BOP 25 Most Anticipated Holiday Movies: 25-16

By BOP Staff

November 1, 2006

The holidays are approaching, and along with them comes that time of year when we get an outstanding assortment of family films that have staying power throughout the season and awards contenders that have staying power, well, for eternity, in some cases. It's an exciting time of year to be a movie fan, as 2006 offers an impressive variety of genres and stories to entice movie-goers. Of course, these things can always go terribly wrong. Only two months ago we thought Black Dahlia looked like the best release of September/October. You just can never know until the films actually hit theaters.
You know, I wasn't born when the first Rocky came out. 25) Rocky Balboa

Yo, Adrian, do you know where your husband is? No, he is not playing lawn darts with all of the other AARP members in your condo association. Unbelievable though it may be, the boxing underdog of the year in 1976 is poised for a comeback. While the world had grown to believe that Tommy "Machine" Gunn and a miserable $40 million in box office receipts had retired the pugilist all the way back in 1990, we now know better. Rocky Balboa is ready to fight again.

Sylvester Stallone returns to the role that made him famous with the premise being that the current heavyweight champion, Mason "The Line" Dixon believes he is the greatest of all time. When a videogame simulation determines that his 60-year-old counterpart is superior, an unlikely series of events unfolds, allowing Philadelphia's sports icon to take on his much (much MUCH) younger opponent. Can Rocky overcome arthritis, the cancellation of the Lawrence Welk Show and his ineptitude on The Google and become Heavyweight Champion of the World for the what, fifth time? BOP doubts it, but we also remember that Stallone is an Academy-nominated writer and actor. And Rocky III and IV were iconic macho cinema for the '80s. We expect this to be disastrous, but we are allowing for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Stallone can recapture some of his old magic. And if not, oh, are we ever going to have a field day with this one. (David Mumpower/BOP)
I think this press junket is asking too much of me. 24) Home of the Brave

2006 has seen filmmakers broach the difficult subject of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. With Home of the Brave, Academy Award-winning director Irwin Winkler will tackle a subject that is perhaps too topical for the American public - our military heroes in Iraq and both the dangers they face while there and the psychological issues that arise after tours are complete.

The movie's story centers around a set of servicemen and women who are approaching their final days in Iraq. They're celebrating and anticipatory, and are looking forward to one final - but crucial - mission. While on this mission, the group is attacked and some of the men are killed. Those who survive are sent home on schedule, but they must contend with "normal" life, which is not a simple task for those who have been through the trauma of battle.

In addition to having Winkler at the helm, Home of the Brave also features a fine cast. Samuel L. Jackson toplines, and has support from such notables as Curtis "50 Cent" Johnson, Jessica Biel, One Tree Hill's Chad Michael Murray and up-and-comer Jon Bernthal (currently appearing on The Class). It's not the pedigree that might keep Home of the Brave from breaking out amongst mainstream America. Rather, it's the fact that the portrayal of these issues will be difficult to watch in the face of one of the U.S.'s most bloody months ever in Iraq. The message is an important one that deserves to be heard nonetheless. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Don't do it, Mel. Just don't. 23) Apocalypto

When Mel Gibson is not making drunken rants and racial slurs, he is by all accounts a maverick director and all around fun guy. No, this does not excuse his behavior but since he owned up to recent *ahem* unfortunate events and apologized like a man, BOP is choosing to focus upon his work. And the reality is that this man can direct a movie like no other actor this side of Clint Eastwood. Consider that his last two projects are Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ. If you are scoring at home, that's 13 Academy Award nominations, five wins and roughly $450 million worth of domestic box office the last two times the nutty anti-Semite has gotten behind the camera. We have reason to be optimistic about Apocalypto.

There is, of course, also cause for concern. Apocalypto was filmed on location in the Mayan ruins and the body of the cast has never acted professionally before. How well and how quickly they honed their craft is the matter of some speculation, but there exists the possibility that Apocalypto is decidedly amateurish fare. Even so, if recent cinema study has taught us nothing else, we know not to discount the mad genius of Mel Gibson. Between Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, he has earned that right. This is one of the most daring projects of calendar 2006, and it would be wrong for any movie analyst to dismiss or discredit it due to the director being a belligerent drunk. (David Mumpower/BOP)

You're uglier. No, you're uglier. No, you're uglier. 22) Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny

Before Jack Black became the ubiquitous comedic force of nature that he is, one of his first cult roles was as "JB", the lead singer of the semi-fictitious band Tenacious D, which had a TV show on MTV. He and the unlikely looking rock star Kyle Gass ("KG") form the hard-rocking duo, who are in fact The Greatest Band in the World (just ask them).

