The Arts, Etc.

POPULAR MOVIES - Quick Overviews

AVATAR: James Cameron, Director. Exotic sci-fi epic out-awesomes Titanic. Other worldly 150 years from now. Years in the making; global hit.

THE BLIND SIDE: John Lee Hancock, Director. Finally, Sandra Bullock scores a hit and nets serious nominations. A feel-good movie based upon fact.

BROTHERS: Jim Sheridan, Director. Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman. Afghanistan-scarred Marine brings home the war within himself.

CRAZY HEART: Scott Cooper, Director/Screenplay (book by Thomas Cobb). Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall. Authentic Country & Western story twangs heartstrings. A little movie featuring a cast of big pros headed by the incomparable Bridges.

EVERYBODY'S FINE: Kirk Jones, Director. Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Lucien Maisel. Newly-widowed De Niro tracks down his grown children who don't visit him. A sorta road trip. Mixed reviews.

INVICTUS: Clint Eastwood, Director. Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon as a rugby captain. Rugby doubles as a political football.

IT'S COMPLICATED: Nancy Meyer, Director. Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin. Not quite a screwball comedy, but close...

THE LAST STATION: Michael Hoffman, Writer-Director. James McAvoy, Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, Paul Giamatti. There's nothing dull about the cast or Tolstoy's final year.

THE LOVELY BONES: Peter Jackson, Director. Based upon the bestselling page-turner by Alice Sebold Saoirse Ronan (as Susie Salmon). Who? Think Atonement and the young befuddled girl, Briony.

ME AND ORSON WELLES: Richard Linklater, Director. Zac Efron, Claire Danes. Coming-of-age comedy develops within Welles historic Mercury Theatre

THE MESSENGER: Oren Moverman, Director. Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson. Woody's outstanding performance as the bearer of bad news to military families has the critics falling all over themselves.

NINE: Rob Marshall, Director. More of his Chicago razzle-dazzle. Mixed reviews. Daniel Day-Lewis is Sophia Loren's son. His harem includes Cotillard, Cruz, Dench, Fergie, Kidman, Hudson.

PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL "PUSH" BY SAPPHIRE: Lee Daniels, Director; Oprah Winfrey, Producer. Gabourcy Sidibe, Mo'Nique. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman writes: "It's a potent and moving experience, because by the end you feel you've witnessed nothing less than the birth of a soul." Enthusiastically received around the world.

THE ROAD: John Hilcoat, Director. Adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize novel Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Post-Apocalypse survival of father and son. This powerful film has wowed the critics. Nothing mixed about their reviews.

A SERIOUS MAN: Joel and Ethan Coen, Directors, Writers, Producers. Michael Stuhlbarg, Sari Lennick, Richard Kind. American Film Institute's Top 10 Films of 2009. The drama is dark; the comedic moments are dark. The Coen brothers score again.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: Guy Ritchie, Director. A brawling & brainy sleuth. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Dr. Watson. Refreshingly different points of view.

A SINGLE MAN: Tom Ford, Director (co-writer with David Scearce). Adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's novel. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode. Colin mourns death of partner. Julianne deals with frustrations. Fashionably chic sets and costuming.

UP IN THE AIR: Jason Reitman, Director. George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman. Think sophisticated reality comedy. Gorgeous George is a strong Best Actor candidate for his nuanced performance.

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