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Hyde Park on the Hudson

Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Olivia Colman, Samuel West
7 December
Hyde Park on the Hudson


Bill Murray as FDR? While many have praised the casting, we just don’t buy it. One look at his interpretation of the famous four term US president supports our level of fear. Murray just doesn’t seem to pack the import that Roosevelt requires, and worse yet, the narrative is based around the rumored affair between the Commander in Chief and his distant cousin, Margaret Suckley. Add in visiting royalty (the story centers on a visit from King George VI and his Queen) and the man who directed Changing Lanes and Morning Glory and you’ve got one big fat question mark.


 

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Playing for Keeps

Director: Gabriele Muccino
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Quaid
7 December
Playing for Keeps


Boy this sounds dumb. Gerard Butler plays an ex-athlete who is trying to redeem his questionable past. How? By coaching his son’s soccer team… oh, and hitting on every hot mom who attends the games. Groan. Hasn’t Hollywood hindered this hunk with enough ridiculous RomCom junk? Still, the saving grace here could be director Gabriele Muccino. Responsible for the Will Smith hits The Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds, there’s a gentle artistry to his foreign filmmaking vision. Of course, Butler is anything but subtle, and unless the storyline is handled in a deceptively different manner, it looks like more mainstream mediocrity for King Leonidas.


 

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch
14 December
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


One day, Peter Jackson will get back to making the genre-defying delights that gave him the creative clout to tackle Tolkein. Until then, we have two more years of filled with hype, hope… and the title characters. Considering the massive, worldwide success of The Lord of the Rings, we have nothing but high hopes for this pastoral prequel. The trailer even confirms our greatest expectations. But who wouldn’t want to see Jackson revisit the zombie genre with another Dead Alive, or tackle material like Heavenly Creatures and/or The Frighteners again? This has always been much more to the man than flights of fantasy.


 

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Les Miserables

Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks
14 December
Les Miserables


Unless something significant changes between now and the nominations, our money is on Anne Hathaway not only picking up an Oscar nod for her work here, but she’s our bet for taking home the top prize as well. After all, who out there could top a year where she was an integral part of the final installment of a certain billion dollar Batman franchise… and then sings the show-stopping number in one of the biggest musical hits of all time? If she doesn’t win, it means someone else picked up the Award Season wave and rode it right past her. We doubt that will happen.


 

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Amour

Director: Michael Haneke
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
19 December
Amour


Already highly touted after winning the major award at Cannes, Michael Haneke (Funny Games, The White Ribbon) appears poised to take home the Foreign Film Oscar as well. With its deceptively simple story of an elderly couple living through the final days of their lives, and two killer performances in the leads, the buzz about this film has been almost nuclear. Few can find fault in its delicate, deliberate narrative, marveling at a man whose so diverse in his subject matter and style. You’ll be hearing a lot about this in the months ahead… and almost all of it will be accolades.


 

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Zero Dark Thirty

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong, Edgar Ramirez, Jennifer Ehle, Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler, Nina Arianda
19 December
Zero Dark Thirty


The only woman in the history of the Academy Awards to take home a statue for directing a major motion picture is back and she’s mining familiar Hurt Locker territory as well. This has been a controversial project since it was announced, the US government charged with giving the filmmaker access to classified information in order to help portray the present administration in a more positive light. While the camps have denied this, any movie that deals with the hunting down (and death?) of Osama Bin Laden is bound to stir up trouble. Let’s just hope it’s good as well.


Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


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