The Holiday Season is the Oscar Season


In this World-War-II-era adventure, English blueblood Sarah Ashley finds herself whisked away to the land of Oz when she inherits a cattle ranch of truly epic proportions. When it seems the ranch will be taken from her, Sarah enlists the help of a tactless yet tempting cattle drover to move her gargantuan herd across country and foil the takeover plans. But the true test of the lady's mettle comes when she and her highly unseemly new lover get caught up in the brutal bombing of the city of Darwin.

Director Baz Luhrman (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) brings his expressive style to some real history. If Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman managed to make animated Antarctica sizzle in Happy Feet with their voices alone, just imagine the chemistry these two will bring to their homeland.


Benjamin Button, born in New Orleans in 1918, is no ordinary infant. A doctor declares his body to be aged like that of a man in his eighties, and no one expects him to live too long. Despite predictions, Benjamin survives, seeming in fact to grow younger and stronger. During his childhood he befriends young Daisy, who is unafraid of the "old man." He lives on to attend school, fight in a war, and baffle everyone he meets. As his body grows gradually younger, his heart learns the timeless nature of love.

It's the second on-screen pairing of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, who were so good together in 2006's heart-wrenching Babel. Stylish and provocative director David Fincher reteams with Pitt for the third time after Seven and Fight Club. It's a lush, engaging and emotional story that has already been pegged by observers as a sure Best Picture nominee.


It all started with a few records sold out of the back of Leonard Chess's Cadillac. During two turbulent decades of history, the music machine Chess Records oversaw the rise of such legendary artists as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James, and Bo Diddley. In this true-life musical drama, writer-director Darnell Martin chronicles not only the life of Leonard Chess, but also the racial issues of the day and the stories of the many colorful personalities who contributed to the company's success.

Oscar winner Adrien Brody is joined by a veritable "Who's Who" of modern African-American acting and musical talent including Jeffrey Wright, Beyonce Knowles, Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union and Mos Def.


In 1974, Richard Nixon made history by resigning the office of the Presidency, evading trial and conviction for crimes committed while in office. Three years later, charismatic British talk show host David Frost convinced Nixon to do a televised interview. This film dramatizes the conflict between two famous egos: a disgraced President hoping to stage a comeback by outfoxing a journalistic lightweight, and an ambitious celebrity hoping to make his mark by giving Nixon the trial he never had.

With films like Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Cinderella Man under his belt, Academy Award winner Ron Howard is just the director to bring this acclaimed stage play to the big screen. Frank Langella won a Tony for his overwhelming performance as Nixon in the stage play, and is already being talked about as a strong contender for a Best Actor Oscar.


In this groundbreaking rags-to-riches fantasy, 18-year-old orphan Jamal Malik stuns the audience of India's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"-style game show by answering every question correctly. The show has to take a break from shooting before it reaches the final 20-million-rupee question, and in the meantime, Jamal finds himself under arrest. How could an unschooled street rat know so much without cheating? The police demand to know, but the answer to that question is neither simple nor multiple-choice.

The script by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) is brought to vivid life by the visionary director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Millions). The story is based on the best-selling novel "Q & A" by Vikas Swarup, which has been translated into 32 languages. The audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival voted Slumdog Millionaire as their favorite feature, and the movie is already getting Oscar buzz from critics like Roger Ebert.


In 1977, a brash and indomitable camera shop owner named Harvey Milk made history. After two previous failed attempts, Milk finally became elected as a San Francisco city supervisor, making him the first openly gay man to hold public office in the United States. This biographical film, starring Oscar winner Sean Penn, looks deeply into the later life of the self-styled "Mayor of Castro Street," including his election and his assassination the following year.

The film is directed by the multitalented Gus Van Sant, best known for directing Good Will Hunting. Oscar-winner, Golden Globe winner, and controversial activist Sean Penn was Van Sant's first choice for the title role.


Set in 1964, this story takes place at the Bronx Catholic school of St. Nicholas. Draconian principal Sister Aloysius believes that children are best ruled with an iron hand, and disapproves of the changes that kindly Father Flynn wishes to make in the school's methods. When naive Sister James begins to suspect that Father Floyd may have an inappropriate relationship with the school's first African-American student, Sister Aloysius seizes the chance to punish Floyd for his sins... whether real or imagined.

Meryl Streep can always be counted on for a tour de force, but this promises to be one of her most wry, ruthless, and riveting performances yet. The play upon which the film was based has won not only the Drama Desk and Tony Awards for Best Play, but also the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


IRS agent Ben Thomas believes that in one crucial moment in his past, he made the wrong decision and destroyed his chances at future happiness. Now, in a desperate attempt to atone for his guilt, he sets out to change the lives of seven people he has never met. In the process, he befriends a blind pianist and falls in love with a remarkable, courageous young woman who will make him reevaluate not only his plan, but his entire life.

If you loved The Pursuit of Happyness, you'll be thrilled to see director Gabriele Muccino working once again with the remarkable Will Smith.


In this surreal, haunting "animated documentary," director and Israeli Defense Force veteran Ari Folman explores his own experiences during the First Lebanon War. It begins with an encounter in a bar with a friend and fellow veteran, who reveals that he has a strange recurring nightmare about being chased by twenty-six dogs. Intrigued by the dream, and by the fact that he can remember nothing of his own experiences during the war, Ari sets out to interview other witnesses to piece together what happened.

It won six Israeli Ophir Academy Awards, and it was nominated for the Golden Palm at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Last year's Oscar-nominated Persepolis showed that animation can be used to tell a true story in a way that crosses all international borders.


Frank and April Wheeler, on the surface, appear to be a happy 1950s suburban couple. Frank has a steady, lucrative job, and April has given him two beautiful children, leaving their neighbors impressed and envious. Under the surface though, both Frank and April yearn for adventures and heightened experiences that their life of middle-class mediocrity denies them. As they each attempt to break out of their own perceived prisons, their marriage begins to dissolve and their lives spin wildly out of control.

The last time Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio smooched onscreen, they set worldwide box office records. It's directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty), who hopefully has a happier marriage with Kate in real life than Leo does on screen. The Richard Yates book the movie is based on was called one of the 100 best novels of the century by Time Magazine. Kate Winslet is the youngest actress to have been nominated for five Academy Awards, but she still has not won. Leonardo DiCaprio has earned three nods, also without having won. However, Peter O'Toole trumps them both with eight acting nominations without a win.


Related Posts with Thumbnails