The Oscar bait movies are finally here, as two movies getting award buzz open this weekend.
In limited release, but opening wide next weekend, is Ron Howard’s Rush, (75) a look back at the rivalry of Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Howard has never been an automatic for good movies–his films of the Dan Brown novels ended whatever respect he had built up–but this one is getting pretty decent reviews. Manohla Dargis: “Rush,” which is serious without being self-serious, fun without being trivial, feels like the movie that he has been waiting to make his whole life — it’s no wonder that he climbs into the cockpits with the camera again and again. Having a good script makes a difference, as does a brilliant cinematographer like Anthony Dod Mantle, who, shooting in digital, paints the screen in stunning, saturated colors that put the story’s extremes into vivid terms. There are no washed-out tones or characters here.”
In wide release is Prisoners, (73). When I saw the trailer for this I figured it was a throwaway thriller, but apparently it’s more than that. It was directed by Denis Villanueve, who made the excellent Incedies. The story seems familiar–two girls go missing and one of the fathers takes the law into his own hands. A. O. Scott: “But if “Prisoners,” written by Aaron Guzikowski, upholds some of the conventions of the angry-dad revenge drama, it also subverts them in surprising, at times devastating ways. The easy catharsis of righteous payback is complicated at every turn, and pain and uncertainty spread like spilled oil on an asphalt road.”
Opening on Wednesday in limited release was Enough Said, (76) which gets extra press because it’s the last film of James Gandolfini, in a romantic comedy co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. Scott: “Now is the time to state that “Enough Said” is very funny indeed. Line for line, scene for scene, it is one of the best-written American film comedies in recent memory and an implicit rebuke to the raunchy, sloppy spectacles of immaturity that have dominated the genre in recent years.”
There are also the usual slew of indies and documentaries opening. After Tiller (77) concerns the few doctors who still perform late-term abortions in the U.S. +1 (68) is described as a sci-fi party film. Sticking with sci-fi, The Colony (27) stars Laurence Fishburne. My favorite title of the week is Jewtopia. (10). Yes, there’s a movie called Jewtopia.