Straat Picks: 5 Movies to Watch in January 2015

It’s the start of a brand new year, and with it comes some amazing movies that see real-life heroes being portrayed by Hollywood’s finest.

The Theory of Everything

Straat Picks: 5 Movies to Watch in January 2015

Scheduled release: 8 January
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones

Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking may suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but his mental acumen is off the charts. Much has been said about his achievements and contributions to science, but what of his personal struggles? Finally, here’s a film that will shed light on that.

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Based on a memoir by Hawking’s former wife, Jane Wilde, The Theory of Everything examines Hawking’s life from the time he was a student at Cambridge, to when he fell in love with Jane (played by Felicity Jones), to the dark days when he was diagnosed with ALS and his refusal to give in to the disease. Eddie Redmayne convincingly plays the part of Hawking both in appearance and mannerisms, and it’ll be a shame if he doesn’t go on to pick up an award or two for his commitment to playing Hawking to a tee.


Straat Picks: 5 Movies to Watch in January 2015

Scheduled release: 8 January
Director: Olivier Megaton
Cast: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen

Irishman Liam Neeson made audiences around the world sit up when he starred in the first installment of Taken back in 2008. Critics claimed that at age 56, Neeson was too old to be playing an action hero. But he proved them wrong with a stunning, iconic performance as a former special agent hellbent on rescuing his kidnapped daughter. A sequel in 2012 contained a middling storyline but still packed in plenty of explosive action, much to the delight of both Neeson and Taken fans.

This third and final film in the Taken trilogy sees Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) accused for the murder of his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen). Operatives from the police force, CIA and FBI pursue him, clearly in the dark about his “particular set of skills”. Mills has his hands full evading them while finding out who framed him, and you can be sure he’ll leave a trail of destruction for those who crosses his path towards justice.


Straat Picks: 5 Movies to Watch in January 2015

Scheduled release: 15 January
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Tang Wei

Chris Hemsworth ditches the mighty hammer of Thor for a computer and keyboard in this cyber-crime thriller. As movie studios recognize the potential revenue that China’s film market brings, the audience will see an increasing number of Asians making the cast for blockbusters. Blackhat exemplifies this, with actress Tang Wei and singer Wang Lee Hom making appearances in the show. But we digress.

As a convict released from prison, Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) is tasked to pursue a mysterious cyber-criminal, which brings his search from Chicago all the way to Hong Kong. Along the way, he receives help from Americans and Chinese alike, proving that whether real or reel, illegal acts in cyberspace transcend racial and geographical boundaries.

American Sniper

Straat Picks: 5 Movies to Watch in January 2015

Scheduled release: 22 January
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Jake McDorman

Bradley Cooper’s done well for himself in recent times, putting his acting chops to good use in a number of diverse genres. It seems apt that Cooper has teamed up with Clint Eastwood, a director with a penchant for compelling and heart-wrenching stories, for his latest movie.

In American Sniper, Cooper steps into the shoes of the late Chris Kyle, a lethal Navy SEAL sniper who saved plenty of lives on the battlefield throughout his four military tours in Iraq. The biopic follows the journey of the elite soldier as he protects his comrades while himself becoming the enemy’s prime target. It also delves into his relationship with his family, as he struggles to fulfill his duties as husband and father. This could very well turn out to be a potential tearjerker, especially when one finds out the circumstances surrounding Kyle’s death. Live by the gun, die by the gun?

The Imitation Game

Straat Picks: 5 Movies to Watch in January 2015

Scheduled release: 22 January
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode

Sherlock Holmes, Julian Assange and now Alan Turing. Intellectual roles seem to be made for Benedict Cumberbatch. Not that we’re complaining; Cumberbatch does a fine job of fleshing out these brilliant characters.

This film sees Cumberbatch reenacting the life of cryptanalyst Alan Turing on the silver screen. Turing’s biggest contribution to society was when he and his team cracked Germany’s Enigma code during World War II, providing the Allies with vital information and helping them win the war. Turing’s skills would later on be used to assist in a burglary investigation, and while entering his home, the authorities would find out something startling about Turing (no spoilers here).

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