Our long national movie nightmare is over: the Grownup Movies Season is in full swing. I do hope you’ve been saving your pennies since last January to take advantage of November and December, when Hollywood studio execs wake up, look in a mirror and declare, “Wait a minute—we’ve been releasing crap all year! How in the world will we win any Oscars for that tripe?”
So they run out and track down Clint Eastwood on the golf course and say, “Hey, uh, Clint, listen, you got anything for us?” And Clint gives them one of those disdainful squints and jerks his head toward his golf cart, where they find a copy of Million-Dollar Baby, or Letters from Iwo Jima, or, in this year’s case, J. Edgar.
It happens all over Hollywood. Steven Spielberg opens his front door and there he sees three guys from Disney, nervously shuffling their feet. “Wait a minute,” Spielberg grunts, and a couple of minutes later he comes back and hands them a digital copy of Munich, or Catch Me If You Can, or this year, War Horse.
Same thing over at The Weinstein Company. After 11 months of releasing stuff like Apollo 18 and Zombie Diaries 2, Bob and Harvey Weinstein suddenly remember that they’ll have to face their relatives come Thanksgiving. So they take a quick look under the sofa cushions and find those Oscar bait gems they’ve been sitting on all year, things like The King’s Speech and Inglorious Basterds—and this year’s My Week With Marilyn and The Iron Lady.
So, get out your calendar and pencil in these last-gasp movies that we’re all hoping will redeem Hollywood for yet another year:
The Descendants Writer-director Alexander Payne brought us two of the most thoughtful comedies for grownups of the past decade: About Schmidt and Sideways. This time he teams up with George Clooney for a delightful—if at times sobering—look at a man whose life turns upside-down in middle age.
My Week With Marilyn A young, starstruck British guy (Eddie Redmayne) gets the assignment of a lifetime: He has to babysit Marilyn Monroe (pitch-perfect Michelle Williams) while she’s in Blighty filming The Prince and The Showgirl opposite Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) in 1956.
Rampart Woody Harrelson is one of our most underappreciated screen actors, but that could change with this portrait of a renegade L.A. cop. The movie’s also got Steve Buscemi, so what’s not to like?
War Horse Opens on Christmas Day, but you might want to think twice before taking your horse-loving 8-year old to see Spielberg’s epic war drama, based on a gritty, sometimes brutal Broadway play.
We Need to Talk About Kevin Two treasures of the screen, Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly, seem ready to tear our hearts out as the parents of a sociopathic boy who goes on a high-school killing spree.
The Artist One of the true surprises of the season is this new black-and-white silent film, an homage to the era when Hollywood made its uneasy transition from silent to sound. A French production (well, it’s silent, so who cares?), the films features a wonderful performance from one of America’s most emotive actors, John Goodman.
Hugo Could this be the year’s Best Movie for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up? It’s the story of a young boy who unravels a fantastic mystery in a Paris train station, and least promising of all, it’s in 3-D. But they don’t come more grownup than director Martin Scorsese, and an estimable cast including Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee and Ray Winstone are on hand to keep things real.
Okay, so, you have your marching orders. Get out there and support the movies that actually try to challenge their audience (And read our full reviews on our Movies for Grownups Channel as they’re released). Otherwise, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself come January, when your local multiplex may as well post a “No Grownups Allowed” sign.