It's their complete sincerity towards this fact that makes them so funny, even as we know they can't possibly be taking themselves seriously. The double-back irony is that they do, in fact, rock (It's physically impossible to listen to their song Tribute and not rock out).

The Pick of Destiny sees them in their first feature film as they trek across country to steal a possibly magical guitar pick that could change their fate forever. We're a little worried about the trailer for the film, which features a few more pratfalls than we'd ideally like, but the film promises a mix of Bill & Ted and Spinal Tap, which hits too many notes for us to ignore. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)
Keenen Ivory who? 21) Dreamgirls

At this early stage, prognosticators are forecasting Dreamgirls to be the frontrunner for practically every Academy Award there is to win. Bill Condon, who has already won an Oscar for his screenplay to Gods and Monsters, helms here from his own script. That script is itself based on a rather famous Broadway musical that won six Tony Awards. And while Condon is best known for directing smaller scale fare such as Kinsey and the aforementioned Gods and Monsters, it's important to remember that he was the man behind the screenplay for the Best Picture Academy Award winning Chicago.

Also present for the production is another Oscar winner. Jamie Foxx, who deservedly took the prize for his portrayal of Ray Charles, plays business manager Curtis Taylor Jr., the man who attempts to bring about the rise of the Dreamettes, a trio of women singers who hail from Chicago. He initially places them as backup singers, but soon the girls are finding their own stardom. His unscrupulous methods will both help and hurt the friends as their fame grows.

Along with Foxx, the primary roles belong to Beyonce Knowles and Eddie Murphy, who has been receiving some very positive attention for his performance. Also in the cast are former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose (who also has an American Idol connection in that she appeared in From Justin to Kelly) and Danny Glover. The Dreamettes themselves are based on The Supremes, with Beyonce taking on the Diana Ross role. Look for this musical to offer truly fantastic crossover demographic appeal as it will rule the holiday season. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
You're uglier! Yeah, I know. 20) The Holiday

The holidays wouldn't be much fun without a chick flick, and you don't get much chickier than director Nancy Meyers (Something's Gotta Give, What Women Want). This time around, she's taking on the story of two young women who agree to exchange homes for a vacation program. One of them will journey to cold, rainy England, while the other will be flying across to the States.

It's easy to watch a film when Kate Winslet is involved, and she is one of the two primary characters alongside Cameron Diaz. As far as love interests, the two men in question are the very pretty Jude Law and the very average Jack Black. Now, we find it all rather unlikely that Winslet would fall for Nacho Libre, but hey, sometimes women like the funny fat guy. And if Shallow Hal taught us nothing else, we should never be judging on appearance in the first place.

As far as Meyers' track record, What Women Want and Something's Gotta Give were both spectacular successes during their theatrical runs, both of which started in December (2000 and 2003 respectively). There is really no reason that The Holiday can't find similar financial greatness...and perhaps a few awards nominations along the way (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Adam Goldberg introduces friends Denzel and Val to the wonderful world of computer geekery. 19) Deja Vu

The story of Deja Vu and Hurricane Katrina are inextricably intertwined. Tony Scott had just finished taking the film through pre-production in New Orleans when the city was devastated by the hurricane. With the outlook for the city's future unclear, Scott departed the project and there was talk first of moving to another location, then of cancelling the movie altogether. Yet, three months after the horrors of the storm, pre-production began again and Scott had returned to helm the film. The plan was to include the Katrina story into the backdrop of what was happening.

Deja Vu reunites Scott with Denzel Washington, with whom he previously worked on Man on Fire. Washington plays an ATF agent is called in to find evidence when an explosion takes place on a New Orleans ferry. Washington's character has that flash of memory that can only be associated with deja vu. He comes to realize that a spark of feeling that he previously attributed only to imagination is actually quite vital, and may in fact be the key to saving many lives.

