We're right in the thick of things, movie fans. Fall movie season is in full swing, and we've seen some great titles release to date. But November brings another round of great titles opening and it's time to take stock.
Featured in November are releases that define what awards season is all about - big names, lush productions and dramatic storylines. From a silent film quieting even the most skeptical critics to a leading man in his second release of the season, the temperatures are cooling down just as the box office is heating up, particularly with a promising Thanksgiving weekend slate on the books.
Check out previous Fall Movie posts (here's September, and here's October) to see what else I've been seeing these last few weeks, and then click over to continue reading what I'm looking forward to in November.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (Nov 4) - Michelle Williams has proven herself a force to be reckoned with onscreen, having overcome any Dawson's Creek typecasting as well as the tumultuous events in her personal life of a few years ago. Taking on arguably the most iconic American actress of all time, William's becomes Marilyn Monroe in a film that serves as a snapshot in her filmmaking career. No teasers on this one yet - stay tuned!
J. EDGAR (Nov 9) - I am historically not a big Clint Eastwood-as-director fan (ask me someday about my true feelings about Million Dollar Baby...), but this one was written by Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Judi Dench and Naomi Watts in the story of the man behind American law enforcement for 50 years. That (and the fact that AFI deemed it worthy to open their festival with) is enough to get me into the theater, albeit with a critical eye towards the filmmaking. Watch the trailer
MELANCHOLIA (Nov 11) - Buzz is that this one - in its unique aesthetic and non-linear storytelling - may be even more sorely received by the masses than this summer's Tree of Life. But then, I don't think Lars von Trier makes his films for the masses, so if only a select few appreciate it, it can be considered a job well done. Kirsten Dunst returns to the screen in the highly-improvised story of two sisters whose relationship is tested as a planet careens towards earth. Watch the trailer
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY (Nov 18) - I'm not terribly familiar with the antics of British spy George Smiley; the last time he was on-screen, it was in BBC specials of 30 years ago. Gary Oldman takes on the character in this reboot, alongside Colin Firth and Tom Hardy. The teaser plays it as a gripping, Bond-esque kind of ride (minus any glimpse of a bikini-clad babe) - a caper with plenty of drama and action. Watch the trailer
THE ARTIST (Nov 23) - One of many Thanksgiving weekend releases, this is the one the arthouse fan in me is most looking forward to. Harkening back to days gone by, the film is a silent one, and black and white to boot. About a 1920s silent film star struggling to remain relevant as talkies become all the rage, the film is for the most part told in pantomime, with only a score and a handful of subtitle slides to help it along. Color me intrigued. Watch the trailer
THE DESCENDANTS (Nov 23) - George Clooney's second release of the season (last month's The Ides of March being the first), this Alexander Payne number (the guy who did Sideways) puts Clooney at the center of a family drama complete with rebellious teens, a dying wife and questions of fidelity. Payne's trademark wit is evident in the trailer, as is his trademark heart. Watch the trailer
HUGO (Nov 23) - As little as I feel for Eastwood, I am at the other end of the spectrum with Scorsese; in fact, I'd credit Marty's films with enlightening me into the ways a director can craft a truly majestic piece of art. From Goodfellas to Shutter Island, I eat up everything he puts out with abandon, and I'm just as ravenous for Hugo. Scorsese may be the only filmmaker who may actually have me looking forward to 3D, too, as he says he wanted to use it "...to deepen the storytelling and the environment." Now that I can appreciate. Watch the trailer
THE MUPPETS (Nov 23) - There has been so much buzz around this one (a fake trailer! an album!) that it's hard to believe it's just now coming out. Hasn't it been around forever? If anyone can re-imagine these classic puppets in a way that keeps them endearlingly familiar while breathing new life into the operation, it's the goofy, similarly endearing Jason Segel. Round up the whole Thanksgiving crew after turkey and go check this one out. Watch the trailer
A DANGEROUS METHOD (Nov 23) - It wouldn't be Awards Season with out a period piece, and Keira Knightley kindly picks up the task as a patient Frued and Jung encounter as psychoanalysis is just being established. Viggo Mortensen and 2011's rising star Michael Fassbender co-star as the therapists in this lush piece that promises to deliver scandal and intrigue. Watch the trailer
For all the high-brow fair coming out in November, there's plenty of simplicity in the mix as well. I'm as big a fan of escapism in films as anybody, but sometimes it just doesn't hit the mark. Those films I'm staying away from in November seem to be about as off-target as can be.
TOWER HEIST (Nov 4) & JACK AND JILL (Nov 11) - Is it just me, or did Adam Sandler's 15 minutes end about five years ago? I give the guy credit for trying to stay in the game, for mixing it up in recent years. But neither of this films holds any interest for me, and I worry that's because Adam Sandler has never quite managed to capture again the magic he conjured in Big Daddy, The Wedding Singer and even 50 First Dates. Eddie Murphy co-stars with Sandler in Tower Heist, and I have a feeling he won't be doing any double duty in February as Oscar host and nominee.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 1 (Nov 18) - I have managed to stay relatively clueless about this whole Twilight thing, with the exception of accompanying a friend to one of the movies last year in an effort to cheer her up. I spent the 2 hours curled up in my seat literally cringing at the awfulness of it (between moments of stifling my laughter at the absurdity of it all, of course). Let it be known the lengths I will go to for a friend. Let it also be known I won't be going to those lengths again any time soon.
Enjoying these monthly posts so far? What are you seeing these last few weeks, and what are you seeing in the coming ones? Oscar buzz is building, and we've still got a few weeks left to go where films can qualify for nominations. Drop a note in the comments below about what your ballot sheets would look like to date - what films are winning awards in your book?