As the temperatures start cooling off outside, things are just starting to heat up in theaters. The closer we get to the end of the year, the longer the list of new Oscar-hopeful releases.
We’ve still got two more months of the year’s new movies to explore. So now that you’re rested up from Part 1 of our fall movie preview, pull up a nice, comfy chair, pour yourself a big cup of coffee, and let’s get back to it.
Two years after taking home a boatload of Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire, director Danny Boyle returns with the real-life drama, 127 Hours. James Franco stars as a mountain climber who spends five days looking back on his life with he’s trapped beneath a boulder. I’m guessing there won’t be any Bollywood-style musical numbers this time.
Also this week, The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman prospects for Oscar gold with Fair Game, another spy story starring Naomi Watts as a real-life CIA agent whose identity is exposed as punishment for a defamatory article written by her husband (Sean Penn).
For something a little lighter, there’s also Due Date, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as a dad-to-be who ends up on a road trip with an outrageous aspiring actor (Zach Galifianakis). And, for the kids, Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt lend their voices to the animated super-villain comedy, Megamind.
Kristin’s Pick: I’m always interested to see what Danny Boyle will do next (Zombies? Astronauts? Indian orphans?), so I’m looking forward to seeing 127 Hours.
This week, Denzel Washington once again teams up with director Tony Scott (The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Déjà Vu) for Unstoppable. Denzel plays an engineer who’s racing to prevent an unmanned train full of hazardous chemicals from wreaking havoc.
Or, on the lighter side, there’s Morning Glory, starring Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford as the warring anchors of a struggling morning TV news show. Written by The Devil Wears Prada screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna and directed by Notting Hill’s Roger Michell, it’s sure to be an entertaining experience.
And, finally, Eric Balfour stars in the sci-fi thriller Skyline.
Kristin’s Pick: I do love Denzel, but the cast and crew of Morning Glory is so brimming with potential that I’ve got to give it my pick for this week.
This is the week Harry Potter fans have been eagerly awaiting: the release of part one of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book was massive, and the movies will be, too. More stars, more action—and all in 3D! Though I’m still a bit skeptical about the decision to cut the franchise’s final installment in two (thereby inspiring Twilight to do the same), I’m still completely geeked to see it.
Also this week, Russell Crowe stars in Paul Haggis’s thriller, The Next Three Days, as a man who’s planning to break his wife out of jail.
Kristin’s Pick: Do you even need to ask? Harry all the way.
This year, Thanksgiving weekend offers a little bit of something for everyone. For the kids (and the kids at heart), there’s Disney’s Tangled—the 3D CG animated Rapunzel story, starring the voices of Mandy Moore and Chuck’s Zachary Levi.
For the ladies, there’s Edward Zwick’s romcom Love and Other Drugs, in which Jake Gyllenhaal plays a Viagra salesman who falls in love with a woman played by Anne Hathaway.
For the guys, there’s Faster, Dwayne Johnson’s high-speed thriller about an ex-con who’s out to avenge his brother’s death.
And, for…um…Christina Aguilera fans…there’s the musical, Burlesque. Cher plays the owner of a burlesque club who’s trying to cope with divas and rookies.
Finally, in limited release, Colin Firth plays King George VI and Geoffrey Rush his speech therapist in The King’s Speech.
Kristin’s Pick: I’m a sucker for a Disney princess, so my first pick is Tangled. But with a four-day weekend, you might as well check out Burlesque for kicks, too.
Since opening this year’s Venice Film Festival, Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller, Black Swan, has been getting all kinds of award season buzz—and Natalie Portman is already being pegged as a major contender for her role as a veteran ballerina.
But Natalie has some serious competition this week, as she faces off against Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, in The Tourist, the Hollywood debut of German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose last film, The Lives of Others, took home a much-deserved foreign language film Oscar in 2007. With action, drama, romance, a gorgeous setting (Venice), and a stellar cast, The Tourist could be another solid contender—one that the average moviegoer might actually see.
But wait…there’s more! Director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and actress Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) team up for an adaptation of Rula Jebreal’s novel, Miral.
