(Photo by DreamWorks Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

All George Clooney Movies Ranked

Having the #1 TV show to fall back on when starting a movie career was a good thing for George Clooney, especially when he was alternately starring in groovy, off-beat genre flicks (From Dusk till Dawn, Out of Sight) and helping destroy a comic book franchise (Batman & Robin). But by 1999, Clooney was ready to cut the cord on ER, paving the way for immediate movie breakthroughs in comedy (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), blockbusters (Ocean’s Eleven), and even as a director himself, with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which we’re including on this list because he also stars.

As seen beginning with Confessions, the cross-section of politics and media would be a driving concern for Clooney’s acting choices, such as Syriana, Michael Clayton, The Ides of March, Money Monster, and Good Night, and Good Luck. Yet he also switches to the broad buffoon with ease, especially with the Coen brothers, as in O Brother, Burn After Reading, and Hail, Caesar!. Somewhere in between this Bawdy George and Serious George, you’ll find material that has drawn Clooney some of his highest marks: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Up In the Air, and The Descendants, the latter two for which he was Best Actor Oscar-nominated.

Up until directing himself in 2020’s The Midnight Sky, Clooney hadn’t appeared in a narrative feature since 2016. Meanwhile, he got top billing in Grizzly II: Revenge, a film shot in 1983 that wasn’t completed and released until 2021. Will the movie finally restore Clooney’s rightful original career path as horror movie maven? We’ll just have to wait an see — until then, we’re looking back on all George Clooney movies, ranked by Tomatometer!

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The insane Dr. Gangrene develops a new strain of violent vegetable in this sequel to the 1977 cult classic.... [More]
Directed By: John De Bello

Adjusted Score: 8271%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: All hell breaks loose when a 15-ft grizzly bear, reacting to the slaughter of her cub by poachers, seeks revenge... [More]
Directed By: Andre Szots


Batman & Robin (1997)

Adjusted Score: 17001%
Critics Consensus: Joel Schumacher's tongue-in-cheek attitude hits an unbearable limit in Batman & Robin resulting in a frantic and mindless movie that's too jokey to care much for.
Synopsis: This superhero adventure finds Batman (George Clooney) and his partner, Robin (Chris O'Donnell), attempting to the foil the sinister schemes... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

Adjusted Score: 40977%
Critics Consensus: Its intentions are noble and its cast is impressive, but neither can compensate for The Monuments Men's stiffly nostalgic tone and curiously slack narrative.
Synopsis: During World War II, the Nazis steal countless pieces of art and hide them away. Some over-the-hill art scholars, historians,... [More]
Directed By: George Clooney


The Good German (2006)

Adjusted Score: 39241%
Critics Consensus: Though Steven Soderbergh succeeds in emulating the glossy look of 1940s noirs, The Good German ultimately ends up as a self-conscious exercise in style that forgets to develop compelling characters.
Synopsis: Jake Geismar (George Clooney), an Army correspondent, helps his former lover, Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett), comb post-World War II Berlin... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

Adjusted Score: 50982%
Critics Consensus: While the special effects are well done and quite impressive, this film suffers from any actual drama or characterization. The end result is a film that offers nifty eye-candy and nothing else.
Synopsis: Based on a true story, the film tells of the courageous men and women who risk their lives every working... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen


Tomorrowland (2015)

Adjusted Score: 61493%
Critics Consensus: Ambitious and visually stunning, Tomorrowland is unfortunately weighted down by uneven storytelling.
Synopsis: Whenever Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) touches a lapel pin with the letter T on it, she finds herself transported to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird


The Midnight Sky (2020)

Adjusted Score: 67253%
Critics Consensus: The Midnight Sky lacks the dramatic heft to match its narrative scale, but its flaws are often balanced by thoughtful themes and a poignant performance from director-star George Clooney.
Synopsis: A lone scientist in the Arctic races to contact a crew of astronauts returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.... [More]
Directed By: George Clooney

Adjusted Score: 58922%
Critics Consensus: Though The Men Who Stare at Goats is a mostly entertaining, farcical glimpse of men at war, some may find its satire and dark humor less than edgy.
Synopsis: Struggling reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) gets the scoop of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), who... [More]
Directed By: Grant Heslov


One Fine Day (1996)

Adjusted Score: 52505%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer) is an architect who needs to give a very important presentation. Jack Taylor (George Clooney) is... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman


Leatherheads (2008)

Adjusted Score: 57622%
Critics Consensus: Despite a good premise and strong cast, this pro football romcom is half screwball and half fumble.
Synopsis: Dodge Connolly (George Clooney), captain of a 1920s football team, wants to give the sagging sport a boost and capture... [More]
Directed By: George Clooney


Ocean's Twelve (2004)

Adjusted Score: 60689%
Critics Consensus: While some have found the latest star-studded heist flick to be a fun, glossy star vehicle, others declare it's lazy, self-satisfied and illogical.
Synopsis: After successfully robbing five casinos in one night, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his crew of thieves have big problems.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

Adjusted Score: 56540%
Critics Consensus: Contains some funny moments, but it's still a very lightweight comedy.
Synopsis: Five hapless misfits from the hard-luck streets of Cleveland band together to try and pull off the greatest job they've... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo


Money Monster (2016)

Adjusted Score: 77020%
Critics Consensus: Money Monster's strong cast and solidly written story ride a timely wave of socioeconomic anger that's powerful enough to overcome an occasionally muddled approach to its worthy themes.
Synopsis: Lee Gates is a Wall Street guru who picks hot stocks as host of the television show "Money Monster." Suddenly,... [More]
Directed By: Jodie Foster

Adjusted Score: 64564%
Critics Consensus: A pulpy crime drama/vampire film hybrid, From Dusk Till Dawn is an uneven but often deliriously enjoyable B-movie.
Synopsis: On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid,... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez


The American (2010)

Adjusted Score: 73593%
Critics Consensus: As beautifully shot as it is emotionally restrained, The American is an unusually divisive spy thriller -- and one that rests on an unusually subdued performance from George Clooney.
Synopsis: When an assignment in Sweden ends badly, master assassin Jack (George Clooney) retreats to the Italian countryside with the intention... [More]
Directed By: Anton Corbijn


Solaris (2002)

Adjusted Score: 72962%
Critics Consensus: Slow-moving, cerebral, and ambiguous, Solaris is not a movie for everyone, but it offers intriguing issues to ponder.
Synopsis: Based on the classic science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem, "Solaris" centers on a psychologist (George Clooney) sent to investigate... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh


Ocean's Thirteen (2007)

Adjusted Score: 77687%
Critics Consensus: Ocean's Thirteen reverts to the formula of the first installment, and the result is another slick and entertaining heist film.
Synopsis: Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his gang hatch an ambitious plot for revenge after ruthless casino owner Willy Bank (Al... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh


Syriana (2005)

Adjusted Score: 79849%
Critics Consensus: Ambitious, complicated, intellectual, and demanding of its audience, Syriana is both a gripping geopolitical thriller and wake-up call to the complacent.
Synopsis: The Middle Eastern oil industry is the backdrop of this tense drama, which weaves together numerous story lines. Bennett Holiday... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Gaghan

Adjusted Score: 81382%
Critics Consensus: Though more mainstream than other Coen films, there are still funny oddball touches, and Clooney and Zeta-Jones sizzle like old-time movie stars.
Synopsis: Miles Massey (George Clooney) is an exceptional divorce lawyer who specializes in saving cheating husbands from having to pay expensive... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

Adjusted Score: 88209%
Critics Consensus: With Burn After Reading, the Coen Brothers have crafted another clever comedy/thriller with an outlandish plot and memorable characters.
Synopsis: When a disc containing memoirs of a former CIA analyst (John Malkovich) falls into the hands of Linda Litzke (Frances... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Adjusted Score: 82824%
Critics Consensus: Though not as good as Coen brothers' classics such as Blood Simple, the delightfully loopy O Brother, Where Art Thou? is still a lot of fun.
Synopsis: Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney) is having difficulty adjusting to his hard-labor sentence in Mississippi. He scams his way off... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

