Movie: Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle)
High-Concept Synopsis: A teenage orphan in Mumbai is about to play for the grand prize on the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" is suspected of cheating, so he has to tell his life story.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who have heard the seriously fantastic reviews and advance buzz that this movie transcends a premise that sounds like it could hedge fairy-tale-ish. Fans of the inexplicably underrated Danny Boyle. People who like to pronounce the word "Mumbai" over and over until their lips go tingly.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who won't see a movie without a recognizable movie star. People for whom the missed opportunities in Sunshine (and memories of the lost opportunities in The Beach and A Life Less Ordinary) have allowed them to sour on Boyle. Regis Philbin haters who couldn't get past the "Millionaire" part of the synopsis before passing into a rage coma.
Why I'd See It: If the word on the street is to be believed, this is one of THE films to see this year. I can't wait. November 12
Movie: Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster)
High-Concept Synopsis: James Bond. Out for revenge.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the Daniel Craig-ified Bond in Casino Royale. The Soup's Joel McHale and all his fellow Judi Dench fantasists. People who enjoy the impenetrable ridiculousness of the film's title.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Bond purists, of whom I hear there are some who aren't crazy about the new, not-entirely-crappy films. Audiences who found Casino Royale kinda overrated, Daniel Craig's wicked hotness notwithstanding. People less amused at having to look up the words "quantum" and "solace" before deciding whether they want to see this movie.
Why I'd See It: I don't really have much enthusiasm for it, strictly speaking, but I'll definitely end up seeing it. It's Daniel Craig in a tux, what do you want from me? November 14
Movie: Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke)
High-Concept Synopsis: Sexy broody vampire stalker teen angst romance drama novels fanfic Cedric Diggory.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Every teenage girl and psycho message board poster you've ever heard of. Folks looking to ogle the unnaturally pale flesh of Robert Pattinson, Cam Gigandet, Kellan Lutz, and Peter Facinelli. Gaywads the world over.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People with an ounce of self-respect. People who have read the books and described them as professional fanfic. Cooler-than-thou contrarians the world over.
Why I'd See It: I made a big deal a few months ago about how I was probably gonna get sucked (no pun intended) into this movie's orbit, but now I'm not so sure. The fans are really crazy, you guys. I don't want any part of that. Usually when I end up liking something that has a psycho fan community it's either because I got there before I realized it (Buffy) or else the property is of good enough quality to justify it (Lord of the Rings). This doesn't seem to qualify. Plus it has Elizabeth Reaser in it. BOO! November 21
Movie: Australia (Baz Luhrmann)
High-Concept Synopsis: Baz Luhrmann gives the Old Hollywood treatment to the story of his homeland in World War II.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, The African Queen and any number of other classics Luhrmann is lovingly
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Paul Hogan, jealous that his status as his nation's standard-bearerin America is about to be eclipsed. The ghost of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin who: ditto. Nicole Kidman fans who have had their vision corrected and can see what's become of her beautiful face.
Why I'd See It: Despite my weird initial resistance, everything I've seen of this has been exhilarating. I'm crossing my fingers Baz can manage to bring something new to all these stylistic throwbacks, but I'm super willing to see him try. November 26
Movie: Four Christmases (Seth Gordon)
High-Concept Synopsis: Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn are forced to spend the holidays with all four segments of their respective families rather than avoid them by going on vacation like normal people. Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau, Sissy Spacek, and Kristin Chenoweth costar.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the steel magnolia and iron-willed world-conquerer Reese Witherspoon. Like-minded family haters. People who were initially dubious at the thin concept but then saw the Seth Gordon also directed the deeply awesome King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Non-fans of the overrated and plays-exclusively-assholes-for-a-reason Vince Vaughn. Christmas-haters. People uneasy with the height differential between Vaughn and Witherspoon.
Why I'd See It: I pretty much wouldn't but for three reasons: 1) I remain loyal to Reese even when she makes dodgy-looking projects; 2) I really did love The King of Kong; and 3) I'm really interested in catching moments where the reported on-set tensions (i.e. seething hatred) between Reese and Vince bleeds through to the finished project. November 26
Movie: Milk (Gus Van Sant)
High-Concept Synopsis: Groundbreaking gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk is elected to public office whereupon he set about the fool's errand of ensuring civil rights for everyone. Clearly, this meant he deserved to die.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Who should be seeing it is anybody looking for actual heroism in public service. Also, fans of the always-interesting Van Sant and the ridiculously talented cast (Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Victor Garber).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Well...you know I don't like to speculate about people's motives and hateful, hateful prejudices. Maybe they just don't like movies about the '70s. I'm sure that's it.
