Now that all the Holiday craziness is behind us, it's time to get back to normal around here. That means returning to this column, the Weekend Movie Guide, and maybe some Movie News Today here and there when we get the chance. But before we move full throttle into 2012, make sure you get your 2011 fix in by checking out this year's Worst 15 Movies I Didn't See, Top 10 Performances, and Full Movie Rankings.
A few things to look for in the upcoming weeks here at The Soap Box Office:
1.) I'm in the process of revamping the look of the page just a bit. So forgive any moments of sloppiness as I try to figure out what works and what doesn't.
2.) Sometime this week I'll run a list of my 10 Most Anticipated Films of the Year (Part 1). Be on the lookout for that feature.
3.) Since there are almost no new films worth seeing this month, I expect to play some serious catchup on the important 2011 movies I missed out on. Expect a heavy dose of In Home Viewings in the upcoming month.
4.) And lastly, I'm changing my grading system. I've always gone with the letter grade system and I like it the best. But since IEF grades on a 5 reel/star scale, it's become too much nuisance to translate the score. So, beginning with 2012 releases, I'm moving to the 5 star grading system. (Any 2011 films I review will remain on the letter grade system in keeping with the rest of the films from that year.) I know this is a big deal to no one but me but still...
Also, somewhere over the Christmas vacation, The Soap Box Office topped 25,000 hits. The vast majority of those hits came in the year 2011 and I just wanted to thank all of you for making this a worthwhile endeavor. I've had a lot of fun posting here but my fun would be seriously dampened without, you know, some readers. So thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll all keep it up!
George Clooney will direct and star in The Monuments Men about US operatives who tracked down art stolen by the Nazis.
Emma Stone has taken on the comedy Little White Corvette. All Stone did in 2011 was solidify herself into "I Will See Anything You're Involved With" territory. Absolutely love her.
I missed this last week unfortunately. After Benicio Del Toro turned down the role of the villain in next year's Star Trek 2, JJ Abrams turned to the suddenly SUPER popular, Benedict Cumberbatch, who just killed it in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and a BBC production of Sherlock Holmes. Well done, JJ.
My man Terrence (formerly known as the ScarletSp1der) has changed up his website and the new look is dope. Check it out!
And another IEF contributor, Matt, posted his worst films of 2011 over at Cinema Slants. Great picks!
I'm back to being disappointed in you, America. Given the HUGE take The Devil Inside Me brought in this week and its miniscule budget ($1 million), we can expect a slew of Paranormal Activity-like sequels in the coming years. Which is definitely what we all need. Boo.
1. The Devil Inside Me - $34.5M
2. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - $20.5M ($170.2M)
3. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - $14.05M ($157.41M)
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - $11.3M ($76.83M)
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked - $9.5M ($111.58M)
6. War Horse - $8.6M ($56.82M)
7. We Bought a Zoo - $8.45M ($56.54M)
8. The Adventures of Tintin - $6.6M ($61.88M)
9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - $5.76M ($10.41M)
10. New Year's Eve - $3.26M ($52.02M)
New to DVD
In celebration of their 100th anniversary this year, Universal has re-released a litany of films on Blu-Ray this week (and will release more throughout the year). This list includes films like American Graffiti, Apollo 13, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In this space I generally focus on films that are being released on DVD or Blu-Ray for the first time so I won't cover them all but it may be worth your while to browse through all the selections that Amazon has to offer.
What I'll Be Renting This Week
Higher Ground (2010) - Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard, John Hawkes
Farmiga's directorial debut centers on a member of a conservative religious group who begins to question her faith. Higher Ground was available in my area for about three days last fall and I was unable to get to it. A pity, because I've heard outstanding things from viewers/critics I respect. Farmiga is always brilliant and I'm extremely interested to see how she works in the director's chair.
When Harry Met Sally (1989) - Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Bruno Kirby, Carrie Fisher (New to Blu)
My all-time favorite chick flick and it's not even close. Class Billy Crystal, classic Meg Ryan, and classic Rob Reiner. It is the perfect romantic comedy. That's not up for debate. (BTW, my second favorite chick flick, Serendipity, came to Blu-Ray last week.)
What You ABSOLUTELY MUST SEE If You Haven't Seen It Already
Schindler's List (1993) - Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes (New to Blu)
Hands down, the greatest movie I'll probably never watch again. I've never had to work so hard to fight through a great film like I did with Schindler's List. It is ROUGH SLEDDING but totally and completely worth it. This makes the short list of films that every human MUST see before they die.
What I've Seen and I Guess You Might Want to See, Too
Moneyball (2011) - Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Boardwalk Empire: Season 1 (2010) - Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald
It's not that I didn't like these endeavors; I did (Boardwalk more than Moneyball). It's that I'm just not completely sure how good they are. I feel that Moneyball is a good film that everyone wants to make into a great film. In five years, I think we look back on this one and wonder why we were all so sold on it. But hey, it's definitely worth seeing and it'll certainly be a player during Award Season. Boardwalk is an enigma for me. It is undoubtedly an exquistely crafted show filled with amazing performances. And yet, I've watched every episode and I'm still not sure if I really and truly like it or not. I don't know what to say beyond that.
What's Your Number (2011) - Anna Faris, Chris Evans
Killer Elite (2011) - Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro
There Be Dragons (2011) - Charlie Cox, Wes Bentley, Dougray Scott
Never Been Kissed (1999) - Drew Barrymore, David Arquette
Billy Elliot (2000) - Jamie Bell, Julie Walters
Shallow Hal (2001) - Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow
Legally Blonde (2001) - Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson
Just My Luck (2006) - Lindsay Lohan, Chris Pine
John Tucker Must Die (2006) - Jesse Metcalfe, Ashanit, Brittany Snow
Just Married (2003) - Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy
Coming to a Theater Near You
If you'd like to join me in pretending the January Movie Calendar doesn't exist, I support your decision.
Action movies that debut in January are almost always a bad bet. (And this year we get three or four of them!) But I guess we could do worse than Marky Mark and Kate Beckinsale. Contraband isn't going to be good but I'm thinking it won't be a complete waste of life. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: 45%
Joyful Noise - Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer
A friend of mine offered me $50 to see this movie and review it. I decline. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: 35%
Beyond bad action movies and appalling horror flicks, January also brings with it a number of limited release films that expand into more theaters. Last week we got Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (go see that one, people) and this week brings us the polarizing We Need to Talk About Kevin (starring Tilda Swinton) and The Iron Lady, which has been disappointing. We'll also get a 3D cut of Beauty and the Beast.