The season of cinema
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the demon barber of Fleet Street.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Dec. 21)
"Musical" might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton teaming up for the story of a vengeful barber’s gory killing spree of all those who have done him wrong in life. Still, the highly anticipated film has the potential of any of Burton’s best work and could be just the thing the Academy is looking for to give him his very first (and very deserved) best director nomination.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: two life redemptions.
The Bucket List (Dec. 25)
This guaranteed tearjerker finds two of our most timeless actors, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, as terminally ill cancer patients who come up with a list of everything they want to do in life before they kick the bucket. Expect the usual sentimentality that comes along with most of director Rob Reiner’s films, but look for Nicholson and Freeman to make their first acting union one of the must-sees of the season.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: three treasure seekers.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (Dec. 21)
While no one expects this sequel to match the unique excitement and DaVinci Code-like thrills of its predecessor, the fact that the creators managed to retain the entire original cast and director while adding the recent Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren and nominee Ed Harris is a testament to their faith in the film ‘oacute; we owe it to them to return the favor.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: four Beatles sitting.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Dec 21)
If Walk Hard manages even a fraction of the humor that Knocked Up and Superbad delivered earlier this year, writer Judd Apatow will prove that the third time really is a charm. And the fact that this comedy just received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America proves that they’re shooting for Apatow’s usual stars instead of producing another lame Anchorman rip-off. Look for Cox’s epic life to cross hilarious paths with the likes of swarms of hotel groupies, Elvis and, of course, the Beatles.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: five years alone.
I Am Legend (Dec. 14)
Probably the most anticipated of all holiday movies, Will Smith brings his signature blend of brains and brawn into this sci-fi/horror epic set five years in the future about a man who is the sole survivor of a virus that wipes out all of New York City, and possibly, the world. Still, the horrible screams from mysterious creatures that roam the streets at night prove one horrifying fact -- he’s not nearly as alone as he thinks he is.
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: six decades regretting.
Atonement (Dec. 7 – limited)
I caught this film a few weeks back and still remain haunted by the sweepingly epic love story that is both inspirational and heartbreaking. The story of a false accusation by a little girl that defies all conventional love story clich’eacute;s and manages to become one of the year’s best films.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: seven kids debating.
The Great Debaters (Dec. 25)
The Denzel Washington-directed drama tells the true story of a college in 1935 that was home to the one of the first all-black debate teams that managed to defy all logic and go on to challenge Harvard in the national championship. Look for the usual drama of the period to make its way into the film, but trust Washington to allow the inspiration of the story to overpower the desperation of the times.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: eight polar bears fighting.
The Golden Compass (Dec. 7)
In a holiday season where we don’iacute;t have another installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to look forward to, where even the lucrative Chronicles of Narnia had to push its release date to summer, everyone is looking for the next big holiday franchise. New Line Cinema is hoping to bank again with The Golden Compass, the first installment from the His Dark Materials series by author Phillip Pullman. While the next installment, The Subtle Knife is already slated for a 2009 release, let’s just hope that New Line is more worried about quality than quantity.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: nine months of waiting.
Juno (Dec. 5 limited)
The film is already receiving rave reviews from its premiers at several film festivals, and the poignantly hilarious trailer can prove why. The story of Juno, an offbeat young girl who finds herself pregnant, could have easily been seen as Knocked Up Jr. but instead manages to find its own beat to march to. And with a cast that includes Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Rainn Wilson (The Office) and Michael Cera (Superbad, Arrested Development), you’iacute;ll probably be marching too.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 10 Oscar nominations.
Charlie Wilson’s War (Dec. 25)
Ten Oscar nominations, and that’s only between the film’s star, Tom Hanks, and director, Mike Nichols (The Graduate). If you add in the nominations of its two supporting cast members, Julia Roberts and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, you’re looking at four people and no less than 14 nominations. With that kind of caliber riding on this film, the true story of the covert dealings of a Texas congressman (Hanks) and his Houston-dwelling partner (Roberts) during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Charlie Wilson’s War will either reach the caliber of one of the year’s best films or be deemed a miserable failure simply for failing to be.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 11-year-olds acting.
The Kite Runner (Dec. 26)
There is great buzz riding behind this film, based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini, that tells the story of†11-year-old childhood friends who grow up and grow apart but are eventually brought back together through tragic and unforeseen events. From director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland and the upcoming James Bond installment), The Kite Runner has the approval of multiple book clubs and First Lady Laura Bush, only time will tell if it deserves it.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 12 silent minutes.
There Will Be Blood (Dec. 26 limited)
It is rumored that the opening minutes (said to be between the first 10 and 15) of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s oil epic are completely without dialogue. With most films, I’d be worried. With Anderson and star Daniel Day-Lewis leading the way, I can’t wait to be immersed in the fury of the silence. Look for Day-Lewis to land an easy Best Actor nomination, and go find out why early critics are calling the film this generation’s Citizen Kane.