REVIEW: Star power and songs carry ‘The Prom’

For the second year in a row James Corden is starring in a musical during the holiday season. This time, though, he has less fur.

Corden is one of four actors portraying Broadway performers in “The Prom.” Corden plays Barry, who is joined by other theater performers Dee Dee (Meryl Streep), Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells). At the movie’s outset, the four are somewhat down on their luck after receiving negative reviews for their latest show.

However, they soon find a way to get good press again by supporting a teenager in Indiana named Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) who’s come out as a lesbian and has been met with resistance to attending her prom as a result. During their time there, though, the four become supportive of Emma more than just for their own needs.

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REVIEW: Romance in ‘Ammonite’ has a spark, but never ignites

Two Oscar caliber actresses lend their talents to the screen in “Ammonite,” but what they have to work with doesn’t live up to their abilities.

“Ammonite” is the sophomore feature directing effort by Francis Lee. Taking place in the 1840s, the film follows the fossil researcher Mary Anning, who works along the shores to find preserved animals, like Ammonites. It’s quickly shown that Anning mostly keeps to herself, as the only company she has is her mother played by Gemma Jones.

However, one day a man fascinated by Mary’s work visits her office. After the’re introduced, he suggests his wife Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan) observe Mary’s work and research as a way to alleviate the young woman’s depression. As the two spend more time together, Mary and Charlotte begin to form a relationship.

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REVIEW: ‘Sound of Metal’ is a success thanks to lead performance

The tragedies of losing what you love and giving up what you love are tied together in this film, and it makes for a fairly strong drama.

Riz Ahmed stars as Ruben in the film,  a drummer in a heavy-metal duo, with the other member being his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). The two have had troubled pasts, including issues with substance abuse, but at the outset of the movie, the two are clean, working gigs and are comfortable with how things are going.

Trouble hits Ruben’s life, though, as he begins noticing issues with his hearing. During a trip to a medical center, Ruben learns his hearing is dropping rapidly, and will likely be lost quickly. To deal with his plight, Ruben is sent an organization for recovering, deaf drug addicts and begins adjusting. At the same time, he is considering a surgery that could restore his hearing.

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REVIEW: ‘Black Bear’ is a fascinating breach into the creative mind

To be honest, Aubrey Plaza really upstaged the bear in this movie.

In all seriousness, Plaza is the star of “Black Bear,” a film directed by Lawrence Michael Levine. Plaza portrays Allison, an actress-turned-director who’s staying at a lake house to escape the world and get some work done on a new project.

While she’s there, she meets the owners of the home, Blair (Sarah Gadon) and Gabe (Christopher Abbott). Her stay over the course of the picture goes through dramatic twists and turns that explore elements of a creative mind.

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REVIEW: The movie magic in ‘Mank’ is good, not great

The foundation for what many consider to be one of the greatest films ever made is showcased in David Fincher’s latest project.

The Netflix film, titled “Mank,” tells the story of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman). The movie picks up with Mankiewicz, who’s recovering from a leg injury suffered during a car accident, being hired to help write the movie “Citizen Kane” by Orson Welles (Tom Burke).

Mankiewicz, with the help of his secretary Rita (Lily Collins), manages to pen the script, despite a few hiccups along the way. As the movie shows him doing so, several flashbacks to Mankiewicz in the 30s are shown, displaying where the writer picked up his inspiration. Namely, the movie features several sequences where Mankiewicz interacted with William Randolph Hearst.

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REVIEW: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ is a mess of misery and melodrama

The difficulties and hardships of poverty have no doubt been explored in some great movies.

Unfortunately, “Hillbilly Elegy” doesn’t join that club.

The movie is based on a memoir by J.D. Vance, an American businessman who grew up in Ohio. In the film, Vance (Gabriel Basso) is a student at Yale University who’s looking to get hired by a law firm.

However, during the night of a big social dinner, Vance gets a call that his mother, Bev (Amy Adams) has overdosed on heroin. As a result, Vance drives back to the town he grew up in and in doing so, thinks back to his youth where he lived with both his mother and his grandmother, affectionately known as Mamaw (Glenn Close).

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REVIEW: ‘Run’ is a fantastic rush of suspense

Don’t get on Sarah Paulson’s bad side. That’s one lesson to take away from this movie.

In this film, Paulson plays Diane Sherman, a single mother who’s been raising her daughter Chloe on her own. Chloe (Kiera Allen) is wheelchair bound and has several diseases, requiring a lot of medication.

Chloe is a teen anticipating college, and she’s really excited to get accepted to a university. However, as the film gets underway, Chloe begins to notice her mother is hiding things.

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REVIEW: ‘Tesla’ is far from terrific

Nikola Tesla is a man whose legacy has nearly made him into a sort of mythical figure. This film, directed by Michael Almereyda, attempts to capture Tesla’s career with an artistic flair.

“Tesla” follows the titular character, played by Ethan Hawke, in the middle of a corporate competition between Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan) and George Westinghouse (Jim Gaffigan). The two are trying to take hold of the electric industry and Tesla’s ideas are coming into play.

However, unlike those two, Tesla was thinking ahead of just the competition of electricity. As the film shows, he has a lot of ideas that go beyond just lighting a bulb.

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REVIEW: ‘A Call to Spy’ is sadly underwhelming

This film features an amazing true story about brave individuals who volunteered to do daring work to hold back the German war machine in some of the darkest days for Europe in World War II.

One just wishes the movie was less dull.

The picture introduces British intelligence officer Vera Atkins (Stana Katic), who recruits candidates to help the French resistance communicate with each other and plan sabotage efforts. To do so, Atkins recruits Virginia Hall (Sarah Megan Thomas) and Noor Inayat Khan (Radhika Apte).

Atkins has the two young women go to two sections of France, with Khan focusing on radio communications and Hall planning sabotage efforts. Doing so isn’t easy, though, with Germany’s occupation forces everywhere.

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REVIEW: ‘Then Came You’ is neither compelling nor comedic

This is one of those films with some good ideas at play, but in need of stronger execution.

Kathie Lee Gifford, who also wrote the script, stars as Annabelle. A recent widower, Annabelle has decided to travel the world with the ashes of her deceased spouse, and the first destination is in rural Scotland.

There, she stays at a historic building-turned inn, which is operated by a man named Howard (Craig Ferguson). The two come from different backgrounds and at first don’t get along. However, the two grow closer as time goes on.

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