Movie: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (Bharat Nalluri)
High-Concept Synopsis: In 1930s London, a dowdy governess (Frances McDormand) gets swept up into a glamorous American movie star's (Amy Adams) whirlwind lifestyle. Lee Pace and Ciaran Hinds co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the two leading ladies, whose combined powers are formidable indeed. Fans of fizzy, humane English comedy as performed by two American women. People who may have wanted to see Mrs. Henderson Presents but are kind of glad Bob Hoskins and the naked ladies have been replaced by Lee Pace.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Indignant Brits who are pissed to see two Yanks in the leads. People who are allergic to the word "zany" since this seems kind of...well, zany. People who note that screenwriter David Magee wrote the dull, toothless Finding Neverland.
Why I'd See It: Frances McDormand is, perhaps you've noticed, a favorite around here. And now that I've seen Enchanted, I'm officially sold on Amy Adams as well. So just try and keep me away from a movie that puts two great actresses front and center and lets them have a little fun. March 7
Movie: Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant)
High-Concept Synopsis: High school skateboard punk gets wrapped up in a murder. Van Sant's examination of blank, affectless teenagers continues.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Van Sant's examinations of blank, affectless, murderin' teens. People who trust what they hear out of Cannes, where this was a huge hit. Filmgoers whose favorite Van Sant movie is Elephant.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: The skater punks who the film is nominally about. Actual professional actors, who will be voting with their wallets and seeing Milk at the end of the year in the hopes that Van Sant will quit working with amateur teenagers. Filmgoers whose favorite Van Sant is Finding Forrester.
Why I'd See It: I'm not 100% into the low-fi Van Sant efforts, and I am much more in anticipation of Milk, but he's become an increasingly vital director and this very well could be every bit as brilliant as they thought at Cannes. March 7
Movie: Snow Angels (David Gordon Green)
High-Concept Synopsis: Interconnected small town story of "love and loss" that basically boils down to Beautiful Girls meets The Ice Storm, with The Sweet Hereafter thrown in to taste. Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Angarano, Olivia Thirlby, and Amy Sedaris co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of David Gordon Green's poetry of the American shithole. People willing to give Kate Beckinsale one last chance as she's supposed to be pretty good. Juno fans whose appetites for teen dork romance could be sated by the Angarano/Thirlby storyline.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anyone who lives north of the Mason-Dixon and won't be quite so psyched about a movie full of depressing winter vistas. People who are waiting for Pineapple Express for their David Gordon Green fix. Audiences who don't feel like wallowing in small-town misery.
Why I'd See It: Of the two films he's releasing this year, this is the one that fits the bill of "a David Gordon Green-type movie." After All The Real Girls and Undertow, I'm excited to see what he's done next. And Beckinsale or not (and my fingers are crossed that she'll be good), the cast looks wonderful -- I've been waiting for Angarano to break out ever since Almost Famous and Will & Grace. One of my most looked-forward-to of the season. March 7
Movie: Funny Games (Michael Haneke)
High-Concept Synopsis: Shot-for-shot (more or less) remake of Haneke's own German-language film of the same name regarding a home invasion by disturbingly self-aware sadists (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbett) and the hell they put Naomi Watts and her family through, all for our enjoyment in the audience. Tim Roth co-stars.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Haneke's controversial, oft-infuriating original. Poor saps who will see the movie thinking it's your average big-name-actress-in-peril movie. People who hated the original and would like to be able to hate this one without being called on not having seen it.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who violently hated the original. People who loved the original but are morally opposed to remakes, even if it's the original director doing it. People who listen to the poor saps who mistakenly saw it thinking it was your average big-name-actress-in-peril movie and walk out hating it.
