Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Movie: The Fighter (David O. Russell)
High-Concept Synopsis: Mark Wahlberg plays one of those scrappy, tiny, white athletes that American usually goes ga-ga over, this time a boxer who fights his way up from white-trash surroundings with the help of his ne'er-do-well brother, played by Christian Bale.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences following the (manufactured?) Oscar buzz, particularly in the case of Bale, who is being tapped as a Best Supporting Actor winner. Fans of the pedigreed cast, which also includes Amy Adams as Wahlberg's wife and Melissa Leo as his and Bale's insanely-bouffanted mother. People who can't get enough of boxing movies about credulity-straining short white dudes.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Folks who might be skeptical about how David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings) is going to marry his comedic style to such a leaden story type. People who found a little too much self-conscious bombast in the trailer. Audiences turned off by the combined jackassery of the director and male leads.
Why I'd See It: Russell's I Heart Huckabees is one of my favorite movies of the past ten years. But I am finding a very hard time working up enthusiasm for this movie, which is the perfect storm of a story type I don't care about, lead actors I don't care for (love Wahlberg in comedies, think he's kind of a disaster in dramas), and supporting actresses I generally like seeming to go WAY overboard. This is all based on a trailer, though, so there's no guarantee I won't be wrong. But ... I'm not, come on. December 10
Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Michael Apted)
High-Concept Synopsis: Once more into the fantasy/allegory breach, this time on the high seas of Narnia with the two younger Pevensie kids, fine-ass Prince Caspian, and that little Eddie Izzard mouse. Like last time, Tilda Swinton will return all too briefly.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the C.S. Lewis books. Families looking for neutral viewing options. Folks who maybe didn't care for the first installment of this series but warmed up to Prince Caspian for various reasons.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Folks turned off by the "Lord of the Rings for Christian evangelists" reputation the series hasn't entirely been able to shake. Shallow audiences disappointed that we'll be sticking with the two awkward-looking siblings and dumping the cute boring ones. Audiences unsure of how Michael Apted's career (Rome, Nell, Gorillas in the Mist) jibes with this story.
Why I'd See It: I didn't much care for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I was largely pleased by Prince Caspian, for non-Ben Barnes related reasons, even! I'm not saying I'm going to go out of my way to see this when December is acting like its usual jam-packed self, but I'm not going to reflexively turn my nose up at it either. December 10
Movie: The Tempest (Julie Taymor)
High-Concept Synopsis: After finding critical (if not popular) success with Titus, Julie Taymor aims to crack out Shakespeare once again, this time with Helen Mirren playing a gender-swapped Prospero.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Taymor's wild style, which isn't always successful (Across the Universe) but certainly distinguishes itself. Fans of Mirren, an actress who has shown an increasingly adventurous streak as of late. Shakespeare completists.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Folks who have followed the rather poisonous buzz around the festival circuit. Audiences who have tired of Taymor's excesses. People left on edge by the odd mix of co-stars (Alfred Molina, Alan Cumming, Chris Cooper, Russell Brand, Ben Whishaw).
Why I'd See It: It's supposed to be a mess, but maybe a grand mess. A trainwreck in the making might be fun -- plus Helen Mirren's always good justification for a ticket purchase. December 10
Movie: Tron: Legacy (Joseph Kosinski)
High-Concept Synopsis: A triumphant return to the computer-world classic beloved by ... dozens of people? If that? Jeff Bridges reprises his role, and does a creepy mo-cap version of himself as the film's villain.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who liked the original and have been waiting for computer-animation technology to catch up to the film's original vision. Bridges fans who will -- and have -- see him in anything. The world's oldest techno-dweebs.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who object to the integrity of the original being sullied by youth-casting choices like Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde. Technophobes. People freaked the hell out by Motion-Captured Jeff Bridges from the trailer.
Why I'd See It: I don't recall much about the original Tron from Saturday-afternoon viewings during my grade-school year. I'm not sure this is shaping up to be good, but it's certainly distinctive this season. December 17
Movie: How Do You Know (James L. Brooks)
High-Concept Synopsis: Reese Witherspoon is a directionless lady who is courted by pro ballplayer Owen Wilson and endearing disaster Paul Rudd. Jack Nicholson also shows up there as well.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of James L. Brooks's mostly reliable oeuvre (Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment). Fans of Reese. Fans of Rudd. Fans of Owen Wilson.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who remember the last time they saw a movie solely because it had James L. Brooks's name on it. Never forget, Spanglish victims. Never forget.
Why I'd See It: I do love Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd. Each gets a moment in the trailer that sums up why I'm so hooked on them -- his dead face-plant on the table; her getting annoyed at herself for crying. And while I wonder whether their particular brands of charisma are a good match (she needs a strong-willed guy to butt up against), I'm definitely willing to see what they throw at me. December 17
Movie: Rabbit Hole (John Cameron Mitchell)
High-Concept Synopsis: The usual awards-baity "grieving parents struggle to cope" story, hopefully livened up by the director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and featuring reportedly strong performances by Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, and Dianne Weist.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the Broadway play, which is apparently stunning. People anxiously waiting for Kidman to return to award-winning form. John Cameron Mitchell fans psyched to see what stylistic flourishes he brings to the material.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who are still scared away by Kidman's freaky face experiments. People worried that Mitchell won't be as free to experiment while directing a script that's not his own. People who just don't dig watching parental grief, no matter how exquisitely rendered.
