Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection)

All Joaquin Phoenix Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

After making three movies in the ’80s credited as Leaf and then disappearing, Phoenix returned to the public eye, this time under his birth name Joaquin, for 1995’s To Die For. In that Gus Van Sant erotic thriller, Phoenix plays a high schooler seduced by Nicole Kidman to murder, thus beginning the actor’s penchant for performing disturbed, frequently mordant characters, carried further through the ’90s in movies like Clay Pigeons, 8MM, and U-Turn.

Phoenix became a near-household name after playing sword-and-sandal scumbag Commodus in Best Picture-winner Gladiator, in which he got his first of three Oscar acting nominations. But for several years after, Phoenix remained in character actor mode, taking supporting roles if he found the movie compelling (Quills, Hotel Rwanda, Signs), in between lead star parts such as in Buffalo Soldiers and The Village.

In 2005, Phoenix broke into that echelon of truly transformative actors, owning the Johnny Cash role in Walk the Line, which walked him right into a second Oscar nomination. A long period of reunion collaborations has followed, working frequently with clearly favored directors: To Die For‘s Gus Van Sant (Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot), James Gray (Two Lovers, We Own the Night), Rwanda‘s Terry George (Reservation Road), and P.T. Anderson for Inherent Vice and The Master, the latter marking the most recent time he became an Oscar nominee.

His last film, Joker, rampaged into theaters riding a wave of controversy and buzz, all the way to become the biggest-grossing R-rated movie ever. So put on that smile as we rank all of Joaquin Phoenix’s movies by Tomatometer!

#34

Russkies (1987)
14%

#34
Adjusted Score: 9407%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Three patriotic adolescents confront their worst fear when they find a shipwrecked Russian sailor on a Florida beach.... [More]
Directed By: Rick Rosenthal

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 19217%
Critics Consensus: It's All About Love has ambitious ideas and an impressive cast, none of which are put to compelling use in this dramatically inert and narratively incoherent sci-fi drama.
Synopsis: The planet has cooled down to the extent that it snows even in July and people are dying of mysterious... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Vinterberg

#32

8MM (1999)
23%

#32
Adjusted Score: 25322%
Critics Consensus: Its sadistic violence is unappealing and is lacking in suspense and mystery.
Synopsis: Private detective Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) lives a normal life with his wife (Catherine Keener) and young daughter, until he... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 30944%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the 1950s, brothers Jacey (Billy Crudup) and Doug Holt (Joaquin Phoenix), who come from the poorer side of their... [More]
Directed By: Pat O'Connor

#30

Brother Bear (2003)
37%

#30
Adjusted Score: 41183%
Critics Consensus: Brother Bear is gentle and pleasant if unremarkable Disney fare, with so-so animation and generic plotting.
Synopsis: Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix) is a young Indian brave with a particular distaste for bears. When his brother Sitka (D.B. Sweeney)... [More]

#29

Reservation Road (2007)
38%

#29
Adjusted Score: 42066%
Critics Consensus: While the performances are fine, Reservation Road quickly adopts an excessively maudlin tone along with highly improbable plot turns.
Synopsis: The fates of two men and their families converge following a tragic accident. Ethan Lerner (Joaquin Phoenix) and his family... [More]
Directed By: Terry George

#28

Ladder 49 (2004)
41%

#28
Adjusted Score: 45780%
Critics Consensus: Instead of humanizing the firemen, the movie idolizes them, and thus renders them into cardboard characters.
Synopsis: After saving the life of one of the civilians inside, firefighter Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) finds himself trapped in a... [More]
Directed By: Jay Russell

#27

SpaceCamp (1986)
46%

#27
Adjusted Score: 46410%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Andie Bergstrom (Kate Capshaw), an astronaut eagerly awaiting her first trip to space, runs a summer camp for teenagers with... [More]
Directed By: Harry Winer

#26

The Village (2004)
43%

#26
Adjusted Score: 51053%
Critics Consensus: The Village is appropriately creepy, but Shyamalan's signature twist ending disappoints.
Synopsis: Members (Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody) of a 19th-century community fear the strange creatures that inhabit the surrounding... [More]
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

#25

Mary Magdalene (2018)
44%

#25
Adjusted Score: 50419%
Critics Consensus: Mary Magdalene has obvious reverence for its subject; unfortunately, it lacks enough momentum or depth of character to make her story interesting.
Synopsis: In the first century, free-spirited Mary Magdalene flees the marriage her family has arranged for her, finding refuge and a... [More]
Directed By: Garth Davis