Adjusted Score: 83251%
Critics Consensus: Rockwell is spot-on as Barris, and Clooney directs with entertaining style and flair.
Synopsis: Game show television producer Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) is at the height of his career. His creation, "The Dating Game,"... [More]
Directed By: George Clooney

Adjusted Score: 85725%
Critics Consensus: The Thin Red Line is a daringly philosophical World War II film with an enormous cast of eager stars.
Synopsis: In 1942, Private Witt (Jim Caviezel) is a U.S. Army absconder living peacefully with the locals of a small South... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

Adjusted Score: 92727%
Critics Consensus: While not exactly exposing revelatory truths, The Ides of March is supremely well-acted drama that moves at a measured, confident clip.
Synopsis: As Ohio's Democratic primary nears, charming Gov. Mike Morris (George Clooney) seems a shoo-in for the nomination over his opponent,... [More]
Directed By: George Clooney


Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Adjusted Score: 90209%
Critics Consensus: As fast-paced, witty, and entertaining as it is star-studded and coolly stylish, Ocean's Eleven offers a well-seasoned serving of popcorn entertainment.
Synopsis: Dapper Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is a man of action. Less than 24 hours into his parole from a New... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh


Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Adjusted Score: 108004%
Critics Consensus: Packed with period detail and perfectly cast, Hail, Caesar! finds the Coen brothers delivering an agreeably lightweight love letter to post-war Hollywood.
Synopsis: In the early 1950s, Eddie Mannix is busy at work trying to solve all the problems of the actors and... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen


The Descendants (2011)

Adjusted Score: 96589%
Critics Consensus: Funny, moving, and beautifully acted, The Descendants captures the unpredictable messiness of life with eloquence and uncommon grace.
Synopsis: Native islander Matt King (George Clooney) lives with his family in Hawaii. Their world shatters when a tragic accident leaves... [More]
Directed By: Alexander Payne


Up in the Air (2009)

Adjusted Score: 102108%
Critics Consensus: Led by charismatic performances by its three leads, director Jason Reitman delivers a smart blend of humor and emotion with just enough edge for mainstream audiences.
Synopsis: An idea from a young, new co-worker (Anna Kendrick) would put an end to the constant travel of corporate downsizer... [More]
Directed By: Jason Reitman


Michael Clayton (2007)

Adjusted Score: 98814%
Critics Consensus: Michael Clayton is one of the most sharply scripted films of 2007, with an engrossing premise and faultless acting. Director Tony Gilroy succeeds not only in capturing the audience's attention, but holding it until the credits roll.
Synopsis: Former prosecutor Michael Clayton (George Clooney) works as a "fixer" at the corporate law firm of Kenner, Bach and Ledeen,... [More]
Directed By: Tony Gilroy

Adjusted Score: 102151%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal -- and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation.
Synopsis: After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

Adjusted Score: 102100%
Critics Consensus: A passionate and concise cinematic civics lesson, Good Night, And Good Luck has plenty to say about today's political and cultural climate, and its ensemble cast is stellar.
Synopsis: When Senator Joseph McCarthy begins his foolhardy campaign to root out Communists in America, CBS News impresario Edward R. Murrow... [More]
Directed By: George Clooney


Out of Sight (1998)

Adjusted Score: 97885%
Critics Consensus: Steven Soderbergh's intelligently crafted adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel is witty, sexy, suprisingly entertaining, and a star-making turn for George Clooney.
Synopsis: Meet Jack Foley (George Clooney), the most successful bank robber in the country. On the day he busts out of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh


Three Kings (1999)

Adjusted Score: 98633%
Critics Consensus: Three Kings successfully blends elements of action, drama, and comedy into a thoughtful, exciting movie on the Gulf War.
Synopsis: Just after the end of the Gulf War, four American soldiers decide to steal a cache of Saddam Hussein's hidden... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell


Gravity (2013)

Adjusted Score: 109984%
Critics Consensus: Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that's masterfully directed and visually stunning.
Synopsis: Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Her commander is veteran astronaut Matt... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Cuarón


Fail Safe (2000)

Adjusted Score: 22155%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During the 1960s, a computer error in Nebraska unwittingly sets off a perilous chain of events leading to a Cold... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Frears

We know how difficult it can be to find something worth watching when you’re scrolling through all of Netflix’s endless choices, so we’ve narrowed down the selection for you. Read on for the full list of Netflix original movies and series, as well as everything Fresh on the Tomatometer, coming to Netflix this month.

November 1 – November 5


It's Not Yet Dark (2016) 95%

This documentary narrated by Colin Farrell follows Irish filmmaker with ALS, Simon Fitzmaurice, as he embarks on directing his first film.

Available now on: Netflix

Williams (2017) 93%

This documentary tells the story of Sir Frank Williams, who brought together a winning Formula One racing team but suffered a near-fatal car accident in 1986 that left him wheelchair-bound.

Available now on: Netflix

Men in Black (1997) 92%

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones star in this sci-fi action comedy about a pair of mismatched agents in a secret organization whose mission is to safeguard humanity from extraterrestrial interference.

Available now on: Netflix

Michael Clayton (2007) 91%

George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Tom Wilkinson star in Sydney Pollack’s Oscar-winning thriller about a corporate fixer who discovers a conspiracy when one of his clients is sued in a class action case.

Available now on: Netflix

Field of Dreams (1989) 87%

Kevin Costner and Ray Liotta star in this magical sports tale about a farmer who hears a mysterious voice calling him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield and discovers it has the ability to heal the soul.

Available now on: Netflix

The Homesman (2014) 80%

Tommy Lee Jones directs and stars, alongside and Hilary Swank, in a Western about a former schoolteacher who recruits a man with a past to help her establish a sanctuary for troubled women.

Available now on: Netflix

Where the Day Takes You (1992) 80%

Dermot Mulroney, Sean Astin, and Lara Flynn Boyle headline an ensemble cast in this drama about a prison parolee’s former life on the streets of Los Angeles with a group of fellow runaways.

Available now on: Netflix

42 (2013) 81%

Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford star in this fact-based story about Jackie Robinson, the talented athlete and star Negro League baseball player who became the first black player in the MLB.

Available now on: Netflix

Charlotte's Web (2006) 78%

Julia Roberts and Steve Buscemi lend their voices to this live-action adaptation of the beloved children’s novel about a farm pig who, with the help of a friendly spider, convinces his owners he’s too unique to be slaughtered.

Available now on: Netflix

Oculus (2013) 74%

After the bizarre death of their parents, a pair of siblings return to their childhood home in order to confront the murderous party responsible: a haunted antique mirror that has the power to distort reality.

Available now on: Netflix

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) 67%

Will Smith and his son Jaden star in this biographical drama about entrepreneur Chris Gardner and the year he spent homeless while raising his young son.

Available now on: Netflix

The Reader (2008) 63%

Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes star in Stephen Daldry’s drama about a young man who falls for an older woman who turns out to be a former Nazi prison guard.

Available now on: Netflix

Call My Agent!: Season 2 (2017)

This Netflix original series imported from France follows four talent agents as they struggle through the daily travails of their business. The second season is now available to stream.

Available now on: Netflix

November 6 – November 12


Killing Ground (2016) 74%

This Certified Fresh indie thriller follows a young couple on a camping vacation who encounter an abandoned camp and a lost child and soon find themselves terrorized by locals.

Available now on: Netflix

Lady Dynamite: Season 2 (2017) 100%

Maria Bamford stars in this semi-autobiographical Netflix original comedy about an actress struggling with mental health issues who moves back to Los Angeles and tries to get her career back on track. Season 2 will drop on November 10.

