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Jeff’s holiday film guide

Feeling overwhelmed with the selections at the theater? Here are some movies to check out and avoid

POSTED: April 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.
/DreamWorks Pictures and Warner Bros.

Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," the wildcard pick for this holiday season's movies.

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For the boys and girls on the ‘nice’ list

"There Will Be Blood": Paul Thomas Anderson ("Boogie Nights," "Magnolia") adapts Upton Sinclair’s novel. Starring the always dynamic Daniel Day Lewis, it will be epic and we will want to see it.

"The Savages": Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney in a family drama directed by Tamara Jenkins ("Slums of Beverly Hills"). Go and demand that your local cinema show it.

"Juno": Teen Girl (Ellen Page) and Teen Boy (Michael Cera) deal with unplanned pregnancy. Directed by Jason Reitman ("Thank You For Smoking"). This one is garnering big love from audiences and critics and is making Page a breakout star. We already love Cera, and any movie described as both heartwarming and smart might pack some mojo.

"The Kite Runner": The book, the controversy and the delayed release have made this the most highly anticipated prestige movie of the year. It should finally be hitting screens any day now.

"Charlie Wilson’s War": Based on the true story of Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) and the CIA covertly arming Muslim jihadists during Afghanistan’s war with the Soviet Union. Risky material, but Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman are directed by Mike Nichols ("The Graduate," "Closer"). Yeah, we’ll pay to see that.

"The Great Debaters": Plenty of holiday movies try to be uplifting, but this one might succeed. Denzel Washington directs and stars in the true David-vs.-Goliath story of a Wiley College debate team taking on a team from Harvard.

"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story": A parody of musician bio-pics produced by Judd Apatow ("40-Year-Old Virgin") and starring John C’ Reilly, who should have been a star films ago. Looks sketchy to me, but reliable sources recommend it, and we could use some silliness this time of year.

These may keep Santa from coming to town

"P.S. I Love You": Young widow (Hillary Swank) tries to put her life back together after her husband (Gerard Butler) dies. Good thing hubby planned ahead! He recorded messages and wrote letters, so it’s like his ghost is there to guide her through grieving and finding a new mate. PUH-LEASE!

"The Bucket List": Two terminally ill men (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman), who are strangers at the beginning of the film, go on a series of adventures before they die. Meanwhile, Freeman’s wife of 40 years sits at home. How touching!

"The Perfect Holiday": A daughter asks a department store Santa (Morris Chestnut) to help her mother (Gabrielle Union) find a new husband. It’s "Miracle on 34th Street" for African-American audiences and a rip off regardless of which race is being targeted. Thankfully, there are now other movies for African-American audiences based on the experiences of ACTUAL African-Americans ("The Great Debaters").

"Alien v. Predator: Requiem": Enough said.

Wild card

"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street": Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in a Gothic musical. The stage version has been huge, but this unique adaptation could be frighteningly good or horrifically bad. And what’s up with Burton and the dark Christmas movies ("The Nightmare Before Christmas")?

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.



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