Along with Washington, the movie features a fine cast that includes Val Kilmer, Adam Goldberg, Bruce Greenwood and Jim Caviezel. Like many Tony Scott films, Deja Vu looks action packed, stylish and exciting, and the knowledge that the project was beneficial to New Orleans residents makes it just that much more appealing. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
I guess this isn't the best time to ask for a duet of Ebony and Ivory. 18) The Blood Diamond

BOP envisions The Blood Diamond as Romancing the Stone but with more drama and less Danny DeVito. Since Djimon Hounsou is clearly the Michael Douglas in this scenario, Leonardo DiCaprio the Kathleen Turner. Wait, Jennifer Connelly would be the Kathleen Turner, so maybe DiCaprio is the Danny DeVito? Hmm, we also don't know who sings the theme song yet, but they're the Billy Ocean. This is getting way off topic. Let's re-focus.

The Blood Diamond, directed by Ed Zwick (The Last Samurai), is a fictional story about how precious gems finance wars in Africa. Hounsou portrays a mine worker who discovers a diamond big enough to secure him for life, but this is not what he wants. He has been separated from his child and aims to leverage his new treasure for his son's safety. DiCaprio is a shady fortune seeker who needs Hounsou only as long as it takes to get rich quick. Connelly is the journalist caught in the middle of her attraction to the story as well as bad boy DiCaprio. This gritty drama has surface similarities to Lethal Weapon 2 (no, really!) but it's much more accurately described as Oscar bait. The Blood Diamond is one of the best pedigreed titles remaining on the schedule, and it is considered a solid end-of-year awards contender. Like The Departed before it, the movie should also make a killing at the box office while it builds its Oscars credentials. (David Mumpower/BOP)
That baby's so cute I think I wanna get knocked up. 17) The Nativity Story

Since the release of the aforementioned The Passion of the Christ, several religious productions have received at least moderate release across North America. None of them, however, has been a mainstream release. Instead, a cottage industry of sorts has cropped up. Pious entrepreneurs have focused faith-specific programming in certain areas of the country, specifically the Bible Belt and Utah. The Nativity Story is different. This is the first true studio system production to earn full movie market penetration since Mel Gibson shocked Hollywood with THE success story of 2004. That fact alone would make the project intriguing to us; however, The Nativity Story offers more.

In 2003, Keisha Castle-Hughes dazzled the staff of BOP with her preternatural portrayal of a predestined leader in Whale Rider. We voted her work as the Best Breakthrough Performance of 2003. Her follow-up project has been long anticipated while we suffered through her being a glorified stand-in in Star Wars III – Revenge of the Sith. A role as the Virgin Mary strikes us as perfect casting for the teen girl as she approaches womanhood. Even without her presence, The Nativity Story would earn a spot on our list due to its uniquely sincere take on the spiritually derived meaning for the upcoming holiday season. We see so many comic takes on Christmas, even including the movie voted immediately ahead of this one. But it's rare to see a major Hollywood release that recreates one of the most popular faith-based stories of all time. This is a bold move by New Line Cinema and BOP has a good feeling that it will work out well for them, becoming an instant holiday classic. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Everything on this list says Nintendo Wii. 16) Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Oh, Tim Allen, you funny convicted felon. What would the holiday season be without one of your hilarious movies? We have had a Santa Clause, a Santa Clause 2 and even a Christmas with the Kranks and while none of them might have turned out well, we, the North American movie-going audience, have followed you around like the loyal lapdogs that we are. Sure, our faith has been tested at times. The first Santa Clause sequel was a mixed bag at best and utterly pointless at worst while Christmas with the Kranks is one of the most critically reviled movies of the new millennium. But you are as much a part of our holiday celebration as our angry, alcoholic uncle Steve, our suicidal cousin Jessie and Maria, the vaguely-related-by-marriage woman who always spends the body of the evening crying. Dry turkey and lumpy mashed potatoes simply wouldn't taste the same without you there to share it with us. Here's to you, Tim! May your sleepwalking through yuletide movie fare make us feel safe and homey throughout November and December! (David Mumpower/BOP)



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