Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.
The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.
Each entry is broken down as follows:
NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief explanation
Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.
FOUR TO SEE
1. TRON: LEGACY (1.0)
2. TRUE GRIT (1.5)
3. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER (1.7)
4. THE FIGHTER (1.9)
FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. RABBIT HOLE (1.6)
2. THE TEMPEST (1.8)
3. BLACK SWAN (2.2)
4. CASINO JACK (2.3)
RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see
DECEMBER 3, 2010
ALL GOOD THINGS (Magnolia) Genre: Mystery. The true story of Robert Durst who was suspected (but never tried) for the murder of his wife who disappeared in 1982 and hasn’t been seen since. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Ryan Gosling has been on a streak of great performances lately.
APPLAUSE (World Wide Motion Pictures) Genre: Drama. A famous stage actress tries to reconnect with her sons and regain control of her life from alcoholism as she rehearses for her big comeback role in a stage production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. Release Strategy: Los Angeles (Opening in New York January 21). RATING: 2.7 Haven’t seen the trailer yet but this film is highly acclaimed in its native Denmark.
BLACK SWAN (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Drama. The rivalry between two prima ballerinas vying for the same role unleashes dark forces. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Darren Aronofsky’s first film since making The Wrestler.
DEAD AWAKE (New Films) Genre: Horror. A trio of friends is united by a tragedy, and the supernatural elements surrounding it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 No trailer yet but sounds intriguing.
I LOVE YOU, PHILIP MORRIS (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Comedy. The true story of a conman who falls in love with a prison inmate and orchestrates elaborate prison escapes to be with the man he loves. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles/San Francisco. RATING: 3.8 I simply am not much of a Jim Carey fan.
MESKADA (Red Flag) Genre: Crime Drama. A detective in an affluent small town tries to solve the murder of a young boy in a neighboring impoverished town. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 This is one where the trailer looks intriguing enough to want to seek out the film.
NIGHT CATCHES US (Magnolia) Genre: Urban Drama. A former black power activist returns to Philadelphia, bearing a secret that could shatter the community. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Anthony Mackie looks to be a rising star; if done right could be a sleeper hit.
RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Fantasy. A Finnish research team in the Arctic discovers something amazing; Santa Claus, but not the jolly St. Nick you’re thinking about. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 The trailer looked bizarre, imaginative and funny – all three characteristics that I cherish.
THE WARRIOR’S WAY (Relativity Media) Genre: Martial Arts Western. A disgraced assassin hides out in a Western town only to have his troubles follow him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 If you liked Sukiyaki Western Django you’ll probably love this.
DECEMBER 4, 2010
FRANKIE AND ALICE (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Drama Based on a True Story. The story of Frankie Murdoch, a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder in Los Angeles of the early 70s. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles (Expanding February 4). RATING: 2.6 Early buzz is that this could be Halle Berry’s second Oscar win.
DECEMBER 10, 2010
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER (Fox Walden) Genre: Family Adventure. Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia, this time aboard the ship Dawn Treader alongside Prince Caspian to find the Seven Lost Lords. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.7 This series enchanted me as a child, and the movies are actually doing justice to the series.
THE COMPANY MEN (Weinstein) Genre: Drama. Three laid off executives must re-define their lives as husbands, fathers and men. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 Moved forward from October, indicating the studio may be thinking of Oscar potential here.
THE FIGHTER (Paramount) Genre: Drama Based on a True Story. The story of “Irish” Mickey Ward, a boxer who rose from obscurity to win the title at an age when most fighters are retiring. Release Strategy: Limited (Opening Wide December 17). RATING: 1.9 A near-certain Oscar contender.
HEMINGWAY’S GARDEN OF EDEN (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Period Drama. While on their European honeymoon during the Jazz Age, a woman pushes her husband to the limits with her erotic escapades. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 The trailer looked like a cross between Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
THE TEMPEST (Touchstone) Genre: Shakespearean Fantasy. A sorcereress goes from vengeance to forgiveness in this Julie Taymor-directed version of Shakespeare’s final play. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles (Expands December 17). RATING: 1.8 With the great Helen Mirren in the lead role and Taymor’s imaginative vision should be terrific eye candy.
THE TOURIST (Columbia) Genre: Thriller. An American tourist in Italy gets involved in international intrigue and romance. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 With Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie headlining, this is bound to be a big hit.