#24

Irrational Man (2015)
47%

#24
Adjusted Score: 58564%
Critics Consensus: Irrational Man may prove rewarding for the most ardent Joaquin Phoenix fans or Woody Allen apologists, but all others most likely need not apply.
Synopsis: A tormented philosophy professor (Joaquin Phoenix) considers murdering a corrupt judge to find meaning in his life.... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#23

I'm Still Here (2010)
53%

#23
Adjusted Score: 57603%
Critics Consensus: As unkempt and inscrutable as Joaquin Phoenix himself, I'm Still Here raises some interesting questions about its subject, as well as the nature of celebrity, but it fails to answer many of them convincingly.
Synopsis: Director Casey Affleck follows Joaquin Phoenix as he carries out a plan to retire from acting and concentrate on a... [More]
Directed By: Casey Affleck

#22

We Own the Night (2007)
57%

#22
Adjusted Score: 63368%
Critics Consensus: Bland characters, clichéd dialogue and rickety plotting ensure We Own The Night never lives up to its potential.
Synopsis: In 1988, New York's police wage an all-out war on drugs, and guilty and innocent alike become casualties. Bobby Green... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#21

U-Turn (1997)
61%

#21
Adjusted Score: 62813%
Critics Consensus: U-Turn is a lurid, stylish lark that boasts striking moments but lacks the focus and weight of Oliver Stone best work.
Synopsis: A two-bit criminal (Sean Penn) meets an attractive woman (Jennifer Lopez) and her spouse (Nick Nolte), each of whom wants... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#20

Clay Pigeons (1998)
61%

#20
Adjusted Score: 63492%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a small Montana town, Clay Bidwell (Joaquin Phoenix) finds himself increasingly surrounded by dead bodies, making him the chief... [More]
Directed By: David Dobkin

#19

The Yards (2000)
64%

#19
Adjusted Score: 67342%
Critics Consensus: Featuring strong performances and direction, The Yards is a richly textured crime thriller with an authentic feel.
Synopsis: After serving time in prison for taking the fall for a group of his friends, Leo just wants to get... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#18

Joker (2019)
68%

#18
Adjusted Score: 105599%
Critics Consensus: Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star -- and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema.
Synopsis: Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur... [More]
Directed By: Todd Phillips

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 72910%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix), Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) and Tony (David Conrad) are three friends vacationing in Malaysia. Sheriff and Tony eventually... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Ruben

#16

Buffalo Soldiers (2001)
73%

#16
Adjusted Score: 76516%
Critics Consensus: Overall, this caustic comedy hits more of its targets than it misses.
Synopsis: Set on an American Army base in 1989, as the Berlin Wall is about to fall, "Buffalo Soldiers" takes a... [More]
Directed By: Gregor Jordan

#15

Inherent Vice (2014)
73%

#15
Adjusted Score: 83386%
Critics Consensus: Inherent Vice may prove frustrating for viewers who demand absolute coherence, but it does justice to its acclaimed source material -- and should satisfy fans of director P.T. Anderson.
Synopsis: In a California beach community, private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) tends to work his cases through a smoky... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#14

Signs (2002)
74%

#14
Adjusted Score: 80947%
Critics Consensus: With Signs, Shyamalan proves once again an expert at building suspense and giving audiences the chills.
Synopsis: Everything that farmer Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) assumed about the world is changed when he discovers a message - an... [More]
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

#13

Quills (2000)
75%

#13
Adjusted Score: 79583%
Critics Consensus: Though hard to watch, this film's disturbing exploration of freedom of expression is both seductive and thought-provoking.
Synopsis: A fictional work that reconstructs the unknown fate of the Marquis de Sade, the writer and sexual deviant who was... [More]
Directed By: Philip Kaufman

#12
Adjusted Score: 87207%
Critics Consensus: Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot avoids inspirational biopic clichés thanks to sensitive work from writer-director Gus Van Sant and the admirable efforts of a well-chosen cast.
Synopsis: After nearly dying in a car accident, the last thing Oregon slacker John Callahan intends to do is give up... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#11

Gladiator (2000)
77%

#11
Adjusted Score: 84951%
Critics Consensus: Ridley Scott and an excellent cast successfully convey the intensity of Roman gladitorial combat as well as the political intrigue brewing beneath.
Synopsis: Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) takes power and strips rank from Maximus (Russell Crowe), one of the favored generals of his predecessor... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#10

