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Weekend Openings: All Hail ‘La La Land’

La La Land

At long last, this weekend brings the theatrical release of “La La Land.” Any week featuring this magnificent work would be top lined by it, but this week especially. Every other independent contender has gotten out of the way, essentially giving it the weekend to flex its muscles. Furthermore, it’s hitting right as the big precursors are beginning to chime in. It all makes for a potential coronation, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For now, we just have a magnificent work of art beginning its theatrical run. Below, you’ll see more raves for it, as well as a look at what else has the misfortune of coming out against it.

Best Bet This Week

La La Land” (Lionsgate/Summit)

The best film of the year so far (give or take “Hell or High Water“) is “La La Land,” a modern day musical. Filmmaker Damien Chazelle has crafted something both timeless and very much of the moment. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both stupendous, with Stone especially making the case for an Oscar win. As soon as she belts out her headline number, and you’ll know it when you see/hear it, every bit of praise coming her way will make sense. Buoyed by the best opening sequence of 2016 as well as a closing one that stands tall with the greats, this is a special picture. For once, the Academy Award favorite is one that should be the majority of people’s favorite of the year as well. See it and thank us later.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 95%
Oscar Hopes – A contender across the board, including the frontrunner in Best Picture
Screen Count – 5 Screens (Platform Release)

Also Opening of Note

“All We Had” (Gravitas Ventures)

Actress Katie Holmes makes her directorial debut with this indie drama. In terms of plot, this is basically right up a first time director’s alley. Holmes deserves better roles than she’s been getting, so if she has to create them for herself by getting behind the camera, all the better. Interestingly, the script is co-credited to filmmaker Josh Boone. Furthermore, it seems like the perfect showcase for Holmes. Don’t quite call it a comeback, but she appears to be forging a new path in her career. Actors turned directors are always intriguing, so if that tickles your fancy, this indie is right here for you to give a shot to.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 67%
Oscar Hopes – Don’t bet on it
Screen Count – Limited Release

“Burn Country” (Orion Pictures)

This thriller played at the Tribeca Film Festival, among other places, and didn’t leave a mark. James Franco and Melissa Leo are part of the cast which is top lined by Dominic Rains, and while it’s unlikely this one catches on, it could have a solid future on cable. Under the radar genre pictures of this nature, especially indie ones, often can get that second bite at the apple then. For now, this little picture is out and available to view. The audience may initially be limited, but that could change eventually.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 73%
Oscar Hopes – No sir
Screen Count – Limited Release

“Frank and Lola” (Paladin)

Michael Shannon certainly keeps busy, doesn’t he? This latest outing of his is a psychosexual noir love story, co-starring Imogen Poots and Justin Long. Now, it ends a journey that began at the Sundance Film Festival. Shannon is always a compelling actor and Poots is deeply underrated, so pairing them together in something frisky like this holds some potential. In addition, there’s some real boosters of this one out there, which is always nice to see. If you’re a fan of Shannon’s, this could easily be one that pleases you. Be on the lookout for it as it opens today in limited release.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 63%
Oscar Hopes – Unlikely
Screen Count – Limited Release

“Office Christmas Party” (Paramount Pictures)

This comedy is the only major wide release this weekend, so that should bode well for its box office chances. The cast is excellent too, including Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Courtney B. Vance, and more. Unfortunately, the early response to this has been mixed at best, which is a shame. In addition, the trailers haven’t been promising. Keep in mind though, t’s the only new thing going wide. Your choices are limited, but if you can’t see “La La Land” yet, this might be able to hold you over until then.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 41%
Oscar Hopes – Nope
Screen Count – 3,100 Screens

The Rest

“Abattoir ” (Momentum Pictures)
“Befikre” (Yash Raj)
“The Bounce Back” (Viva Pictures Distribution)
“Harry Benson: Shoot First” (Magnolia)

What will you be watching at the movies this weekend? Discuss it in the comments below!

What do you think?

Film Lover

Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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