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Holiday/Oscar Movies 2006
Posted By: Sam, on host
Date: Wednesday, October 4, 2006, at 22:12:49

It's time for another recap of the movies to come.

October 6 - Little Children

The early word is another Oscar-calibre performance by Kate Winslet. The downside for me is that the director is the guy who did In the Bedroom, which I had to work to pull myself through. But Winslet is great, and it'll be a shame if she winds up with her sixth nomination and still doesn't win.

October 6 - The Departed

The praise for Martin Scorsese's remake of Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs is just unending. Seems to be a real favorite for a lot of people, many of whom welcome Scorsese's return to the mean streets. Now that he's seem to have given up hope of winning that elusive Oscar, is it suddenly his year?

October 6 - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Here's one you *won't* see on the Best Picture slate, even if it's any good, which would be remarkable. Not that slashers were ever any good as a rule anyway. How many movies do we need of teenagers getting slaughtered?

October 10 - Flatland: The Movie (DVD)

Flatland is a great book. Can't imagine how you make a movie out of it, though, but the idea is more interesting than Wacky CGI Animals Escape the Zoo Part VII.

October 10 - The Butterfly Effect 2 (DVD)

If you don't get the original star back for a sequel, you shoot it cheap and go direct to DVD. The producers of Son of the Mask and Dumb and Dumberer should have realized this.

October 13 - Man of the Year

Robin Williams plays the host of a political talk show that runs for President and wins up the leading nominee in the polls. It's another excuse for Robin Williams to get all crazy-go-nuts. I always think his movies are going to be good (ok, "RV" looked bad from the start) no matter how many times I wind up disappointed. So totally disbelieve me when I say that THIS time it's going to work.

October 13 - The Grudge 2

Sequels are never as good as originals. Remakes are never as good as originals. When the sequel to the remake of a movie that isn't very good gets made, don't expect too much.

October 20 - DOA: Dead or Alive

It's great that we have a subtitle like that to explain the acronym. Anyway, this is based on the video game and sounds like a Charlie's Angels kind of thing. Whatever. Director is Corey Yuen, who did a bunch of Jet Li's Hong Kong movies, both good and bad. Something almost always gets lost when these guys start doing American movies.

October 20 - Flags of Our Fathers

Clint Eastwood directs this Iwo Jima chronicle, told from the perspective of the American side. It looks fantastic, and Eastwood is riding an incredible career high. Although this is a complete story, it's part of a duology. "Letters of Iwo Jima" opens a few months later and tells the Iwo Jima story from the side of the Japanese. They apparently function independently of one another, but there are some incidental scenes that occur in both movies, from the different perspectives. It sounds fascinating.

There's a lot of talk about this being the frontrunner for the Oscar. Take it with a grain of salt. It probably stands a good chance of getting nominated, but a win would mean three in a row for writer Paul Haggis, and Eastwood's second in three years. It would have to be a pretty spectacular movie for the Academy not to spread the wealth.

October 20 - Killshot

A thriller about a couple in Witness Protection, and a hit man chasing them down, or something like that. Of Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke, one of them is really good, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she does with this. The director John Madden is usually on target -- Shakespeare In Love, Mrs. Brown, Proof -- but occasionally has a Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

October 20 - The Prestige

Christopher Nolan's next psychological thriller. We talked about this guy on our first episode of the All Movie Talk podcast (plug: I'm so excited about this. It just looks fantastic, and there's a lot of talent behind and in front of the camera to back it up.

October 27 - Saw III

Just quit making these already.

October 27 - Running With Scissors

The trailer for this looks wild. Gives off a Royal Tenenbaums vibe. Could be very good. You never know, but it at least looks interesting.

November 3 - Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause


November 3 - Flushed Away

Of all the 50,000 wacky talking animal CGI animated movies this year, this one looks like one of the better ones, but who knows. CGI animation is quickly going from an amazing parade of great work to cheap cash-in efforts. This one, though, is made by Aardman, the company that produces Wallace and Gromit. But the real creative force behind Wallace and Gromit, Nick Park, isn't involved. So that seriously shakes my confidence. Plus, clay has a character CGI doesn't. Not that either medium is inherently good or bad -- I'm just saying, the charm of W&G won't necessarily translate. Flushed Away needs to achieve a charm all its own. It can't ride any coattails.

