December 10

Beyond the Sea

Do you ever notice media trends? First there was Gladiator then a whole bunch of other garbage came out that smelled just like it (Troy, Alexander). Beyond the Sea falls on the heels of De-Lovely (this summer’s excellent Cole Porter biopic), as well as Ray (biopic of music legend and many women’s baby’s daddy Ray Charles). Kevin Spacey plays Bobby Darin and that girl from Van Helsing is his pretty girl. I hope his boyfriend isn’t the jealous type.

Oceans 12

All those people we wish we were are back together again for another series of impossible heists. The two major differences will include another bombshell, T-Mobile’s Catherine Zeta Jones, and Italy as a backdrop. Apparently, there were no plans to make a sequel until Director Steven Soderbergh landed in Rome for Ocean 11’s international press tour. It was his first time. Wouldn’t you love to say, “Yeah, I’m gonna work here in Italy for the next year with a bunch of beautiful, successful people”? And so we have Ocean’s 12. Next Christmas, I want to be a celebrity instead of watching home movies of their summer vacation.

December 17


There are so many reasons to see this movie. When James L. Brooks makes a movie, Oscar ballots pay attention. His 1983 debut, Terms of Endearment, won five golden guys and As Good As It Gets snagged two. Moreover, he’s also behind The Simpsons. The Simpsons AND Cloris Leachman! She even looks like a Simpson’s character. This has cinematic history written all over it. Also I hear Adam Sandler plays a mentally well-functioning adult.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

If Jude Law can’t be seen in every movie this season, he will at least be heard. Ole Judey narrates Lemony Snicket in this adaptation of a beloved children’s book series. Three wealthy and intelligent children receive terrible news that their parents have died in a fire and have left them an enormous fortune not to be used until the eldest child is of age. Ahh, and a fairy tale/children’s classic is born. (This is kind of like Saw, but no one is really trapped anywhere, the focus is on money, and we get Jim Carrey instead of Danny Glover.)

The Aviator

Another epic from Academy Award whipping-boy Martin Scorcese, but this time he’s trying to win with a biopic (yes, another one) depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career. Scorcese is playing a real game of chance with lead actor Leonardo Di Caprio and co-stars the likes of Gwen Stefani. (After her last album, I agree she should try to find a new day job.) I’m going just to say goodbye to Cate Blanchett’s career (as Katherine Hepburn) and watch Scorcese blow money.

Imaginary Heroes

Headed up by Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels, the Travis family is left in a tizzy after their son (Kip Pardue, Rules of Attraction) commits suicide in this dark comedy from X2 writer, Dan Harris. Jeff Daniels just did an amazing job in The Door in the Floor, but hopefully more people will go to see him this time around. Hopefully, we are spared Halle Berry in a bad wig.

December 22

Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera

Former Batman sequel director Joel Schumacher and Andrew Lloyd Weber come together for the world’s biggest musical. Schumacher needs to tap back into his spookier Flatliner days and hire some great sound editors to make up for Minnie Driver. It’s also good to note that this is the Phantom Gerard Butler’s first professional vocal production. All of this aside, doesn’t seeing opera as a movie totally defeat the beauty of opera? (And doesn’t seeing an Andrew Lloyd Weber defeat the purpose of living? So what he landed a helicopter onstage for Miss Saigon... go see Black Hawk Down if you want helicopters. Or read the book.)

Flight of the Phoenix

Here’s another media trend: let’s make airplane movies! An update of the 1965 Jimmy Stewart classic finds Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, model Tyrese Gibson (who I’m sure plays the unattractive girl), Hugh Laurie, and Lord of the Rings Miranda Otto stranded in the Mongolian desert following a plane crash. Where are you going that you need to cross Mongolia?

con't...December 22

Hotel Rwanda
Channeling his inner Schindler, hotelier Paul Rausesabagina (Don Cheadle) sticks it to the ruling Hutu militia by saving the lives of more than 1,200 oppressed Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte costar as the wise-cracking hotel staff.

Meet the Fockers

Meet the Parents opened huge in October 2000 and went on to rack up $330 million worldwide. What have they done with all that money? They used it to buy Barbra Streisand for the sequel. Ben Stiller is representing the Jewish holiday with Babs as his mother, who’s more frightening than De Niro in Taxi with her last run of cosmetic surgery.

December 24

The Woodsman

When it debuted at Sundance, it was deemed too hot for any distributor to handle. But the story of a convicted pedophile returning to society after a 12-year jail sentence was picked up by Newmarket, which also distributed The Passion of the Christ. Imagine that. With a Christmas Eve release date no less. Since Kevin Bacon has already worked with everyone, he’s reduced to having his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, play his wife.

December 25

Bride and Prejudice
Ditching Empire-waisted gowns for colorful saris, Indian director Gurinder Chadha gives Jane Austen the Bollywood treatment in her first flim since 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham. With that said, Bride can only stand to be better.


X-Men’s Anna Paquin and Alias’ Lena Olin star in a horror story about a family who move into an isolated country house where evil—literally—lurks in the shadows. I am taking my niece and nephews to this movie and telling them that the Evil is actually Santa Claus and Anna Paquin must have been a very naughty girl.

Fat Albert

“Hey hey hey!” It’s another SNL star, now Kenan Thompson, taking his stab at making slap-stick motion picture. This, thankfully, is not a tired SNL skit but a live-action adaptation of Bill Cosby’s animated 1970s series. Go for the popcorn, stay for Tiger Beat all-stars Aaron Carter and Raven Simone (of Cosby Show fame).

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Director Wes Anderson has gotten together The Royal Tenenbaums gang for this dysfunctional family adventure. And what are the holidays but a dysfunctional family adventure? With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife (Huston), a journalist (Cate Blanchett), and a man who may or may not be his son (Wilson). Platforms early, opens wide on Christmas. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

December 29

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

No matter how much you dislike a guy, it’s never a good idea to attempt to kill him. Especially if he’s the president of the United States. Sean Penn plays the infamous Sam Bicke who discovers this fact the hard way in this political thriller costarring Naomi Watts and Don Cheadle. Cheadle is a familiar face this season (who is also leading Hotel Rwanda) and Naomi Watts hasn’t done a bad movie yet. But who the hell wants to spend money watching people portray a political thriller? Just stay home and watch our tragedy in progress on CNN.

In Good Company

Partial inspiration for Paul Weitz’s office politics tale about a middle-aged middle manager (Dennis Quaid) whose new 26-year-old boss (That ‘70s Show’s Topher Grace) begins dating his teenage daughter (Scarlett Johansson) stems from a 1995 sociological tract called “Jihad vs. McWorld.” Which you probably already knew. Johansson is money in the bank, and I bet this movie will be as well. Maybe not the next Office Space—i.e., a really smart movie no one will see till DVD. n