Movies: Meryl Streep vs. Tom Cruise vs. Robert Downey

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Who’s ready for a long holiday weekend?

Well when you get tired of auld lang syne-ing and drinking and eating and cheering and resolving, there are plenty of flicks out there for you to catch. Good ones, too. There are two noteworthy new openings this weekend. One features America’s most famous actress, and the other features stars nobody’s heard of but it’s getting insane word of mouth.

But first – run, don’t walk, to a nearby theatre and see The Artist. It is absolutely spectacular. In fact, I was not planning to see it at all – thought it looked boring – and was dead wrong. It’s beyond delightful. Arguably, the less you know about the plot, the better. Suffice it to say that it’s set during the great stock market crash of 1929. It’s all about the silent film era, specifically a huge star (played by Jean Dujardin) who’s unwilling to make the switch over to “talkies”. He encounters a dazzling young actress who may or may not be on the make (think A Star Is Born) and that’s all you need to know. Oh, and that John Goodman is perfect as a blustery film director, and that there’s a Jack Russell Terrier who steals a great deal of the movie. The Artist is in black & white and it’s an homage to earlier films and yet it’s plenty contemporary. Take friends and or family (young or old)  — this is one divine film.

Then of course we have new movies opening today. First up, a very big, hotly anticipated movie starring America’s most respected actress and a maven of dialect, accent, and body transformation. Meryl Streep takes on the role of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (one of the most iconic and controversial modern heads of state ever) in a film called The Iron Lady. She’s already guaranteed an Oscar nod here – which will be her seventeenth. I’ll go see this immediately, and even though I’ve heard rumblings that Europeans are none too happy with her depiction (many feel it’s inaccurate) I am prepared to enjoy her regardless. Who doesn’t want to watch Meryl Streep —  in an historical drama no less? With characters most people can actually remember? I suspect she will be sensational.

The other film opening is called Pariah and it’s about a young African- American woman in New York coming to grips with both her family and her sexual identity. Remember this name: Adepero Oduye, because she’s the film’s star and she’s likely to become very popular, having already gotten massive buzz at Sundance. This movie is a festival favorite, and if they market it correctly and enough people get to see it (the word of mouth is superb) it may become a huge indie sleeper hit. Now, Pariah – as its name implies – is not a joyous celebration of filmmaking like The Artist is, nor is it a robust biopic which The Iron Lady should be; it’s more likely a heartbreaking look at the rules of acceptance and sexual freedom, so be advised.

That’s what’s playing right now. Of course these films join other gooduns like The Descendants and Sherlock Holmes, along with the fabulously reviewed Mission Impossible and War Horse, as well as the one they hope we’ll all check out this weekend: New Year’s Eve.Whatever you do see, have a wonderful and safe holiday.

Today’s poll:

Which of these films are you most likely to catch this weekend?

1)   The Iron Lady

2)   New Year’s Eve

3)   War Horse

4)   Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 

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