Holiday Movie Preview: 5 Films to Keep an Eye On

There are plenty of Holiday movies that look good. The trouble is there are too many of them. We’re forced to sort through them; we wait to hear what critics have to say before we announce, “I have to see that!” The action blockbuster types we need little convincing on, but as for all the dramas, it’s a tough business, even for me, to predict the ones that are going to get the Oscar buzz come January.

There were more than a handful, but I’ve picked five films that will get wide releases and compete for your attention and money (and some of them have started already). As tempted as I was to include more artsy films, I’ve stuck mostly to the mainstream “?” movies.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wide on Nov. 25)fantasticmrfoxmash

The Word: Dry/bizarre humor director Wes Anderson (The Royal TenenbaumsThe Darjeeling Limited) takes his same crew of actors (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman) and adds George Clooney and Meryl Streep to voice the cast of his first stop-motion animation project, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the Roald Dahl book. We’ve seen better stop-motion before in Tim Burton-produced movies, but Anderson has given “Fox” a distinct look and it’s guaranteed that the humor you’ll get in this family movie will be unlike any you’ve seen before. Moving a dark comedy director into family movie territory seems risky, but this film could pay off, especially being released wide Thanksgiving week. (View trailer)

My View: Early reviews (many critics got a chance to see this film prior to its limited release on Nov. 13) have been positive for Wes Anderson, some calling it his best since Rushmore, so I’m game for seeing this movie amid all the Thanksgiving week clutter – once I see The Road of course. In a strange way I see how Anderson’s sense of humor can work at the family level and the trailer convinced me with the whispery weirdo voice of Schwartzman. Not being close to the source material or nostalgic about the film in general, it was hard to sneak this on to my list over The Princess and the Frog, but when all is said and done it could be just as deserving.

Twilight Saga: New Moon (Nov. 20)newmoonmash

The Word: The vampire craze that swept the nation post-Twilight last year at this time gets another boost. Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson might have become the most searched people on the Internet only, that move wasn’t good. Now, the series gets Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass), a guy who has experience doing fantasy and made “Compass” look beautiful to say the least. Could Twilight finally garner critical success to go with all the fan hype? It would be a tremendous step forward for the young Summit Entertainment to get a positive buzz around this film. Those who tried the film and not the books are probably in the “pass” column for this one, but some positive word of mouth would do wonders. (View trailer)

My View: Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight was cheesy and half-assed, like a bad CW TV show. By virtue of the effort to get Chris Weitz, I respect New Moon that much more. I am still refusing to see this in theaters and probably will even if everyone says it’s so much better because I have no connection to the series, but for those of you who would consider it upon hearing it’s miles better, here’s your notice to pay attention come next Friday for those reviews.

Ninja Assassin (Nov. 25)ninjaassassinmash

The Word: James McTeigue best known for V for Vendetta which based on how many people referenced this movie on Guy Fawkes Day this year over Facebook and stuff leads me to believe it could have cult status, directs the less verbose video game-based action movie Ninja Assassin, a typical revenge story only these guys have knives attached to chains. McTeigue served as assistant director on the last two “Matrix” movies, so that should explain where his action inspiration comes from. In other words, this could end up being the best-looking action movie of the season in terms of style. There are no serious actors here except for Naomie Harris (the crazy woman that gets tall in the “Pirates” sequels) unless you follow the Korean dance scene and have heard of main actor Rain before. (View trailer)

My View: The only real question here is the story. Matthew Sand is a rookie writer, but revenge stories can be some of the easiest. The success of this film rests solely on McTeigue’s shoulders and with that being the case, it could very well deliver. If you don’t love action thrills, then obviously this movie will be of little interest to you, but genre fans might get their best movie in some time with “Assassin.”

Brothers (Dec. 4)brothersmash

The Word: Tough to argue with a popular cast including Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey McGuire.Brothers is a story oddly similar to Pearl Harbor only this one I’m sure will be better. McGuire is married with kids to Portman and has been missing in Afghanistan. McGuire’s brother (Gyllenhaal) sort of helps out as man of the house and romance flares after Portman comes to terms with probably being a widow. Then guess who comes home? Jim Sheridan (My Left Food and In America) directs the script by David Benioff (The Kite Runner) based on a previous film by Danish director Susanne Bier called Brodre. (View trailer)

My View: The aforementioned “Pearl Harboresque” drama has me skeptical toward this film despite all the talent that went into it. Then again, I love Natalie Portman in way that make me not very objective, which actually means its impressive for me to say I’m on the fence about this one. Part of that hesitance is also because Brothers was not previously screened at any film festivals, which is the best way to build Oscar hype, so naturally this film has none. I’m sure it will be decent, but will it be great? I’ll wait for the critics’ word.

It’s Complicated (Dec. 25)wtl1hncyzbf71ln7

The Word: Find a more money actress than Meryl Streep right now. She can work drama or romantic comedies likeIt’s Complicated and generate you millions plus an Oscar. She’s beloved by anyone 40 and older and looked at as a consummate actress by anyone younger. So as much as It’s Complicated looks like 50-something actors awkwardly getting in touch with their younger, wilder side (omigod sex!) you can’t dismiss it. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin co-star, one an old favorite and the other having just revitalized his career with hit show 30 Rock. Everyone’s parents will want to see it, and many might go with them. (View trailer)

My View: Nancy Meyers isn’t exactly A-list but she has written and/or directed some of the most likable mediocre movies in the last twenty years from Father of the Bride to The Holiday. She knows exactly what the older crowd wants and nobody has the cred to argue with her. She doesn’t always spin out a hit, but the kind of movies people say were OK and then they end up re-watching the second they see them on TV a year or so later. It’s easy to imagine It’s Complicated will end up the same way if not fare better because of Streep and Baldwin.

Well, I hope you’re well armed as you sort through the movie section vigorously like most of us who love the Holiday movie season do this time of year. All I can say is go to the movies three or four times these next several weeks and you’ll be satisfied. I’ll try and get you as many reviews as I can. I’ll for sure see many and I’m pretty good about getting to all the Oscar favorites.

1 Comment

  1. Tech News says:

    My husband would appreciate this post. We were not too long ago talking about this. hehe

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