Still from The Turnin

5 UK film releases worth leaving the house for this January

From Uncut Gems to The Lighthouse, here's our preview of the big screen sparklers set to brighten your bleak midwinter.

by Jenna Mahale
10 January 2020, 4:16pm

Still from The Turnin

The last few months of 2019 were a tricky time to be a Brit, for many reasons. Chief among them, of course, was the jealousy we felt as we watched our American counterparts enjoy the stuffed Q4/pre-awards season film release schedule, crushed by the knowledge we wouldn’t be able to do the same until the new year. We’re not even getting Parasite in the UK until February. It’s just cruel.

But fear not! The cinematic drought is over now, and just in time to lighten those dark January days. Between the Golden Globe heavyweights, indie darlings, and yes, those long-awaited releases that already have a cult international following, we’ve got you covered for every unmissable movie coming to the UK this month.

Uncut Gems (10 January)
You probably saw this one coming, because everyone and their mother has been talking high-stakes jewellery dealing since the crime thriller came to American screens in mid-December. The film follows Howard Ratner, an abrasive yet charming diamond merchant with a family, a mistress, and a number of demons. When he manages to acquire a rare, beautiful black opal for resale, he may have just bitten off more than he can chew.

Uncut Gems was directed by brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, the duo best known for the gritty, incredibly stress-inducing Robert Pattinson joint Good Time. Let’s just say they live up to their reputation with the follow-up. Adam Sandler delivers a career-best performance, Atlanta’s Lakeith Stanfield brings his usual off-kilter excellence, and there’s even a series of unlikely turns from non-actors like The Weeknd, NBA star Kevin Garnett, and ex-dominatrix Julia Fox.

1917 (10 January)
We’ll be honest, we’d heard little about this film until it swept the Golden Globes, taking home awards for “Best Motion Picture -- Drama” and “Best Director”. Sam Mendes, who made his directorial debut with 1999’s American Beauty both directed and co-wrote 1917, a story set during the first world war, centering on the journey of two young infantrymen as they rush to the front lines with a message that could save hundreds of lives.

Miraculously, the entire film was shot in a single take by cinematographer extraordinaire Roger Deakins -- the film’s visuals have been described as “sublime” and even a form of “wizardry”. But most importantly, almost every white-boy-of-the-month in history is in it. That includes Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott (of Fleabag Hot Priest fame).

Waves (17 January)
Ah yes, another anxiety attack disguised as cinema! The Safdies would be proud. Shot in sun-soaked South Florida, Waves follows the lives of a black family whose problems simmer just beneath the surface, tracing a descent into tragedy and a path towards healing again. Directed by Trey Edward Shults and shot by Drew Daniels, this vibrant, frenetic film gives us major Euphoria vibes, and not just because Alexa Demie is in it.

Set to a killer playlist of Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse and Tyler, the Creator, this is the filmic equivalent of a rollercoaster -- and your enjoyment of it will mostly depend on whether or not you like rollercoasters. One thing is for sure: it will be one of the most nerve-shredding viewing experiences you’ll have in the cinema this year.

The Turning (24 January)
Billed as an adaptation of Henry James’ classic ghost story The Turn of the Screw, we’re not quite sure what to expect from this supernatural horror, but it looks to be an extraordinarily spooky outing with an intriguing cast and crew. Italian director Floria Sigismondi has music videos for Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, and David Bowie in her portfolio, as well as 2010 punk biopic The Runaways and a few episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale on top of that.

Stranger Things alum Finn Wolfhard plays Miles, a young boy living in relative isolation with his little sister Flora (played by Brooklynn Prince, star of The Florida Project) in an old Maine manor. Mackenzie Davis’ character, their live-in nanny Kate, quickly discovers the horrors that lurk inside the house -- and there are some truly bone-chilling surprises.

But the real jewel of this film is its soundtrack, featuring dark new music from Courtney Love, Kali Uchis, and MUNA. A blessing never sounded more like a curse.

The Lighthouse (31 January)
You get to hear Robert Pattinson say the words, “If I had a steak, I would fuck it.” What more do you want?

Robert Pattinson
Finn Wolfhard
alexa demie