Movie: In Bruges (Martin McDonagh)
High-Concept Synopsis: Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are Irish (Irish? Most likely, right?) hoods who are hiding out in the city of Bruges at the orders of their boss, Ralph Feinnes. Many jokes at the Belgian city's expense appear to follow.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences excited for the feature debut of McDonagh, who's gained fans for his work in the theatre (The Pillowman) and his Oscar-winning short film Six Shooter. People keen on the Snatch style of British gangster humor. Colin Farrell fans who are pulling for him in 2008, which certainly seems to be his last chance to make a go of this whole "movie star" thing.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Farrell-haters who really can't be blamed at this point. Audiences who have been burned out on the whole British gangster thing by Guy Ritchie. Belgians, who shouldn't have to take such unprovoked mockery.
Why I'd See It: McDonagh seems to have earned his buzz for all the right reasons, and the trailer for the film (which is set to kick off Sundance this month) looks pretty funny, with ample room for Gleeson, Feinnes, and even Farrell to shine. February 8
Movie: My Blueberry Nights (Wong Kar Wai)
High-Concept Synopsis: Norah Jones "sets out on an unforgettable journey of discovery in pursuit of true love." That sounds potentially crappy, but the cast includes Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and David Strathairn.
Who Will Be Seeing It: That thin strip of the Venn diagram that includes Wong Kar Wai fans and the middle-age soccer mom Norah Jones fan base. Fans of a road picture no matter how much bad festival buzz it has gotten. Fans of large casts full of Oscar nominees no matter how much bad festival buzz it has gotten.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People sick to death of journeys of self-discovery. People who see the giant red flags in a movie that was supposed to be released in '07 but got pushed back after largely negative reviews. Alicia Keyes fans -- she's the natural enemy of Norah Jones, right?
Why I'd See It: The folks at Cannes really hated this, but they hated Southland Tales too, and I loved that, so who knows? From the bits of footage I've seen, Jones looks pretty good, and that cast really is pretty great. February 13
Movie: Definitely Maybe (Adam Brooks)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ryan Reynolds is a divorcing dad who tells his daughter the story of how her parents first got together. Abigail Breslin is the daughter, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks, and Rachel Weisz are among the possible moms-in-flashback.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences looking for family friendly fare...on Valentine's Day. (Jesus Christ, people, find a babysitter.) Audiences looking for a glimpse at Ryan Reynolds and/or Isla Fisher on Valentine's Day. (More like it.) People who watch How I Met Your Mother for the parts where you try to figure out who eventually becomes the mother.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who run fleeing at such a potentially sappy premise. Little Miss Sunshine haters looking to direct their entire joyless existence into one laser beam of hatred directed at Ms. Breslin. The other 99% of How I Met Your Mother fans who watch for Barney and Robin Sparkles.
Why I'd See It: Okay, yes it's almost guaranteed to have a sugary-sweet ending that'll make your teeth hurt, but Ryan Reynolds is adorable, and "sweet" isn't always "bad," and...whatever, shut up. February 14
Movie: Jumper (Doug Liman)
High-Concept Synopsis: Big-budgety sci-fi action flick about how Hayden Christensen can teleport and discovers that he's a part of a secret, generations-long war of teleporters. Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, and Jamie Bell co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Big, spectacle actions fans who have it kind of lean in February. Liman fans who haven't forgotten the genre fun they got out of The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. People with eyes and hormones who should perk up at the prospect of Christensen, Bilson, and Bell in the same movie.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Bitter Star Wars fans who can't let go. Partisans of X-Men's Nightcrawler, who will accept no other teleporters. Moviegoers who noted the structural weaknesses in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and that the Bourne movies got way better once Paul Greengrass stepped in.
Why I'd See It: Hayden Christensen and Jamie Bell -- I'm not made of wood. Plus this looks like a fun time at the movies right around the time when the Oscars will be seriously burning me out. February 14
Movie: Charlie Bartlett (Jon Poll)
High-Concept Synopsis: Teen smartass Anton Yelchin sets himself up as an in-residence psychiatrist at his prep school. Robert Downey Jr. and Hope Davis co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who think their own high school classmates could have done with their own brilliant and precocious guidance. Robert Downey Jr. fans who don't really need much of a reason besides his name in a cast list. West Wing fans who think this is a spinoff where Dule Hill's character gets legally adopted by Martin Sheen.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who saw Alpha Dog and thus can't see what was so special about Yelchin's performance that it earned him a leading role here. People who have had their fill of the Igbys and Simon Birches and any other young brat who thinks they can tell people how to live. People who could have sworn this movie opened last year.
