December 2008 Forecast
By David Mumpower
December 5, 2008
5) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I think this movie looks creepy rather than good. I find the trailer wildly unsettling and I am a bit mystified by the attention it has received to date. Of course, I have long since made peace with the fact that what is appealing to North America oftentimes befuddles me...and I'm not just discussing the Tyler Perry oeuvre. This film is at the top of BOP's Best Picture power rankings for a reason. It appears to be the heavyweight contender of the year with early critical praise being nothing short of orgasmic. This is also the rare awards bait film that stars a legitimate box office draw in Brad Pitt, so Benjamin Button has a lot going for it. In spite of the creepy.
Ron Howard is the rare film mogul who is able to walk that fine line between major awards credibility and box office champion. Unlike most moviemakers of this ilk, his works tend to skew toward the latter. This makes him the envy of his more lauded peers, although few of them would ever admit it. Frost/Nixon is the type of drama seeped with political intrigue that would seem like a $10 million earner in the hands of a less accredited director. After all, the film's stars are Frank Langella and Michael Sheen. You and I have as much combined box office earning power as they do. With Howard's name in the credits, however, this one evolves into a film that could wind up nestled in the $60-$75 million range, which would be an impressive demonstration of Howard's appeal.
7) Marley and Me
8) The Tale of Despereaux
We are now officially in the family films portion of the top 10. Marley and Me couldn't look any worse if it were a Uwe Boll production, but it's two name actors, Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, chasing after an adorable puppy for 100 minutes. I'm depressed to know that this is how Out of Sight scribe Scott Frank is passing his days, but the commercial nature of the project is unmistakable. Meanwhile, Desperaux ramps up the cuteness quotient for the month of December. This animated adaptation of the Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a heroic mouse, the human princess he loves, a servant girl and an easily distracted rat. Kids will eat this one up and it will be a lot better for them intellectually than Marley and Me. So, if you parents are given a choice by Junior, you know what you have to do. But you won't. Mice just aren't as cute as dogs.
9) The Spirit
What do these titles have in common? They are both big budget projects that should do very well in theaters but probably won't. The Spirit absolutely mystifies me since it has such a wonderful flair to its ads yet they reveal...absolutely nothing. It's a dude who likes hot women. How...enlightening. Meanwhile, Valkyrie's production still of Tom Cruise in an eye patch is remarkably ill-considered. Okay, who could have possibly thought this was a good idea? Angelina Jolie does the same look in Sky Captain in the World of Tomorrow, but hers is clearly satirical. How can movie goers possibly be expected to take that picture seriously? This is Cruise's worst career move since Oprah, as far as I can tell.