The awards race kicks off this weekend with a pair of Oscar contenders opening in limited release. If you're not in the mood for those weighty films, Channing Tatum, Nicolas Cage and Elizabeth Olsen all return in new films. Let's take a closer look…
Movies like The Master are why Fandango was invented. There's so much buzz as this film finally opens in limited release this weekend that if you don't have your tickets in advance, especially for 70mm screenings, you're either going to have to wait or sit waaaay up front in the theater. The movie marks the return of Paul Thomas Anderson, whose previous film, There Will Be Blood, notched eight Oscar nods and cashed in on two. Anderson has been nominated for five Oscars for his previous films and The Master will be a serious contender come awards season. The film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.
Speaking of Oscar-caliber acting, Richard Gere gives a career performance in this financial thriller mixed with elements of a crime drama. Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling and Tim Roth are also stellar in their supporting performances, though a special nod should go to Nate Parker who plays Gere's accomplice, Jimmy Grant. His performance is humble, thorough and just a joy to watch. If you get shut out of The Master (that won't happen if you get your tickets now) or just want to soak in another early season contender, Arbitrage is certainly worth the trip to the theater.
If you liked HappyThankYouMorePlease, then you've probably been waiting for Josh Radnor's next film to hit theaters. Radnor wrote, directed, produced and stars in this sophomore effort which finds him playing a 30-something man who returns to his alma mater for a professor's retirement party. While he helping the professor say good-bye to his career, Radnor's Jesse says hello to Elizabeth Olsen's Zibby and the two hit it off in a very HappyThankYouMorePlease way, minus the whole cancer-stricken Malin Akerman role. The film co-stars an excellent supporting cast that includes Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Zac Efron and Elizabeth Reaser.
Going through Channing Tatum withdrawal? This romantic dramedy finds the 2012 breakout star in a film about a bunch of high school friends as a reunion who realize they haven't changed much. The film co-stars Justin Long, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Mackie, Chris Pratt, Ari Gaynor, Rosario Dawson and Channing's wife, Jenna DeWan-Tatum.
So maybe all these award contenders and dramedies aren't your speed. Maybe you need something with a little more kick. And punch. And bone-crunching, blood-spurting, backflipping fight choreography. Featuring emerging action star Jon Foo (he's starred in Tekken, House of Fury and a recent Street Fighter short as Ryu), Bangkok Revenge lays the bricks down for a pretty familiar revenge story. Bad guys kill a young kid's parents, he rehabs and trains with a martial arts master and proceeds to dispense some butt-kicking revenge on the baddies.
If none of the above entice you, then watching Nicolas Cage race against the clock to try and save his daughter may be right up your alley. A mix of Con Air and Taken, Cage plays a master thief who is sent to prison after being double-crossed during a heist. Eight years later, he's released and leaves his criminal past behind, trying to rebuild a relationship with his estranged daughter. Unfortunately, the FBI and his old cohorts think he's hidden the loot from the last heist amounting to $10 million in bonds. His old crime buddies kidnap his daughter and hold her for ransom. Cage then displays his particular set of skills to get his daughter back and fend off the bad guys (and the FBI) before the clock runs out.