Los Angeles: Get out the Oscar scorecards because next week Hollywood launches its new movie season, with a typical fall mix of adult dramas dealing with more serious topics than this past summer’s popcorn flicks.
Movies such as Western 3:10 to Yuma, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, and Elizabeth: The Golden Age aspire to be early frontrunners in the race for Oscars, the world’s top film honours, which are given out in winter by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
But lovers of adventure and comedy should not despair. Plenty of other titles also fill the bill, ranging from Jodie Foster’s actioner The Brave One to Ben Stiller’s comedy The Heartbreak Kid and Disney fairy tale Enchanted.
“I think people want to be entertained. I think they want to be moved. I think they want to be taken on a journey, and the last thing they want is be preached at,” actor Charlize Theron said recently.
Theron stars in one of September’s more serious movies, In the Valley of Elah, from writer/director Paul Haggis, who brought out Oscar-winning Crash. Elah tells the story of a former military cop (Tommy Lee Jones) investigating the murder of his son, an Army soldier home from Iraq.
Other top September tickets are The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with Brad Pitt, and King of California starring Michael Douglas. Sean Penn directs drama Into the Wild, and Ang Lee brings out Lust, Caution, a thriller about seduction and betrayal in 1940s China.
September ends in a bang with action flick The Kingdom, starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner as FBI agents sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate a bombing, sparking a culture clash between mid-East and Western ideology.
“I wanted to make a film that dealt with the Middle East and that dealt with religious extremism, but I first and foremost wanted to make a film that... people would be thrilled at,” said director Peter Berg.
October starts on a lighter note with Stiller’s The Heartbreak Kid from comedy writing and directing brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, who were behind Stiller’s 1998 hit There’s Something About Mary.
Heartbreak Kid follows a man pursuing the woman of his dreams while on his honeymoon, and is filled with off-colour jokes, strange sex and other Farrelly brother hallmarks. One offbeat comedy creating big advance buzz in Hollywood is director Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, about three friends who go on a spiritual quest throughout India. Movies also get serious in October. George Clooney, who scored an awards hit in 2005 with Good Night, and Good Luck, is back with Michael Clayton, playing a man hired by a law firm to straighten out an attorney drawn into a conspiracy.
Finally in October, John Cusack stars in Grace is Gone, a hit at 2007’s Sundance Film Festival about a father grieving the loss of his wife in Iraq.
By early November, Hollywood returns to fare aimed at mostly younger audiences, and computer animated Bee Movie, created by comedian Jerry Seinfeld, fits that bill. It tells of a bee who escapes his hum-drum hive for life in Manhattan. “You’re not going to make anything good if you’re not excited, and when I saw this technology and I saw how you can make anything, go anywhere... this is fresh,” Seinfeld said. Another animated wonder in November will be Beowulf, directed by Robert Zemeckis, who uses motion-capture technology to retell the epic poem that follows Beowulf’s battles. Paul Giamatti and Vince Vaughn portray rival siblings—jolly ol’ Kriss Kringle and his bad brother—in Fred Claus, and Enchanted tells of a princess who is plucked from her fairy tale life and put into the real world.
Finally, major stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe appear together in action thriller American Gangster, and Tom Cruise takes a leading role in a rumination over war, Lions for Lambs, directed by Oscar winner Robert Redford.
Yes, it is fall in Hollywood, and the Oscar race is on.