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There are films for all ages and tastes premiering in Australian theatres this month. From drama and Aussie westerns to romance, fantasy and comedy, start with these top 5 movies in January.
The Shape of Water – January 18
Rated MA15 for strong themes, violence and a sex scene
From the imaginative filmmaker, Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Cronos), a magical adventure begins in a secret research facility during the Cold War.
When a lonely government scientist realises the consequences of her highly classified project, she struggles to quell her fears for the future. Her resolve is tested as she finds romance in a strange new world.
Guillermo del Toro fans will appreciate the references to classic fairy tales to create a world with romance, fantasy and a moral theme. Without revealing the plot twists, a clue is the inclusion of Doug Jones (Pan's Labyrinth).
The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins (Paddington, Godzilla), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, 99 Homes), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Snowpiercer) and Richard Jenkins (The Cabin in the Woods).
The Post (by 20th Century Fox)
The Post – January 11
Rated M for coarse language
The thrill of the chase, as investigative journalists dig for scandals, leaps from the page in films including All the President's Men with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, Spotlight, and The Paper, fuelled by a frenetic Michael Keaton and an ensemble cast.
Stephen Spielberg teams with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep to pick up The Washington Post in a chase for the ultimate scoop, exposing political machinations spanning three decades and implicating 4 U.S. Presidents.
Streep's character, the first female publisher of The Washington Post, drives her editor (Tom Hanks), to break the story before the New York Times beats them to it.
The Post also stars Carrie Coon (Gone Girl), Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek) and Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave).
In the vein of the successful Mystery Road, the 'meat pie western', Sweet Country, harnesses the spectacular Australian outback as the backdrop for a tense thriller.
When Sam, an Aboriginal preacher, attempts to help his new neighbour, a disturbed war veteran, the encounter turns violent, despite Sam's best efforts to placate the man. Forced to defend himself, Sam (Hamilton Morris) kills Harry, becoming the target of a mob of vigilantes.
Fleeing with his family, he hopes to keep them alive long enough to find peace in the remote Northern Territory. Justice hangs on the moment when Sam, a man of God, faces the local lawman (Bryan Brown).
Sweet Country also features Arrernte speech, the language of the Aboriginal Australians living in the Northern Territory and the area surrounding Alice Springs.
Sweet Country is directed by Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah) and also stars Sam Neill, Matt Day and Tremayne Doolan.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – New Years Day
Rated MA15 for strong themes and coarse language
Begin 2018 with a clever comedy from Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh (The Guard, In Bruges).
Instead of venting on talkback radio or social media, a mother (Frances McDormand - Fargo, Burn After Reading) leads a one-woman protest to find her daughter's killer, using an ALL-CAPS outburst on 3 billboards in her small town in the Midwest of America. The local chief of police (Woody Harrelson - The Messenger, No Country for Old Men) tries to placate her while hunting the killer.
The billboards also aggravate an immature cop, adding chaos to this comical whodunnit, twisting the genre with inane antics akin to The Big Lebowski.
Winston Churchill, Britain's Prime Minister during World War II, has fascinated and inspired long before being named the greatest Briton in a 2002 BBC poll.
His achievements have been adapted into dozens of feature films, with actors ranging from Rod Taylor and Albert Finney to Mel Smith and Christian Slater. The Churchillian curiosity continued in 2017 with Brian Cox wielding the cigar in Churchill.
In Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman raises the bar with an electrifying portrayal, rejecting demands for a despairing surrender to Adolf Hitler after the desperate retreat from Dunkirk. As Churchill's determination is broadcast to a nation, he leads the Allies in their fight for freedom against the Nazis, during their darkest hour.
Directed by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, Locke), Darkest Hour also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Ronald Pickup, and Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI.
Which movie tops your list for January? Please let us know with a comment.