Holiday movie preview
Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Will Smith and the world's most lucrative Lab are all headed for the big screen in December, as the final gasp for Oscar season gets under way. Here's some of what we can expect at the multiplexes and the arthouses between now and 2009.
Seattle Times movie critic
Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Will Smith and the world's most lucrative Lab are all headed for the big screen next month, as the final gasp for Oscar season gets under way. Here's some of what we can expect at the multiplexes and the arthouses between now and early 2009; note that release dates are tentative and can change as quickly as the prices at a holiday sale.
"Cadillac Records." Beyoncé plays Etta James, Mos Def is Chuck Berry and the busy Jeffrey Wright (last seen in "W." and "Quantum of Solace") is Muddy Waters in this blues-singing drama, set in 1950s Chicago at the Chess Records label.
"Great Speeches from a Dying World." Local filmmaker Linas Phillips directs this documentary, in which members of Seattle's homeless community recite classic speeches from history.
"Nobel Son." Alan Rickman, whose velvet tones are always music to my ears, plays a Nobel Prize-winning chemist whose son is kidnapped in this dark comedy/drama from Randall Miller ("Bottle Shock").
"Punisher: War Zone." Ray Stevenson stars as the vigilante-hero known as The Punisher, who must face a vicious mob boss seeking vengeance. Sounds like sweet holiday fare. Former karate champion Lexi Alexander directs.
"Stranded: I've Come from a Plane That Crashed in the Mountains." This documentary tells the harrowing story of members of an Uruguay rugby team who survived a 1972 plane crash that left them stranded in the Andes for 72 days. The director, Gonzalo Arijon, is a childhood friend of many of the survivors.
"Dark Streets." Gabriel Mann and Bijou Phillips star in Rachel Samuels' stylish-looking thriller, set in a nightclub in 1930s New Orleans.
"The Day the Earth Stood Still." Keanu Reeves, an actor for whom time seems to have stood still (seriously, does this guy age?), stars in a remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic, co-starring Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm (of "Mad Men") and John Cleese.
"Frost/Nixon." Peter Morgan (screenwriter of "The Queen") adapted his play for the screen, about the historic 1977 series of interviews between talk-show host David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). Ron Howard directs.
"Lake City." Sissy Spacek and Troy Garity star in this Southern drama about a young man in trouble with a drug dealer who returns to his childhood home.
"My Name Is Bruce." Not to be confused with "Bruce Almighty," this horror comedy about a kidnapped actor stars Bruce Campbell ("Bubba Ho-Tep") as himself. Directed by, natch, Bruce Campbell.
"Nothing Like the Holidays." John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodríguez and Debra Messing star in this tale of a Chicago family's complicated Christmas together, directed by Alfredo De Villa ("Washington Heights").
"Virtual JFK." The subtitle of Koji Masutani's documentary, "Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived," says it all.
"Doubt." Bring on the Oscar buzz: John Patrick Shanley's drama, about a nun who believes that a priest is abusing a student, has a powerhouse cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis.
"Save Me." A young gay man is sent to a Christian center to be cured of his "illness" in this indie film, starring Chad Allen and Judith Light.
"Seven Pounds." Will Smith plays an IRS agent who has a fateful secret (don't they all?) in this drama of redemption from director Gabriele Muccino (who last directed Smith in "The Pursuit of Happyness"). Rosario Dawson and Michael Ealy co-star.
"The Tale of Despereaux." The animated adventures of a mouse, a rat and a servant girl, based on the book by Kate DiCamillo and voiced by Emma Watson, Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick and Kevin Kline.
"Yes Man." Jim Carrey plays a regular guy who decides to say yes to everything. Based on the trailer, he says yes to everything really loudly. Also with Zooey Deschanel and Terence Stamp.
"Bedtime Stories." Adam Sandler plays Uncle Skeeter, who finds that the fantastical bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew are suddenly coming true. Why? Because he's Adam Sandler, I guess. Adam Shankman ("Hairspray") directs.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." One of the more intriguing offerings of the holiday season, this drama (based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story) stars Brad Pitt as a man who is born old and grows young. Cate Blanchett, who grows the regular way, co-stars; David Fincher ("Zodiac") directs.
"Gran Torino." Clint Eastwood, the man who makes films faster than a speeding bullet, follows up "Changeling" with this drama about a disgruntled vet (Eastwood, of course) and his clashes with his immigrant neighbors.
"Marley & Me." If writer John Grogan had known how many copies his best-selling dog memoir would sell, perhaps he would have forgiven the pooch for chewing up the furniture. Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston and a very photogenic golden Lab star in the movie version, directed by David Frankel ("The Devil Wears Prada").
"The Reader." Kate Winslet has two potential Oscar bids this season; the first is this drama based on Bernard Schlink's novel about a war-crimes trial in postwar Germany, brought to you by the team that made "The Hours" (director Stephen Daldry, screenwriter David Hare).
"The Spirit." Based on Will Eisner's comic-book series, this action drama features reborn cop Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht). Scarlett Johansson plays a character named Silken Floss, which sounds more like a hair product than a person, but we'll see. Frank Miller ("Sin City") wrote and directed.
"Valkyrie." Tom Cruise turns killer Nazi — as in, a Nazi who plots to kill Hitler — in this fact-based World War II drama from superhero-movie ace Bryan Singer ("X-Men," "Superman Returns").
Movies opening here in 2009, yet Oscar-eligible for 2008
"Revolutionary Road." Five-time Oscar nominee Winslet reunites with her "Titanic" co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for this tale of suburban angst in 1950s Connecticut, based on Richard Yates' novel and directed by Sam Mendes (Winslet's off-screen husband). (Jan. 2)
"The Wrestler." Mickey Rourke has been getting much buzz for his performance as a retired wrestler in Darren Aronofsky's drama, co-starring Marisa Tomei. (Jan. 9)
"Defiance." More World War II action, this time with Daniel Craig (taking a Bond break), Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell as three Jewish brothers who establish a refugee camp in a forest in Nazi-occupied Poland. Edward Zwick ("Glory," "Blood Diamond") directs. (Jan. 16)
"Che." Is four hours of Che Guevara too much? Steven Soderbergh, who directed this epic-length biopic of the Argentine rebel (played by Benicio Del Toro) hopes not. (Jan. 16)
"Waltz with Bashir." Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman wrote and directed this animated drama, about a Lebanon War veteran's recurring nightmares. (Jan. 16)
"Wendy and Lucy." Michelle Williams, always a welcome sight, plays a young woman in financial straits in this indie from director Kelly Reichardt ("Old Joy"). (Jan. 23)
"Were the World Mine." Last seen at the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, this musical set at a high school is a takeoff on Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream." (Jan. 30)
"The Class." Winner of the Golden Palm at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Laurent Cantet's French drama is about a real-life teacher (François Bégaudeau, who wrote the screenplay and plays himself) and his Paris inner-city students. (Feb. 6)
"Pray the Devil Back to Hell." Shortlisted for an Academy Award nomination, Gini Reticker's documentary is about a group of women who brought peace to the troubled nation of Liberia. (Feb. 6)
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725
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Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.