The best part of awards films that tend to be released later in the UK is that January and February often allow you to see all the Academy-nominated films in just a few weeks before the big ceremony itself. That’s no different this year, with two Best Picture contenders, The Zone of Interest and American Fiction dropping this month. That’s not all though, with the release of spy comedy-drama Argylle, alongside the Bob Marley biopic One Life and musical extravaganza The Color Purple. Read on for the best films to head to the cinema for this month.

Argylle

Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn returns with another anarchic spy comedy, with an eclectic cast of famous faces. Argylle stars Henry Cavill and Bryce Dallas Howard in a story about a successful yet introverted spy novelist (Howard) who finds herself experiencing the world of espionage herself when a shadowy crime syndicate accuses her books of being too close to the truth.

Her greatest creation is Argylle, a suave superspy (played by Cavill) who’s never failed at saving the world. Elly, along with her closest companion, a cat named Alfie, is visited by Aidan (Sam Rockewell), an agent working undercover who tells her that her life is in grave danger and that she needs protection. The lines between fact and fiction seem to become blurred, and Elly begins to wonder if Argyelle is completely fictional after all. Bryan Cranston , Catherine O’Hara , Samuel L. Jackson and Dua Lipa also star.

release date: 02/02/2024

The Iron Claw

the iron claw

Step into the ring this month with The Iron Claw, a wrestling drama film that boats an impressive lead cast: Extremely Wicked star Zac Efron plays heavyweight champion Kevin Von Erich, a real-life 80s wrestler who became a dominating name in the sport, having been moulded by his father Fritz (Holt McCallany.) His brothers, including Kerry (The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White ), Mike (Stanley Simons) and David (Harris Dickinson ) are all also pushed by Fritz to become wrestling legends. Mike in particular has reservations, being more interested in music, and Kevin superstitiously believes that their family may be “cursed” due to his father adopting her grandmother’s surname. The biopic mixed with tragedy has received critical praise in particular for its performances.

release date: 09.02.2024

The Zone of Interest

One of two films on this list to be vying for Oscar for Best Picture this year, The Zone of Interest is directed by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Under The Skin) and takes place in the Second World War.

German actor Christian Friedel (Babylon Berlin) plays Rudolf Höss, an SS officer and Nazi commandant at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. He lives in a newly built house next to the camp along with his wife Hedwig (played by Sandra Hüller , nominated this year for Anatomy of a Fall) and their young children. For them, life seems largely idyllic, despite what is occurring just next door. Dealing with a difficult and harrowing subject matter, the film is not an easy watch but is essential for those interested in history and remembering the Holocaust.

release date: 02.02.2024

American Fiction

Also in the Academy’s sights for the lofty Best Picture prize, American Fiction is very different from Zone of Interest, but just as worth seeing this month. Bond and Westworld star Jeffrey Wright landed his first Oscar nom for acting with his lead role as Thelonious Ellison, or Monk, a frustrated novelist living in LA.

A Black writer, he finds his works are warmly received in the critical world, but are often criticised for not being “Black enough”, something he pushes back on. Stereotypes, cliches, and the same kinds of stories- slavery and segregation narratives for example- are what he’s told the book industry is looking for, and Monk decides to throw caution to the wind and cynically write a novel that deliberately uses these these tropes. Unsurprisingly, his idea becomes a hit, and he finds himself feeling both hypocritical and no less disgruntled. Tracee Ellis Ross , Issa Rae , Sterling K. Brown , Keith David and John Ortiz join Wright in the cast.

release date: 02.02.2024

The Color Purple

Colour Purple

Just as Mean Girls received its all-singing, all-dancing remake last month, The Color Purple is updated with a new adaptation based on the stage musical. The 1985 film’s director Steven Spielberg and music legend Quincy Jones serve as producers, with Blitz Bazawule , who directed Beyoncé ’s Black Is King in the director’s chair.

Celie Harris-Johnson (singer Fantasia Barrino ) finds herself separated from her sister and her children, and enduring a difficult marriage to her abusive husband, but finds friendship with singer Shug Avery (Hidden FiguresTaraji P. Henson ), her sister Nettie (The Little Mermaid Star Halle Bailey ) and Sofia (Danielle Brooks ). The musical spans several decades and has received praise for updating the story and transcribing Broadway to the screen.

release date: out now

Bob Marley: One Love

Bob Marley

Musical biopics tend to be big hits, and the latest set to light up the box office is Bob Marley: One Love, telling the life story of iconic reggae singer-songwriter Bob Marley and the nearly four decades it spanned. The OA and Peaky Blinders actor Kingsley Ben-Adir is stepping into the shoes of Marley, as he begins to find fame as a pioneer in reggae music and cements himself as a music legend.

But it’ll also deal with his personal life and struggles: “How can I bring peace? I can’t even get peace for myself”, he laments in the official trailer. The infamous assassination attempt on his life in the late 70s is also covered, and he’s consoled by his wife Rita (The Woman King’s Lashana Lynch) as he tries to come to terms with his fame and seeks to spread his message. Happy Valley star James Norton plays his record producer Chris Blackwell.

release date: 16.02.2024


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