Available 11/10 on: Netflix

November 13 – November 19


DeRay Davis: How to Act Black (2017)

One of the many comedy specials Netflix has been trotting out, this live show features comic DeRay Davis talking about dating and the showbiz life as a black man.

Available 11/14 on: Netflix

Mudbound (2017) 97%

Carey Mulligan and Jason Clarke star in Dee Rees’ Netflix original film about two Mississippi farming families struggling to eke out livings for themselves on opposite sides of a social barrier.

Available 11/17 on: Netflix

Marvel's The Punisher: Season 1 (2017) 67%

John Bernthal stars Netflix’s Marvel series as Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher, a vigilante who discovers a criminal conspiracy in New York that extends beyond the bounds of his city.

Available 11/17 on: Netflix

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (2017) 92%

This Netflix original documentary hones in on Jim Carrey’s time shooting the film Man on the Moon, which prompted him to transform himself into the persona of famed comedian Andy Kaufman.

Available 11/17 on: Netflix

Spirit Riding Free: Season 3 (2017)

This Netflix original children’s animated series based on the Oscar-nominated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron follows the adventures of a city girl named Lucky who moves to the country and befriends a wild horse.

Available 11/17 on: Netflix

November 20 – November 26

Piranha (2010) 74%

Adam Scott, Elisabeth Shue, and Jerry O’Connell star in Alexandre Aja’s remake of Joe Dante’s original 1978 film about a lakeside community terrorized by prehistoric maneating fish.

Available 11/20 on: Netflix

Saving Capitalism (2017) 100%

This Netflix original documentary follows former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich as he travels the US and reports on the country’s shifting economy.

Available 11/21 on: Netflix

Godless: Miniseries (2017) 83%

Jack O’Connell, Jeff Daniels, and Michelle Dockery star in this Netflix original limited series about an 1880s outlaw on the trail of a former partner who betrayed him and fled to New Mexico.

Available 11/22 on: Netflix

She's Gotta Have It: Season 1 (2017) 84%

This Netflix original comedy based on the 1986 Spike Lee film of the same name centers on a woman trying to juggle a relationship with three different men.

Available 11/22 on: Netflix

Cuba and the Cameraman (2017) 100%

Documentarian Jon Alpert pulled together footage and material from over four decades of covering Cuba through the lens of three families affected by Fidel Castro’s regime for this Netflix original documentary.

Available 11/24 on: Netflix

November 27 – November 30

Broadchurch: Season 3 (2017) 98%

David Tennant and Olivia Colman star in this British crime drama about a pair of detectives investigating the mysterious death of a young boy and the effect the murder has on the surrounding community.

Available 11/27 on: Netflix

Glitch: Season 2 (2017) 80%

This Netflix original import from Australia centers on six individuals who suddenly appear in a cemetery with no memory and a detective who attempts to solve the mystery.

Available 11/28 on: Netflix

Other Netflix Originals Coming in November:

In the first known instance of bloodshed in Bogota, 80 American corporate workers living in the Colombian capital are locked in their building and forced to meet a new deadline…of death. Toeing the company line has never been bloodier than in The Belko Experiment, inspiring this week’s gallery of 24 more of the worst companies to work for from film and television history.

RT Interview: Tilda Swinton on Julia

One of the most diverse and celebrated talents of her generation, the directors on Tilda Swinton‘s CV represent a veritable who’s who of independent cinema and include David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Cameron Crowe, the Coen Brothers and Jim Jarmusch. Few who’ve seen Sally Potter‘s adaptation of Orlando, with Swinton in the title role, will forget the power of her performance, a power she brings to every role she tackles, from Constantine to Burn After Reading. Her supporting role in Michael Clayton earned her an Oscar, but her performance in Julia, out now on DVD, went largely unnoticed despite its impact on those who saw it. Out now on DVD, Swinton sits down with RT to talk about the film.



What was it about Julia as a character that made you want to play her?

Tilda Swinton: She reminds me of so many of the great drunks I have known and loved in my life, who have always felt so unlike the kind of loser character often put forward in cinema portrayals.

Is there a particular appeal to exploring characters as unglamorous and as unrelentingly real as Julia?

TS: It certainly does one good to notice how extreme ‘unrelenting realness’ very often is; how far from any concept of good taste or subtlety. When we were developing this film, we went out of our way to be clear with ourselves just how far we needed to go. People like Kate del Castillo‘s character really are that unhinged, desperate people with guns and insanely ferocious dogs do shout that loud, people like Julia do drink that much and that often, the effort to appear sober the morning after drinking as much as she does does involve that much overacting, look that forced and feel that wierd to be around.


Tilda Swinton in Julia

What are the real challenges and areas of consideration when you’re taking on a character afflicted by something like alcoholism?

TS:The responsibility of going far enough. The resistence to stopping short of the mark for the sake of modesty.

What was the experience of working with Erick Zonca like?

TS: Exhilarating. Multilingual. Random. Addictive. He has to be the least cerebral filmmaker I have ever worked with; he directs outside of any formal or literary concerns whatsoever. He directs energy – nothing less – and is not interested in anything except the authentic. His constant request is for ‘something of different’, ‘something of fantasy’ and, of me in particular, ‘more ugly, Tilda, make more ugly faces’. His allergy to generica and his passion are truly infectious and a tonic to be around. I’d work with him again in a heartbeat.

Continue onto the next page as Tilda Swinton talks about working with children and on location and tells us more about her upcoming reteaming with Jim Jarmusch.

RT Interview: Tilda Swinton on Julia



Aidan Gould is remarkable as Tom, what are the joys and challenges of working with children?

TS: I can only think of joys. That they know the proper value of play. That they are up for the practical artifice of pretend; I’ve yet to meet a child of nine burdened with any concept of a method, or the pressure of taking their character home with them or all that displacement stuff. That they are in touch with the fun of making things up. That they are in no screwed-up battle with their dignity all the while. Altogether, in combination with the need for children to work restricted hours, it’s grace.

There’s an incredible amount of location work involved here and some striking locations — do you prefer working on location?

TS: Possibly. It makes for a completely different texture to what you actually shoot, let’s face it, and in the land of realness, or semi-realness, as in Julia, there is a kind of ease that comes with walking into real places surrounded by energies other than that of the film. Real walls, real pavement, real sky all help hold down the make believe and pin it into place.


Tilda Swinton in Julia

We’re soon to see you in another Jim Jarmusch film, could you tell us a little about your character and the film itself?

TS: Pretty much nothing, I’m afraid. Isaach de Bankole wears sensational shiny suits. I wear a white wig and cowboy hat. Paz de la Huerta wears – mainly – not a stitch. We are all in Spain. Isaach meets us there, on an unexplained mission, as he does Bill Murray, Gael Garcia Bernal, John Hurt, Youki Kudoh and others. We hand him cryptic messages in matchboxes and expound on art, music, science, hallucinogenics and sex. My subject is cinema. Isaach keeps moving. It’s a mystery story with a protagonist so calm, so opaque, that we can rest in his company – go along for the ride in blissful ignorance, perhaps even give up on impatience in the beauty of this landscape, under the umberella of this soundtrack. Credit crunch, eco-friendly, existential travel for the price of a cinema seat and minimal carbon footprint.

Julia is on DVD now.