Why I'd See It: The original is clever -- bordering on too clever -- and I'm curious to see what Haneke thinks needs to be said by translating the film into English. I'm even more interested to see how it'll be received by the American moviegoing public. March 14
Movie: Never Back Down (Jeff Wadlow)
High-Concept Synopsis: Sean Faris decides to turn his pretty ass into a bare-knuckle UFC-style street fighter. Think Step Up 3: The Fists. Djimon Honsou, Amber Heard, and some chiseled piece of meat called "Cam Gigandet" co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Whoever might still be curious about Sean Faris, who rates as the last person to be declared "the next Tom Cruise" before it stopped being complimentary to call people that. Anyone who's seen the promo photos floating around online and are wondering who decided to make a movie about an Ambercrombie & Fitch photo shoot in a back alley. Folks looking to see some pretty faces messed up.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anyone who had the misfortune to watch Faris's two previous TV outings, Life As We Know It and Reunion. Anyone who had the misfortune to watch Amber Heard's "acting" on Hidden Palms. Folks who can't bear to see some pretty faces messed up. Jared Leto in Fight Club was bad enough.
Why I'd See It: I'm not kidding about the Step Up 3 stuff. If dancing movies can be such a guilty pleasure, can't punching movies be that way too? I say yes. March 14
Movie: Drillbit Taylor (Steve Brill)
High-Concept Synopsis: Owen Wilson gets hired as a bodyguard to high school geeks.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People whose sense of shame meant they couldn't see Semi-Pro. People who still believe in Owen Wilson's ironically laid-back persona. People who believe in Leslie Mann as the comeback romantic lead of the past ten years.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who can't see Wilson as Johnny Good Times after that suicide attempt. People who like their high school kids to appear over 21 like God intended. People who will only accept Adam Baldwin in the personal bodyguard archetype.
Why I'd See It: Against most of my better judgments, I've laughed my ass off at the trailer. And I'm willing to support the Owen Wilson reclamation project. March 21
Movie: 21 (Robert Luketic)
High-Concept Synopsis: Kevin Spacey takes a gang of you card sharks to Vegas to play blackjack and swindle casinos. Can't see how that can go wrong. Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, and Laurence Fishburne co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Filmgoers who have not given up the ghost of Kevin Spacey as a legitimate leading man. Audiences whose appetites for gambling drama remains unsated. Folks who saw Sturgess as the only good thing to emerge from Across the Universe (he wasn't, for the record).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anyone who saw the last film Spacey and Bosworth co-starred in, Beyond the Sea. Viewers who feel like if they want to see people getting swindled for large amounts of money, they'll wait to pay full price to see the new Indiana Jones movie. Folks who don't feel like spending an entire movie wondering if that's Kate Bosworth hiding behind that playing card turned sideways.
Why I'd See It: I didn't see Lucky You, I'm not seeing The Grand, and the only parts of Casino I liked were when Sharon Stone was all cracked out in a shag. So...probably not. March 28
Movie: Run, Fat Boy, Run (David Schwimmer)
High-Concept Synopsis: What if they took the next great Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright Brit comedy and let the whiny guy from Friends direct it? Pegg decides to run a marathon so he can score Thandie Newton, is the plot.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Runners. People who would like to make fun of runners. Anyone who's seen Pegg in Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Shaun and Fuzz fans waiting for Pegg to hook back up with Edgar Wright again. People who effing hated Ross on Friends. Jason Mewes, who finds it insulting that this movie took his one great line from Mallrats and bastardized it so.
Why I'd See It: Simon Pegg flailing about while attempting to run makes me giggle. Plus it seems like it's got a killer blister joke. March 28
Movie: Stop-Loss (Kimberly Pierce)
High-Concept Synopsis: Soldier from the Iraq War gets called back into service despite his tour being over, and his struggle with the idea of going back to war. Ryan Phillippe, Abbie Cornish, Channing Tatum, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences who have been eagerly anticipating Kimberly Pierce's follow-up to Boys Don't Cry. People who have been waiting for a movie about the war in Iraq to speak to them (these people have to exist somewhere, right?). Fans of the rather lickable cast, Cornish included (after seeing Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I'll agree: she's a peach).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Serious-minded audiences frightened off by the MTV Films label. People who have allowed themselves to be fooled into thinking they don't have to care about the war or its implications. People without functioning hormones.
Why I'd See It: I've made my case for this movie often enough, haven't I? I'm hanging a lot of expectations on it, fair or unfair, so I'm really hoping it doesn't disappoint. March 28
Previously: Part 1, Part 2