The 10 Must See Movies of December 2013

By  · Published on December 4th, 2013

The 10 Must See Movies of December 2013

After years of anticipation, the wait is nearly over. Worry no longer: 47 Ronin is finally coming to theaters.

The Keanu Reeves vs. CG monsters movie somehow wound up with a Christmas release, and it’s one of the most bizarre Christmas releases in recent history. Universal either has immense confidence in the film or is blatantly dumping the mega-expensive picture into a snow-covered grave.

Thankfully, 47 Ronin isn’t the only movie you can see this wonderful Holiday season. If it turns out to be a dud, you can watch 47 Ronin director Carl Rinsch’s collection of fantastic commercials and short films online for free instead, and if that still doesn’t do it for you, then there are nine other films for your must-see list this month.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Opens December 6th

Another instantly quotable film from the Coen Brothers. Inside Llewyn Davis is one of their darker tales, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a sense of humor. Characters come in and out of Llewyn Davis’s (Oscar Isaac) life, and they all leave a hilarious and yet startling mark.

There’s an overwhelming coldness to Inside Llewyn Davis, partly because of its winter setting, but also because of the obstacles the Coens put their struggling musician through. Even the sound of windshield wipers in this movie is brutal.

Read our review

Out of the Furnace

Opens December 6th

If I wrote this guide right after I saw Out of the Furnace at its AFI premiere, I would not have included it. The ending raises questions, both intentional and unintentional, which overshadow the rest of the film. After reflection, what works about director Scott Cooper’s film – the performances, cinematography, and first two acts – isn’t undercut by it. The movie ultimately turns into a routine revenge film – with Christian Bale going after Woody Harrelson’s relentless outlaw – and it’s a missed opportunity, but regardless, it remains a good picture that shouldn’t be overlooked. Allison Loring delved into her mixed feelings in her AFI review, but I’ve grown more fond of Out of the Furnace with repeat viewings.

Some Velvet Morning

Opens December 13th

Fans of playwright Neil LaBute have felt so-so over his past few films: The Wicker Man went on to become a Youtube sensation; too little was said about Lakeview Terrace; and Death at a Funeral was a remake for a different audience. None of them quite fed the desire fans have for LaBute’s darker sensibilities, but Some Velvet Morning should do it for them.

After Fred (Stanley Tucci) reenters the life of a young girl he once had a fling with, Velvet (Alice Eve), the film turns into a fighting match with words, before reaching its grueling blowout. As expected from LaBute, it’s packed with sharp choices and shrewd turns.

American Hustle

Opens December 18th

David O. Russell is on a roll. Russell hasn’t made a weak movie yet – and don’t tell me his best movie to date, I Heart Huckabees, is his misfire – and that hot streak isn’t going to end with American Hustle.

The funky period piece about a con man, played by Christian Bale, and his associates is another broad picture from Russell done with style, smarts, and a amount of humanity. Christian Bale is the star of this ensemble piece, but Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams who runaway with the movie.


Opens December 18th

A tremendous achievement for writer/director Spike Jonze. There’s a level of sensitivity to Jonze’s work that goes a long way with Her. Jonze’s film, following a man (Joaquin Phoenix) coping with his divorce who falls up in love with his O.S. (Scarlett Johanson), easily could’ve been a mean-spirited mockery of his relationship with a “computer.”

Jonze treats the relationship between Theodore Twombly and Sam like any other relationship, with a few minor, and funny, exceptions. It’s a touching, honest, and beautiful film.

Read our review

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Opens December 20th

You should never expect too much from comedy sequels. There are only a few that come to mind which are even remotely good, but in the case of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, it’s a passion project, not a cash grab. Paramount was always hesitant to make the film, but it finally, and thankfully, came together.

The return of the oblivious, sexist, ignorant, and lovable anchorman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), is, from what I hear, very, very funny and straight up insane.

Saving Mr. Banks

Opens December 20th

A heartwarming, if slightly false, portrayal of author P.L. Travers (Emma Thomspon) keeping Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) hands away from her beloved Marry Poppins. Its sugarcoating aside, John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks is an exceptionally pleasing film with a noteworthy ensemble. This is the perfect movie to see come Christmas with your family.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Opens December 25th

Probably the most anticipated movie of the month and the year, and rightfully so. Martin Scorsese’s 3 hour epic is another rise and fall crime picture, starring his muse Leonardo DiCaprio as a crazed stock broker. Only a few have seen The Wolf of Wall Street after it was brought down to a releasable runtime, but early reviews don’t matter much when it’s for Scorsese picture. His name says it all.

Labor Day

Opens December 25th

Labor Day is the tearjerker of the month, based on the festival buzz. Jason Reitman’s adaptation follows Josh Brolin as an escaped inmate who falls in love with a mother, played by Kate Winslet, who he kind of kidnaps along with her kid. Labor Day sounds weepy, and that’s exactly what a movie should be when it features cops trying to tear apart Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet.

Read our review

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Opens December 25th

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is not an awards movie. Whoever is promoting that notion is doing director/star Ben Stiller’s remake a serious disservice. Beyond the terrific technical work, it’s a soft movie. That’s not a dig, because the simple heart-on-its-sleeve approach is what makes The Secret Life of Walter Mitty appealing. The story of a 40-something daydreamer is an all around nice movie, with easy-on-the-eyes locations, a charming lead, and a payoff that makes a few of its narrative shortcomings worth the journey. Critics will be divided, but it’ll be a hit with audiences come Christmas.

Read our review

Honorable Mentions: Swerve, Expecting, and The Invisible Woman

What do you plan to see this month?

Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.