Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Movie: Cadillac Records (Darnell Martin)
High-Concept Synopsis: The rise and fall of Chess Records back in the '50s and '60s, which included such luminaries as Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and Etta James (Beyonce Knowles). Adrien Brody stars as label owner Leonard Chess.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of classic R&B. Audiences intrigued by a cast rich with talent (the three leads are joined by Columbus Short, Gabrielle Union, Mos Def, and Eammon Walker). Folks intrigued by the Beyonce-as-Etta-James stunt casting.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Fans of crappy modern-day R&B. People turned off by those smug Cadillac commercials (quit pretending you're better than me, Kate Walsh!). Fans of Beyonce the singer who know what happens when you get Beyonce the actor.
Why I'd See It: As a change of pace from the usual prestige-heavy Oscar fare, it looks pretty good, and the cast is pretty great. December 5
Movie: Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood)
High-Concept Synopsis: Clint Eastwood is an old man. And old, hateful man.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The Cult of Clint, an odd cross-section of America that includes Oscar voters, movie nerds, and every straight male in America. Ousted Republican Congressmen, looking for the last place on Earth where an old, crusty racist gets to be the center of attention. Car dorks.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anyone burned on this past decade's parade of good-to-brutally-awful Clint Eastwood Oscar output. Employees of the automotive industry who, by the time this movie opens, might find the whole thing too depressing. Bitter, bitchy internet critics whose distaste for Eastwood's fanboys have driven them to perhaps go overboard in their hateration.
Why I'd See It: Uh, not that I'd know anything about that last group. December 12
Movie: Che (Steven Soderbergh)
High-Concept Synopsis: The life and times of revolutionary Che Guevara. In real time, apparently.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of actor Benicio Del Toro, who's said to give a fantastic performance. Fans of Soderbergh's less accessible material (woo, Full Frontal!). Men and women with asses of steel, able to brave the intimidating 4+ hour run time (encompassing both parts of the film, The Argentine and Guerilla).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Commie haters who just can't let it go. Fans of brevity (if the run time is any indication) and a focused plot (if the reviews are). The cat from the "Hang In There, Baby!" posters, clearing "hanging on" to some deep-seated poster envy for Che Guevara. (Though, as Marge Simpson once insightfully noted, determined or not, the cat in that poster is long dead by now. Depressing!)
Why I'd See It: I'm one of those tragically middlebrow folks who run screaming at the word "intermission" when it comes to movies, and I have never been one for Soderbergh's self-indulgent side. So I'm not sure. December 12
Movie: The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
High-Concept Synopsis: Mickey Rourke plays a beaten down professional wrestler looking for one last crack at life, it would seem. Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anybody looking to carve out a spot for themselves on the rapidly-filling-up Mickey Rourke comeback bandwagon. Followers of the positive critical buzz, which just keeps building and building. Fans of screenwriter, all-around good guy, and American Idol pool enthusiast Rob Siegel.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Prudes overly concerned that the wrestling in the movie will be "fake." Baffling people who haven't caught into Aronofsky as one of the geniuses of his generation. Don Johnson, who will instead be waiting by his phone for Rourke to call him back about that Harley Davisdon and the Marlboro Man sequel.
Why I'd See It: With seemingly every other fourth-quarter movie this year getting deflated once people actually set their eyes on it, this looks like the last movie that has a chance of living up to the hype. Fingers crossed. December 17
Movie: The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson)
High-Concept Synopsis: Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody play the titular brothers -- grifters and charlatans whose latest scheme ropes in Rachel Weisz.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Johnson's directorial debut, Brick, which also took an outdated genre (the classic noir) and fucked with it brilliantly. Fans of the lauded-yet-still-somehow-underrated trio of actors at the top of the bill. Fellow grifters short on inspiration (those grifters -- always looking for a shortcut).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who found Brick to be too clever-clever and impressed with its own audaciousness (those people are wrong). Adrien Brody backlash participators. The recently grifted.