YOU WON’T MISS ME (Factory 25) Genre: Dramedy. An alienated urban misfit recently released from a psychiatric hospital tries to reintegrate into New York normalcy. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.2 Sounds a bit Big Apple-centric to me, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
DECEMBER 17, 2010
AND SOON THE DARKNESS (Anchor Bay) Genre: Thriller. A bicycling trip to Argentina for two young American women turns dangerous when one of them disappears and the other must find her before nightfall. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Based on a British movie of the same name.
CASINO JACK (ATO) Genre: Drama Based on a True Story. Kevin Spacey stars as Jack Abramoff, a.k.a. Casino Jack, a high-powered Washington lobbyist whose fraudulent activities with Indian Casinos landed him in jail. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.3 Filmmaker George Hickenlooper’s last film.
HOW DO YOU KNOW (Columbia) Genre: Romantic Comedy. The latest from James L. Brooks involves a love triangle between a major league pitcher, a beautiful pro softball player and a corporate executive about to be indicted for fraud. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 Great cast includes Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson and Paul Rudd.
RABBIT HOLE (Lionsgate) Genre: Drama. A family is shattered by a tragedy. Release Strategy: Limited (Expands December 25; Opens Wide January 14). RATING: 1.6 This one has Oscar nominations written all over it.
TRON: LEGACY (Disney) Genre: Science Fiction. The son of a missing software programmer finds him in a computer-generated world. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 The sequel to an iconic 80s movie is one of the most anticipated movies this year.
YOGI BEAR (Warner Brothers) Genre: Family. A smarter-than-the-average bear and his sidekick look to separate visitors to Jellystone National Park from their picnic baskets. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.7 The trailer looked Garfield-bad.
DECEMBER 22, 2010
COUNTRY STRONG (Screen Gems) Genre: Musical Drama. A former country star, battling alcoholism and emotional instability takes on a rising young songwriter, a beauty queen turned singer and her loyal husband/manager in a last ditch effort to regain the spotlight. Release Strategy: Limited (Expands January 7). RATING: 3.1 Although I’m not one for redneck melodrama, this could actually turn out pretty good with Gwyneth Paltrow in the lead.
GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Fantasy/Comedy. A mail room employee gets his big break to write a story on the Bermuda Triangle only to get sucked into a vortex leading to a strange land of little people. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.0 Jack Black as Gulliver? Either that’s inspired or crazy casting.
LITTLE FOCKERS (Universal) Genre: Comedy. The third in the Focker trilogy pits Ben Stiller against ex-CIA father-in-law Robert DeNiro. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.3 Something tells me this series is running out of steam.
SOMEWHERE (Focus) Genre: Drama. An actor living at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood must choose between his career lifestyle and raising his little girl. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.9 The latest from director Sofia Coppola is already getting a great deal of Oscar buzz.
TRUE GRIT (Paramount) Genre: Western. A plucky young girl seeks to bring the murderer of her father to justice, aided by a broken-down one-eyed marshal and a suave Texas Ranger. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 The Coen Brothers remaking the Duke? With Jeff Bridges in the lead role? I’m there!
DECEMBER 25, 2010
THE ILLUSIONIST (Sony Classics) Genre: Animated Feature. A stage magician during the early years of rock and roll finds his act and his life revitalized by a young girl. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 A visually stunning new feature from the maker of The Triplets of Belleville.
DECEMBER 29, 2010
ANOTHER YEAR (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. A blissfully happy elderly couple are surrounded during the course of a calendar year by family, friends and colleagues all suffering from varying degrees of unhappiness. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Filmmaker Mike Leigh is one of the most adept of his generation; the trailer for this looks riveting.
BIUTIFUL (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Drama. A conflicted man on the fringes of the Barcelona underworld struggles to raise his children. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.7 Javier Bardem is considered by many to be the front-runner for this year’s Best Actor Oscar race.
DECEMBER 31, 2010
BLUE VALENTINE (Weinstein) Genre: Romantic Drama. A couple whose romance has lost its passion fights to save their marriage in the course of a single night. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 Originally slapped with an NC-17, the filmmakers are trying to get this re-cut so that it can receive an R rating.
SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Fighter, The Tempest, The Tourist, How Do You Know, Rabbit Hole, TRON: Legacy, Country Strong, Gulliver’s Travels, Little Fockers, True Grit