26 Movies that will get us into the theater: Zap2it 2010 Holiday MovieGuide
It can be hard to make it from summer to winter with so few theatrical offerings warranting the cost of a movie ticket. But the cinematic drought is over, and just in time, because it’s getting nippy out there. So whether you’re in the market for big budget sequels (“Harry Potter,” “Little Fockers”), megawatt star vehicles (“Country Strong,” “The Tourist ) or artsy fare (“Black Swan,” “Blue Valentine”), there’s something to look forward to this November and December.
The holiday movie season kicks off in rather spectacular fashion with the final pre-Thanksgiving release of a “Harry Potter” film. The penultimate outing, which sees its “Part II” in theaters Summer 2011, features the core trio (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint) on the lam, looking for ways to finally destroy Voldemort. Where exactly in their source material they decide to leave us hanging remains a mystery.
This latest Paul Haggis thriller stars Elizabeth Banks as a woman wrongly sent to prison. Russell Crowe is her husband who goes to extreme measures to break her out and Liam Neeson cameos as an escaped prisoner who gives him tips on how to do so. It’s probably not some blow-you-away Oscar contender, but it looks like fun holiday fare.
We thought that “Love and Other Drugs” was a “Surprise! It’s cancer!” movie, so when we found out that it’s actually a “Surprise! It’s Parkinson’s!” movie, we were intrigued. Plus, Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal are gorgeous together, and the Red Band trailer was hot. Really hot.
Disney’s renewed commitment to its animated princess franchise doesn’t come without a few tweaks. This new take on “Rapunzel” is intended to skew male, emphasizing the struggles of her would-be rescuer -- and his horse. Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi provide voice work, with new music from Moore and Broadway vet Donna Murphy.
Pop princess Christina Aguilera costars with Cher (in her first film in seven years). It follows Aguilera’s small town girl who lands in the big city with a little cha cha in her step and a big voice. Apparently, she scores a gig as a waitress in a burlesque club, where fabulous Miss Cher rules with a bedazzled iron glove.
Dwayne (don’t call him The Rock) Johnson is out for vengeance in this action flick, playing an ex-con who wants to even the score with the people who killed his brother. Johnson’s an underrated actor, and it also stars Billy Bob Thornton, so there may be more to “Faster” than its B-movie premise might indicate.
The story of King George VI’s journey to the throne, “The King’s Speech” stars Colin Firth (as King George VI), Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter. After his brother abdicates the throne, George reluctantly becomes King, but is plagued by a stutter and is deemed unfit to rule by many. He turns to a speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who uses unorthodox methods and friendship to help George lead the country. Bonham Carter stars as Queen Elizabeth.
A psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan” is already garnering major buzz and is considered an early Oscar favorite. The film stars Natalie Portman as a competitive ballerina set to become prima ballerina in her company’s production of “Swan Lake”. Another dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis), is also up for the role, with each girl personifying the white swan (innocent Nina) and the black swan (sensual Lily). As the two women straddle the line between rivalry and friendship, Nina becomes more in touch with her dark side.
What’s a warrior-assassin to do once he’s refused a mission? Why, go to the American Badlands of course.
Korean action star Dong-gun Jang plays the sword-wielding assassin who hides out in a small town, but naturally runs into trouble. Kate Bosworth plays Lynne, who, judging purely by the costuming, is a hooker with a heart of gold and knife of steel. Part martial arts, part western, “The Warrior’s Way” is as eclectic as you can get and also stars Geoffrey Rush, Danny Houston and Tony Cox.
We caught an early screening of this last year, and have been dying for the rest of the world to see it. In this based-on-a-true-story, Jim Carrey plays a gay con man who falls in love with his cellmate (Ewan McGregor). Unfortunately, he doesn’t love Philip Morris quite as much as he loves himself, which complicates things. Significantly.
Last year had “Up in the Air”; this year’s tale from the shaky corporate front lines is “The Company Men,” the story of three men (Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones) and how downsizing at the big corporation they work for affects each of them. The cast also includes Rosemarie DeWitt, Maria Bello and Kevin Costner. Long-time TV writer and producer John Wells makes his feature directing debut.
In the series’ third installment, the youngest Pevensie siblings Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) return to Narnia. Joining them is Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) and their cousin, Eustace (Will Poulter). The group boards the royal ship the Dawn Treader and comes across all types of mythical creatures (merfolk, dragons, and dwarves, oh my!) in the search of Aslan’s country. Fun fact: Simon Pegg voices fan-favorite Reepicheep.