Why I'd See It: Rian Johnson is an incredibly talented young director, and the cast is all sorts of appealing. I'm just worried that it's supposed to open in a couple weeks and we haven't heard anything about it. December 19
Movie: Seven Pounds (Gabriele Muccino)
High-Concept Synopsis: Will Smith does something nonspecifically terrible and then does something nonspecifically outlandish to make it up to nonspecific people, and for some reason it's a thriller. Rosario Dawson co-stars.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Those who enjoyed the last Smith/Muccino pairing, The Pursuit of Happyness. Those who may have hated Pursuit but are still intrigued in spite of themselves by just what the hell is going on in this movie. Oprah (...again).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Will Smith non-fans. Last-minute Christmas shoppers. Anybody who saw Oprah go on and on about this movie a few weeks back and how it "changed [her] life" and yet somehow managed not to run out of their living rooms immediately to buy a ticket.
Why I'd See It: Normally I wouldn't due to the talent at the top -- I still haven't managed to force myself to see The Pursuit of Happyness -- but now I kind of have to know what all this cloak-and-dagger about the plot is about. Damn it. December 19
Movie: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher)
High-Concept Synopsis: Brad Pitt ages backwards through times of great social yadda yadda and romances a normally-aging Cate Blanchett. Taraji P. Henson and Tilda Swinton co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Oscar-watchers, as this currently resides at the top of prognosticators' Best Picture lists. Brad Pitt fans who figure, sure, he's pretty good-looking now, but he might look even better as a shrunken old man. Cate Blanchett fans who are pissed they've gone eleven months without their girl starring in major studio Oscarbait fare.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: David Fincher fans who are, nonetheless, queasy at Mr. Fight Club making the 2008 equivalent of Forrest Gump. Moviegoers freaked out by the sight of wrinkly old-man babies in the trailer. Julianne Moore fans insulted that their red-haired girl was passed over for Blanchett in a fake-looking wig. Audiences scared away by lukewarm reception at some advance screenings.
Why I'd See It: It's David Fincher, so I can't imagine I won't. But the footage I've seen has been weirdly underwhelming, and the idea of seeing Brad Pitt obscured by weird makeup and FX for much of the running time isn't entirely inspiring. December 25
Movie: Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes)
High-Concept Synopsis: Marriage, resentment, and recrimination, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Baby Boom suburban hell. Think "Who's Afraid of Mamie Eisenhower."
Who Will Be Seeing It: Kate and Leo fans who have clear heads and aren't expecting "Titanic 2" or anything. Kate and Leo fans who are totally not paying attention and do expect "Titanic 2," the poor bastards. Anyone listening to the buzz about two apparently stellar lead performances.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Moviegoers averse to feel-bad marital dramas. Non-fans of Sam Mendes, who last couple films (Jarhead, Road to Perdition) were well-hyped but never seemed to live up to potential. Actual revolutionaries angered by attempts by the title to mislead them.
Why I'd See It: Sure, I've seen enough feel-bad movies this year to last me quite a while, but I'm super excited to see these performances, particularly if this is the one that nabs Winslet that Oscar she's been looking for. December 26
Movie: Valkyrie (Bryan Singer)
High-Concept Synopsis: Tom Cruise tries to kill Hitler while heroically refusing to speak in a character-appropriate German accent.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anyone aboard the rapidly-filling Tom Cruise Public Image Reclamation Bandwagon. People who have finally found common ground with Tom Cruise by agreeing to the incredibly controversial idea that Hitler was bad. Audiences who will be coming for the supporting cast, including Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, and Thomas Kretchschman.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Hitler-lovers, Tom Cruise haters, and other suppressive persons. Yeah, look who's in the same boat now, smart-asses! Whoo!
Why I'd See It: Eh. I love Bryan Singer and all, but if Superman Returns proved anything, it's that I don't have to support everything he does -- and that everything he doesn't isn't worth supporting. This has "DVD" written all over it. December 26
Movie: Defiance (Edward Zwick)
High-Concept Synopsis: Russian fighters in World War II struggle to protect innocents from the Nazis. Man, rough month for Nazis. Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, Jamie Bell, and Alexa Davalos co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: WWII buffs. Daniel Craig fans left wanting by Quantum of Solace. People whose ideas of a good time on New Year's Eve involves a grim flight from certain death.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Film buffs allergic to the faux-importance of much of Zwick's cinematic output. Daniel Craig fans who realize that, no matter how they felt about Quantum of Solace, there will probably be no room for powder blue swimsuit scenes while their guy is fleeing through a frozen Bavarian winter. Audiences who have finally had their fill of World War II movies ... just kidding, there are no such people.
Why I'd See It: The stellar cast makes up for the usual Ed Zwick queasiness. December 31