Alright, play time is over. The fall is here and there are many movies to be seen. But first, a quick re-cap of the spring and summer.
“The Dark Knight” and “The Visitor” were easily the two best films of the first half of the year. I was pleased with “Pineapple Express,” “Tropic Thunder” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” Those films were enough to satisfy me, although I can’t say that there was much else that truly pleased me. “Wall-E” and “Kung Fu Panda,” I suppose.
September will provide a glimpse into some potential Oscar favorites. On Friday, “The Duchess” starring Kiera Knightly and Ralph Feinnes opens along with “Burn After Reading” from the Coen Bros. “Appaloosa,” a much anticipated Western from Ed Harris opens next week. “Nothing But the Truth,” a Valerie Plame-esque story from Rod Lurie is also due to release this month. It’s getting very good vibes out of Toronto. And “Blindness” starring Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore and Gael Garcie Bernal from Fernando Meirelles.
October brings Spike Jonze’s live action adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are.” “Rachel Getting Married” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” are two films that could bring surprising performances from Anne Hathaway and Michael Cera. “Body of Lies” starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio is certainly Oscar bait along with “Happy-Go-Lucky” and “Miracle at St. Anna” from Spike Lee. I hated Sue Monk Kidd’s novel “The Secret Life of Bees” but the film adaptation will probably prove to be enjoyable with audiences.
On October 17th Oliver Stone’s bio-pic “W” starring Josh Brolin as President George W. Bush opens. Yeah, it’ll get some attention.
If you saw Rian Johnson’s debut film “Brick” then you have to amped up about “The Brothers Bloom,” his follow-up, starring Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz and Rinko Kikuchi.
October wraps with “Max and Miri Make a Porno” from Kevin Smith. The film stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks and has gotten decent reviews at Toronto. Also, two real Oscar-caliber films: “Changeling” from Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie and “Synedoche, New York” from Charlie Kaufman and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michelle Williams.
If that isn’t enough to tide you over, November and December bring what appears to some really great stuff.
“Che” a 260-minute film from Steven Soderbergh that finally has distribution. The reviews at Toronto are strong.
“Milk” starring Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin from Gus Van Sant. The trailer is up. Yep, it’s going to get some Oscar play.
“Quantum of Solace,” the latest in the new James Bond series. It should be a lot of fun.
“The Road” starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smith-McPhee.
“The Soloist” from Joe Wright with major awards buzz for Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.
“Austrialia,” Baz Luhrmann’s epic starring Aussies Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.
“Frost/Nixon,” Ron Howard’s adapation of the play starring the same players: Frank Langella and Michael Sheen.
“Doubt,” another stage adaptation featuring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.
“Seven Pounds” has audiences anticipating Will Smith’s performance.
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” from David Fincher and with serious Oscar-caliber roles for Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson.
“Revolutionary Road,” reunited Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Sam Mendes directs. Oscar winner Kathy Bates and Michael Shannon are also receiving awards buzz.
“Valkyrie” from Bryan Singer and starring Tom Cruise was left for dead a few months back. But it has been revived for a Christmas release. The film also stars Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branangh and Patrick Wilson. “Defiance” starring Liev Schreiber and Daniel Craig also has some buzz.
Also on the bill should be Darren Aronofsky’s critically acclaimed film “The Wrestler” which took top prize at the Venice Film Festival. Mickey Rourke, sadly overlooked for his great performance in “Sin City” is climbing the Oscar buzz charts.
“Gran Torino” from Clint Eastwood. Yep, Clint Eastwood.
“The Reader” starring Kate Winslet and directed by Stephen Daldry who did wonders with “The Hours.” I read the book this summer. We’ll see. It’s an awards worthy role for Winslet, I think.
UPDATE: Thanks to a reader below I have added “Frozen River” a film that did well at Sundance and has generated a decent amount of buzz (well, okay, a New York Times profile) for leading actress Melissa Leo. I hear its a very difficult film to watch.