With two Oscar wins and plenty more nominations under his
belt, Sydney Pollack was a filmmaker that Hollywood admired. He was also a
proven actor’s director whose fruitful relationships with performers like Robert
Redford resulted in films like Three Days of the Condor, The Way We Were,
and Jeremiah Johnson; even his off-screen friction with Tootsie
actor Dustin Hoffman gave way to one of Pollack’s most famous on-screen

Pollack undoubtedly knew how to frame a star, working with
the likes of Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman
to superb results. He also worked freely within genres, infusing thrillers,
comedies, and Westerns with a personal brand of socio-political reflection.
Below, we count down the ten highest-rated films that Pollack directed, and then
take a look at the late filmmaker’s most memorable performances in front of the


more info…
10. Sabrina (1995)
Tomatometer: 62%

Pollack took on the legacy of
Billy Wilder in updating the romantic comedy Sabrina, about a beautiful
young woman (Julia Ormond) caught between a charming playboy (Greg Kinnear) and
his no-nonsense brother (Harrison Ford). While comparisons to the original
abound — along with its cast of Golden Hollywood legends Humphrey Bogart, Audrey
Hepburn, and William Holden — Pollack’s Sabrina turned out this side of Fresh
and garnered two Oscar nominations, for John Williams’ score and the song
“Moonlight,” performed by Sting.



This Property is Condemned

09. This Property is Condemned (1966)
Tomatometer: 64%

A pre-Godfather
Francis Ford Coppola co-scripted Pollack’s second feature (along with Fred Coe
and Edith Sommer) based on a Tennessee Williams play; the result was the
consequently steamy, seamy tale of a boarding house floozy (Natalie Wood) and a
railroad man (Robert Redford) caught in a tragic romance in a poor Mississippi
town. Pollack would go on to direct Redford in six more films, including the
Oscar-winning Out of Africa.


The Scalphunters

more info…
08. The Scalphunters (1968)
Tomatometer: 75%

At the tail end of the civil
rights movement, Pollack directed this social satire-masquerading-as-comedy
Western starring Burt Lancaster, Ossie Davis, Telly Savalas and Shelley Winters.
When a trapper (Lancaster) is forced to “trade” his prized pelts for an educated
slave (Davis), he goes after the offending Indians; when they are in turn killed
by a band of scalphunters (led by Savalas), he turns his attentions to them.
Pollack would team up with Lancaster again in his next film, The Swimmer,
co-directed with Frank Perry.


The Firm

more info…
07. The Firm (1993)
Tomatometer: 76%

One of the few thrillers in
Pollack’s filmography (see Three Days of the Condor below) is The
which along with The Pelican Brief, helped launch a wave of
John Grisham fever in 1990s Hollywood. The tale of an ambitious attorney who
discovers sinister doings at his new law firm also captured star Tom Cruise at
the height of his thirtysomething career; Pollack would reunite with Cruise six
years later in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, appearing on the other
side of the camera.


Absence of Malice

more info…
06. Absence of Malice (1981)
Tomatometer: 71%

One of the best movies about
journalism came courtesy of former Detroit Free Press editor Kurt Luedtke, who
co-scripted Pollack’s Oscar-nominated film about a man with familial mob ties
(Paul Newman) wrongly implicated in a crime by a hungry newspaper reporter
(Sally Field). Supporting actress Melinda Dillon picked up her second Academy
Award nomination for her role as a devout woman whose tragic secret gets
splashed across the front page.

Sketches of Frank Gehry

more info…
05. Sketches of Frank Gehry (2006)
Tomatometer: 81%

Pollack’s lone documentary
feature focuses on his close friend, prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. The
director integrated interviews with art-world celebrities like Dennis Hopper,
Julian Schnabel, and even himself, creating an intimate and even look at the
“starchitect” behind such awesomely warped feats as Spain’s Guggenheim Museum.


They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Don't They???!!!

04. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Tomatometer: 83%

Dreams are dashed left and
right in Pollack’s deeply moving spectacle of ambition and desperation at a
Depression-era dance marathon, which earned a total of nine Oscar nominations
but won only one, for Gig Young’s performance as the contest’s tireless MC. It
also earned Jane Fonda her first Oscar nod, marking a turning point in Fonda’s


3 Days of the Condor

more info…
03. Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Tomatometer: 89%

Re-teaming with Robert
Redford would prove very successful for Pollack, and he put Redford’s leading
man magnetism to work as Joe Turner, AKA Condor, a low-level CIA intelligence
operative who becomes the target of a covert assassination plot. Evoking the
Hollywood thrillers and unsettled political climate of the 1970s (and suggesting
Jason Bourne long before the Bourne saga hit theaters), Three Days of
the Condor
excelled in creating taut, believable Hitchcockian suspense.



more info…
02. Tootsie (1982)
Tomatometer: 89%

Dustin Hoffman became
Hollywood’s favorite cross-dresser with Tootsie, a comedy about a thorny
actor so desperate for work that he turns to drag and becomes a soap opera
sensation — as a woman. The comedy was nominated for ten Oscars, winning one
for Jessica Lange as Best Supporting Actress; Pollack’s onscreen turn as
Hoffman’s aggravated agent brilliantly segued on-set tensions between the
director and his star into one of the film’s most crackling scenes.


Jeremiah Johnson

more info…
01. Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Tomatometer: 100%

Pollack’s best-reviewed film
is yet another of his many collaborations with Robert Redford, the hard-bitten
saga of a 19th century mountain man who encounters life, death, and
Indians in the wide open terrain of Utah. While passed over by the Oscars — it
was the year of Cabaret, Deliverance, and The Godfather
Jeremiah Johnson nevertheless remains Pollack’s most critically
celebrated work. As with many Pollack films, the Western isn’t merely a genre
exercise; it’s also an existential character study that examines the impact of
living the anti-establishment life, a driving theme in 1970s New Hollywood.

Sydney Pollack started out in the business as an actor, appearing in 60s
television fare like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
He acted less frequently when he found his calling in directing and producing,
which, in a way, made him a more fascinating actor; he found the freedom to
choose roles that played to his strengths and particular style. Here, we take a
look at Pollack’s best roles in movies not directed by himself.


Husbands and Wives

Husbands and Wives (1992)
Tomatometer: 100%

Husbands and Wives is arguably Woody Allen’s most realized drama (that
doesn’t involve murder), with its cinema verite filmmaking and strong
performances from Allen, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow, and Sydney Pollack. The role
of Jack is vintage Pollack, a man who never lets go of his measured regality
even as his life begins to crumble away.

There aren’t any Pollack clips on YT, but check out this fantastic scene with Davis.


Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Tomatometer: 78%In Kubrick’s
Eyes Wide Shut
, Pollack portrays Victor Ziegler, the closest this infamously
murky movie gets to having a “bad guy.” He’s a complacent figure, watching as
his friend and doctor, William (Tom Cruise), goes on a nightmarish trip of
sexual politics and self-discovery.


Changing Lanes

Changing Lanes (2001)
Tomatometer: 78%

Pollack made an acting career out of lawyers, businessmen, and meeting room
dwellers whose moral ethics never made a sinner out of him, but never quite the
innocent man, either. He delivers a speech in Changing Lanes that sums up
his MO: “I can live with myself because at the end of the day I think I
do more good than harm. What other standard have I got to judge by?”


Michael Clayton

more info…
Michael Clayton (2007)

Pollack re-entered
the public consciousness at large with his brawny supporting role in Michael
. Working in a law firm filled with “fixers” probably means your
moral compasses are slight askew, but Pollack gives his role major gravitas,
becoming a voice of reason as George Clooney freefalls into a diabolical


Made of Honor

more info…
Made of Honor (2008)
Tomatometer: 12%

The wacky parent has long been a staple in romantic comedies Pollack gets his
turn in the Patrick Dempsey-Michelle Monaghan vehicle, Made of Honor. It
may not be the most glamorous final role, but at least demonstrates Pollack’s
willingness to continually push himself as an actor, even after a spot was
reserved for him as a major movie director and producer.

Academy Award-winning director, Sydney Pollack, has died at the age of 73. He died of stomach cancer at his home in Los Angeles, California on Monday, 26 May.

