Whoa, where did I go? Well, duty called for the last few weeks, and in my stead Joseph graciously stepped in for me to inform you all of January’s openings. For this week I’ll be able to “drink to the foam” as they say and preview the new releases for the last week of January to distract us from, ahem, some news that hit last Tuesday. Gadzooks, one of them might even be good:
Liam Neeson vs. the elements. A winning combination if ever I’ve heard one. Successfully reinventing himself as a kickass action star with Taken and capitalizing on that with mixed results in Unknown, Neeson’s struggle to survive the Alaskan wilderness after a plane crash looks to continue that formula. And why not? With so many blank-faced, talentless hunks headlining action pictures (but more on that in a minute), isn’t it nice to see audiences clamor for a cerebral, seasoned actor in these roles? Even better is that this film has been praised by critics as an almost unbearably intense survival thriller with surprising philosophical rigor. Its low-key marketing and extreme subject matter won’t make it a bonafide hit, but its star should propel it to the top of the box office with $13-18 million.
Compare Neeson to Sam Worthington, who fails to command the screen in any way but still gets movie roles because execs actually thought he had something to do with the titanic (heh) success of Avatar. Man on a Ledge is a film about a, erm, man on a ledge who threatens suicide…or is he? Most critics say that the plot is so preposterous and the characters so clichéd you won’t care. With male moviegoers flocking to The Grey, I can’t see this making more than $10 million in its debut frame.
Finally, Katherine Heigl continues her run of starring in some of the most charmless rom-coms of all time (while trashing the one decent film she’s done in the past five years) by starring in the most honest movie title of the year. One for the Money is about a sassy, broke Jersey Girl who gets hired by her sleazy cousin as a bounty hunter. Kinda sounds like a mix between Killers and The Bounty Hunter, which sounds like…honestly, the most horrible thing ever. Despite not being able to pay me to see this, I’m guessing others are willing to collectively shell out $8-13 million for this by Sunday.
In limited release is Glenn Close’s newly-minted Best Actress-nominated performance in Albert Nobbs, about a woman who poses as a man in turn-of-the-century Ireland. Despite being nominated along with Janet McTeer for Oscars, Close’s thirty-year passion project has not been getting kind reviews, and for good reason. This has got to be the most under-baked, fundamentally confused prestige picture of 2011. There’s a certain empathy to it that’s admirable, I guess, but my god, SO much of it is so poorly-judged it’s just bizarre. If I could assign a star rating of “ZOMG,” this would be the perfect film for it. Anyway, while she was considered the early front-runner for Best Actress by many outlets (including us), it is very unlikely she’ll go all the way now. Not only are “career-honor” awards rarely applicable to female Oscar contenders, but Meryl Streep’s campaign has made a stronger case for that this season (Interesting trivia: both of these actresses have competed before, in ’87 and ’88…and they lost both times.). Plus, she also has to contend with a critical darling, a highly respected thespian hitting her stride and a breakout star playing a popular character. Janet McTeer is equally in the dark against stronger contenders, though Best Supporting Actress tends to throw more surprises than the other acting categories.
Also in limited release is France’s unsuccessful Best Foreign Language Film entry Declaration of War, about a couple dealing with their infant son’s serious illness. Both Mike and Joseph were very impressed with what they described as a wholly unique and moving domestic drama.
Let us know what you saw this weekend, even though I am about 99% sure you’re all going to watch Liam Neeson punch a wolf in the face among the continued Oscar nomination discussions (which, now that I’m back…OMG OMG OMG Malick The Tree of Life OMG yes yes OMG yes!!!!!!!!).
Tags: Declaration Of War, Katherine Heigl, Liam Neeson, The Grey, Weekend Openings