2008: Déjà vu again

An­other year, an­other Harry Pot­ter (and a Nar­nia, and a Bat­man). But things could get in­ter­est­ing if Ire­land gets the Os­car nod. Michael Dwyer looks at the year ahead

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

JUST as Julius Cae­sar di­vided Gaul in three parts, film dis­trib­u­tors des­ig­nate cin­ema re­leases into three sep­a­rate sched­ules for the year. The first four months are dom­i­nated by movies primed for the awards sea­son. The May-Au­gust pe­riod is heavy on block­busters and fran­chise films. The last four months mix art and com­merce with a new round of po­ten­tial awards con­tenders and ex­pen­sively pro­duced en­ter­tain­ments for the hol­i­day sea­son.

THE IR­ISH ARE COM­ING

It’s been a while since the Ir­ish held sway at the Os­cars, but this year looks promis­ing. Ir­ish cit­i­zen and Wick­low res­i­dent Daniel Day-Lewis well de­serves the best ac­tor award for There Will Be Blood. John Car­ney’s Dublin mu­si­cal, Once, seems as­sured to be nom­i­nated for best orig­i­nal song and, more than likely, for best orig­i­nal score.

From Ar­magh, cin­e­matog­ra­pher Sea­mus McGar­vey should se­cure his first Os­car nom­i­na­tion for Atone­ment, and 13-year-old Car­low res­i­dent Saoirse Ro­nan is a likely nom­i­nee as best sup­port­ing ac­tress for that film. For the first time, Ire­land has a na­tional en­try, Kings, among the 53 con­tenders for best for­eign-lan­guage film.

OPEN THE EN­VE­LOPE

There’s no clear front-run­ner for the Os­cars in late Fe­bru­ary, al­though There Will Be Blood (Fe­bru­ary 29nd) is cer­tain to fig­ure promi­nently. The Mike Nichols movie, Char­lie Wil­son’s War (Jan­uary 11th), star­ring Tom Hanks and Ju­lia Roberts, may be the only Iraq war-re­lated pic­ture to make an im­pres­sion.

Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Coun­try for Old Men (Jan­uary 18th) is sure to fea­ture, as are The Div­ing Bell and the But­ter­fly and Juno (both Fe­bru­ary 8th). Other movies not yet re­leased here and car­ry­ing Os­car prospects are Sid­ney Lumet’s gritty Be­fore the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Fe­bru­ary 1st); The Sav­ages (Jan­uary 25th), fea­tur­ing bravura per­for­mances from Laura Lin­ney and Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man; Tim Bur­ton’s film of the Stephen Sond­heim mu­si­cal, Sweeney Todd (Jan­uary 25th), star­ring Johnny Depp as the epony­mous de­mon bar­ber of Fleet Street; and Rob Reiner’s The Bucket List (Fe­bru­ary 8th), with Jack Ni­chol­son and Morgan Free­man as ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients es­cap­ing a can­cer ward.

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

The 2008 re­lease sched­ules are swamped with fran­chise films: Ni­co­las Cage in Na­tional Trea­sure: Book of Se­crets (Fe­bru­ary 8th); Sylvester Stal­lone in John Rambo (Fe­bru­ary 22nd); Harold & Ku­mar Es­cape from Guan­tanamo Bay (April 25th); The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia: Prince Caspian (June 27th); The X Files 2 (Au­gust 1st); The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon (Au­gust 8th); Hell­boy 2: The Golden Army (Au­gust 22nd); High School Mu­si­cal 3: Se­nior Year (Oc­to­ber 10th), even though the first two went di- rectly to DVD here; Harry Pot­ter and the Half-Blood Prince (Novem­ber 21st); Mada­gas­car: The Crate Es­cape (De­cem­ber 5th); and Star Trek XI (De­cem­ber 26th).

Re­makes on the way in­clude The Day the Earth Stood Still (May 9th), star­ring Keanu Reeves; Ed­ward Nor­ton as The In­cred­i­ble Hulk (June 20th); Bren­dan Fraser in Jour­ney to the Cen­tre of the Earth 3D (July 11th); and Steve Carrell in Get Smart (Au­gust 15th). And go­ing from TV to the big screen, pre­sum­ably with a lav­ish footwear bud­get, Sex and the City: The Movie (May 30th). New films from Ir­ish direc­tors in­clude Gerry Stem­bridge’s psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller, Alarm, fea­tur­ing Ruth Bradley, and Ais­ling Walsh’s drama, The Daisy Chain, star­ring Sa­man­tha Mor­ton and Steven Mack­in­tosh. Lance Daly’s Kisses fol­lows two 10-yearolds es­cap­ing their dys­func­tional homes for the streets of Dublin. Di­rec­tor John Car­ney fol­lows Once with the off­beat com­edy, Zonad.

Dylan Mo­ran stars in Ian Fitzgib­bon’s black com­edy, A Film with Me in It. Carice van Houten (Black Book) takes the lead in French di­rec­tor Agnes Mer­let’s rural Ir­ish thriller, Dorothy Mills. And there will be two an­i­mated fea­tures, Niko and the Way to the Stars and Bren­dan and the Se­cret of Kells.

Re­lease dates have yet to be set for all th­ese films. How­ever, con­cert film U2 3D will open here on Fe­bru­ary 22nd. Wear­ing his pro­ducer’s hat, Knocked Up di­rec­tor has six come­dies on the way. John C Reilly stars in the mu­sic biopic spoof, Walk Hard (Jan­uary 18th), which has a very funny trailer. That’s fol­lowed by Drill­bit Tay­lor (March 28th) star­ring Owen Wil­son; For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall (June 13th) with Rus­sell Brand; Don’t Mess with the Zohan, star­ring Adam San­dler as a Mos­sad agent turned hair­dresser; David Gor­don Greene’s The Pineap­ple Ex­press (Septem­ber 5th); and Will Fer­rell and John C Reilly as 40-year-old layabouts in Step Brothers (Septem­ber 26th).

THE UBIQ­UI­TOUS APA­TOW

GREEN ON THE SCREEN

Clock­wise from top: The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia: Prince Caspian; There Will Be Blood; The Div­ing Bell and the But­ter­fly; Char­lie Wil­son’s War; Clover­field

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