Entertainment Movies A girl-power biopic, indie western and Oscar favourite: February’s biggest movie releases
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A girl-power biopic, indie western and Oscar favourite: February’s biggest movie releases

The Sisters Brothers
Saddle up, boys: Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as guns for hire in indie western The Sisters Brothers. Photo: Annapurna Pictures
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With the Screen Actors Guild Awards over and done and the Oscars almost upon us, most of the major contenders have already opened in Australian cinemas. But that’s not to say it’s a quiet month for big releases.

Here’s our guide to 10 of the main players hustling at the box office in February.

The empowering biopic: On the Basis of Sex

Last year’s Oscar-nominated doco RBG about the life of badass US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sharpened our appetite for this Felicity Jones-led dramatisation of the judge’s early successes.

Directed by Mimi Leder, it’s a feel-good biopic packing the fist-pump feminism of Hidden Figures, with Armie Hammer along for the ride.

Out on February 7

The action comedy: Cold Pursuit

Liam Neeson is pumping out high-body-count, revenge-driven action thrillers faster than Jack Reacher author Lee Child, but where the Taken movies take themselves a little too seriously, this one plays the genre for dark laughs. Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland, loosely remaking his 2014 movie In Order of Disappearance, enlists Laura Dern for good measure.

Out February 7

The tearjerker: If Beale Street Could Talk 

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ ’70s Harlem-set romance cruelly interrupted by institutional racism is up for best director, alongside Nicholas Britell’s stirring score. But it’s Golden Globe-winner Regina King, as a mother who never gives up hope for her imprisoned son, who is the star in a wrenching turn which should score her a best supporting actress Oscar.

Out February 14

The geek out: Alita: Battle Angel

The latest from Sin City director Robert Rodriguez has been lost in limbo, swapped out of the Christmas rush at the last minute for the Deadpool 2 rehash. That might not be the best sign, but this CGI-enhanced, sci-fi action blockbuster written by Avatar’s James Cameron sees Maze Runner star Rosa Salazar as a butt-kicking android.

Out February 14

The art lover: At Eternity’s Gate

Willem Dafoe is up against stiff competition in this year’s best actor Oscar stakes, facing likely winner Rami Malek as well as Bradley Cooper, Viggo Mortensen and Christian Bale. He’s fabulous as Vincent Van Gogh opposite Oscar Isaac’s Paul Gaugin in this heartfelt look at the famous artist’s last, painfully haunted days, directed by The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’s Julian Schnabel.

Out February 14

The last laugh: Stan & Ollie

Written by Philomena scribe Jeff Pope, director Jon S. Baird’s fairly run-of-the-mill take on the latter days of cross-Atlantic comic greats Laurel and Hardy brings a certain bittersweet charm to their ailing partnership, as realised by Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly.

Out February 21

The musical drama: Vox Lux

Accompanied by Sia’s song-writing skills, Natalie Portman is a mass-shooting survivor turned scenery-chewing celebrity in this power pop epic. Nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, this second feature from rising star Brady Corbet (The Childhood of a Leader) stars Jude Law as her shady manager.

Out February 21

The bank job: King of Thieves

In what is fast becoming an entire sub genre, a bunch of not-dead-yet, old-timer crooks take on one last bank heist in this Michael Caine-led crime flick. Based on a real-life brazen jewellery grab on London’s most fiercely guarded jewellery vault, the British great is joined by Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon.

Out February 28

The alternative western: The Sisters Brothers

French director Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone) is deft in his first English language offering, adapted from the fabulous novel by Canadian author Patrick DeWitt. It casts Riz Ahmed as a gold prospector hunted down by guns for hire John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, with Jake Gyllenhaal as the long arm of the law.

Out February 28

The bonkers horror: Greta

Oscar-nominated Elle star Isabelle Huppert brings the full-on again in this creepy stalker tale of an obsessive widow who forms a very unhealthy fixation on Chloë Grace Moretz’s unsuspecting waitress, directed by with black humoured-wit by Irishman Neil Jordan.

Out February 28

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