December 18, 2014 1:04 pm
Updated: December 20, 2014 9:47 am

5 movies opening on Christmas


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TORONTO — Going to the movies after unwrapping the presents under the tree?

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While you won’t be able to see The Interview on Christmas Day, there are several other options coming to a theatre near you — a Sondheim musical, a Tim Burton flick that doesn’t star Johnny Depp, a drama featuring the dad from Roseanne, Russia’s entry in the Oscar race, and the true story of a man who defines the word “survivor.”

These new releases will challenge The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Annie for holiday season box office dollars.

Here’s a look at what’s opening on Christmas:


This war drama was directed by Angelina Jolie and co-written by filmmakers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen and tell the incredible story of Louis Zamperini, a former U.S. Olympic athlete who was shot down during WWII, drifted in the ocean for 47 days and then spent more than two years in a Japanese POW camp. British actor Jack O’Connell (Skins) portrays Zamperini.

“It’s gorgeously shot and beautifully acted, and it has moments of heartbreaking poignancy,” opined Entertainment Weekly‘s Chris Nashawaty, “but it’s also nearly suffocated by its own nobility … It’s moving, admirable, and occasionally exhilarating.”

Into The Woods

The late-’80s Broadway music Into The Woods, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, has been adapted for the big screen by Rob Marshall (Chicago). Its impressive cast includes Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp and Christine Baranski as well known fairy tale characters. Into The Woods earned Golden Globe nominations for Streep and Blunt as well as a Best Picture – Musical or Comedy nod.

“Streep is quite wonderful,” gushed The Hollywood Reporter critic David Rooney. “She reinvents this role from scratch, bringing powerful vocals, mischievous comedic instincts, bold physicality and raw feeling to the Witch. Her entrances and exits alone are priceless.”

The Gambler

Kenny Rogers fans need not rush to the theatre — this remake of the 1974 movie of the same name has nothing to do with his signature song. Directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), it stars Mark Wahlberg as a professor with a gambling problem who finds himself in deep trouble with gangsters led by John Goodman. The film’s estrogen content comes via Brie Larson and Jessica Lange.

“Wyatt … keeps the energy percolating at a high level throughout,” wrote Justin Chang in Variety. “[It’s] a stylish, energetic but disappointingly glib remake.”

Big Eyes

Tim Burton’s latest is less fantastical than some of his previous movies. It’s a biographical drama about artist Margaret Keane, whose husband Walter fraudulently took credit for her paintings in the ’50s and ’60s. The film stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz as the Keane couple as well as Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston, Terence Stamp and Jason Schwartzman.

Big Eyes is one of Tim Burton’s best films in a long time,” Scott Mendelson wrote in his Forbes review. “Big Eyes is a relentlessly engaging motion picture.”


This drama from Andrey Zvyagintsev tells the story of a man fighting to hold on to a piece of land that a corrupt politician is trying to take away. Russia’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards, Leviathan is nominated for a Golden Globe Award and earned a screenplay award at the Cannes film festival.

Leviathan is a tragic drama, compelling in its moral seriousness, with a severity and force that escalate into a terrible, annihilating sort of grandeur,” wrote Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. “Stunningly shot and superbly acted, this is film-making on a grand scale.”

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