The season’s best

The Grudge (Oct. 22)

Another Japanese import, The Grudge, is being Americanized and hoping for the same warm welcome that greeted The Ring in 2002. Spending seven years as a vampire slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar is making the leap to an afterlife on the big screen. The Grudge is a curse placed by someone who dies in the midst of rage. Anyone unlucky enough to experience this supernatural curse die and a new curse is created in an endless chain of death. The Grudge is sure to be this fall’s best thriller. — Pablo Saldana

Finding Neverland (Oct. 22)

Finding Neverland is dark spin on J.M. Barris’ life, a man known for creating one of the most enduring icons of innocence, Peter Pan. With Johnny Depp stepping in as Barris, Finding Neverland is one film that shouldn’t be missed. Depp is part of a select handful of actors that can step into any role and make it come alive on the screen. Playing his leading lady is Kate Winslet, who most recently won over critics in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Finding Neverland also boasts a supporting performance from Dustin Hoffman. The film won’t be released until October, and is already stirring up controversy, as the Barris estate has denounced the film’s dark nature. With The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11 benefiting from controversy at the box office, this may be positive news for Finding Neverland. — P.S.

Ray (Oct. 29)

Ray gives viewers a glimpse into the life of one of our most beloved entertainers from his drug addiction to his lost of sight. Jamie Foxx takes a dramatic turn as his portrays the late singer and strives to prove his acting chops. A musical legend is tricky with most moviegoers having a set image are often unwilling to accept a different view. But Ray promises to illuminate this lost musical genius and songs that will undoubtedly live on. — P.S.

Alexander (Nov. 5)

Sure to be on the radar after the so-so run of Troy, Alexander will not have to do all that much in order to surpass the Trojan epic, but will be scrutinized for historical accuracy.

Following the short but exciting life of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, Alexander will examine his reign as king as he conquered the ancient near-east. Colin Farrell will play Alexander while Angelina Jolie will play his mother Olympias. Val Kilmer will portray Alexander’s father Philip and acting veteran Anthony Hopkins will play one of Alexander’s top generals, Ptolemy.

Alexander may have a better chance at being epic for two reasons: Oliver Stone wrote and directed the film and it does not have to follow a book, so there are plenty of blanks to fill in as one wishes.

Alexander is definitely a film to look out for this fall. — Chris Wagenheim

The Incredibles (Nov. 5)

Disney and Pixar are teaming up once again, and this time they are brining audiences superheroes past their prime.

The Incredibles, written and directed by Brad Bird, follows the life of a retired superhero known as Mr. Incredible, who gets mysteriously called back into action after 15 years of life in the suburbs.

Trailers for the film generated hysterical laughter in a packed theatre and one can only hope the promise of hilarity will be fulfilled. The Disney/Pixar track record should be enough evidence to suggest the film will be enjoyable, but if that is not enough, maybe the cast of voices is.

A list of actors doing voice work for the film includes Sam Jackson, Jason Lee, Craig T. Nelson and John Ratzenberger. A veteran among the cast, Ratzenberger has been heavily involved voice acting in the latter part of his career, appearing in most major computer-animated films, including Monsters, Inc., A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo and the Toy Story movies.

The Incredibles is shaping up to be a film to look forward to; whenever Pixar is involved, there is sure to be a laugh. — C.W.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon (November)

A political thriller dealing with terrorism and the powerlessness most voters view their voice as. Sean Penn and Naomi Watts are together again after their work in the critically acclaimed 21 Grams. Watts was unjustly robbed of her Oscar last year and The Assassination of Richard Nixon will give the Academy a chance to right their error. With the release of The Manchurian Candidate, Fahrenheit 9/11 and the forthcoming Nixon, 2004 is shaping to become one of the most politically driven years at the box-office in recent memory. — P.S.

Closer (Dec. 3)

Closer is a simple story about two couples that participate in adultery and escalates out of control. What sets Closer apart is the quality behind the film with Mike Nichols (The Graduate) behind the lens and a stellar cast that includes Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and Clive Owens. The film’s leads are all gunning for Oscar gold come this February, but Closer might have to settle with a nomination or two. — P.S.

Ocean’s Twelve (Dec. 10)

George, Brad, Julia; they’re all back for the sequel to 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven, a remake of a classic Rat Pack flick. The heist is bigger than ever as the gang embarks on hitting three European cities, and the eye candy has been upgraded as Catherine Zeta-Jones joins the rest of Hollywood’s elite. With reports of diva-like demands, catfighting and several re-shoots, Ocean’s Twelve could be in trouble. The truth of these reports aside, Ocean’s Twelve should make for a fun tongue-in-cheek crime capper. — P.S.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Dec. 17)

How do you follow a critically acclaimed film at the beginning of the year? The answer is simple, if you’re Jim Carrey: Take a classic children’s tale, throw in some dark cinematography and a couple of cute yet talented kids (who should be able to give those Harry Potter actors a run for their money) and the end result is Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. When three children are orphaned, they are sent to live with their greedy distant relative Count Olaf (Carrey). After a serious turn in Charlie Kauffman’s Eternal Sunshine, it should be refreshing to see Carrey go back to the basics in this fun family flick. — P.S.

The Aviator (Dec. 17)

Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York was completely shut out at the Academy Awards, but once again with Leonardo DiCaprio on board Scorsese is after the top prize. For a director who is known for visually transforming modern cinema to have never won Best Director must hurt as numerous of his peers have claimed victory in the last two decades. With a slightly less competitive release schedule The Aviator could be a shoe-in for Scorsese just as long as Oliver Stone doesn’t break new ground with Alexander. — P.S.

Proof (Dec. 24)

Gwenyth Paltrow reunites with her Shakespeare in Love director John Madden, the man responsible for helping Paltrow score an Oscar. The film is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play that follows a daughter (Paltrow) who is forced to come to terms with her father’s passing (Anthony Hopkins).

She recovers with the warm embrace of her father’s former student (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Proof is definitely the film to watch this December as come Oscar season this will clearly be a winner. — P.S.

Meet the Fockers (Dec. 24)

Think Meet the Parents with the added delight of Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman playing off Robert Deniro and Ben Stiller. How much Ben Stiller can one person take in a year? In 2004, Stiller has been in five films and had a brief cameo in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, but returning as Gay Lord Focker for the sequel to the successful original is too good to pass up. Meet the Fockers promises to deliver the same belly laughs and outrageous situational humor that made the first film a hit. — P.S.

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