This weekend, audiences recovering from turkey overdoses and political discussions with relatives will have quite a few options in theaters for their viewing pleasure. Yes, fresh off of Thanksgiving, we have a very solid slate of Oscar hopefuls hitting cinemas. The hope is obviously to woo the Academy, though first contenders like “Miss Sloane” and “Rules Don’t Apply” need to make an impact at the box office. In most cases, the quality is already there. Now, money needs to talk. Then, the precursors will really get to chime in. Right now though, let’s run down what’s opening and which titles are the ones to really make time for.
Best Bet This Week
“Miss Sloane” (EuropaCorp)
Take away the fairly poor ending and you have one of the sharpest films of the year so far. Jessica Chastain is absolutely dynamite in this political drama/thriller, playing her best character to date. Clayton mentioned how the screenplay evokes Aaron Sorkin at times, and that’s something you definitely feel. The first half is better than the second half, so take note of that. This isn’t a perfect movie, but if it’s playing anywhere near you during this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, seek it out. You can thank us later. Chastain is aces and helps put an already good flick over the top.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 72%
Oscar Hopes – A contender in Best Actress for Chastain as well as Best Original Screenplay
Screen Count – 3 Screens (Platform Release)
Also Opening of Note
“Allied” (Paramount Pictures)
As said in our review, this is a good looking movie with a flawed script, one that ultimately torpedoes it all. Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt do their movie star best to save things, but it’s in vain. You can appreciate this as something different and retro from Robert Zemeckis, but it simply never fully comes together. Audiences wanting something classy or just to admire Pitt for two hours might show up. Other than that, this seems certain to fade from memory in short order. At one point the film seemed poised to be an Oscar X factor, but it was just not meant to be.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 62%
Oscar Hopes – A possible player in the technical categories
Screen Count – 3,160 Screens
“Bad Santa 2” (Broad Green Pictures)
The sequel no one asked for is here for the holiday weekend. A few years ago, this probably would have made more sense, or at least felt a bit fresher. Furthermore, it’s hitting for Thanksgiving, not Christmas. Still, one can assume that Billy Bob Thornton back in this role is good for a chuckle or two. Then again, reviews have been pretty poor. Furthermore, it’s just sort of limping into theaters. In any event, it’s here if you want it. Just don’t go in expecting anything of note. “Bad Santa” has become a cult classic. This sequel almost certainly won’t receive that honor.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 25%
Oscar Hopes – Nope
Screen Count – 2,500+ Screens
“Lion” (The Weinstein Company)
One of the year’s most emotional films, this is the Oscar contender that will make you cry. Families seeing this one after Thanksgiving will give their tear ducts a workout. The Academy Award buzz is well founded, in particular for Nicole Kidman in Best Supporting Actress. Dev Patel could find his way into Best Supporting Actor as well. It’s one of the weekend’s better options, representing prestige fare at its most heartwarming. To be fair, it’s a bit on the manipulative side. Then again, it’s telling a true story well worth telling, so that’s easy to forgive. You won’t regret giving this one a shot.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 75%
Oscar Hopes – A contender across the board
Screen Count – 4 Screens (Platform Release)
“Moana” (Buena Vista/Disney)
Disney’s latest musical endeavor is going to be a huge hit. Not just this weekend, but for a few weeks, at least. Furthermore, it establishes that Dwayne Johnson really can do pretty much anything and everything. The successor to “Frozen,” there’s no doubt that children will fall in love with these characters. The music especially is of note here. Lin-Manuel Miranda had a hand in the songs and you’ll feel his impact. They’re catchy, charming, and will stay with you long after the movie ends. This doesn’t reinvent animation, but it does make you smile from start to finish, and that’s something.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 98%
Oscar Hopes – A strong contender in Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song
Screen Count – 3,875 Screens
“Rules Don’t Apply” (20th Century Fox)
Warren Beatty returns this weekend after a long hiatus with this passion project of his. He’s been trying to get this off the ground for years, so if nothing else, there’s something nice about this vision being realized. Beatty has wanted to play Howard Hughes for so long, and now he has. Reviews have been mixed, with some really taking issue with the editing. Beatty himself escapes unscathed as an actor, along with stars Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich. This could wind up being the pick of older audience members today, which in turn could simulate the Academy’s response. Keep an eye on the Thanksgiving box office.
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 57%
Oscar Hopes – Potentially in Best Actor for Beatty and in some technical categories
Screen Count – 2,382 Screens
“Always Shine” (Oscilloscope Pictures)
“Evolution” (IFC Films)
“Kill Command” (Independent)
HAPPY THANKSGIVING ONCE AGAIN FROM EVERYONE AT THE AWARDS CIRCUIT!