Why I'd See It: Eh. Yelchin looks pretty annoying, actually. But Robert Downey Jr. is Robert Downey Jr., so...eventually. February 22
Movie: Possession (Joel Bergvall; Simon Sandquist)
High-Concept Synopsis: Sarah Michelle Gellar has a husband (Michael Landes) who has a brother (Lee Pace) who is a total shady character. Then there's a car accident and Pace survives...only with his brother's memories. Korean horror remake isn't another Grudge film, even though the trailer features that same shot of SMG looking weirded out in the shower.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Buffy fans, for the SMG factor. Pushing Daisies fans, for the Lee Pace factor. Fans of both Buffy AND Pushing Daisies, who are used to yelling constantly about their chosen programs so get used to it.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People even more over the Asian horror/thriller remakes than they were last month. Anti-Smoking activists who should be protesting the hell out of co-star William B. Davis, The X Files' Cigarette Smoking Man. People who will think they've already seen it, due to the re-hashed and generic title.
Why I'd See It: Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is back to making me want to watch her movies again after Southland Tales, and Lee Pace, who looks smokin' as a bad guy. February 22
Movie: The Signal (David Bruckner; Jacob Gentry; Dan Bush)
High-Concept Synopsis: Television signal of unknown origin drives entire populace to murder. Nobody you know stars in it, except your old friend blood.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Stephen King, provided he sees the similarities between this and his old-man fantasy of killer technology, Cell, as homage. Smug elitists who can't wait to talk about how, "See! Television IS the death of civilization!" People turned onto the film by its delightfully titled web site "DoYouHaveTheCrazy.com."
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Stephen King, if he sees the plot similarities not as homage but as rip-off. Only slightly less smug elitists who think the film is missing the point, as it’s the iPhone that is the new death of civilization. People who already have The Crazy and will thus be seeing the Larry the Cable Guy movie that also opens this weekend.
Why I'd See It: It looks fucked up and kind of haunting. I can dig that. February 22
Movie: Vantage Point (Pete Travis)
High-Concept Synopsis: Presidential assassination thriller/whodunit, even though the trailer tells us nobody dunnit, because it was a fake assassination. So now you don't have to see it.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who didn't read the summary above. Fans of the middle-of-the-road whitebread cast, including Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, and Forest Whitaker (honorary whitebread for the purposes of this film). Filmgoers who seek out the most mainstream-friendly thriller they can find.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have any other movie they'd like to see that weekend. Audiences whose vague, baseline dislike for Matthew Fox was given voice by Seth Rogen in Knocked Up. People who have already seen Weaver and Hurt wasted in crappy fare before, and one The Village was quite enough.
Why I'd See It: It seems like I have a disproportionate hate on for this movie. It's just so hopelessly generic in every way. Plot strands lifted from other uninspiring movies, super blah actors save for Whitaker (who isn't a stranger to sleepwalking through) and Weaver (who really needs to be in a good movie, and soon). Ugh. February 22
Movie: Penelope (Mark Palansky)
High-Concept Synopsis: Modern-day fairy tale about pig-nosed Christina Ricci and her journey into the real world. Reese Witherspoon, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, and Peter Dinklage co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of that incredibly inviting cast. Audiences looking for quirk amid the stagnant rom-coms and abundant thrillers of February. The kinds of people who would be into something like Christina Ricci having a pig nose.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences turned off by the too-whimsical nature of the plot. People who know that this film has been delayed a few times and wonder if that's because it's crap. The bitter, bitter hordes of Reese Witherspoon and James McAvoy haters, who are...angry about being blind, I suppose.
Why I'd See It: I, however, am not blind. Nor am I as opposed to the phrase "modern-day fairy tale" as some people. With this cast, it'd take a lot for me not to want to see it. February 29
Movie: Chicago 10 (Brett Morgan)
High-Concept Synopsis: Half-animated, half-documentary account of the trial of the 1968 DNC riot "conspirators," featuring the voices of Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schrieber, Jeffrey Wright, Nick Nolte, Dylan Baker, and Hank Azaria.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Aspiring political agitators, if there are any of those left. '60s enthusiasts looking for something more concrete than the paint-by-numbers nostalgia of Across The Universe. Fans of new horizons in rotoscoped animation.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People so entrenched in the conservative side of the nation's political divide that they can't recognize how frighteningly close this country came to a police state in 1968. Documentary purists. Steven Spielberg, who is prepping his own film version of the Chicago trial.
Why I'd See It: For as much as The Sixties have been pored over, regurgitated, mythologized, and dramatized in our culture, the events surrounding the 1968 DNC, and the ensuing trial haven't been given as much play as, say, Woodstock. And that blows. February 29
Movie: The Other Boleyn Girl (Justin Chadwick)
High-Concept Synopsis: The social-climbing Boleyn sisters (Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson) set their sights on Henry VIII (Eric Bana), with sexy results.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the historical soap opera that was 1500s England. Actress enthusiasts looking forward to a Portman vs. Scarlett battle for ingénue supremacy. Fans of Showtime's The Tudors who nonetheless are itching for a PG-13 version of events.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: "PG-13?? What a fucking gyp!" Those people. Also: Portman haters, those who are burned out on Scarlett Johansson, and the historical purists who feel that Eric Bana, much like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is not nearly ugly enough to play Henry VIII.
Why I'd See It: Ow! Hotcha! Sexy Tudor escapades! Yowza-yowza! Et cetera. February 29