While Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi looks to do battle with the latest Madagascar film for the top spot at the box office, there are plenty of alternative options out there for those who want to avoid the theater crush.
First up is the latest film from Mark Duplass, who is having somewhat of a career blossoming this year. Safety Not Guaranteed stars Duplass as a guy who places a peculiar classified ad in a newspaper seeking a companion for time travel. Three magazine employees, Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson (you'll recognize him as Principal Dadier in this year's 21 Jump Street) and Indian actor Karan Soni, head out on an assignment to interview him.
The film comes from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine and features strong performances, a smart heartfelt story and a beguiling charm.
If a sci-fi-romantic-coming-of-age comedy is too many genres to tackle, there's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Yes, the movie that has appeared on the Top 10 box office list for the past two weeks boasts some excellent performances from some of Britain's veteran actors. Starring *deep breath* Judi Dench as a widower, Tom Wilkinson as a man with a secret past, Maggie Smith (of Harry Potter fame) as a racist old woman in need of hip replacement surgery, Bill Nighy and Penelope Winton as a couple whose marriage is on the rocks and Ronald Pickup and Celia Imrie as lonely retirees, the latest entry from director John Madden brilliantly weaves the stories of these British retirees and their experiences in India.
Madden directed, among other films, the excellent City of God and the Oscar-winning The Constant Gardener. The Best Exotic Marigold falls somewhere in between the tone of those two films. The film also stars Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel as the hotel owner, a nice bounce-back following that 2010 disaster The Last Airbender. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has quietly made more than $100 million worldwide.
Finally, great news for Wes Anderson fans. Moonrise Kingdom expands to more theaters this weekend! Featuring excellent performances from a pair of child actors – Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward – Moonrise is anchored by strong supporting performances from Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray. Featuring that unique, signature Wes Anderson style and a warm, whimsical story, Moonrise is not only a Sleeper to See, but one of the best films of 2012.
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