Pollack started his career as an actor and acting teacher before moving behind the lens as both director and producer. He began his directorial career in television, working on such projects as the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, hospital drama, Ben Casey, and The Fugitive. His first foray into film was the 1965 drama, The Slender Thread, starring Anne Bancroft and Sidney Poitier.

He first appeared in one of his own films in 1979, in The Electric Horseman. A few years later he took the part of Dustin Hoffman‘s agent, George Fields, in Tootsie. He went on to appear in many of his own films and those directed by his contemporaries including Husbands and Wives, The Player, Death Becomes Her, Eyes Wide Shut and Michael Clayton.


The gang. Sidney Pollack, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese – WireImage.com

He won two Academy Awards in 1986 for Out of Africa for both Best Director and Best Picture. He was also nominated for Best Director in 1970 for They Shoot the Horses, Don’t They? and again in 1983 for Tootsie for which he also received a Best Picture Nomination. In 2008 he was nominated for Best Picture for Michael Clayton.


Sidney Pollack with Anjelica Huston, Geraldine Page, and William Hurt – WireImage.com

Beside his own collection of awards garnered throughout his career, he directed many actors to Academy Award nominations including: Jane Fonda; Barbra Streisand; Paul Newman; Jessica Lange; Dustin Hoffman; Teri Garr; Meryl Streep; and Holly Hunter.

To read more about the accomplished career of Sydney Pollack, and view his complete filmography, visit his Rotten Tomatoes profile.

George Clooney, the Mayor McCheese of Hollywood, leaves behind Oscar season and returns to the big screen with lighter fare with the period sports comedy Leatherheads. The PG-13 pic also stars Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski while the former Caped Crusader directs. Given the story of the origins of football in the 1920’s, turnout should come mostly from older adults although The Office star is being counted on to pull in some younger moviegoers. In Los Angeles, Clooney is a God. But the other 99% of the U.S. population doesn’t necessarily bow down to him (unless pals Brad and Matt are along for the ride). Michael Clayton, which creatively was one of the actor’s best films, only managed $10.4M in ticket sales during its first wide weekend. And it was backed by plenty of Oscar buzz and glowing reviews.

Reviews for Leatherheads have been lukewarm at best which spells bad news since the target audience will be reading up on the opinions of critics and taking their warnings. Plus Zellweger is no A-lister when it comes to drawing in paying audiences. Add in a period setting that will turn many off and you’ve got a spring film that will have to work hard for the money. To its credit, Universal has backed the title with a solid marketing push doing what it can to generate excitement and the current top five will not provide too much direct competition. But a lack of momentum in the current marketplace will also have a negative effect on all films. Rushing into 2,778 theaters, Leatherheads may take in around $15M this weekend.

John Krasinski in Leatherheads

A young girl’s imagination is at the heart of Nim’s Island, the new kid adventure from Fox Walden. Abigail Breslin stars as the title character in the PG-rated tale while Jodie Foster and 300‘s Gerard Butler co-star. The family audience is the target here with sales likely to skew more towards girls than boys. The lack of male appeal could turn out to be a major liability. Foster usually brings plenty of starpower with her, but this is not the type of role her core fans will be all that excited about. This isn’t a single-woman-fighting-male-oppressors movie. Competition will come from Fox’s own Horton Hears A Who, but Nim‘s trailers in front of the Seuss toon over the last three weeks have also raised awareness with the same crowd. So consider that a wash. Overall buzz is not too high so despite the very wide launch, potent numbers are not likely. Opening in 3,511 sites, Nim’s Island could debut to about $14M.

Abigail Breslin in Nim’s Island

Paramount gives horror fans a new offering with The Ruins which finds a group of young Americans in Cancun discovering terror. The year’s first fright flick to not be a remake of an Asian horror hit carries an R rating which will hurt its chances with younger teens. Overall interest is not very high and a lack of starpower won’t help its cause much. The film should appeal to the same folks who bought tickets to The Descent and Turistas. Both lacked star names and underperformed with openings of $8.9M and $3.6M respectively. The Ruins opens in over 2,500 theaters and should fall into the same range. Look for a $8M debut.

The Ruins

The Rolling Stones and Martin Scorsese join forces for the year’s third major concert film with Shine A Light. The PG-13 pic covers an intimate New York concert given by the supergroup with the Oscar-winning director orchestrating a team of A-list cinematographers to capture all the magic. Paramount Classics is rolling out the film in limited release with about 270 total theaters including 93 Imax sites making it the widest launch ever for the large-screen format. Marketing materials have been highlighting the starpower of all the popular senior citizens involved here in a effort to tap into older adults and rock music fans. Hannah Montana and U2 found success earlier this year with their concert pics and the higher-priced Imax tickets will help to beef up the averages. Shine A Light could rock to around $2M this weekend.

Scorsese and The Stones in Shine a Light

Only two holdovers will be able to post double-digit millions this weekend. 21 got off to a great start last week and will not see too much of its teen and young adult audience taken away since Leatherheads will skew older and Nim will play younger. Still a moderate 45% drop is in order which would put the blackjack drama at about $13M for a ten-day tally of $45M.

Fox’s animated blockbuster Horton Hears A Who will find its competition coming from the studio’s own new Jodie Foster adventure. But the Dr. Seuss comedy has been holding up well so a 30% fall to $12.5M could result. That would up the cume to a robust $134M.

Superhero Movie stumbled out of the gate last weekend and is not likely to have legs. A 45% drop would give The Weinstein Company roughly $5M and a sum of $17M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: With Easter falling on the first weekend of April, the box office was vibrant thanks to a pair of solid sophomores and a slate of new releases. Will Ferrell‘s skating comedy Blades of Glory spent a second frame on top with $22.5M while the Disney toon Meet the Robinsons held onto second with $16.7M. Leading the newcomers was the Ice Cube sequel Are We Done Yet? with $14.3M on its way to $49.7M for Sony. Opening in fourth was the two-for-one special Grindhouse with $11.6M followed by the new supernatural thriller The Reaping which bowed to $10M. Final grosses reached $25M and $25.1M, respectively. Failing to excite family audiences was Firehouse Dog which debuted in tenth with just $3.8M leading to a weak $13.9M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

George Clooney

After nabbing Oscar notice for recent dramas like Syriana, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Michael Clayton, it was time George Clooney lightened things up. This week’s Leatherheads does just that; a 1920s period piece about the early days of football, the sports comedy — produced by, directed by, and starring Clooney himself — also strives to recall the golden age of the feisty, fast-talking screwball comedy.

Clooney’s debt to the likes of Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks is both apparent and considerable, as he acknowledged recently at a press day in Los Angeles. What he jokingly admits to as “stealing” is quite obviously homage, as the central romance in Leatherheads — actually, a love triangle between Clooney’s huckster footballer, Renee Zellweger‘s sassy reporter, and John Krasinski‘s star athlete — often gives way to lively Tommy gun patter resembling classics like His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby.

Read on for more with George Clooney on being on both sides of the camera in Leatherheads, the limitations of the screwball comedy in modern movies, paying homage to the classics, and completing his trifecta of idiots in the next Coen brothers film.

Leatherheads pays tribute to the classic screwball comedy in a big way. Were you going for a Hawks-Sturges kind of tempo?

George Clooney: I stole from Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges in a big way. I stole a scene. Wait, homage. I homaged the s— out of Howard Hawkes and Preston Sturges and early George Stevens. There’s a film called The More the Merrier that we were trying to rip off a lot.

How does George Clooney the director work with George Clooney the actor?

