Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Maybe this will be the turning point that will have me re-evaluating the 100% Oscar-nominated cinema of Stephen Daldry, but at the moment, Daldry is the number one reservation I have about this movie (Jonathan Safran Foer's possible douchebaggery running second, with Sandra Bullock a distant third). It's about a kid trying to solve the mystery of a key left behind by his father (Tom Hanks) who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and there must be something to this material that got Hanks, Bullock, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, John Goodman, and Max von Sydow involved; they can't all have been expecting Oscars, right? I do like that they kept the original title, because come on, there's a pretty good chance someone lobbied to rename this Loud and Close or possibly just LC.
The Darkest Hour: Hey, it's awards season! I guess that means I can present my award for most ridiculous release-date timing to The Darkest Hour, Summit Entertainment's sci-fi/horror/action movie that, yes, came out on Christmas Day. Christmas Day genre dumping is nothing new, but this movie on this date seems particularly ill-considered when you notice how many other movies are vying for an audience in the last days of the year (Sherlock and Mission: Impossible sequels; expanding Oscar bait; We Bought a Zoo; and the family films from Thanksgiving that haven't left theaters yet). The theory seems to be that none of those explicitly target young people, but you know what? Young people got some videogames for Christmas. They won't just go to whatever movie is playing automatically. They might even take their grandparents to see War Horse. Even if The Darkest Hour isn't technically a January movie, you can bet I'll be saving it for then, when this nouveau-Dimension low-budge presumed junk (invisible electricity aliens = saving big $$$ on FX!!!) better fits the atmosphere of warmed-over schlock.
In the Land of Blood and Honey: I hope it doesn't sound sexist that I think Brad Pitt probably has the cool taste of this couple. Pitt seems like the dude who will go out with you to see some cool band or the new Alfonso Cuaron movie, and Jolie is his wife who seems smart and engaged while she stays home to watch a miserable documentary on PBS (and possibly flips to Lifetime halfway through). I'm just saying, I've detected a weird victimhood complex in some of Jolie's most serious performances (A Mighty Heart; Changeling) that makes the idea of watching a movie she wrote and directed, particularly a psychosexualdrama set against the backdrop of the Bosnian war, seem like a potential slog. At least it's about actual Bosnians and Serbs; I kinda wouldn't put it past her to make a new, corrected version of Beyond Borders. Maybe in January, Jolie.