November 7 - The Fox and the Hound 2 (DVD)

Turns out, there was still a classic Disney animated feature that hadn't been desecrated yet.

November 10 - Harsh Times

This is David Ayer's directorial debut. His career to date is established on his writing: he wrote the scripts for S.W.A.T., Training Day, The Fast and the Furious, and U-571. So, ups and downs, but certainly he knows how to build up some kinetic energy. Of course, the director is probably more responsible for that than the writer, but if he can write well-paced scripts, hopefully he'll be able to direct them. The flavor of this one sounds most like Training Day than any of those other slicker titles, which is probably a good thing.

November 10 - Stranger Than Fiction

I'm not a great fan of Will Ferrell, but he's done some things I've enjoyed, like Elf and...well, ok, I'll probably like Melinda and Melinda when I see it. Anyway, the trailer looks *great*. It's basically about a guy who starts hearing a voice in his head that narrates his actions and his fate. The voice is the voice of Emma Thompson, who plays a writer of novels, and she's writing her next book. The lines of fact and fiction blur, seemingly in some amusing ways. If this isn't good, it'll be too bad, because the trailer does a good job of suggesting how much fun you can have with the premise.

November 10 - A Good Year

Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe in this comedy that seems to center on a vineyard and a dispute over its ownership. That probably doesn't do much to suggest what this movie is like. It seems to be anticipated with a degree of critical respect, but I don't know much more about it.

November 17 - Happy Feet

CGI penguins. Finally, a talking animal (well, bird) cartoon that looks GREAT. It's directed by George Miller, who is pretty much exclusively known for -- and I am not kidding -- Mad Max and Babe.

November 17 - Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny

I already didn't see this. Keep listening to All Movie Talk.

November 17 - Casino Royale

I'm so excited about this. I was disappointed they didn't use Pierce Brosnan again, and also disappointed when they didn't go with Clive Owen. And a lot of people are down on Daniel Craig, but let's just wait and see. I think he's got the potential to be a pretty great Bond and play him as a real earthy, dangerous guy.

Apparently, the movie is largely a fairly faithful adaptation of Casino Royale, which was Ian Fleming's first book, never before adapted to the screen by the official series due to an issue of the film rights. It'll be great to finally have an official adaptation of this. The producers, expressing a desire to bring Bond back to his roots, instead of constantly trying to one-up the spectacle of the previous film, seems like just the right idea. But I'm worried about the hiring of director Martin Campbell, who did Goldeneye. Goldeneye was ok, but what about it suggests that Campbell can do an edgy, lower-key suspense thriller?

November 17 - Bobby

When I heard Emilio Estevez was directing this movie, I found it hard to take seriously. But I don't know, the word at film festivals, while mixed, seems to indicate that respect for his work -- more serious and mature here than what he's known for with his acting roles -- is warranted. It's about 22 people in the Ambassador Hotel when JFK was killed. While set at this real event, apparently the characters and story is fictional. It sounds like a neat idea. Done right, the real-world theme could tie into the themes of an interlocking character drama nicely.

November 17 - Fast Food Nation

Speaking of large casts, Richard Linklater directs this ensemble piece set in the world of fast food. Linklater is highly variable. Usually he does better with smaller scale movies, but the word on this one sounds like it misses the mark.

November 22 - For Your Consideration

Christopher Guest comes out with another mockumentary, this one about the Oscar race. It sounds fantastic to me.

November 22 - The Fountain

Darren Aronofsky's first movie since 2000's Requiem For a Dream. To quote the IMDb, "Spanning over one thousand years, and three parallel stories, The Fountain is a story of love, death, spirituality, and the fragility of our existence in this world."

November 22 - The Hoax

Lasse Hallstrom is the king of undeserved Oscar attention, after The Cider House Rules and Chocolat. Interestingly, I thought the one he made after those, The Shipping News, was his best film. Anyway, this one stars Richard Gere and is about a "bogus biography of Howard Hughes" and the surrounding media frenzy.

November 22 - Deja Vu

Tony Scott does time travel. If his recent career path stays its course, this one will be the scientifically fastest-paced movie possible, with all kinds of over-the-top action but won't make any sense.