GC: Of the three films I directed, the other two (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night, and Good Luck) I had parts in but I wasn’t the lead. It’s tricky, because there is an enormous amount of narcissism that comes into play. You’re breaking the trust between two actors, particularly if you’re in the lead. If you and I are doing a scene together, I’m not supposed to be judging you as an actor — now, a lot of actors do, and they’ll tell you what to do, but in general you’re not supposed to break the trust; the director is. As an actor, it’s easy, because I know specifically, precisely what I need in the scene, so I cut out one step. But it’s embarrassing when…you’re sitting across from Renee [Zellweger] and she’s doing a tremendous job in a scene, and you can feel the camera is in too close, too soon, and you just go, “OK, cut. Let’s try that again.” It’s a weird, awkward thing but you just acknowledge it off the bat and get over it.

Is the sort of rapid-fire dialogue and timing in Leatherheads unnatural for a modern actor?

GC: We called it front-foot acting. The tendency, probably since Montgomery Clift came on the scene, is to internalize. That’s great, and it has made for some of the most amazing work ever, but what gets lost in that is that ability to…almost answer just as if you couldn’t have heard the question. It has to be that quick. The difference is, you can’t do it exactly like Rosalind Russell. She was brilliant, but if you took that performance and put that into a modern film…it would just be like an impersonation. So with someone like John, or someone like Renee — they’re actors who don’t feel contemporary, which is important. There are a lot of actors who just feel like it’s 2008 no matter what you do.

We had the same problem with Good Night, and Good Luck. You had to have actors that didn’t fill everything with, “You know,” and both [Krasinsky and Zellweger] are very crisp, clean actors. We’d rehearse the scene as if we’d heard it all. And I’d go, “Ok now, faster, faster, faster,” to the point where it’s too fast then we’d slow it down. You have to understand that it’s a rollercoaster and it’ll go really quick and slow down. That finds itself when you rehearse it a few times on the set.

The Coen brothers did something similar with The Hudsucker Proxy. Did you talk to them about that?

GC: No, but I certainly watched Hudsucker Proxy…because, you know, I’ve stolen — homaged – the hell out of those guys over the years. And certainly there were things on this film that I was using that were from other films they’ve done. But Hudsucker I loved; I know people love to smash that film, but I really love that movie. But you have to be careful that it doesn’t leak into an impersonation of any kind.

Why make Leatherheads right after your Oscar-nominated role in Michael Clayton?

GC: Right after Good Night, and Good Luck and Syriana, everything that was coming to me was an issue film. They were happy to let me direct, but they were going to be the Richard Clark book — “We’re gonna do the big Valerie Plame story” — whatever it was, it was going to be something political. And I had a great fear of being the “issues” director. Because the issues change. And I have a much bigger interest in being a director. So I thought, “I want to do something that’s completely away from this,” and I like screwing with different genres. This is a world I knew a little bit of. So I spent a summer stealing — homaging — from Philadelphia Story, those films. The thing I came up with, it’s horrible, really, was the whole John Kerry-swiftboat thing; the idea that he’s holding a secret. Not that I thought that John Kerry wasn’t [a war hero]! It’s just that I thought, well what if he wasn’t really a war hero, and if there was an innocent way to do it where you didn’t make him a bad guy?

Renee’s character seems to be a throwback to the old heroines of screwball comedies, like Rosalind Russell and Katherine Hepburn…

GC: In the original draft of the film, John’s character and Lexie were boyfriend and girlfriend in college, and they came out together. She wasn’t active, she had nothing to do. And, I was now too old to be stealing the college girl [laughs]. So it felt as if it needed to be changed and she needed to have something to do. Really, it was more about…there weren’t women sportswriters in 1925; they’re fighting to do it now, even. So it felt like that was a great ballsy thing to be. But it wasn’t a comment on the press, I was just having fun.

What kind of idiot are you playing in the next Coen Brothers film?

GC: Well, first of all, I’m playing this character, Harry Pfarrer in Burn After Reading. I’ve now leaped heads and shoulders over the other idiots I’ve played; this is my trilogy of idiots with the Coen brothers. That one’s gonna be fun. I had to go and do an extra shot yesterday, I grew a beard back for half a day’s work, and they showed me little bits of it and I was like, “Turn it off, I don’t want to see it!” It’s so…big. The only thing that makes me feel good is that Brad [Pitt] is an even bigger idiot than I am in it, so that makes me feel safe.

Leatherheads is in theaters this week and currently has a Tomatometer of 45 percent.

We’ve selected some of our favorite moments from Hollywood’s biggest night! Browse our gallery of gowns on the red carpet, winners onstage, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the 80th Annual Academy Awards.

An all-European foursome takes home acting honors at Sunday’s Oscars — France’s Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose), England’s Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), England’s Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton), and Spain’s Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men). Backstage, they pose for a collective moment of celebration.

Click for more images!

Long-suffering Oscar bridesmaid and 2007 Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese presents the Best Director prize to Ethan and Joel Coen for their multiple Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men.

Best Actress Marion Cotillard, whose role as Edith Piaf transformed her into a dowdy street hustler to beloved songbird to frail invalid, delivers one of the night’s most genuine speeches.

Marion Cotillard accepts her Oscar…

…and gets a hug in the wings from presenter Forest Whitaker.

Kristin Chenoweth displays her Broadway lungs performing Best Song nominee “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted.

Tilda Swinton rises in surprise when she’s named Best Supporting Actress for her role in Michael Clayton, arguably the night’s biggest upset. Swinton beat out favorites Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There) and Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) to take home her first Oscar.

Daniel Day-Lewis kneels to The Queen (Helen Mirren) to accept the Oscar for Best Actor.

Musicians Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard sing their song, “Falling Slowly,” from the micro-budgeted musical Once.

Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard win the Oscar for Best Song, but Irglova’s speech is cut off. Host Jon Stewart breaks precedence by bringing Irglova back onstage, where she delivers another of the night’s more plaintive, heartfelt thank yous.

Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones embrace; and Javier Bardem raises a fist in triumph when their film, No Country For Old Men, wins the night’s most coveted prize: the Oscar for Best Picture.

Of course, there was more glitz and glamour on the red carpet…click images below for stars like Cate Blanchett, Renee Zellweger, Jennifer Garner, and more!

Check out our full Oscar gallery here.

Instead of focusing on one hot movie for Total Recall, this
week you’ll get five. They’re a little old now, but I think you’ll forgive me —
after all, they’re
, Juno,
Michael Clayton,
No Country
for Old Men
, and
There Will Be

I’ve never been good at predicting the Oscars. Last year, for
example, I thought
Pan’s Labyrinth
was going to win Best Foreign. Silly me! So this year,
I’m ditching gut feelings and going the experimental route: the Tomatometer. The
average Best Picture nominee’s Tomatometer hovers in the upper-80 percentile, so
critical reception and Best Picture nomination go hand in hand. My
mini-experiment: can an ad hoc formula using Tomatometer and box office
numbers be used to predict the winner?

To begin with, here are this year’s Best Picture nominees:

Movie title


Box office so far
(in mil.)

No Country for Old Men






There Will Be Blood



Michael Clayton






I’m going to predict an upset and say either Juno or
Michael Clayton will take Best Picture. I’m probably wrong. And I hope
I’m wrong — I want There Will Be Blood to win. No Country has
also deserved all of its momentum. But going on purely Tomatometer and box
office statistics, the numbers are against both NCFOM and TWBB.
But more on that later.

First, let’s talk Atonement. What happened here? It
has strong performances, a rousing score, gorgeous panoramas, and a love story
that transcends both time and large bodies of water. In other words, the perfect
Oscar movie. And director
Joe Wright
skillfully avoided preening for the award throughout his movie. But, suddenly,
it’s Atonement, not Juno, that should be happy to have gotten this far.

This week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly pegs Atonement
with a 10 percent chance of victory, writing, "Aren’t the days of the typical ‘Oscar
movie’ over?" Indeed, the smear-and-sneer campaigns the last historical, epic
Best Pictures (The
English Patient
[85 percent] and
[82 percent])
have endured after their wins reveal audiences have had their fill. Plus, Wright
wasn’t even nominated for Best Director. There’s only been three instances that
a movie has won Best Picture under those circumstances (Wings
[100 percent], Grand
[84 percent], and
Driving Miss Daisy

[78 percent]), and two of those came at a time when
Private Snafu

seemed like cutting-edge animation.

