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
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