Some awards buzz is already starting to gather around this biopic of boxer Micky Ward, who rose from working-class roots in Lowell, Mass., to become a folk hero for his bruising style and ability to withstand punishment in the ring. We’re especially interested to see how stars Mark Wahlberg (as Ward) and Christian Bale (as Ward’s half-brother and trainer, Dickie Ecklund) work together.
Johnny Depp stars as Frank, an American tourist in Italy who crosses paths with Elise ( Angelina Jolie), who has sought Frank out in order to trick authorities who are pursuing her former lover (a famous European criminal wanted in 14 countries who has also stolen money from a gangster). The movie unfolds as the characters realize the manipulations, all the while a love is forming between Frank and Elise.
We love Depp and Jolie and the plot sounds fun, plus it is set against the beautiful backdrop of Venice. It really doesn’t get any better than that.
“How Do You Know when you’re in love?” asks the trailer for James L. Brooks’ latest comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson. Witherspoon is Lisa Jorgenson, a former athlete, who finds herself in the middle of an unlikely triangle. On one hand she has her current boyfriend, baseball player Manny (Wilson) and on the other, there’s businessman George (Rudd), who is currently the target of a federal investigation thanks to his father (Nicholson).
Based on the infamous Robert Durst-Kathleen McCormack case in the early 1980s, “All Good Things” stars Ryan Gosling as the heir apparent to a real estate fortune whose outwardly perfect life is not so great on the inside. The cast also includes Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella and Kristen Wiig.
Halle Berry plays a woman afflicted with multiple personality disorder in the 1970s in this movie, which is getting an award-baiting limited release in December before going wider in early 2011. It’s based on the true story of a woman whose alter personality was a racist white woman.
Nearly 30 years after the lo-fi original, “Tron” gets a sequel when Kevin Flynn’s (Jeff Bridges) son (Garrett Hedlund) tracks down his long lost father in the electronic world, which has aged quite well. The effects are impressive, Daft Punk provides the electronic score and there’s double the Bridges, with the actor also playing an evil, CGI-rendering of his 1982 self.
Another children’s classic gets a computer-animated update with “Yogi Bear.” The unlikely duo of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake voice Yogi and Boo-Boo, and though it should be horrible, the inclusion of Timberlake means it just might be amazing.
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s” John Cameron Mitchell directs Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart in this film about a couple whose lives are turned upside down after their son dies in an accident. Good reviews and a strong cast including “Grey’s Antaomy’s” Sandra Oh and Dianne Wiest may make this the holiday drama to watch.
It’s a contemporary update of Jonathan Swift’s classic adventure novel, but more kid-friendly and less satirical. Jack Black plays an ineffectual travel writer who sets sail only to get shipwrecked and wake up in Liliput, which is inhabited by tiny people. The trailer below gives you a better idea of the humor, but expect lots of physical gags, seeming anachronisms and well, Jason Segel putting on a vaguely European accent.
Jack and Dina (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) are visiting Greg and Pam (Ben Stiller and Teri Polo) for the holidays to see their grandkids. After a decade, Jack has warmed up to Greg (but not much) and decides it’s time to groom his son-in-law to become the Focker patriarch. A slapstick comedy of errors ensues.
The Coen Brothers’ latest outing is a remake of the John Wayne 1969 classic Western “True Grit.” And though they claim the story will more closely resemble the 1968 book of the same name, many think the new version will follow in the original’s footsteps, earning an Oscar for its lead actor -- with honors this time going to 2010 best actor Jeff Bridges.
After Gwyneth Paltrow’s impressive “Country Strong” performance at the CMA Awards, we’re officially sold on her in this role as a country singer who tries to rebuild her life after a downward spiral and rehab. Country music + Tim McGraw + Gwyneth + Blair Waldorf + the super hot Garrett Hedlund? We’re there.
Directed by Sofia Coppola (“The Virgin Suicides,” “Marie Antoinette”), “Somewhere” follows the journey of Hollywood actor Johhny Marco (Stephen Dorff), who spends his time boozing and womanizing at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in between jobs. His world is changed when his 11 year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) has to stay with him and he is forced to re-examine his life and priorities.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams? It’s indie heaven. This film took 12 years to write from its first draft to its final script, and with that kind of slow burn, we’re sure the finished product is a wonder. It’s the story of two people who fall in love and then fall apart, and initial reviews say that it feels so real that it’s hard to watch. We’re so there.