When Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight comes to the cinema this Christmas (opening in limited release on Dec 25th) it will be just one of several long-awaited blockbusters and big-budget epics hitting theaters over the festive period.
Tarantino fans will be queuing around the block to get their tickets for Hateful, but casual audiences have plenty of other movies vying for their attention. So before we get to the matter of why Hateful is the one film you need to see this year, let's check out some of the competition in the months ahead.
"One day you, me and little Sarah - we'll all go climbing together". Except that they probably won't, because Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and his fellow explorers are about to find out that climbing Everest really is the most lethal pursuit of all.
The excellent cast includes Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley and Robin Wright, but the real draw of Everest is its sheer fear factor - in some ways this film more resembles a horror than a disaster movie, especially as it's based on the in-famous 1996 disaster which claimed a whole bunch of lives.
This is one movie you probably should catch at the theater, preferably in IMAX - those visuals just won't look the same on the 40" screen in your living room.
Go see Everest if you liked... Wild, 127 Hours, San Andreas, Touching the Void.
2. Steve Jobs
When the Sony Pictures hack dominated the headlines last year, among the many embarrassing leaked emails were complaints from studio heads that Michael Fassbender was not enough of a box office pull to play Steve Jobs.
The trailer alone makes it pretty evident that Fassbender is going to kill this role, proving once again that film execs should provide the money and let the professionals get on with it.
Steve Jobs is directed by Danny Boyle and written by The Social Network's Aaron Sorkin, with Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels and Seth Rogen rounding out the cast, so you know you're in good hands. Boyle's films are always wildly entertaining, and Fassbender is on a roll right now (with Macbeth around the corner and another turn as Magneto in [X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267)).
The film looks surprisingly thrilling given that its premise - following Jobs in the hours immediately before three massive product launches - is pretty simple. Sorkin has written Jobs as an unfiltered character study of massively egotistical genius who was more concerned with making history than making friends, and this is probably the only film which will go toe-to-toe with Hateful for entertaining dialogue - there are plenty of zingers in these two minutes alone.
Go see Steve Jobs if you liked... The Social Network.
3. The Night Before
In some ways, The Night Before is the most relevant comparison with The Hateful Eight of these fives movies, being a straight-up comedy. That both films will have you in tears of laughter might be the only thing they have in common, though, because The Night Before is basically a big old, Seth Rogen-infused dumb-fest, and that's precisely why it looks so unmissable.
Rogen stars as Isaac who, in time-honoured tradition, hits the streets of NYC with his best mates (Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to herald Christmas Eve. Only this time, Isaac's wife has presented him with a magical goodie box full of cocaine, ecstasy and just about every other drug known to man. What follows is even more disastrous than that ascent of Everest. If Tarantino's comedy isn't really your thing, you should (A) seek help and (B) watch tis movie.
Go see The Night Before if you liked... The Hangover, The Interview, 50/50.
4. The Walk
Before I say anything else, there's a disclaimer to this one: only watch if you can bear two hours of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's highly questionable French accent.
If you can get past that, or if merely adds extra comedy factor, The Walk looks like a pretty epic piece of cinema. It tells the story of Philippe Petit, the French high-wire artist who in 1974 walked a wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, as you do, whilst the people of New York watched with baited breath. Personally I'm not sure I've got the nerves to see this in the cinema - the trailer alone gave me a major stomach knot. Expect this one to rival Everest for heart-in-mouth scares. Vive la France!
Go see The Walk if you liked... Everest, Man on Wire, 127 Hours.
Of all the films on this list, this is the one that needs no introduction. Spectre is the 24th James Bond adventure and it's coming hot off the billion-dollar Skyfall, so half the world will have their tickets booked long before it hits theaters.
With good reason. Everything we know about this movie suggests it's going to be an absolutely killer 007 flick packed with classic Bondian elements (Moneypenny, Q and the new M are back, Bond has a slick new Aston Martin and he's headed for the ski slopes of Austria), but the real question is whether or not Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) will be adopting the Blofeld alias. As he takes great pleasure in telling James, he is "the author of all Bond's pain".
Go see Spectre if you liked... Skyfall, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, Kingsman: The Secret Service... spotting a theme?
So why should I go see The Hateful Eight instead?
Well, as the title suggests it's Tarantino's eighth film, and Hollywood's most eccentric director has hinted more than once that he won't be doing this forever. The most impressive thing about Tarantino's resume is that he improves his craft each time. Pulp Fiction is still an insanely fantastic movie - one of the best ever made - but more recently, especially from Inglourious Basterds onwards, Quentin has been shooting films that look amazing as well as having a great script and a bunch of memorable characters.
The Hateful Eight was shot on 70mm film, which basically means it will be even more of a visual experience than a movie shot digitally. All of these films have something unique to offer, but even the heightened disaster thrills of Everest or the latest adventures of the world's greatest secret agent can't create the same excitement as sitting in the theater knowing you're about to witness brand new Tarantino magic.
Of course, the sensible solution would be to watch all of these films, because frankly they all look pretty epic. So take a second look at the Hateful Eight trailer above, and leave a comment to tell us which movies you're most stoked for as Christmas comes into view.