This might be the best time of year to see good movies.
Studios release their best films toward the end of the year to keep them fresh in the minds of Academy Awards voters, but sometimes they only play in Los Angeles and New York at first. Then, after the beginning of the year, they open them in other cities. So you have leftovers hanging around with lots of good new stuff. Here are 10 worth seeing.
1. “La La Land” – Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play a would-be actress and jazz musician trying to make it in Hollywood. Damien Chazelle’s film is a musical, with plenty of singing and dancing, and it won a record seven Golden Globes.
2. “Manchester by the Sea” – Casey Affleck also won a Golden Globe for his performance as a man living with unimaginable grief (though you don’t find out why till partway through the movie). His character has to move back to his hometown temporarily after his brother dies, to take care of his nephew (Lucas Hedges). Bleak but critics have loved it.
3. “Silence” – Any new Martin Scorsese movie is big news. In his latest, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play 17th century Jesuit priests who travel from their home in Portugal to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson), who has gone missing. Christians are tortured and killed in Japan, and the priests must decide whether to denounce their faith to save others.
4. “Hidden Figures” – Theodore Melfi’s film is based on the true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who helped launch John Glenn into orbit during a time of bigotry and racism. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae star.
5. “Fences” – Denzel Washington directs and stars in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play (which Washington also performed in on Broadway). Washington plays a Pittsburgh garbage man in the 1950s who struggles with racism and his own demons. Viola Davis won a Golden Globe for her performance as his wife, and is the heavy favorite to win an Oscar.
6. “Patriots Day” – Mark Wahlberg stars in the story of the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and the massive manhunt for the bombers afterwards. The impressive cast includes Kevin Bacon, John Goodman and J.K. Simmons.
7. “Arrival” – Amy Adams is receiving excellent reviews as a linguist the U.S. government enlists to try to translate what aliens who have arrived on Earth are trying to say. Her work may determine the fate of civilization. Jeremy Renner plays a mathematician helping her.
8. “20th Century Women” – Annette Bening is also getting good reviews for her portrayal of a single mother in the late 1970s. Worried about her son, she asks the women who rent rooms in her house (Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig) for help. Bening, like Adams, is expected to get an Oscar nomination.
9. “Jackie” – Natalie Portman plays Jacqueline Kennedy in Pablo Larrain’s film. She sits for an interview a week after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and through flashbacks recalls the events leading up to the shooting and her efforts to plan his funeral and cement his legacy. Another heavy favorite for an Oscar nomination.
10. “Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins’ film follows the life of a young man growing up in a rough part of Miami. Three actors play the man throughout the film as he faces challenges, such as a drug-addicted mother, his questions about his sexual identity and poverty. Expect a lot of Oscar nominations for this film.