Thank You for Smoking
In what can only be described as the best satire comedy in recent years, Thank You for Smoking's hard cynicism delivers with a poignant story of the limits a person is willing to take their morals. However, the movie is not really about the morals, but how the main character is able to spin any topic to go his, and ultimately the tobacco industry's, way. Perhaps the funniest parts of the movie involve the M.O.D Squad--Merchants of Death--which include like-minded spinsters from the alcohol and firearm industries.
Little Miss Sunshine
Out of all the movies this year, Little Miss Sunshine probably had the best cast ensemble. Their dysfunctional on-screen chemistry really makes this movie work and I loved every minute of it. A unique road trip brings out the best and worst of a family that is just trying to make it to a pageant for their little girl, Olive. I can't speak highly enough of this film--expect it to win Oscars.
Stranger Than Fiction
Oddly enough, Stranger Than Fiction plays out more like a novel than a movie. Perhaps this is the reason that it is so wonderful to watch. Will Ferrel pulls out a surprisingly tender performance as Harold Crick, a man trying to save his life from a narrator that he hears in his head. The film really turns around when he meets Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman's characters. Although not out on video, I encourage you to seek this one out at the theaters.
Hard Candy is a deviously disturbing, engrossing thriller than involves a cast of no more than 4 people. The basic premise is that Hayley, a young 14-year-old girl, is meeting Jeff, a 30-year-old photographer, after talking to him over the Internet. After she suggests going to his apartment, the vodka gets pulled out and she starts making drinks. Everything is going fine for Jeff until he passes out and is tied to a chair. Turns out that Hayley is there for a different reason...and she came prepared to do a certain procedure. Hayley is played by Ellen Page and she is playfully evil in this film, never letting us gain our balance. If you like horror films, this is the one to watch.
I know many of you may be surprised by this, but let me explain. Superman Returns hit a core audience, but never failed to capture the mass market like Spider-Man. The movies greatest compliment and fault is that you have Brandon Routh, the unknown Reeves-look-a-like. Superman is back after 5 years, Lex Luther is up to it again, and Lois Lane is married. What more do you need to create a deep, sad, dramatically filled movie? Not to mention the likes of Kevin Spacey, who creates an awesome homage to Hackman's Luther, keeps the heavy-hearted scenes in check with wit and humor. Watch this movie, and you'll see why the world DOES need a Superman.