I can’t decide if either Michael Clayton and Juno will win.
They both exist in the now, even as they embody specific eras: Clayton recalls
meaty American dramas like
(90 percent)
and On the
(100 percent), and Juno, with its precious music and
Gen Y jive, is a movie with its head in the clouds, leaning ever-so-slightly
into the future. If I had a gun to my nose, I’ll say Juno will pull the
upset. It’s been a while since a movie mainly identified as a comedy has won Best
Picture. And Juno has much in common with
Annie Hall
percent): they’re both culture-driven products of their time, but their
ruminations on love and relationships have universality.

So what does the Tomatometer have against a movie like
No Country for Old Men
, with its

virtual lock
on the Best Picture race? Get this: my cursory peek into
criticism history shows that in the past 36 years, only twice has the nominee
with the highest Tomatometer won Best Picture: Annie Hall in 1977, and

(96 percent) in 1992.

Why is that? Ideally, a year’s Best Picture is a
meeting point between art and commerce: a movie of deep thoughts with the sweet charm
to pass them on to whomever’s around. Critics, thirsty for something to wow them
after watching several hundred movies a year, are likely more wont to praise
movies of extreme novelty and subtlety before audiences (and the Oscars) can
fully latch onto them.

No Country for Old Men is the only Best Picture
nominee that has virtually no backlash against it. The movie is challenging and
deliberately obscure, but the Coens’ mastery of their medium has kept audiences
electrified. I still feel jolts and chills thinking about it. But
Tomatometer-wise, NCFOM has a 5.5 percent chance of winning. So if we are
heading for an upset, I would normally picture There Will Be Blood
sneaking up to take home the statue.

And that would be a remarkable feat for reasons beyond the fact that
There Will Be Blood is a sprawling, shapeless movie about an ugly misanthrope. TWBB
has grossed the least of all the nominees. And from what I can guess, the
lowest-grossing nominee has never,
ever won
. The reason’s fairly obvious: even though There Will Be Blood
has been drawing strong per-theater averages, the less a country feels compelled
to watch a movie, the less likely they are to vote for it.

The Oscars have suffered a number of embarrassments this
year. Snubs for Zodiac
(89 percent) and
The Simpsons Movie
(89 percent). The sheer presence of
(9 percent).
And on the rejection of
percent), The Band’s
(98 percent), and
4 Months,
3 Weeks, and 2 Days
(97 percent), foreign Oscar chairman Mark Johnson

this to say
: "It’s just inconceivable to me that they weren’t included." But
public humiliations aside, this year’s Best Pictures selections are among the
most thoughtful, well-rounded crew to represent cinema in decades.

In last month’s "The
Downsizing of Oscar
," Richard Corliss wondered, "Why not just change the
name, from the Oscars to the Independent Spirit Awards?" But I don’t think it’s
a matter of the academy out of touch with what the public watches. In fact, it’s
the opposite: not only do these movies represent the still-smoldering hope of
indie fare connecting with audiences, it demonstrates the Academy is finally
catching up with the rest of us.

After giving Best Picture to the lazy, self-congratulatory
pap of Crash
(75 percent), the Academy atoned by giving
his Oscar last year. And now they’re recognizing five movies each
relevant in its unique way.  I haven’t seen as much online discourse sparked
as the complexities of deceit in Atonement and Michael Clayton
have, or of the annoying/endearing personality of Juno, the mystique of Anton
Chigurh, and the general WTFness of Daniel Plainview. Their stories may
not always make a mint at the box office, but they are exactly the thing to rile
up the modern community — the bloggers, the users, the podcasters, the budding
scholars and filmmakers. Choose the movies that get us talking. We will be the
ones who make them last.

Ready those Oscar ballots! With the Academy Awards around the corner, it’s time to start catching up on what you missed in theaters. Snap up this week’s offerings for award-nominated performances (George Clooney and Co. in Michael Clayton, Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah) and a handful more notable titles of 2007 (American Gangster, Lust, Caution, Margot at the Wedding, Redacted).

Michael Clayton

Tomatometer: 90%

There are seven reasons to pick up Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton on DVD this week: Academy Awards nominations for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Directing, Score, Screenplay, and Best Picture. The taut corporate thriller, about a legal “fixer” (George Clooney) who uncovers sinister goings-on in a case he’s working, is marked by excellent contributions all around. With the exception of deleted scenes and a commentary by director Gilroy and his brother/editor John Gilroy, the bonus menu is sparse, but the real value in picking Michael Clayton up on DVD is the film itself — and the chance to watch two of the best supporting performances in recent memory (by Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton, both Oscar-nominated).


American Gangster

Tomatometer: 79%

Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe face off in Ridley Scott’s tale of real-life Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas (Washington) and detective Richie Roberts (Crowe), from a Steven Zaillian script. Critics praised the pic for capturing a gritty sense of place and time — New York City’s seedy underbelly, circa 1970 — and for dazzling performances from its two leading men. Rapper Jay-Z, after an early screening, penned an entire album of songs inspired by the film. And while conspicuously omitted from Oscar honors, American Gangster made numerous Top Ten lists last year. In turn, Universal Studios is releasing the film in not one, but two substantial releases: a 2-disc Unrated edition with 18 additional minutes of footage, and a 3-disc version containing a 32-page collector’s production booklet, music videos by Jay-Z and Ghostface Killah, and a digital copy of the film.


In the Valley of Elah

Tomatometer: 71%

Tommy Lee Jones has twice before been nominated for an Oscar (earning the honor in 1992 for JFK and winning 1994’s award for The Fugitive), but his latest nomination, for his role as the father of a missing soldier in In the Valley of Elah, is his first as a leading man. Elah is written and directed by Paul Haggis and, like Haggis’ Oscar-winning Crash, unapologetically tackles the ground of social commentary: namely, the adverse psychological toll the Iraq war is exacting on soldiers and their loved ones. Two bonus featurettes add texture with a peek at the film’s production and interviews with filmmakers, actors, and the real-life parents of the man whose story inspired the film.


Lust, Caution

Tomatometer: 69%

Ang Lee’s WWII thriller is, as expected, a lush and steamy affair. In 1942 Shanghai, wealthy housewife Mrs. Mak (Tang Wei) partakes in gossip and mah-jongg with other well-to-do ladies while seducing a married man; but Mak is not what she seems — her identity and the affair are staged, part of an elaborate plan by radical students to assassinate a traitorous official. Sexy, NC-17 love scenes mark Lee’s erotic follow-up to Brokeback Mountain in this powerful, beautiful, and tragic love story.

Margot at the Wedding

Tomatometer: 53%

Noah Baumbach caught Hollywood’s attention with 2005’s semi-autobiographical The Squid and the Whale (after making an acclaimed debut ten years earlier with Kicking & Screaming and co-scripting Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), so the heat was on to see if his next film, Margot at the Wedding, would measure up. The verdict? Mixed. Critics note Baumbach’s spot-on, incisive observations of well-heeled East Coasters, but found his characters — including Nicole Kidman and Baumbach’s wife Jennifer Jason Leigh as frictional sisters — overwhelmingly unlikeable.


Tomatometer: 47%

Culling its title from the controversial CIA practice of transporting detainees to areas of borderline-torturous interrogation facilities, Rendition is a muddled, if well-intention, entry into the current subgenre of politically-relevant think pieces. Director Gavin Hood, coming off of his Oscar win for the South African drama Tsotsi, submits a rather disappointing Hollywood debut. Rendition stars Reese Witherspoon as a pregnant American woman struggling to learn why her Egyptian-born husband has disappeared, and her off-screen S.O. Jake Gyllenhaal as a conflicted government suit who is witness to the acts of torture.


