves around a recording session in Chicago, the year of 1927. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey (Davis), her ambitious horn player Levee (Chadwick Boseman), and the white management determined to control the legendary “Mother of the Blues.” Levee has an interest in Ma’s girlfriend, and wants to secure his own future in the music business, spurring his fellow musicians to reveal certain truths that could change everything.
This was the last film Boseman worked on before his tragic passing this year, and his performance in the film is so lauded that there is already buzz of him receiving a posthumous Oscar nomination for the role. Wherever the chips end up, this film is Boseman’s final gift to us, one to be enjoyed regardless of the number of Oscars it racks up.
4. Soul | December 25, 2020
In an interesting move, Disney has decided to release their latest animated film Soul on Disney Plus, for free, instead of delaying it for the cinemas. Soul follows musician Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx) after he dies on Earth. Instead of heading into the light, he goes into the Great Before, where new souls gain personalities and traits before they head to Earth.
The early reviews for the film are already trickling in, and it’s overwhelmingly positive. At the time of this article, it has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, with 32 critics having weighed in. Peter Bradshaw, who writes for The Guardian, calls it “a deeply sweet, happy, gentle film”, while Jason Solomons of The Wrap celebrates its “colorful visuals and gentle wisdom”.
Pixar is of course known for their wonderfully thoughtful and beautifully animated films, so the effusive praise is not surprising, and it sounds like Soul is truly a movie we could use in 2020.
5. Wonder Woman 1984 | December 25, 2020
For those of us thinking that Wonder Woman 1984’s December release date was not going to remain permanent, much like a whole host of movies that were delayed to 2021 (No Time To Die and Black Widow come to mind), we have never been more happy to be proven wrong. Warner Bros. announced that Wonder Woman 1984 will keep its Christmas release date, and will also be available on HBO Max in the U.S for one month.
As for international fans, who don’t have access to HBO Max and cinematic spaces, director Patty Jenkins reassures us that there are plans to keep the film in theatres for as long as possible, to hopefully allow as many people as possible to see it. Joe Russo, one half of the directing team of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, in an interview with Collider, talked about how “incredibly brave and bold” it was of her.
He said: “I think Patty Jenkins said it best. She made something that she put an incredible amount of love and joy into, and now she’s ready to share it with the world. I think it’s incredibly brave and bold of her as a filmmaker. I do think that this is the future of the business. There can be room for both digital and theatrical, and in fact, both could perhaps enhance each other’s business and experience.”
So maybe 2020 paved the way for something that was already inevitable, and instead of running away from the problem, we should find ways to deal with it in the present. Merry Christmas everyone, and here’s hoping for a better year in 2021.
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