Tinseltown decks the holidays early
You've heard of sports movies. This week, it's movies in Sports. Due to early Wave production deadlines and last-minute holiday movie scheduling, the "In Theaters" guide is in today's Sports section. Already, 2006 has been a movie year of unusual...
You've heard of sports movies. This week, it's movies in Sports.
Due to early Wave production deadlines and last-minute holiday movie scheduling, the "In Theaters" guide is in today's Sports section.
Already, 2006 has been a movie year of unusually high quality. Hollywood wants us to believe it's about to get even better.
The holiday season is traditionally the time when studios release their award contenders, just as Top 10 lists and nomination ballots are being prepared.
The strategy has expanded a bit to the fall season. "The Departed," "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Flags of Our Fathers" are among early contenders already in theaters, but December is still prime time for potential prizewinners.
Of course, 2006's films will stretch into 2007 in most of the country because Hollywood methodically delays wide releases of some films to sustain interest through the awards season.
Movies must play at least a week in New York and Los Angeles before Dec. 31 to qualify for Academy Award nominations. So you'll see actors on talk shows plugging these films during those qualifying runs, sometimes weeks before they reach your hometown screens.
Be patient. They'll get here when studios are ready, usually by January's end.
For now, here's a rundown of 13 highly promising films set for release between now and the new year. Dates are subject to change as studios jockey for momentum.
(Now showing) Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz share a romantic tragedy over a millennium, from the time of Ponce de Leon's explorations to a future without disease. Director Darren Aronofsky ("Pi," "Requiem for a Dream") explains it all in 96 minutes.
(Today) Director Emilio Estevez's ambitious recreation of Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 assassination, told from the culturally and politically diverse viewpoints of 22 characters. Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Elijah Wood, Sharon Stone, Lindsay Lohan and William H. Macy lead the Altman-esque cast.
'THE NATIVITY STORY'
(Dec. 1) Director Catherine Hardwicke ("The Lords of Dogtown," "Thirteen") tackles the biblical story of Mary and Joseph as they seek a safe place for divine childbirth. Oscar nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes ("Whale Rider") plays the virgin mother.
(Dec. 8) Mel Gibson's post-meltdown career hinges on this historical epic that details the bloody fall of the Mayan empire. Like "The Passion of the Christ," it's entirely spoken in an obscure language with subtitles.
(Dec. 8) Leonardo Di Caprio is trying hard to become a tough guy with "The Departed" and this South African adventure. He plays a mercenary who joins a fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) in searching for a rare pink diamond.
'THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS'
(Dec. 15) A single father (Will Smith) deals with homelessness, unemployment and one last, rigorous shot at success. Based on a true story.
(Dec. 15) The kingdom of Alagaesia, located at the intersection of Middle-earth and Narnia, relies upon a farm lad (Edward Speleers) and a dragon to defeat an evil king (John Malkovich).
(Dec. 20) E.B. White's beloved book gets the Babe blend of live action and selective animation. Dakota Fanning talks to the animals and they talk back with celebrity voices including Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Buscemi and Robert Redford.
'WE ARE MARSHALL'
(both Dec. 22) Take your choice of sports tragedies: the 1970 air disaster that nearly ended a college football program, or Sylvester Stallone returning to the ring. "We Are Marshall" looks like a solid tearjerker with Matthew McConaughey. And "Rocky Balboa"? Thirty years and four sequels have passed since the original "Rocky." This will either be a rousing comeback or a sad knockout.
'NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM'
(Dec. 22) Ben Stiller plays a Museum of Natural History security guard who uncorks a curse that makes the exhibits come alive at closing time. What's scarier than being chased by a T. rex skeleton? Maybe watching Robin Williams riffing as Teddy Roosevelt.
'THE GOOD SHEPHERD'
(Dec. 22) Robert De Niro directs and co-stars in this dramatization of the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency. Matt Damon is getting awards buzz in the role of CIA architect Edward Wilson.
(Dec. 25) The Broadway smash about a 1960s pop trio resembling the Supremes comes to the screen. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx plays their slick manager, and Eddie Murphy is the star they upstage. Beyonce Knowles and "American Idol" standout Jennifer Hudson co-star and I'm telling you, I am going.