November 28 - Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

A lot to say about this one. Keep listening to All Movie Talk.

December 1 - Rescue Dawn

Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Grizzly Man) is the writer-director of this movie about a U.S. military pilot who gets shot down in Laos during the Vietnam War. You never know what this guy is going to come up with. He's probably best described as an insane genius, maybe the mad scientist of film directors. Most of his movies seem to deal with man's struggle with nature, and it sounds like this potentially follows that theme.

December 8 - The Good German (limited; wide on the 25th)

Steven Soderbergh is always interesting. This movie seems to be deliberately evocative of 1940s classics like Casablanca and The Third Man. It's a post-WWII era murder mystery set in Berlin, with the promising cast of George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. Good expectations for this one.

December 8 - Apocalypto

Mel Gibson's second dead language epic, this one switching genres to more of an action adventure spectacle kind of thing. It's set around the fall of the ancient Mayan civilization, but apparently only follows one particular tribe. All the actors are non-professional.

Unfortunately, the movie itself has been overshadowed by all the celebrity news rag coverage of Gibson himself. Let's distinguish between what is and isn't about the movies.

December 8 - The Holiday

Nancy Meyers does some pretty good relationship comedies sometimes. This one has a quartet of characters, played by Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black. Kate Winslet, whom I've mentioned earlier, has an uncanny knack for picking interesting projects. I never thought I'd see her in a Nancy Meyers comedy, but hey.

December 15 - Eragon

It's starting! The success of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, subsequently boosted by The Chronicles of Narnia, means we're going to start seeing more high budget fantasy franchises. This one is based on Christopher Paolini's novels, and it's being advertised as "The First Chapter In the Inheritance Trilogy."

I haven't read the books. The trailer is inconclusive to me about the quality of the movies. But I love the genre, and Hollywood has a lot to make up for after all the completely terrible, cheap fantasy movies we've had sporadically, starting in the early 80s. I practically don't even care if this is good. I just want to see the genre properly represented on the screen.

December 15 - The Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith, dialed down for this seemingly quiet family drama about a salesman, just awarded custody of his son.

December 15 - Blood Diamond

An action thriller about three characters who try to outsmart each other to possess a priceless diamond. It's as good a MacGuffin as any. The director is Edward Zwick, who has done some pretty good stuff before -- Courage Under Fire, The Last Samurai, and Glory. The trailer looks pretty good.

December 22 - The Good Shepherd

Third in the "Good" trilogy (Good Year, Good German, Good Shepherd), this looks like a pretty good story about the early days of the CIA. It stars Matt Damon, Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie, and Joe Pesci, and is directed by De Niro, who does not direct much, but his "A Bronx Tale" was wonderful. Looks good.

December 22 - Rocky Balboa

Rocky 6, with Rambo 4 on the way. Stallone is hilarious. But, you know, who knows. The trailer looks like it'll be a notch above Rocky IV, not that that's saying much.

December 22 - Night At the Museum

This one looks fun. Ben Stiller becomes a nightwatchman at a museum and is told not to let anything in...or out. Seems the exhibits have quite the night life. Small roles for Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Robin Williams look fun.

December 25 - Dreamgirls

A highly anticipated musical with a strange cast: Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, and Danny Glover. Lots of Oscar buzz about this one, probably second only to Flags of Our Fathers. Again, though, Oscar buzz before anybody's seen the movie, even at festivals, is always dodgy. But, as Ferrick says, Sam loves a musical.

December 26 - Car Babes

I don't know anything about this, but what a great title. I can't wait for the crossover follow-up, Blood Car Babes.

December 29 - Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo Del Toro (Cronos, Mimic, Blade II, and Hellboy) wrote and directed this Spanish work of dark fantasy, supposedly a very visual work.

December 29 - Children of Men

Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine. You could stop right there, and I'd buy a ticket. This movie is about a future where people can no longer procreate. Nobody under a certain age exists in the world, and the human race is ending. But then, somehow, one woman conceives. But it's not that easy. The trailer suggests this is a pretty tense thriller. It's directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who did the best of the Harry Potter films, but usually (as here) works with darker material.

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