Why I'd See It: I truly do like Nicole Kidman, even if I can't lie that the lingering facial issues aren't a problem. The botox seems to have calmed down in this preview footage, but the lips are still insane. But I'm an even bigger JCM fan, and the reviews have been pretty stellar. My expectations are suddenly really high. December 17
Movie: Gulliver's Travels (Rob Letterman)
High-Concept Synopsis: Jack Black brings his fresh and hilarious brand of mugging to a modern-day update of Jonathan Swift's classic tale. Emily Blunt and Jason Segel, among others, lower themselves both literally and figuratively as Lilliputians.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who were longing for the madcap laugh-a-
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anybody who has anything better to do whatsoever.
Why I'd See It: I tried to keep an open mind about this whole endeavor, and it's probably for kids anyway, but seriously, that trailer about broke me. This looks absolutely awful. December 22
Movie: Country Strong (Shana Feste)
High-Concept Synopsis: Gwyneth Paltrow does the Crazy Heart thing as a boozy, washed up country star who's watching her career get eclipsed by a pretty youngster (Leighton Meester) struggles to get herself back on top with the help of a young hottie (Garrett Hedlund).
Who Will Be Seeing It: Gwyneth fans, having recently been bolstered by her successful appearance on Glee. Fans of the road-to-country-redemption trope, which has endured for decades for a reason. Audiences happy to get to see the dude play the pretty young thing in one of these movies for once.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Country music agnostics. Anybody who doesn't think they can buy pretty princess Gwyneth as a hard-ridden country whiskey-swiller. Anybody who may not want to buy into what could be interpreted as a late-entry Oscar-grab fusion of Sandra Bullock AND Jeff Bridges's awards-bait roles from last year.
Why I'd See It: After years of thinking I hated her -- even while allowing for the wonderful exception that was The Royal Tenenbaums -- it turns out I kind of love Gwyneth Paltrow. And I often take comfort in familiar genre fare starring likeable actors. I am but an average American. December 22
Movie: True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen)
High-Concept Synopsis: The Coens remake the John Wayne "classic," which is notable for winning The Duke the Oscar, but maybe not for much else. Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Coen fans who recognize the hottest of hot streaks they've been on lately. Bridges fans who: ditto. That sad band of westerns fans who come out of the woodwork every time one of these movies comes out, moaning about how this is the quintessential American genre and they don't make 'em like they used to.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Western fans who object to John Wayne getting re-made in any way. Coens fans who nonetheless don't think they should be in the business of remakes, and who can point to disappointments like The Ladykillers as proof. Matt Damon fans who maybe aren't thrilled about seeing their guy second-billed and covered with dirt.
Why I'd See It: I'm already onboard when you give me Coens, Bridges, and Damon, and to top that off the trailer looks positively amazing. I'm no drooling fan of the western, but the Coens did it about as well as I've ever liked it on No Country for Old Men. I'm in. December 22
Movie: Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)
High-Concept Synopsis: Stephen Dorff plays a fuckup of an actor (hrm...) who's living in swanky hotels and keeping the world at bay until he gets a visit from his young daughter, played by Elle Fanning.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Coppola's previous films, all of which have their passionate fans -- yes, even Marie Antoinette. People who have been waiting a long, long, long time for Stephen Dorff to finally have his moment in the sun. Fans of movies about lounging, looking intriguingly bored, and pondering your wealthy, meaningless existence at poolside.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who thought Marie Antoinette was vapid and shallow. People who don't feel like Dorff's career achievements thus far have bought him enough goodwill to warrant this kind of a role. People who have a kneejerk opposition to whatever movie those snooty Cannes folk decided to honour.
Why I'd See It: Personally, I don't have any objection to watching movies about the idle rich, provided they're compelling and intriguingly filmed. Coppola has shown she's able to do just that. December 24
Movie: Another Year (Mike Leigh)
High-Concept Synopsis: Leigh delivers another typically lived-in tale, this one about a longtime, happily married couple and the degrees of sadness that exist in their many close friends and family members.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anyone who's grown fond of Leigh's brand of modest English realism. Fans of the critically lauded performances by Jim Broadbent, Ruth Shean, and Lesley Manville. Audiences looking for a constant stream of laughter to cushion some deep-cutting meditations on loneliness.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Leigh fans who need more of a Happy Go Lucky-type hook to grab them. Non-fans of quiet British humor. Audiences who won't have time during the holiday rush to seek anything beyond the shopping mall multiplexes.
Why I'd See It: Actually, I already have, at the New York Film Festival. I'm absolutely over the moon for it, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again. December 29
Movie: Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play a young couple going through some painfully cinematic troubled times.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences following the couldn't-be-more-stellar festival buzz. Fans of the two stars, both of whom are said to give blazing, challenging performances. Folks who will always see a movie that's been the subject of an MPAA rating controversy.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Folks who would never see a movie the MPAA slapped with an NC-17. Audiences turned off by a movie that's been called "difficult" and "punishing." People who don't get the benefit of Oscar screeners.
Why I'd See It: I'm a huge fan of both Gosling and Williams, and everything I'm hearing about it has me thinking this is right up my alley. I will always line up for intense movies about young people in love. December 31