Oscar nomination week is always an exciting time for movie lovers, and we’ve been happy to see some of our favorites — and yours — get singled out for Academy Award consideration.
Bryan Cranston, our Movies for Grownups choice for Best Actor, and Mark Rylance, our MFG Supporting Actor choice, both got Oscar nods (for Trumbo and Bridge of Spies, respectively). Spotlight , our selection as Best Picture, is an Oscar nominee as well. All three will receive Movies for Grownups awards February 8 in Beverly Hills.
We also applaud the seven Oscar nominations scooped up by The Martian, our Readers’ Choice. But an eighth — for Best Director — should have gone to Ridley Scott, our choice for that honor. Hopefully we’ll bounce back from that disappointment by the time the awards ceremony is telecast February 28: Among our favorite movies of 2015 was 45 Years, so we were thrilled when star Charlotte Rampling got a nomination. She’s the sole actress over 50 in the leading-lady category.
Eyes of the Tiger
In 2000, Michelle Yeoh thrilled and enchanted moviegoers around the world with her soaring swordplay in the four-Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Here’s an advance look at the 53-year-old star’s triumphant return in the sequel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. It will be in IMAX theaters and on Netflix February 26.
This Weekend at the Movies
Designates a Movies for Grownups Editors’ Choice
New in Theaters
The Lady in the Van
Maggie Smith is the lady in question, a homeless woman who parked her van in the driveway of London playwright Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) and stayed for 14 years. Smith’s bravura performance is heartbreaking and hilarious.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Action master Michael Bay ( Armageddon, Transformers) directs this war drama about how security broke down during an attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya. John Krasinski ( The Office) stars. Will you sit on the left or right side of the aisle?
Fearing that the Apollo 11 landing may fail, the CIA sends an agent (Ron Pearlman) to enlist Stanley Kubrick — the director of 2001: A Space Odyssey — to create a plausible fake landing for TV. Instead the spook gets duped into hiring a total stoner ( Harry Potter’s goofy Rupert Grint) and his potted pals, every one of them as high as the You-Know-What.
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New at Home
Woody Allen’s annual coming-out party offers the slogging story of a schlubby philosophy professor (Joaquin Phoenix) who finds midlife renewal in the arms of a married fellow teacher (Parker Posey) and a comely student (Emma Stone).
The Second Mother
Brazilian star Regina Casé is brilliant as a housekeeper whose modern-minded daughter comes to stay at the home where she works in São Paulo, only to scandalize Mom and her employers with her disregard for class boundaries.
Still Out There
With an intimacy verging on the voyeuristic, this portrait of a long-married couple ( Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay) facing up to a long-simmering conflict is one of the most finely realized visions of marriage ever put on screen.
The Big Short
Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt star in this account of the investors who saw the 2007 financial crash coming — and cashed in while everyone else lost their shirts. Director Adam McCary literally stops the action to put the likes of chef Anthony Bourdain and Selena Gomez before the camera to explain the mechanics of ARMageddon.
Bridge of Spies
In this true-life Cold War-era story, Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks as a modest lawyer thrown into negotiating the swap of a Soviet agent for captured U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. FULL REVIEW
Cate Blanchett will break your heart as a 1950s wife and mother who finds herself falling in love with a young shopgirl (Rooney Mara). The actresses’ total commitment to their roles — along with Kyle Chandler’s sensitive turn as Carol’s hurt and confused husband — lift the story clear of its sudsy premise.
Are you ready for some football? Maybe not, as Will Smith transforms himself before our eyes into the Pittsburgh medical examiner who discovered pigskin players are susceptible to brain injury from repeated blows to the head. Albert Brooks is a delight as the doc’s seen-it-all boss. FULL REVIEW
And the seventh ( Rocky film, that is) shall be the best: Creator Sylvester Stallone turned the writing and directing duties over to Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), who cast the wonderful Michael B. Jordan as a young boxer who asks Rocky to mentor him. A Golden Globe ensued for Sly. FULL REVIEW
The Hateful Eight
Eight armed, murderous characters are trapped together in a snow-bound mountain cabin. What could go wrong? Let Quentin Tarantino and His All-Stars (Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern et al.) count the ways.
In the Heart of the Sea
Ron Howard’s epic vision of an 1820s whaling ship under attack by its target is spectacular as long as the fins are flying. Once the sailors find themselves bobbing about in lifeboats thousands of miles from shore, however, our interest starts to drift as well. FULL REVIEW
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A snappy script and energetic performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen and Isabella Rossellini keep things popping in this fact-based story of the woman whose Miracle Mop became a QVC sensation.
Love the Coopers
Or not, as a mishmash of story lines lead up to a Christmas Eve family showdown. Still, Diane Keaton and John Goodman manage to charm us as loving combatants. FULL REVIEW
The Night Before
The Hangover meets Bad Santa in Seth Rogen’s latest dirty-mouthed-druggie-discovers-his-sensitive-side comedy.
Mauled by a bear and left for dead by his Wild West pardners, a grizzled frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) survives against the odds to wreak vengeance on those who abandoned him. Grizzly Adams this ain’t.
Bring a hanky. Better yet, a box of ’em. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are extraordinary as a mother and her five-year-old son who escape after being held captive in a single small room for the youngster’s entire life. With Joan Allen and William H. Macy. FULL REVIEW
Best buds Amy Poehler and Tina Fey return as siblings who learn their parents are selling the family home — and decide to throw one last kegger.
In one of the year’s best films, Michael Keaton stars as the Boston Globe editor who coached his ace reporters ( Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are two) through their outing of pedophile priests. FULL REVIEW
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Warriors, you can all exhale now: Writer-director J. J. Abrams has created a sequel worthy of George Lucas’s original. The new cast members (notably Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac) are immensely appealing, but the true draw is the return of the original Force field: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and, fleetingly, Mark Hamill. FULL REVIEW
Bryan Cranston is galvanizing as Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter jailed and blacklisted during the Red Scare of the 1940s. Instead of demonizing Hollywood commie-hunters, the film shows how demagoguery can force good people to make devastating choices. A tale for our times? FULL REVIEW
As crumbling old friends who meet up at a crumbling Swiss health spa for their annual get-together, Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are pitch-perfect in this dreamlike meditation on age, friendship and memory. FULL REVIEW
Also of Interest
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