By Kristen Lopez | The Playlist November 1, 2013 at 12:46PM
Synopsis: Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is a small-town man who believes he’s won a million dollars. Refusing to believe it’s a scam, Woody and his skeptical son David (Will Forte) go on a road-trip to claim the prize, learning about each other in the process.
What You Need to Know: “Nebraska” is another awards darling, particularly for Bruce Dern‘s performance. Critics are remaining lukewarm on the Alexander Payne-directed venture, with both Jessica Kiang and Rodrigo Perez remaining ambivalent. In her review of the film from Cannes, Jess faulted the film’s “preplanned” plot that’s too formulaic “for us to take it fully into our hearts.” Rodrigo placed the film in his top films at this year’s New York Film Festival, but agreed he had trouble connecting to the “deadpan humanist portraits” Payne employs. Considering Payne‘s work, and the film’s small roll-out, poor reviews won’t sink this for die-hard fans of the director and general audiences will certainly come out if Dern garners any nominations.
Release Date: November 15th in limited release.
Synopsis: A commensurate underachiever (Vince Vaughn) has his world turned upside down when it’s discovered he’s fathered over 500 children based on sperm donations he made twenty years ago.
What You Need to Know: Talk about a wacky premise! “Delivery Man” is an American remake of the Canadian hit, “Starbuck,” which saw the inside of U.S. theaters this past March. The original may have been a hit in Canada, but is that enough to get audiences’ attention in the U.S.? Vince Vaughn certainly needs the hit after the dismal failure of “The Internship” this past summer. The trailer for the film appears to have the typical Vaughn shtick, but could have an added dose of heart to the proceedings. The movie is coming in under the radar, being only one of two wide release films out its particular weekend—the other being a small film called “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”—so those who aren’t interested in seeing a girl fight in dystopian society might want to seek this out.
Release Date: November 22nd.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
Synopsis: After winning the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) returns to her district only to discover her winning hasn’t changed anything. When it’s determined that the winning tributes are inspiring hope and revolution, a series of games will pit all the winners together.
What You Need to Know: Everyone expected the 'Hunger Games' franchise to be big, but big is an understatement. The first in the series, released last March, grossed over $690 million worldwide and in September of this year the sequel was predicted to garner over a billion dollars! While many are saying YA novels are failures—past failures this year include adaptations of “Beautiful Creatures” and “The Mortal Instruments” (which is getting a sequel anyway)—“The Hunger Games” is a financial juggernaut. Lawrence’s Q rating has only increased in light of her Oscar win, so additional fans could come out who didn’t see the first film, but who want to continue watching Lawrence’s career. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” will definitely light up the box office this month.
Release Date: November 22nd.
Synopsis: A Catholic woman (Judi Dench) travels to various locales with a journalist (Steve Coogan) searching for the child she gave up for adoption decades ago.
What You Need to Know: “Philomena” came out to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival, including Playlist writer Oliver Lyttelton, who gave the film a “B+” for its “crowd-pleasing” story and excellent script by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope. (The screenplay went on to win Best Screenplay the festival.) Dench could get a nomination for Best Actress for her compelling performance, as well as the aforementioned screenplay, but of course the movie has hit a snag with the MPAA, getting an R-rating for two non-sexual uses of the “F” word. As always, Harvey Weinstein is battling the rating but whether or not he emerges victorious remains to be seen.
Release Date: November 22nd in limited release; November 27th worldwide.
Synopsis: A man (Josh Brolin) is imprisoned for two decades and released with seemingly little rhyme or reason. Upon gaining his freedom he becomes determined to figure out why he was held captive, and seek vengeance on those who wronged him.
What You Need to Know: The 2005 original directed by Park Chan-wook is considered a classic, and this remake will get its fair share of scrutiny and comparisons. Director Spike Lee and leading man Brolin have been trying to head off criticisms at the pass, with the latter going so far as to get Park‘s blessing. The trailers have certainly played up the violence, and the movie moved from a rather dull October spot to a highly touted Thanksgiving weekend position; an odd move considering families probably won’t want to celebrate the holiday with a violent film like this, but enhances the possibility that Lee has something unique to offer.
Release Date: November 27th.