Heading to the multiplex is a Christmas tradition, and this year’s holiday lineup is packed with can’t-miss films. In his latest installment of “At the Movies,” Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers breaks down three dramas – American Sniper, Unbroken and Selma – that are worthy of your Christmas Day dollar.
With American Sniper, director Clint Eastwood tells the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in the branch’s history. Leading man Bradley Cooper – who added 40 pounds of muscle for the role – is magnetic onscreen, says Travers, but he saves his biggest praise for the man behind the camera. “It’s great to see Clint Eastwood back doing what he knows how to do,” he says.
Unbroken explores the true story of World War II hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who spends more than two years in Japanese POW camps. Angelina Jolie brings out nuanced and captivating performances from the cast, while also telling a “true story that we can take home and think about.”
Finally, Selma chronicles the 1965 civil rights voting marches that captivated the nation. David Oyelowo is “terrific” as Martin Luther King Jr., while producer Oprah Winfrey contributes a “really good performance as a person fighting back.” But Travers gives highest credit to director Ava DuVernay, who injects this historical drama with modern relevance and poignancy. “In this time that we live in, a time where we see people in the streets protesting because of the grand jury’s failure to indict white policemen, this is more timely than ever,” Travers says. “It’s not just a piece of history.”