Why I'd See It: There is no movie opening this year with more upside and potential to make me fall in love with it than Milk. Given how emotionally invested I've become in just the trailer, I'm expecting a lot. November 26
Movie: Frost/Nixon (Ron Howard)
High-Concept Synopsis: Film version of last year's Tony-winning play about a disgraced Nixon and an ambitious TV reporter meeting for a historic interview. Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Rebecca Hall, and Sam Rockwell star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the play, which won Langella a Tony for playing Nixon. Fans of writer Peter Morgan, who won many accolades for scripting The Queen. Audiences eager to once again be reminded what a sweaty ogre Nixon apparently was.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Non-fans of director Howard, whose films never end up being as interesting as they sound. Broadway audiences dubious as to how the closed-in play will translate to the big screen. People who remember that Peter Morgan also wrote the "Other Boleyn Girl" screenplay, and also that the script was the weakest part of "The Queen."
Why I'd See It: Nixon really is a fascinating subject, which is why I don't mind the movies returning to him so often. The only thing Ron Howard's done that I've truly liked has been "Arrested Development," though, so while I'm definitely seeing it, I'm not expecting too much. December 5
Movie: The Reader (Stephen Daldry)
High-Concept Synopsis: A May-December romance among the Nazis, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Feinnes.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Kate Winslet fans, looking for the first of her awards-baiting double dip this season. Men who nursed Eva Braun fantasies as children. Fans of Daldry's previous Oscar-nominated films The Hours and Billy Elliott.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Co-producer Scott Rudin, who washed his hands of the movie when Harvey Weinstein strong-armed it onto the 2008 schedule when Rudin (and Winslet...and Feinnes, for that matter) had other Oscar projects to promote. Illiterates. Pessimists who figure Kate's bound to deliver a stinker one of these days.
Why I'd See It: Despite the ready-made bad buzz of the Rudin/Weinstein affair, word on this has been very, very good the last few weeks. Either some publicity flak is working overtime or else the movie's too good to be sunk. December 10
Movie: Doubt (John Patrick Shanley)
High-Concept Synopsis: Adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play where Meryl Streep's Catholic-school nun embarks upon an inquisition of sorts when a priest is accused of abuse. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis, and Amy Adams co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the stage play and happy that John Patrick Shanley is getting to adapt his own work. Meryl Streep fans who figure one year without an Oscar nomination is long enough. Old-school Catholic schoolers eager to see the tables turned and the be-frocked faculty turn on each other for once.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Cherry Jones fans pissed she wasn't able to hold onto her Tony-winning stage role. Fans worried that expectations -- and predicted Oscar nominations -- are going to prove too weighty for such a small film to support. Catholic fatheads who like nothing better than to be offended by movies about Catholics.
Why I'd See It: I'd have killed to have seen the play when Cherry Jones was still in it, but Streep stepping into the role isn't exactly a downgrade. The trailer makes it look pretty sparkling, too. December 12
Movie: The Day the Earth Stood Still (Scott Derrickson)
High-Concept Synopsis: Keanu Reeves is an alien come to Earth to save us from destroying the environment or some such something. Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, and Kathy Bates co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the original, pioneering sci-fi flick who aren't too sore about the prospect of a remake. Moviegoers who appreciate Keanu, particularly when he's cast shrewdly, as he seems to be here as an emotionless alien. Mad Men fans scrambling for every last shred of Jon Hamm they can find during the offseason.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences unimpressed by the rather dull trailer and preview footage. Global warming deniers who liked it better when we were all gonna die in a mushroom cloud rather than done in by some pussy thunderstorms. Moviegoers straining to remember the last time Jennifer Connelly was any good onscreen.
Why I'd See It: It seemed like a great idea for a remake, and I still believe the Keanu casting was genius, but not one thing I've seen in the preview footage has been at all interesting. And it's not like I'm going to lack for other movies to see. December 12