Grab the popcorn for these new releases.
Beautiful Boy (15)
A father's unswerving love for his drug-addicted 18-year-old pride and joy is tested to the limit of endurance in Belgian director Felix van Groeningen's sensitively handled drama.
Based on two emotionally raw memoirs – Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and Tweak by his son Nic – the handsomely crafted film is a sobering account of one family's battle of attrition with a demon that sinks its jaws into a prodigal child and refuses to let go.
There are no huge emotional crescendos in a chronologically fragmented narrative assembled by van Groeningen and co-writer Luke Davies.
Instead, we are silent and tearful witnesses to moments of compassion, aching regret and anguished surrender that leave us in no doubt of the devastation wrought by drugs on the user and everyone in his chaotic orbit.
Beautiful Boy is anchored by commanding performances from Steve Carell as the patriarch, who staunchly refuses to admit defeat even when it is causing pain to other members of his family, and Timothee Chalamet as the teenager with a trembling finger on the self-destruct button.
When we meet David Sheff (Carell), he is a senior writer for prestigious magazines including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Wired.
His first wife Vicki (Amy Ryan) lives in Los Angeles, amicably sharing custody of their son Nic (Chalamet), while David builds a new life in San Francisco with his partner Karen (Maura Tierney) and their children Jasper (Christian Convery) Daisy (Oakley Bull).
David suspects Nic is in the grip of addiction and he persuades his boy to attend Ohlhoff Recovery Centre. Treatment appears to go well until the teenager goes AWOL during free time.
‘Relapse is a part of recovery,’ explains the centre's director (Amy Aquino).
‘That's like saying crashing is part of pilot training,’ responds David.
Punctuated by flashbacks to Nic's youth to underscore the unbreakable bond between father and son, Beautiful Boy is anchored by powerhouse performances from the two leads. Considering the depth of David's feelings for his child – ‘I love you more than everything,’ he whispers at an airport departure gate – it is curious that the film observes each small victory or setback with a cool detachment that mutes our emotional response.
Released January 18.
Mary Queen of Scots (15)
Beau Willimon's screenplay spans 26 years between the return of Mary Stuart to the Scottish motherland and her execution at Fotheringhay Castle at the behest of Elizabeth I.
In 1561, a Protestant queen, Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), rules England.
Her power is threatened by the return of 18-year-old Catholic cousin Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) from France. Many English Catholics believe Mary is the legitimate heir to the English throne.
While figures close to the Scottish queen plot against her, men in Elizabeth's court attempt to manoeuvre their monarch on to the blood-stained path of civil war.
Mary Queen Of Scots glosses over Mary's years of incarceration in England before her beheading for dramatic expediency, concentrating on the period when the two women were pitted against one another despite their best effort to remain sisters.
Ronan and Robbie command their scenes with tub-thumping support from a largely homegrown cast.
Willimon's script struggles to condense decades of history into an easily digestible two hours of courtly intrigue and ripping bodices.
Released January 18.
As brittle and transparent as the title suggests, Glass unfolds in a menacing present-day populated by super-powered heroes and villains, who could be torn from the brightly inked pages of a comic book.
Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson deliver muted performances in keeping with the film's largely predictable design, both fading into the background as James McAvoy reprises his show-stopping role as a killer with multiple personalities.
The Glasgow-born actor careens between this menagerie of colourful misfits at dizzying speed.
In terms of compelling narrative arcs and satisfying resolutions, this Glass is only half full.
Released January 18.
Based on a script by director Wash Westmoreland and his late husband Richard Glatzer, Colette lovingly details the true story of the French novelist, who challenged the supposed limitations of her gender in early 20th-century Paris.
‘It is the hand that holds the pen that writes history,’ the author suggests.
Westmoreland crafts his pages of feminist history and creative endeavour into a handsomely appointed battle of words between Keira Knightley's dutiful wife turned trailblazer and Dominic West's egotistical and domineering husband.
British composer Thomas Ades' orchestrations underscore the hard-fought battle for parity and respect.