Tomatometer: 45%

Arguably the most divisive of 2007’s Iraq-themed films, Brian de Palma’s Redacted is not only an anti-war missive but is also an experiment in mixed media filmmaking — double the chance to alienate movie goers simply looking to be entertained, but a thought-provoking experience for those up for a challenge. De Palma uses a variety of faux-documentary formats to paint a picture of U.S.-occupied Iraq (soldiers’ home videos, European documentary crews, local news reports) and the precarious balance of clashing cultures and violence that threatens to explode with deadly consequences.

‘Til next week, happy renting!

Perhaps the ASC and DGA Awards aren’t the flashiest ceremonies of the season, but being honored by one’s peers is always a cause for celebration, so let’s take a moment to congratulate Robert Elswit and Joel and Ethan Coen, shall we?

Elswit’s work on Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will Be Blood netted him the feature trophy at the American Society of Cinematographers awards ceremony on Saturday, putting him at the top of a solid field that mirrored, for the first time in the ceremony’s history, the Academy Awards cinematography nominees. Elswit’s competitors included Seamus McGarvey for Atonement, Janusz Kaminski for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Roger Deakins, for both No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Accepting his award, Elswit was quoted as saying:

“I just think it’s impossible to pick these five films apart from one another. I’m really lucky that Janusz (Kaminki) did extraordinary work a year after he resigned from the ASC, and that Roger (Deakins) is competing with himself. To avoid this (from happening again) there should probably be a category called ‘best cinematography in a movie by Roger Deakins.”

Meanwhile, the Coen brothers took top honors at the DGA Awards, beating out Paul Thomas Anderson, Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Sean Penn (Into the Wild), and Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) with their work on No Country for Old Men. Celebrating the brothers’ first DGA win, Joel Coen told attendees:

“We have a bookshelf in our office where we keep all the things we’ve won — we call it our ego corner — and whenever Ethan has a really bad day, he takes out the Windex and silver polish and cleans them up. This is a big one — it’ll keep him busy.”

Source: Variety (ASC Awards)
Source: Variety (DGA Awards)

The resurrection of yesterday’s movie heroes continues with Sylvester Stallone‘s new film Rambo which finds the vet in Southeast Asia where he is pulled into another battle with baddies. The R-rated film from Lionsgate follows the actor’s Rocky Balboa which defied the odds last winter to become both a critical and commercial success. Stallone directed both films. Rambo also comes after Bruce Willis saw a lucrative reboot of the Die Hard franchise last summer, and arrives before Harrison Ford‘s much-anticipated return as Indiana Jones this May.

John Rambo may not be as loved by fans as those other characters which means it may gross the least amount of dough at the domestic box office. The new Rambo will surely attract older males with the nostalgia factor, but younger men are also being targeted by using today’s rock music in the television spots and print ads with images of a cult-like Sly. The image could easily be spray-painted on a wall next to the heads of Andre the Giant and Che Guevara. Rambo is getting the widest release of any new film on Friday and with football taking the weekend off, male audiences will be more available. Most of the competition will come from Cloverfield‘s second frame, but those wanting intense violence and a ton of bullets flying around will find no better choice. Attacking 2,751 theaters, Rambo could debut to about $18M this weekend.

Good ol’ Sly is back

Diane Lane goes solo anchoring the crime thriller Untraceable which finds the Oscar-nominated actress playing a federal agent on the trail of a psychopath that uses the internet to kill his victims. The R-rated film will cater to adult audiences and skew more towards women. Female-led detective thrillers usually struggle at the box office, however Untraceable will benefit from one the best trailers this winter for a non-monster movie. Sony’s marketing efforts have been solid with Lane’s name and the intriguing plot being the main selling points used to lure in ticket buyers. The rating may keep out younger net-savvy teens that might have interest plus an abundance of films will keep things competitive. The sophomore weekend of 27 Dresses will surely draw away some of Untraceable‘s audience, especially those who would rather see something lighter and not so grim. Landing in 2,368 theaters, Untraceable might take away roughly $10M this weekend.

Diane Lane and that Hanks kid in Untraceable

Fox dishes out yet another dose of spoof comedy with Meet the Spartans skewering all sorts of hit films plus Britney and non-Britney pop culture events of the past year. The PG-13 entry is going after the same teen and young adult audience that came out in solid numbers for Epic Movie, which bowed at number one this weekend last year with $18.6M, and the previous year’s Date Movie which debuted to a similar $19.1M. However, the spoof genre showed signs of aging last October when the studio suffered a lowly $5.6M opening for the sports comedy The Comebacks. The target audience is getting a little sick of these antics so the opening for Spartans should be weaker than Epic‘s but better than Comebacks‘. Hefty competition, especially from Cloverfield, will also be a major hurdle to overcome this weekend. Opening in 2,603 locations, Meet the Spartans may launch with about $9M.

Meet the Spartans

Step dancing is back again, this time in female form, with How She Move which Paramount Vantage is releasing for Viacom sibling MTV Films. The PG-13 pic revolves around a talented young woman’s quest to win a dance competition and honor her dead sister’s memory in the process. Move features mostly newcomers and will target teens and urban youth. The same audience powered January hits like You Got Served and Stomp the Yard to number one openings of $16.1M and $21.8M, respectively. But Move lacks the marketing muscle that Sony has a patent on for these types of films. Success with the core crowd should result, but crossover business with other groups will be tough. Plus teens have Cloverfield and Meet the Spartans competing for their attention too so there will be blood. Stepping into about 1,500 sites, How She Move could bow to around $6M.

How She Move

After scoring seven Academy Award nominations, the most for any big studio title, Michael Clayton goes back out into wide release on Friday. Warner Bros. is hoping to catch audiences who maybe didn’t catch it the first time but are now sold on the George Clooney drama because of all the kudos attention. Clayton, which has grossed $39.4M to date, goes back out into 1,102 theaters. A year ago this weekend, the studio gave similar treatment to The Departed which expanded to 1,453 locations for a $3.4M gross in its 17th frame. This time the studio is using the ads to also inform fans of the legal thriller’s February 19 DVD release date so some may just wait a few weeks to catch the acclaimed pic at home. Michael Clayton may find itself with roughly $3M this weekend.

Michael Clayton gets a second run

Last weekend, the beastly disaster flick Cloverfield exploded with a record opening of $46.1M over the four-day holiday frame. A steep drop is likely on the sophomore frame since frenzied upfront demand led to most fans catching the thriller already. Plus Rambo and some of the other new titles will pull audiences away in different directions. A 55% three-day tumble would leave Paramount with about $18M and a ten-day cume of $69M.

Chick flick 27 Dresses is not worried about Stallone, however Diane Lane and the Spartans could provide some competition this weekend for the Katherine Heigl laugher. Audiences have been having a good time with the Fox release so a 40% drop could occur. That would give 27 Dresses roughly $13.5M over three days and a total of $44M after ten days.

Batman franchise alums Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman enjoyed a terrific hold for their pic The Bucket List last weekend which is playing to an older and more patient crowd. A 30% fall would put the Warner Bros. film at around $10.5M pushing the sum to $58M.

LAST YEAR: Spoof comedy led the way with Fox’s Epic Movie which bowed on top to the tune of $18.6M on its way to $39.7M. Opening right behind in second with almost identical per-theater average was the Universal drama Smokin’ Aces with $14.6M from 600 fewer theaters. A $35.7M final gross resulted. Former chart-topper Night at the Museum followed in third with $9.6M while the dance drama Stomp the Yard placed fourth with $7.7M. A hair behind in fifth with a $7.7M debut was Sony’s Jennifer Garner drama Catch and Release which found its way to just $15.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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