By Kristen Lopez | The Playlist November 1, 2013 at 12:46PM
As you prepare to gather around the Thanksgiving table with your friends, there’s one thing to be thankful for: Oscar season is upon us! Movies are getting better and the awards are going to start trickling in. So load up on the tryptophan-laced turkey, get those holiday Fandango passes out, and let’s go to the movies!
Synopsis: Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) has the ability to time travel, which he uses to continuously place himself in the path of his one true love, Mary (Rachel McAdams). As he continually changes elements to give them the perfect relationship, repercussions happen which change his life.
What You Need to Know: Rachel McAdams is the queen of rom-coms, and this is her most magical attempt yet (although the trailer bears a resemblance to McAdams’ last time-travel romance, “The Time Traveler’s Wife“). The movie’s sweet set-up and the affable leads look darling, but our own Gabe Toro found the movie to be a buffoonish story about the male characters as opposed to the romance, which could hurt its generally female-driven audience. McAdams has cemented her place in these movies, and doesn’t appear to be breaking the mold anytime soon, so expect fans of romance and McAdams to come out in droves; it helps that the movie is directed by “Love Actually’s” Richard Curtis. “Love Actually” grossed almost $250 million around Thanksgiving of 2003. “About Time” is following the same track release date wise, but one has to ask whether the lack of a Christmas connection will help or hinder.
Release Date: November 1st in limited release; November 8th wide.
“Dallas Buyers Club”
Synopsis: Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) is a good ol’ boy, living the life in 1986. Unfortunately, he’s been diagnosed with AIDS and given thirty days to live. Refusing to accept his death sentence, Woodruff seeks to take advantage of his illness by importing non-FDA approved AIDS medication into the United States.
What You Need to Know: Oscar prognosticators are predicting a heap of awards for this gripping story about AIDS and life. The word is already out for McConaughey, who underwent dramatic weight loss to add to his performance, but the scene stealer appears to be Jared Leto as the transvestite Rayon. When Kevin Jagernauth saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, he praised Leto’s “rich warmth and humor.” Kevin gave the film a “B” rating, calling it “a smartly entertaining tale, delivered with respect for its subject matter.” Taking into account Hollywood’s love for social issue dramas, look for this to snag its fair share of awards come January.
Release Date: November 1st in New York and Los Angeles; November 22nd nationwide.
“The Armstrong Lie”
Synopsis: The story of disgraced Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, and how he went from universally beloved cycling hero to shamed steroid abuser.
What You Need to Know: Director Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) originally set out to direct a documentary about Armstrong’s comeback in 2009, but for various reasons abandoned the film to tell this story of Armstrong’s battle over cheating allegations and eventual admittance to using performance-enhancing substances. Audiences who followed the case and saw Armstrong’s reactions and response to the allegations, might feel the documentary is simply treading over worn ground; a sentiment our own Oliver Lyttelton took note of in his review of the movie’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Oli praised the editing, but felt the movie lacked any significant revelations: “If you followed the scandal closely over the years, it’ll feel like going over old ground.” Regardless, consider this a contender for Best Documentary.
Release Date: November 8th in New York and Los Angeles.
“The Book Thief”
Synopsis: A young girl living in Munich helps to hide a Jewish refugee in her home at the height of World War II.
What You Need to Know: Based on the bestselling book by Marcus Zusak, “The Book Thief” is prime for an adaptation. The issue is the rather “meh” response the film has received at screenings. Despite a cast which includes Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, as well as the feature-length directorial debut of “Downton Abbey” alumnus Brian Percival, audiences aren’t buying its Oscar-bait sheen. The first trailer has almost everything required of an Oscar contender, and audiences might be dissuaded from seeing a movie they believe is purely meant to capitalize on awards potential. There’s also a question about whether this is for children or adults, although it does show some shades of “Hugo,” and that movie secured a few nominations. Oscar bait or not, the story looks compelling and should get its share of families out this holiday season.
Release Date: November 8th in limited release.
“Thor: The Dark World”
Synopsis: Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must stand up against the evil Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) when he threatens Odin and Asgard.
What You Need to Know: Marvel’s “Avengers” franchise has amassed an unseeingly amount of cash, and in May of 2011 the first “Thor” film grossed almost 450 million worldwide despite mixed reviews. “Thor: The Dark World” is gaining an equal mix of positive and negative reviews although Oliver Lyttelton called the movie “enjoyable in spots, but haphazard and ultimately unsatisfying” which probably won’t ruin it at the box office, but could prove that no directed has perfected the 'Thor' formula yet. The addition of Christopher Eccelston is a fan pleaser, but is that enough to prevent audiences from ignoring the film’s flaws? Expect the movie to do boffo business, but fans will probably continue to rank the 'Thor' franchise low on their list of favorite 'Avengers' stories.
Release Date: November 8th.