Ah, Thanksgiving. A time to reconnect with family, give thanks for all of our blessings, get wildly drunk with everyone you hate from high school on Wednesday night, and participate in a truly astounding display of gluttony whilst enjoying Amurrican football on Thursday. Everyone’s favorite holiday indeed. This year, let’s give thanks for the first (?!) truly stellar weekend of cinematic offerings this awards-bait season. Just look at all those juicy ripe tomatoes!
So this year, skip Black Friday and take the time to celebrate with Marilyn, Muppets and Marty. First up, here’s what’s in theaters today (skip the local watering hole for these pics, trust):
HEY I DON’T KNOW IF YOU NOTICED THERE’S A NEW MUPPETS MOVIE COMING OUT!!! You’ve got to hand it to Disney, that is some market saturation up in here. And smart marketing too! The passion project from Muppets superfan/writer/star Jason Segel delivers on its promise, clocking in at a cool 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Who was the Grinch that sullied the perfect record of “The Muppets“? Certainly not us! Our review says the film is “a pure piece of cinema, one that not only rewards fans through its hard work (more than just its familiarity) but one that also strives to, and succeeds in, making new friends.” Directed by James Bobin, songs by Bret MacKenzie, co-written by Nicholas Stoller, and co-starring Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, more celeb cameos than you can shake a stick at, and all your favorite felted friends. RT: 97% MC: 76
Martin Scorsese adds “children’s film” and “3D” to his oeuvre this weekend with “Hugo,” the story of a young boy’s magical journey and an ode to the history of film to boot. Asa Butterfield stars as an orphan living in a Paris train station, on a mission to recreate a mysterious automaton of his father’s. Chloe Grace Moretz co-stars as his newfound partner in mischief, Ben Kingsley as toy shop owner Georges Méliès, Sacha Baron Cohen as the station inspector, and with Emily Mortimer, Richard Griffiths, Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone and Frances de la Tour. Our review says the film is, “magical, charming and brimming with the kind palpable love for cinema that only a devoted cinephile like Martin Scorsese can bring, ‘Hugo’ is an endearing story where imagination is the biggest special effect of all.” RT: 96% MC: 84
Michelle Williams brings the iconic Marilyn Monroe to life in “My Week with Marilyn,” a peek into a slice of the tragic bombshell’s life, as she filmed “The Prince and the Showgirl” in England with Laurence Olivier, and her friendship (or is it more?) with young assistant Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne). The cast is positively stacked, co-starring Julia Ormond, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Dougray Scott, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper and Toby Jones. Our review from the New York Film Festival says “the film’s not terrible, it’s got a terrific cast who do their best with average material, and it’s engaging enough, and tolerable enough, that in some circles it will be seen as a big crowdpleaser, but there’s very little meat on the bone.” Don’t forget to check out our 5 Best Marilyn Monroe Performances Retrospective if you need some Friday afternoon video rental inspiration. RT: 86% MC: 67
Sick of all that kid crap? How about some kinky psychoanalytic sexy type stuff with Fassy and Viggo and Keira?! OH YEAH! Oh wait, it’s not that sexy? Nevermind! Hold up just a tick, it’s David Cronenberg, my little movie freaks! In “A Dangerous Method,” Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung, taking on a new doozy of a patient in Sabina Spielrein, played with wild abandon by Keira Knightley. Viggo Mortensen portrays Jung’s buddy Sigmund Freud and Vincent Cassel his protege, Otto Gross. I’m sorry, but I just didn’t think turn of the century psychoanalysts would be such a hottie parade. Adapted from the play “The Talking Cure” by Christopher Hampton and directed by David Cronenberg, according to our review from Venice, “it’s fearsomely smart; a grown-up film that doesn’t forget to move you even as it fires up the synapses and & it examines the creative and destructive elements of sexuality in a way that very few filmmakers would dare.” And don’t forget to check out Cronenberg retrospective for all you completists out there. RT: 78% MC: 74
Oh one more kid movie. “Arthur Christmas” captures the spirit of Christmas magic with Santa and his sons voiced by Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie and James McAvoy, respectively. Aardman Animation brings their signature Britishness to DreamWorks/Sony, and the essence of it remains intact. Our review says it’s “going to be a movie that families will treasure for many decades to come,” and “with its mixture of clumsy human emotions and gleeful high-flying adventure, is pretty peerless. It’s good, for goodness’ sake.” RT: 94% MC: 72
Enough of this sap. Can I get a little Woody Harrelson corrupt LAPD action to counteract the sweets overdose? Coming right up, with Oren Moverman‘s “Rampart” also in theaters Wednesday. Harrelson stars as a disgraced cop on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Our review says, “As writer and director, Moverman isn’t just concerned with the singular breakdown of a character, but the ramifications that spread out like an oil slick to engulf his family and his colleagues, all pitched against a real-life backdrop. It’s a wildly ambitious slow burn that succeeds immensely, powered by one of the best performances of Woody Harrelson’s career.” Co-starring Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Ben Foster, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, and Ned Beatty. RT: 77% MC: 66
Opening Friday, for your post turkey coma viewing pleasure:
“The Artist” will transport you back in time, to a time when the stars were silent and the movies were black and white. French star Jean Dujardin portrays the fictional movie star George Valentin in 1927 and his romance and rivalry with rising newcomer Peppy Miller. Our review from Cannes says “wildly entertaining, with a big generous heart… not just an exercise in old school filmmaking, it’s a beautifully told story that is classic and timeless in feel,” and “a big blast of pure delight, there is no doubt at this point that ‘The Artist’ has vaulted itself into a frontrunner for a Best Picture nomination.” RT: 98% MC: 82
All these films are worth putting on your nice stretchy pants and venturing out of the house this holiday weekend. Not to mention, you’ll be up on your Oscar frontrunners early.