Now that Summer Blockbuster Season is behind us, it’s time to start looking ahead, to Awards Season. For film critics, August is the month when we gear up for bigger and better things—because September marks the beginning of award season. Once the air cools and the leaves start changing colors, the studios start thinking about Oscars. And Golden Globes. And, heck, even Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards. So they start pulling out all the stops. They bring on the big names and the heavy dramas—the innovative, powerful films that will touch moviegoers’ (and, hopefully, award voters’) hearts. And when it’s all over, a few of them go home with awards, and the rest start planning next fall.
Here’s a look at what’s in store for the months ahead:
Christian Bale and Russell Crowe head for the wild west in 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of the old western, based on a story written by Elmore Leonard. And one of my personal favorite actors, Clive Owen, plays a mysterious stranger on a mission to save a baby from Paul Giamatti in Shoot ‘Em Up. No, I don’t get it, either (though I can understand that Paul Giamatti might frighten infants—he often frightens me just a little bit, too).
Also released on the 7th: The Brothers Solomon, Feel the Noise
Director David Cronenberg (Crash, A History of Violence) once again joins up with Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises, a mob thriller, also starring Naomi Watts. Also, in limited release, Harry Potter…I mean Daniel Radcliffe tries his hand at drama in December Boys.
Also on the 14th: The Brave One, Mr. Woodcock, and Across the Universe
Haven’t gotten your fill of Jane Austen yet? Check out The Jane Austen Book Club (limited release). Amanda Bynes plays a modern-day Snow White in Sydney White. Emile Hirsch takes to the Alaskan wilderness as Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild. Or, if you haven’t gotten sick of Dane Cook yet, there’s always Good Luck Chuck.
Also on the 28th: Resident Evil: Extinction
Hold on…wasn’t The Rock just in another football movie? Well, if you didn’t get enough of The Rock playing football last fall, check out The Game Plan. For everybody else, director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) offers Lust, Caution, and Jamie Foxx and Chris Cooper bring us another movie about the Middle East, The Kingdom.
Also in theaters on the 28th: Feast of Love and Postal
Ben Stiller once again plays the same guy he always plays in The Heartbreak Kid, a movie that would probably be funny if it didn’t star Ben Stiller.
Also on the 5th: The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
Tyler Perry refuses to go away. This fall, he’s back with Janet Jackson in Why Did I Get Married?. Ryan Gosling takes another crack at an Oscar nod by playing a crazy guy who’s dating a blow-up doll in Lars and the Real Girl. And Cate Blanchett tries for a Lead Actress Oscar to match her Supporting Actress Oscar with Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Also in theaters this week: We Own the Night, Michael Clayton, and Hitman
The race for the Oscar continues on the 19th, with Reese Witherspoon’s Rendition. Ben Affleck makes his directorial debut with Gone Baby Gone, starring Morgan Freeman and bro, Casey. Jennifer Lopez does not appear in this film, so it might be okay. But if you’re looking for something a little less terrifying than another Ben Affleck movie, try Josh Hartnett’s zombie movie, 30 Days of Night.
Also opening this week: Reservation Road.
It’s Halloween, kids! And that means it’s time for yet another Saw movie. With its release right before Halloween, everyone else gives up on the whole Oscar thing for a few days, and the studios release things like The Comebacks, which is yet another football movie. But there’s a hot chick’s butt on the poster, so it’s probably good. Or you can choose to see Steve Carell (again) and Dane Cook (AGAIN?!) in Dan in Real Life. Or, if you love Simon Pegg as much as I do, check him out in Run, Fat Boy, Run. Let’s just try to pretend that David Schwimmer isn’t the director, okay?
Also this week: Martian Child, Things We Lost in the Fire
I’ve been seeing trailers for Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie for so long, that I’ve stopped caring. So let’s talk about American Gangster. Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe let me down a bit last fall with the not-so-good A Good Year. But I’m not giving up yet. This cops-and-kingpins movie also stars Denzel Washington—and, if you ask me, that’s one winning combination.
Also in theaters on the 2nd: The Kite Runner
I’ve been seeing trailers for Fred Claus just about as long as I’ve been seeing trailers for Bee Movie. But its release kicks off the holiday movie season, in much the same way that the local Hobby Lobby has already kicked off the holiday decorating season by putting out Christmas stuff in August. Ho, ho, sigh. If that’s not crazy enough for you, there’s always Crazy Tom Cruise with Meryl Streep in the Robert Redford-directed Oscar-magnet, Lions for Lambs.
Also this week: Southland Tales, I Could Never Be Your Woman
Robert Zemeckis (The Polar Express) releases another creepy animated movie—this time, he remakes another kids’ classic, Beowulf. Oh, wait… Anyway…speaking of wacky kids’ movies, how about Dustin Hoffman’s Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium? Since it’s coming from the same guy who wrote Stranger Than Fiction, I’d have to say, Yes, please.
Also opening this week: Love in the Time of Cholera
Thanksgiving weekend sees the release of Stephen King’s The Mist, as well as Enchanted, a grown-up Disney movie about an animated fairy tale princess who’s banished from animation and winds up in New York City. In limited release, there’s also I’m Not There, the highly anticipated drama with stars like Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and even Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan at various times during his life.
Also released in time for Thanksgiving: This Christmas, August Rush
With the holiday season in full swing, the last weekend in November brings the release of The Christmas Cottage, a drama about painter Thomas Kinkade. Or, for something completely different, there’s also Pathology, starring former teen TV sensation Alyssa Milano and current teen TV sensation Milo Ventimiglia (of Heroes).
Ah, December. The time when studios make their final push for big-name, big-money award movies. The time when film critics camp out in theaters, with boxes of donuts and jugs of coffee (I’m still having nightmares about last December). While last December was filled with blood and gore, this December stars with love and fantasy—with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in The Golden Compass and Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in Atonement. Or, if you haven’t gotten enough of football movies by then, there’s also George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, and John Krasinski in Leatherheads.
Last December’s sappy drama The Pursuit of Happyness didn’t quite get Will Smith his Oscar, so he’ll try again this year as the last man on Earth in I Am Legend. In limited release, Francis Ford Coppola returns to direct his first film in ages, Youth Without Youth.
Also released on the 14th: Perfect Christmas and [sigh] Alvin and the Chipmunks
Thanks to Angela’s column, Broadway in Your Living Room, I’m totally psyched for December 21—because that’s when Sweeny Todd hits theaters. While Tim Burton tends to be a bit hit-or-miss in my book, I figure he can’t go wrong with two of the coolest actors alive, Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman. Count me in.
Also this week: National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Walk Hard, P.S., I Love You
While some of you will be drinking eggnog and opening presents (or, if you’re like me, trying to navigate your car through a Canadian blizzard), millions of other people will give up on the holiday spirit already and hit the theater to see…Aliens vs. Predator. Meeeeerry Christmas!
Also released on Christmas Day: Charlie Wilson’s War, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
And with that, we come to the end of another fall movie season. When it’s all over, there will be winners, and there will be losers. And your local film critics will be passed out in a corner, mumbling something about cinematography.
But you, my friends, you can see the good stuff and skip the crap—and we’re here to help you tell the difference. So keep coming back to NightsAndWeekends.com for all the reviews…