After a bizarre, under-performing October filled with some great (Ides of March, Puss in Boots), some surprisingly good (Footloose, Paranormal Activity 3), and some supposedly awful (Three Musketeers, The Thing) films -- with all too few horror offerings -- we have to hope that November proves much better both in quality and box office. Entering into the last two months of the year definitely marks the beginning of Oscar season, so expect Oscar talk to begin in full force, if it hasn't already, after smaller films like Like Crazy, Take Shelter, and Martha Marcy May Marlene stole October right out from under the big-budget flops.
Want To See Anything With Oscar Potential?
J Edgar (Nov 9 limited, Nov 11 wide)
Six days after opening AFI Fest, Clint Eastwood's biopic starring Leonardo Dicaprio comes out officially in theaters. I'm generally not a fan of Eastwood's directorial work, but I'm hearing this film may be his best in years. It's an easy guess that DiCaprio will nab his fourth Oscar nomination this year. But will it be his first win?
Am I seeing it? Absolutely. But since it's Academy season, I'm not sure I'll head out to theaters when I can just watch it at home.
Melancholia (Nov 11)
Already one of my favorite movies of this year, it may be difficult for you to summon up the energy to actually seek out a movie that's prime focus is examining depression, but trust me, it's worth it. Lars Von Trier directs his cast to perfection, with Kirstin Dunst giving a heart-shattering performance that hands-down deserves an Oscar nod. She won Best Actress at Cannes, and not for nothing. Other great performances are provided by Charlotte Gainsbourg, Keifer Sutherland, Stellan AND Alexander Skarsgard, John Hurt, Udo Kier, and Charlotte Rampling. It's a movie that gets under your skin and stays there. Highly recommended.
Am I seeing it? I already have. Not sure I could experience the emotional turmoil I went through the first time again, but that won't stop me from recommending it to everyone I know.
Into The Abyss (Nov 11)
Werner Herzog's latest documentary, premiering at AFI Fest this week, takes a look at a triple homicide case in Texas for which the culprit is on death row, "probing the human psyche to explore why people kill and why a state kills."
Am I seeing it? I certainly am, next week at the festival.
The Descendants (Nov 18th)
Alexander Payne's most recent film, following past beloved flicks Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt (my personal favorite), and Sideways. He's been off the movie scene for a while, but all signs point to a triumphant return with this film, starring George Clooney, about a dad trying to reconnect with his daughters after their mother gets into a horrible accident. Word is the film is not only a Best Picture/Actor contender, but that Shailene Woodly, best known for the ABC Family show The Secret Life of an American Teenager, could snag a nomination of her own.
Am I seeing it? As soon as physically possible.
Hugo (Nov 23)
Martin Scorsese's latest, based on the beloved book by Brian Selznick, has already defied expectations with its New York Film Festival secret screening. Before it screened, I was hearing mostly skeptical things, folks brushing it off as something that could be fun, but Oscars? No way. Instead I've heard it makes you "remember what you love about film," utilizing the medium in a truly magical way (with the best 3-D since Avatar) that has won over even the most cynical of movie reviewers.
Am I seeing it? Absolutely, and this one is hands-down happening in a movie theater.
My Week With Marilyn (Nov 23)
An account of one week in the life of Marilyn Monroe, when she was working with Lawrence Olivier on the film The Prince and the Showgirl, by Olivier's assistant, Colin Clark, who fell for the troubled actress during this time. I've heard mixed things -- some love it, some find it worthless -- but if the trailer is any indication, I suspect I will land on the more positive side of things. I adore Michelle Williams and with Oscar talk surrounding both her and Kenneth Brannagh, this is definitely one to add to the list.
Am I seeing it? Of course!
The Artist (Nov 23)
A black-and-white silent film made in 2011 about Hollywood 1927, with almost universally ecstatic reviews. I've already heard some (unpublished) negativity from people who think it's already been overhyped to the point of damage, which is a reason I hope to see it as soon as possible. Seems totally up my alley, combining a sweet sentimentality and nostalgia with creativity and innovative use of the medium.
Am I seeing it? Yes, ideally on the big screen.
A Dangerous Method (Nov 23)
David Cronenberg is back with a film about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung starring Viggo Mortsenson, Kiera Knightly, and most importantly, Michael Fassbender. If you aren't interested based on that alone, I encourage you to go watch the trailer. While not praised across the board like many other November releases, there is certainly enough to warrant a viewing. I'm personally looking forward to it.
Am I seeing it? Um. Yeah. Noticing a trend here?
Wanna Check Out And Have a Laugh?
A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (Nov 4)
Considering every trailer for any Harold and Kumar movie has made me laugh, and I dig both John Cho and Kal Penn, you'd *think* I'd at least have seen one of the films in this stoner comedy series. But alas, no. The latest is a 3-D Christmas extravaganza that dares you to not get high in the bathroom beforehand. Can you meet the challenge?
Am I seeing it? Probably not, just because I haven't seen one yet and have no investment, but if I were a Harold and Kumar fan, I would be on cloud nine.
Tower Heist (Nov 4)
I was prepared to dismiss this Brett Ratner/Eddie Murphy vehicle (oh Oscars, I'm so sad for you), but I've heard surprisingly OK things about this comedy heist flick. It certainly has a strong enough cast, with Ben Stiller, Alan Alda, and Casey Affleck -- I just can't stand Brett Ratner or the Eddie Murphy of the past 10 years.
Am I seeing it? Jury's still out, but probably not.
Jack and Jill (Nov 11)
I have never meant this statement more in my entire life: You could not pay me to see this movie. And that is all I have to say about that.
Am I seeing it? No.
Want To Have Fun With The Kids?
Happy Feet 2 (Nov 18)
The sequel to the smash animated film about dancing penguins that I never saw but is apparently great.
Am I seeing it? I don't generally make a point of seeing somewhat generic animated flicks, but let's go with maybe.
The Muppets (Nov 23)
MUPPETSMUPPETSMUPPETSMUPPETSMUPPETS. Is there anything else to say?! AUGH MUPPETS YAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!
Am I seeing it? Yesyesyes. Opening weekend, I am so there, this is happening.
Arthur Christmas (Nov 23)
From Sony animation and the writer of Borat and Bruno (.....?) comes this movie about Christmas Eve at the North Pole, Santa's youngest son, and an urgent mission. The voice cast is a regular who's who of awesome Brits (James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen) and the press reaction to footage has been overwhelmingly positive.
Am I seeing it? I make a point of seeing everything James McAvoy touches. So. Yes.
Didn't Get Enough Genre Fare This Summer?
Immortals (Nov 11)
Although the buzz on this movie about Theseus (Henry Cavill ... nomnom) and Zeus (Luke Evans, also a nomnom) waging a war against King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, not so much with the nomnom) hasn't been great, I love director Tarsem Singh and specifically his film The Fall, and I can't help but think if you simply go into Immortals with the correct attitude, it will blow your mind. I'm staying positive for now.
Am I seeing it? Yes. Hopefully opening weekend, in theaters.
Breaking Dawn Part One (Nov 18)
Part one of the final installment of the Twilight saga, adapted from the only book in the series I haven't read. There's only so much self-inflicted torture I can take, you know? In this film Bella and Edward get married and some disturbing things go down that I won't spoil for you here if you somehow don't already know. Expect the film to make a bajillion dollars.
Am I seeing it? I mean ... sigh ... yeah. Probably. I don't even know why. But it's gonna happen.
So there you have it. What on this list are you looking most forward to? And which one will ultimately rule the box office? (Spoiler Alert: There is no answer to that question but Breaking Dawn.) Sound off below.