Enough Oscar bait for you? Then, in limited release, there’s the much-delayed I Love You Philip Morris, starring Jim Carrey as a con artist who’s trying to break out of prison to reconnect with the man he loves (played by Ewan McGregor).
Kristin’s Pick: With so many great options this week, it’s hard to choose just one. But I love Venice and Johnny Depp (and I loved The Lives of Others, too), so I’ll give The Tourist my pick.
After being dumped by Disney, the Narnia series continues at Fox with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This time, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) return to Narnia and go on a voyage with Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes).
It’s up against Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in The Fighter, the story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his brother (Bale).
But both will have to battle The Tempest, director Julie Taymor’s Shakespearian adaptation, with the always delightful Helen Mirren playing Prospero…er…Prospera.
Kristin’s Pick: Though The Fighter could be a contender, The Tempest. Though Billy Shakespeare and I have had a bit of a love-hate relationship, I’ve always had a love-love relationship with Helen Mirren—and the rest of the cast (Alfred Molina, Djimon Honsou, Chris Cooper, David Strathairn…) ain’t too shabby, either.
Following a whopping 28 years after the release of the original TRON comes the much talked-about sequel, TRON: Legacy—a movie that’s been pumped and pushed since last year’s Comic-Con. The trailers do look pretty cool, but only time will tell if the rest of the movie can live up to the pretty flashing lights.
Also this weekend, Dan Aykroyd stars as the voice of everybody’s favorite pic-a-nic basket-loving bear, Yogi Bear. Justin Timberlake plays Boo-Boo, and Anna Faris is the filmmaker who meets him in Jellystone Park.
And, finally, Paul Rudd, Reese Witherspoon, and Owen Wilson create a kooky love triangle in director James L. Brooks’s How Do You Know?
Kristin’s Pick: Though I’ll admit to being bored by TRON when I watched it one lazy afternoon when I was in college, I’m still intrigued by TRON: Legacy.
Once again this year, everyone’s racing to release their latest film on Christmas weekend—when poor, lonely schmucks (I’ll admit it: I’ve been there) are heading to theaters to find some Christmas cheer. This year, they’ll find Ben Stiller in Little Fockers, which follows the cringe-worthy Meet the Fockers. If you still find the name “Gaylord Focker” hilarious, you’ll probably giggle all the way through it. If not, maybe you should try something else.
Maybe you’d prefer to see Jack Black on a Lilliputian adventure in the live-action 3D adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, Gulliver’s Travels.
Or if you’re a little bit country, you could check out Gwyneth Paltrow playing a country star fresh out of rehab (Crazy Heart, anyone?) in Country Strong.
Speaking of country, you can also check out True Grit, the Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Charles Portis’s novel (which was also made into the classic 1969 western that won John Wayne an Oscar). Perhaps it could prove to be more Oscar gold for star Jeff Bridges (who also took home the Best Actor award last year, for the aforementioned Crazy Heart).
And, finally, Sofia Coppola tries to make up for 2006’s Marie Antoinette with Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff (remember him?) as an actor who’s camped out at LA’s infamous Chateau Marmont (perhaps with Lindsay living next door)—until a visit from his daughter (Elle Fanning) changes everything.
Kristin’s Pick: Though I’m always a little leery about remakes, I’ll take a chance on the Coens and Jeff Bridges in True Grit.
Though very few movies come out on New Year’s weekend, we’ve got a couple this year. First, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling play out the highs and lows of romance in Blue Valentine. And Shakespeare in Love director John Madden heads up The Debt, starring Helen Mirren as a former Mossad agent who’s forced to rehash old memories when a notorious criminal resurfaces. Finally, Happy-Go-Lucky director Mike Leigh closes out the year with Another Year, starring Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen as old married Londoners.
Kristin’s Pick: Though I’m fascinated by Mike Leigh’s work, I’ve got to go with Helen again in The Debt.
And, with that, we come to the close of another award season—a season filled with comedy, drama, and Oscar bait. Who knows who will be walking that red carpet come February 27th—but I look forward to watching every step (and every film) leading up to the Big Night. So, until then, be sure to keep visiting NightsAndWeekends.com for all the latest reviews and award season updates.