Some real treats in store for the new year

Aubrey Malone rounds up the best films to look out for in the New Year

January is usually a slack time for cinemas but this year there are a fair few films that should pique your interest.

It’s refreshing to see Clint Eastwood still directing at 84 years of age. His latest opus is a war drama, American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who notched up over 160 kills in his career. At one point, he had a bounty of $80,000 put on his head by the Iraqis. “I was worried my wife might turn me in,” he joked.

Sienna Miller plays that lady in the film. In the end, Kyle was killed by another marine in circumstances that still remain mysterious.

Foxcatcher is a Bennett Miller film which explores the relationship between wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and his millionaire sponsor John Du Pont (Steve Carell) as they train for the 1998 Olympic Games in Seoul.

In like vein, Unbroken is the story of an Olympic athlete (Louis Zamperini) who became a soldier in World War 2 and then a prisoner of war in Japan. It’s directed by, of all people, Angelina Jolie.

Wild has Reese Witherspoon playing a reformed heroin addict embarking on an arduous 1,000-mile hike on the Pacific crest trail. As with many ‘journey’ films, this odyssey is psychological as well.

Later in the month you can see the busy Witherspoon in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice.

In Taken 3, Liam Neeson (who should really be at home with his pipe and slippers by now) is still to be found jumping around the place fighting off villains. This time he’s accused of murdering his wife (Famke Janssen).

The Taken franchise has been so successful it’s now beginning to look like Die Hard. Will we be seeing Taken 10 before the end of the decade? It seems the public can never have enough of a good thing – or even a bad thing.

The Theory of Everything is a biopic of Stephen Hawking with Eddie Redmayne in the role of the physicist who suffered from motor neurone disease.

Testament of Youth has Alicia Vikander as Vera Brittain, a pacifist nurse working on the frontlines in World War I. This doubles as a love story. It’s a pity it wasn’t released last year to coincide with the centenary of the war. Vikander can also be seen in Alex Garland’s thought-provoking science fiction film Ex Machina later in the month.

In Whiplash, a promising young drummer (Miles Teller) attends a prestigious musical academy and finds himself under the wing of an abusive professor (J.K. Simmons) who does everything he can to frustrate him.

Birdman deals with a washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero. He tries to revive his career by directing a Broadway play but it’s beset with pitfalls. The all-star cast includes Ed Norton, Michael Keaton and Zach Galifianakis. It’s directed by another elite movie name – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

Big Eyes is a Tim Burton film about the artist Margaret Keane, played by Amy Adams. Christopher Waltz is her husband, a man who, bizarrely, went on to claim her work as his own. This resulted in a high-profile court case.

Anna Kendrick plays Cinderella in Into the Woods, Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical fantasy. Johnny Depp is the Big Bad Wolf and Emily Blunt, one of my favourite actresses, also features.

 For those of you with stronger stomachs, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death is a British horror film about a group of children evacuated from London during World War II to a haunted house. Cue shocks a-plenty in this spine-chilling sequel to the 2012 film of the same name, sans the subtitle.