The Awards movie glut of November and December have come and gone and we start the New Year with a fresh slate. On Friday I will post my 75 most anticipated films of 2011 and unsurprisingly very few of their releases fall in January. Most of the movie conversations this month will probably surround the Oscar race, but there are a few films opening and expanding that give movie fans something to look forward to and plenty of films for people who don’t care about the quality of what they see and just need two hours away from the kids.

Film Releases

Blue Valentine and Another Year
Expanding January 7th

While both of these films were technically released in 2010, unless you live in Los Angeles or New York, chances are they are not playing at a theatre near you. However, the wait is not too long as each film will be expanding to additional theatres on January 7th and again on January 14th. Each film definitely has a solid shot at scoring Oscar nominations so they are definitely worth giving a look before the nominations are announced.

The Green Hornet
Released on January 14th

Despite a lot of anticipation and build up at Comic-Con 2010, there is very little known about this movie with a few weeks to release. One early review has been modestly kind, but I’m guessing the film won’t be the kind of money-making comic book adaptation that it was once expected to be. I’m going to see the films with very low expectations and hope that the very capable Michel Gondry is able to surprise me.

Barney’s Version
Released on January 14th

This was one of my most anticipated films of the fall of 2010 and I’m looking forward to seeing it even though it was bumped up to the vacuous month of January. Paul Giamatti never fails and playing this politically incorrect anti-socialite seems like the type of role that he can really sink his teeth into. It also features Dustin Hoffman and Rosamund Pike in supporting roles, which sounds like a delightful and hilarious combination.

The Way Back
Released on January 21st

This film received a very limited engagement for one week in December in order to be eligible for Oscar consideration this year, but the vast majority of us will finally get to see it on January 21st. This was one of the most talked about films leading up to the festival season that was surprisingly absent from almost all conversations. Peter Weir is an excellent director and early reviews were very positive, which seems to indicate some potential for this epic prison-escape adventure that stars Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Saiorse Ronan, and Ed Harris.

The Company Men
Released on January 21st

This was a big hit at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and it will be released while the 2011 Sundance Film Festival is going on. I’m actually surprised that the release has been delayed this long as the story about job loss and unemployment seems to be getting less and less relevant as the economy continues to recover, but it still should strike a chord with middle-America and looks like a solid effort from its all-star cast.

Released on January 28th

This film was recently delayed from late December to late January and that decision seems to be a smart one as it will probably score an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film the week before its new release date. That attention should build its Box Office potential and give Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s film more success than it would have otherwise experienced.

Film Releases I Don’t Care About:
Season of the Witch – January 7
Country Strong – January 7
The Dilemma – January 14
The Heart Specialist – January 14
No Strings Attached – January 21
The Mechanic – January 28
The Rite – January 28

Film Events

The Oscar Nominations
Announced on January 25

Which films will make it in? Where will the surprises and snubs be? Will the announcers pronounce the foreign film titles correctly? Those questions and more will be announced when the Oscar nominations are announced at the end of the month.

Critics’ Choice Awards
Ceremony on January 14

Every year I tell all my friends that I’m busy on this Friday night so I can stay in and watch this entertaining Awards ceremony that kicks off the TV awards season. They may be among the least significant of the major awards, but they are endlessly fascinating to me and I look forward to filling out a ballot and watching to see how I do.

The Golden Globe Awards
Ceremony on January 16

The stars get to take a break from their intense award campaigns and loosen up and have a few drinks at the Golden Globe Awards. They are hosted by Ricky Gervais who can always loosen up a crowd with his celebrity roasting humor and his on-stage drinking.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards
Ceremony on January 30

Finishing out the month is the SAG awards, which offers actors the chance to salute other actors. This has always been one of my least favorite Awards ceremonies because they usually are too serious for a non-Oscars Awards show, but it still is great to see who takes home the prizes and how it affects the Oscar race.

The 2011 Sundance Film Festival
Runs January 20 – 30

Each subsequent year more and more Sundance Film Festival entries breakout later in the year to have Box Office and Awards success. This year there is definitely some potential for more films to breakout and become 2011’s Precious, Winter’s Bone, or The Kids Are All Right. Film Misery will not be in Park City for this year’s festival, but we will definitely be covering the coverage with daily updates and links.

What movies or movie-related events are you looking forward to this January?

[Source for Release Dates: Box Office Mojo]

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