In order from best to worst (i.e. see #1 before #2 and don’t see #7 unless you saw 1-6 first) and “See-it if you can” means the film is in limited release and may not be playing in a theater near you:
Not sure which movie to see this week in theaters? Let me help you out. The following is a list of films playing in the majority of theaters around the nation:
1. Black Swan – See-it (best film in theaters) – Natalie Portman is the mysterious “black swan” in this psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet where competition is brewing with a new dancer in the company, Mila Kunis.
2. True Grit – See-it – A late entry in the Best Picture race, True Grit, starring Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges, is one of the Coen Brothers best films. And newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who plays a stubborn young woman trying to track down her father’s murderer, steals every scene she is in, despite the talent next to her onscreen.
3. 127 Hours – See-it – James Franco is the infamous outdoorsman Aron Ralston who famously got trapped under a boulder while on one of his solo adventures – and whether or not you know the ending you will be completely moved, shocked and thrilled by the finale.
4. The Fighter – See-it – Christian Bale is the trainer of boxing brother Mark Wahlberg, aka “Irish” Micky Ward, who is just about to go pro during the early 1980s. Like the boxer he portrays, Wahlberg is a longshot at Best Actor awards this year, but deservingly worth at least a nomination as his skinny co-star Bale steals scene after scene, and round after round, as per usual.
5. The King’s Speech – See-it if you can – This art house drama stars Guy Pearce and Colin Firth as King Edward VIII and King George VI of England ruling over a country on the brink of war. Oh, and his wife Queen Elizabeth is Helena Bonham Carter and his eccentric speech therapist is played by Geoffrey Rush.
6. Rabbit Hole – See-it if you can – Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart play an impossibly intriguing married couple trying to put their lives back in order after a terrible accident that changed everything about this suburban family. I was just saying the other night while watching Love Happens and thinking about his Batman character Two-Face that Eckhart will win an Academy Award some day. This might be it. And it might be Kidman’s best performance as well.
7. Somewhere – See-it if you can – Sofia Coppola does what she does best and has done before, creates an epically deep and fascinating world out of a miniscule every day event.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I – See-it – The first half of the first part of the final Harry Potter film is brilliantly fun and action-packed full of spells and flying broomsticks, but about 45 minutes in the tone becomes much more lonely and despairing with each inevitable death, and the final 5 minutes will just leave you sad and wanting more.
9. Tangled – See-it – A return to their proven princess formula but more entertaining and action-packed than your typical animated Disney films.
10. Tron Legacy – See-it – This dazzling 3D sequel to 1982 nerd fantasy about a programmer’s cyber universe isn’t quite as captivating as the original, but is certainly as visually stunning.
Ten other films in theaters that didn’t make the top ten:
11. Country Strong – Rent-it – Gwyneth Paltrow was obviously taking a stab at a Best Actress nomination but the “singing + acting = Oscar” formula is no longer valid, and neither is this story being sold as “classic” country music drama.
12. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Rent-it – Strong performances and impressive special effects make this 3rd Narnia film one of the best, unfortunately the previous two films in this franchise were lackluster at best, and by no means on the same level as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, which this film is basically a combination of.
13. The Company Men – Rent-it – An all-star cast including Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Kevin Costner, and Chris Cooper tell the story of men in the corporate America re-defining their lives during an economic downturn. It couldn’t have been released at a more appropriate time and couldn’t deliver a more important message.
14. Casino Jack – Skip-it – Even a two-time Academy Award winner (Kevin Spacey) can’t transform this film about the greedy and corrupted American lobbyist (Jack Abramoff) into anything more than a conman you could care less for – and never want to see again.
15. Love and Other Drugs – Skip-it – Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are two opposites who attract in a film based on Jamie Reidy’s memoir “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman” though the effects of this drug wear off before its over.
16. How Do You Know – Skip-it – Reese Witherspoon + Owen Wilson + Paul Rudd = formulaic romantic comedy. Surprisingly, add in Jack Nicholson and it just gets worse. Definitely skip this romcom about a professional softball player, professional baseball player, and corporate executive.
17. Gulliver’s Travels – Skip-it – Expect nothing more than fart jokes and other typical Jack Black jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I still laugh every time someone farts in my presence – I think I always will – but this film is nothing more than that – so just go fart on your friend and save yourself 10 bucks.
18. Little Fockers – Skip-it – Despite a star-studded cast (De Niro, Stiller, Hoffman, Streisand, Alba, Keitel, Wilson), this might just top the list of worst films of 2010.
19. Yogi Bear – Skip-it – Whether you are on team Boo-Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake) or team Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd), the only thing more terrible and disappointing than Yogi Bear in theaters right now is The Tourist (voiced by the most monotonous, boring voice imaginable).
20. The Tourist – Skip-it (worst film in theaters) – Angelina Jolie crosses paths with American tourist Johnny Depp who is dumb-founded by the beauty of Europe and this charming stranger. The cat and mouse game that ensues is more like a game of sloth and tortoise, as Depp is such a believable actor and Jolie is so beautiful that you will actually be dumb-founded into boredom yourself.