Holiday Movie Preview, Part 1: Some Contenders

(This is a preview of the PopRox column in Sunday’s Pocono Record. But you get to find out about the release of The Sessions before all those suckers reading Sunday!)

Argo is squarely in. So is The Master.

Now we just have to find about 20 more movies to enter the Oscar race, and we’ll be good come Christmas.

In part 1 of the hashtag-optional PopRox Holiday Movie Preview — the blockbusters come next week — take a gander at some of the movies you should be looking out for before nomination day comes around in January.

Now with more 140-character-or-less premises!

let's keep the helen hunt nudity to a minimum, please and thank you, however ...

THE SESSIONS

Release date: This weekend (limited, no expansion date announced)

Stars: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy

Director: Ben Lewin (The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish)

Twitter premise: Senior citizen tries to lose his virginity despite the confines of an iron lung, hires sex surrogate. #anditsfunny

How it enters the race: Every year there’s one movie that gets released in October, no one notices it, it disappears, then it gets a bunch of nominations and comes back to theaters in January. That looks like this movie’s best bet. The trailer has been shown at Pocono Community Theater, so maybe it will show up there.

How it gets knocked out: The melodramatic aura of a guy stuck in a gurney for two hours doesn’t play with Academy voters or audiences. At all.

... feel free to load up on keira knightly skin.

ANNA KARENINA

Release date: Nov. 16 (limited)

Stars: Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson, Jude Law

Director: Joe Wright (Atonement)

Twitter premise: Read the book, how’s that for a premise? #moviesascliffsnotes

How it enters the race: It’s now been six consecutive years where a European period film has received a best picture nomination. It’s, like, in the rules or something. One of those nominations went to Atonement.

How it gets knocked out: If it doesn’t resonate in any way with American audiences, who already hate their senior year literature teachers for making them plod through a Tolstoy masterpiece.

yeah you probably should go with desean at this point since it's impossible to even find lesean these days

THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Release date: Nov. 21

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro

Director: David O. Russell (The Fighter)

Twitter premise: Recovering druggies take solace with each other suburban Philly. #andeatcheesesteaksnodoubt

How it enters the race: It keeps the buzz it’s already got, riding a wave of good reviews from the Toronto Film Festival in September.

How it gets knocked out: If it’s really little more than what we see in the trailer: A love story that may or may not be formulaic. And if the bad mojo the Philadelphia Eagles are infecting the world with actually brings down this movie since suburban Philly native Cooper is wearing some kind of Eagles gear in, like, every scene of the trailer.

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON

Release date: Dec. 7 (limited)

Stars: Bill Murray, Laura Linney

Director: Roger Michell (Venus)

Twitter premise: FDR had an affair with his distant cousin, possibly the same weekend the king and queen of England visited. #hilarityensues

How it enters the race: As long as it’s not as schmaltzy as the trailer suggests it could be, then Oscar favorites Murray and Linney should be strong candidates for nominations.

How it gets knocked out: If it comes and goes without anyone even knowing it existed — a strong possibility.

do you see fangs? i can't tell.

ON THE ROAD

Release date: Dec. 21 (limited)

Stars: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart

Director: Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries)

Twitter premise: Jack Kerouac’s unfilmable book of young American freedom gets filmed. #isthatagoodorabadthing

How it enters the race: If the all-star cast of bit players (Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Terrence Howard, Steve Buscemi) can turn a incohesive book into a trippy, stylized, cohesive movie.

How it gets knocked out. If the movie is just as boring, rambling and directionless as the book. Sorry, I only got through like 50 pages before calling uncle.

DJANGO UNCHAINED

Release date: Dec. 25

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio

Director: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction)

Twitter premise: Bounty hunter needs slave from the deep south to find his latest bounty huntee. With lots of blood, Tarantino-style. #cantwait

How it enters the race: By opening this year.

How it gets knocked out: If the trailer, buzz and star power fails to live up to the considerable hype, but from the looks of it, at the very least, you can nail down DiCaprio for a supporting actor nomination.

PROMISED LAND

Release Date: Dec 28 (limited), expansion in January

Stars: Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand

Director: Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting)

Twitter premise: Sure-to-get-some-NEPA-attention movie about a gas company man buying farms in the name of fracking. #gaslandbutfake

How it enters the race: This movie was made to get Oscar nominations. Timely, controversial, star-driven, art-house director, late release date … what more do you want?

How it gets knocked out: If it’s all schmaltz, no heart. The debate will rage in northeast Pennsylvania about how many facts are or aren’t included in the movie, but the Academy voters won’t be looking at that. Or do you not know the real story behind Moneyball?

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