The Stars Came Out: The Hottest Movies to See From Now Till Thanksgiving

duedate 02005 0 The Stars Came Out: The Hottest Movies to See From Now Till ThanksgivingDue Date, Nov. 5, Warner Bros.

Paging 1987! Due Date, Todd Philips’ follow up to last year’s surprise smash The Hangover, seems to borrow from an old favorite’s formula–cough, Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Take two mismatched strangers, strand them far away from the familiar and force them to band together to find their way home. Of course, it helps when your odd couple is Robert Downey Jr. (playing the uptight and high-strung one) and Zach Galifianakis (who, um, plays the other one), two of the hardest-working and most likable guys in Hollywood. The moviegoing public certainly seems ready to sign up to this bromantic comedy; the trailer–which features a dizzying array of physical comedy hijinks (ashes in coffee cans, trucks going over potholes, Mr. Galifianakis’ little dog) and just the right kind of deadpan dialogue that should allow the two men to play off each other like shadowboxers–has already been viewed over half a million times on YouTube. Somehow, somewhere, Jamie Foxx, RZA and Danny McBride show up to further sweeten the deal, and, well, you may as well hand your money over now.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Nov. 19, Warner Bros.

We’ve been watching the movie versions of the Harry Potter franchise for nearly a decade, which really should give at least one moment’s pause. ‘Cause you know what? While we’ve been watching these adorable moppets fight evil with wondrous magic, they’ve been growing up into adults (is that a hint of a gingery fuzz on Ron Weasley’s upper lip? Ack!). The latest trailer points to the David Yates-directed production going into even darker waters than before, somewhat hard to believe since the previous installment, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, involved the death of one of the most beloved characters. Of course, this is just one half of the big shebang; the second part of Hallows and the end of the Harry Potter series as we know it will arrive in theaters next year. Prepare for some Lost-like hysteria.

 

Burlesque, Nov. 24, Sony

So let’s imagine that it’s Thanksgiving weekend, and the combined sound of your darling family’s voice is driving you out of the house and to the multiplex, where you’ll go watch the awesome insanity that will surely be part of Burlesque. Is it the next Showgirls? The next Glitter? Chicago mixed with Moulin Rogue? Who knows! But here’s what we’ve sussed out: Christina Aguilera plays Alice, a small-town girl with big ambitions who comes to Los Angeles with the unquenchable desire to be a … burlesque dancer. Sadly, the powers that be–in this case Stanley Tucci (!) and Cher (!!)–don’t agree, until they are shocked by the powerful singing voice coming out of petite little Alice, and then it’s all fishnets, fame, McSteamy and lord knows what else. God, we just can’t wait!

 

127 Hours, Nov. 5, Fox Searchlight

If people faint during your movie’s screening, you know you got something special. And that’s what has happened a few times now during viewings of Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. The film is based on the real-life story of Aron Ralston, a hiker who brought all sorts of unfortunate meaning to the phrase “rock and a hard place” in 2003 after he amputated his own arm after being trapped by a boulder in Utah for almost five days. The casting of James Franco is a good choice (hard to imagine Cillian Murphy playing a laid-back hiker dude, as was previously rumored), as we like him best when he’s playing sloppily silly and effortlessly charismatic characters. And remember: It’s the same team-up with Mr. Boyle as director and co-writer Simon Beaufoy that got these guys the big win for Slumdog Millionaire.

 

Let Me In, Oct. 1, Overture

People–quite understandably!–bristled at the news that there was to be an American remake of 2008’s Let the Right One In. And yet there’s been nothing but excellent buzz over Let Me In (why they changed the title we cannot say). Directed by Cloverfield‘s Matt Reeves (who must be delighted not to have to employ the shaky cam), this one moves the action away from the snowy banks of Sweden to New Mexico in the early ’80s. There, things seem to follow the same premise as the original: Adorable little boy (played by The Road‘s Kodi Smit-McPhee) gets bullied until he meets the rather strange girl next door (Kick Ass‘s Chloe Moretz) and learns why she’s able to, um, do stuff. The best news of all? Two words: Richard Jenkins. We can’t wait to know the answer to our main question about this remake: Will there be cats?

 

Hereafter, Oct. 22, Warner Bros.

What’s an autumnal season without a Clint Eastwood movie? Matt Damon suits up again (sans South African accent, praise be, after last year’s Invictus), for this dark psychological thriller about a guy who can speak with ghosts. Yes, you read that correctly! Other people who show up include Richard Kind, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jay Mohr (hooray!), Cécile De France and Frankie and George McLearen, playing the token spookily precocious kid. We just don’t know what to think after seeing the trailer! It’s either going to be, like, Oscar amazing, or it could take a left turn and be Knowing amazing. That said, the great Peter Morgan wrote the script; Steven Spielberg executive-produced; and you gotta trust in the Damon and the Eastwood.

 

The King’s Speech, Nov. 26, the Weinstein Company

If we were the betting kind, the smart money for early Oscar picks would go squarely toward The King’s Speech. This thing just seems designed for award-show glory: Directed by Tom Hooper (John Adams), it stars the great Colin Firth as King George VI, who had a rather debilitating stutter that was holding him back just as England was headed to war. Geoffrey Rush (Shine) is the man hired to help him through it; Helena Bonham Carter plays his wife; and good lord, Guy Pearce in this, too! So we got an inspirational tale, Oscar-caliber actors, English accents, period costumes and royals overcoming adversity. The King’s Speech took top prize earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival–watch for it to take home a lot more statuettes in the months to come.

 

Morning Glory, Nov. 12, Paramount Pictures

Casting Harrison Ford to play a crotchety anchorman who gets put on a morning GMA-like show with Diane Keaton? Consider us sold. Rachel McAdams (who should be working more than she is) stars as a hotshot television producer who is charged with reviving a flailing morning-show program with two anchors who hate each other. Morning Glory was written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill), and so we’re guessing that this won’t be a hoity-toity Oscar pick, but will surely be good fun–at one point in the trailer, Mr. Ford says solemnly, “I won’t say the word ‘fluffy.‘ Or will he?

 

Welcome to the Rileys, Oct. 29, Sony

It’s going to be interesting to see what will happen with Welcome to the Riley‘s, a small movie starring two people of great interest to very different audiences. Kristen Stewart, patron saint of the skinny and faux-awkward riding the L train, plays an underage stripper/prostitute (who will also surely be skinny and awkward) who becomes the personal project of a businessman, played by James Gandolfini. It’s a toss-up which is harder for audiences to divorce themselves from, Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano or Stewart’s Twilight heroine. The good news is that this film also stars the magnificent Melissa Leo (Frozen River), and was written by Ken Hixon (Inventing the Abbots); it was directed by Jake Scott (son of Ridley). We’re a little concerned to hear what we think might be a Southern accent coming out of Mr. Gandolfini (who last did this in the disastrous remake of All the King’s Men), but we’re holding out hope.

 

Company Men, Oct. 22, The Weinstein Company

Hooray, it’s another film about the craptastic state of the economy! Ben Affleck, fresh off the giant lovefest that happened in the wake of The Town, stars in this rather depressing-looking affair from E.R.‘s John Wells. Company Men (a title we are apparently unable to remember) follows three men trying to get through a year in the wake of the dreaded corporate downsizing, and how it affects their lives and families. Honestly, after watching the trailer, you might think that’s the movie’s whole damn plot, but considering the roster of talent involved–in addition to Mr. Affleck, there’s the awesome Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner (!), Maria Bello and Rosemarie DeWitt–and the general swooning that took place at Sundance, we’re thinking good thoughts.

svilkomerson@observer.com