Moviegoers are in luck this weekend, as there’s a wonderful variety of new openers, including two Oscar hopefuls. In my previous post
, I mentioned the fantasy spectacle, The Golden Compass
, but what I’m really excited about this weekend, are two other releases: literary adaptation, Atonement
, and teen pregnancy comedy, Juno
Based on the acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan, Atonement takes place in World War II England, and it tells the story of a young girl named Briony, who is intrigued by her gorgeous older sister Cecelia, and her boyfriend Robbie. When Briony witnesses a mysterious sexual act between them, she gets lost in her own adolescent confusion, and she makes a rash accusation that not only ruins Robbie’s life, but tears her family apart. Over the course of her lifetime, Briony realizes her mistake, and tries to remedy the damage she has caused.
The book Atonement
takes place in three separate parts, and the movie adopts this strategy. 13-year-old Briony is played by Saoirse Ronan, 18-year-old Briony is played by Romola Garai, old woman Briony is played by Vannesa Redgrave, and all three actresses have received majorly positive accolades for their work. Keira Knightley gets the flashier role as seductive Cecelia, and James “Mr. Tumnus” McAvoy plays Robbie, a wonderfully complex role that McAvoy deserves. After his impressive directorial debut with 2005’s Pride and Prejudice
, Director Joe Wright reunites with Knightley to make Atonement
. Critics are praising his direction and he’s getting major attention for a beautiful three-minute tracking shot of the Battle of Dunkirk. Having read the book, I know the intense emotional punch of McEwan’s story, and I am bursting with excitement to see it on the silver screen. Atonement
has had plenty of awards buzz around it for months, and it’s nice to see reviews
that match the anticipation. It’s quality should carry it to solid box office receipts, and I predict that it will surpass Pride and Prejudice
‘s $38 million total. It is now open in select cities.
Moving from a period piece to a film about a missed period, we have the darkhorse indie comedy that has everything going for it, Juno. After debuting to rave reviews at the Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals, the comedy has become the little engine that could, building buzz at an almost exponential rate.
Juno stars Ellen Page (who broke out last year in Hard Candy) as the title character, who gets knocked up by her friend, Paulie, played by Superbad‘s Michael Cera. Upon discovering their daughter’s pregnancy, Juno’s parents, played by the always hilarious J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney, aren’t quite sure how to react, and neither is Juno. She contemplates giving up her child to a picture-perfect couple, played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, but she later second-guesses her decision. It’s wonderful to see a comedy that deals so honestly with the real, dirty issues of life. The screenplay (penned by Diablo Cody) is receiving much praise, and the Jason Reitman film is being called a totally original, warm, genuine, hilarious comedy that’s full of heart.
Fox Searchlight seems to have another Little Miss Sunshine
on its hands. Fox Searchlight took that small, independent, quirky movie, and they platformed its release perfectly. It caught on with audiences and went on to earn a delightful $59 million. With reviews
that equal those of Little Miss Sunshine
, and a more marketable, mainstream concept (newly marketable, that is, after similarly themed Knocked Up
made a whopping $148 million), Juno
could easily surpass Sunshine
‘s gross, and become the sleeper hit of the holidays. It gets a limited release this Friday, and then a general release on the 14th. I can’t wait!
Both Juno and Atonement have enormous potential, and there is some major awards anticipation behind the pictures. Atonement is the more obvious (dare I say pretentious?) choice for a best picture nomination, but I could easily see Juno coming out of nowhere and nabbing a nomination for itself. If the films do receive awards recognition, expect it to buoy business tremendously. We’ll have to wait and see…