Two Lovers (2008)
82%

#10
Adjusted Score: 88646%
Critics Consensus: Two Lovers is a complex, intriguing, richly-acted romantic drama
Synopsis: Following a broken engagement, sometime photographer Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix) moves in with his parents in Brighton Beach. He soon... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#9

Walk the Line (2005)
82%

#9
Adjusted Score: 90385%
Critics Consensus: Superior acting and authentic crooning capture the emotional subtleties of the legend of Johnny Cash with a freshness that is a pleasure to watch.
Synopsis: The rise of country music legend Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) begins with his days as a boy growing up on... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#8

The Master (2012)
84%

#8
Adjusted Score: 95045%
Critics Consensus: Smart and solidly engrossing, The Master extends Paul Thomas Anderson's winning streak of challenging films for serious audiences.
Synopsis: Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a troubled, boozy drifter struggling with the trauma of World War II and whatever inner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#7

The Immigrant (2013)
85%

#7
Adjusted Score: 88308%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful visuals, James Gray's confident direction, and a powerful performance from Marion Cotillard combine to make The Immigrant a richly rewarding period drama.
Synopsis: After her sister is quarantined at Ellis Island, a Polish nurse (Marion Cotillard) is forced into prostitution by a theater... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 98364%
Critics Consensus: The Sisters Brothers rides familiar genre trails in occasionally unexpected ways - a satisfying journey further elevated by its well-matched leading men.
Synopsis: It's 1851, and Charlie and Eli Sisters are both brothers and assassins, boys grown to men in a savage and... [More]
Directed By: Jacques Audiard

#5

To Die For (1995)
88%

#5
Adjusted Score: 90427%
Critics Consensus: Smart, funny, and thoroughly well-cast, To Die For takes a sharp - and sadly prescient - stab at dissecting America's obsession with celebrity.
Synopsis: Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) is a weather reporter at her small-town cable station, but she dreams of being a big-time... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#4
Adjusted Score: 106375%
Critics Consensus: Bracingly elevated by a typically committed lead performance from Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here confirms writer-director Lynne Ramsay as one of modern cinema's most unique -- and uncompromising -- voices.
Synopsis: A contract killer uncovers a conspiracy while trying to save a kidnapped teen from a life of prostitution.... [More]
Directed By: Lynne Ramsay

#3

Parenthood (1989)
91%

#3
Adjusted Score: 95624%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by a delightful cast, Parenthood is a funny and thoughtfully crafted look at the best and worst moments of family life that resonates broadly.
Synopsis: Perfectionist Gil Buckman (Steve Martin) struggles with the deficiencies of his children, thinking they reflect poorly on his parenting --... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#2

Hotel Rwanda (2004)
91%

#2
Adjusted Score: 97020%
Critics Consensus: A sobering and heartfelt tale about massacre that took place in Rwanda while most of the world looked away.
Synopsis: Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a Hutu, manages the Hôtel des Mille Collines and lives a happy life with his Tutsi... [More]
Directed By: Terry George

#1

Her (2013)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 105292%
Critics Consensus: Sweet, soulful, and smart, Spike Jonze's Her uses its just-barely-sci-fi scenario to impart wryly funny wisdom about the state of modern human relationships.
Synopsis: A sensitive and soulful man earns a living by writing personal letters for other people. Left heartbroken after his marriage... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze

P. T. Anderson’s Oscar-winning oil opus There Will Be Blood hits shelves this week, so if you missed Daniel Day-Lewis’ astounding turn as the prospector with a heart as black as crude in theaters, now’s the time to play catch up. Also new to DVD are the musical spoof Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Leonardo di Caprio’s environmental doc The 11th Hour, the parking lot thriller P2, and more.


There Will Be Blood


Tomatometer:
92%

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most consistent young auteurs around (his films in order: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love) so it was no surprise when his latest, There Will Be Blood, proved predictably exceptional. The epic character study of oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis in an Oscar-winning role) striking it rich in turn-of-the-century California captivated the hearts of critics with Robert Elswit’s handsome Oscar-winning photography; Plainview’s greed-fueled descent into bitter loneliness — and his rivalry with evangelist Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) — mesmerized their minds. All of which makes There Will Be Blood, released this week in both single- and double-disc versions, a must-own for any true cinephile. We recommend the 2-disc release, of course, which includes deleted scenes and a government-produced vintage silent film about the oil industry scored anew by Radiohead guitarist (and TWBB composer) Jonny Greenwood.


Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story


Tomatometer: 74%

While Walk Hard suffered the ignominious label of “box office bomb” following a dismal and surprising theatrical run last December, the Judd Apatow-produced musical comedy deserved a better fate, according to critics. Perhaps the time for glory is now. Co-writer and director Jake Kasdan, whose sharp industry satire The TV Set also opened quietly earlier in 2007, skewers the musical biopic genre (Walk the Line, Ray) with the rollercoaster rock ‘n roll life of Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly, who does his own rocking and rolling), a doughy musical prodigy with a tragic past who goes from rockabilly to psychedelia to Dylanism and everything in between as fame, fortune, groupies, and drugs facilitate his rise and fall. The best part of this DVD release — besides the inclusion of American Cox: The Unbearably Long, Self-Indulgent Director’s Cut — is the better-than-average bonus menu stuffed full of backstage and specially-produced extras.




Lions for Lambs


Tomatometer: 27%

Hollywood’s attempts to address the Iraq war have thus far fallen flat with ticket buyers, a trend that Lions for Lambs didn’t help reverse. Robert Redford directs and co-stars in this talky anti-war drama, penned by Matthew Michael Carnahan (brother to Joe and writer of The Kingdom) and also starring Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise. In three intertwined stories, a professor, his student, two soldiers, a journalist, and a politician hash out ideas about war, democracy, the media, and terrorism; the question is, do you care? While it’s a noble attempt at provoking discourse, critics say Lambs is not the stuff of great cinema. A director commentary on the DVD might be the film’s most useful feature.


P2



Tomatometer: 35%

Unless cleavage and gore rank higher than plot and realism on your movie checklist, P2 is likely to disappoint. In any case, it can’t be a good thing to be unfavorably compared to Saw and Hostel (“[P2] at least does its predecessors the service of making them look masterful by comparison,” wrote the Toronto Star‘s Geoff Pevere). The yuletide tale of a career woman (Alias‘ Rachel Nichols, whose eleventh hour addition to that cast couldn’t save the series) trapped by an obsessive parking garage attendant (Wes Bentley, who really deserves better roles than this) on Christmas Eve garnered the scorn of most critics, though powerhouses like Roger Ebert gave it their thumbs up. Watch P2 to scope out first time director Franck Khalfoun, who appeared in producers Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur’s High Tension, and will next co-script a remake of the 1984 slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night.


Reservation Road



Tomatometer: 36%

Two families are ripped asunder when one fatal hit-and-run drives two fathers toward a final conflict in Terry George’s adaptation of the novel of the same name. George (In the Name of the Father) previously directed the South African drama Hotel Rwanda to multiple Academy Awards nominations; his follow-up here, starring Rwanda actor Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo (and Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino as their respective wives) might have been going for awards season gold but fell far short of the mark. Critics called this dramatic thriller insufferably dark and dull, and worse — predictable.


The 11th Hour



Tomatometer: 66%

Leonardo di Caprio hosts a gaggle of experts in this alarming documentary about the Earth’s depleting resources. Unfortunately for producer di Caprio, who doubtless took on the project to lend his celebrity power to the cause, the film is a bit of a bore. That said, wearied scribes appreciated the thought behind the effort, if not so much the final product; for actionable reasons to go green, you might be better off watching a PowerPoint presentation by Al Gore. Over an hour of additional featurettes on how to do your part to help Mother Earth accompany the disc.


Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)



Tomatometer: 80%

New York filmmaker Jason Kohn crafts a lurid, sobering peek into wealth and corruption in Brazil in this festival favorite, which nabbed the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance last year. Stylized camera work exposes the country’s surreal reality by focusing on, among other subjects, a politician-owned frog farm that serves as a money-laundering front; a plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstructing the cut-off ears of kidnap victims; and a businessman who opts to bullet-proof his car. A filmmaker commentary accompanies the release; find out why Kohn calls Brazil’s cycle of street violence and political corruption akin to “a non-fiction RoboCop.”

‘Til next week, Qvod cibvs est aliis, aliis est wenenum.

Bloodthirty vampires flew high, depressing dramas sank, and many holdovers
held up well at the North American box office. The new horror flick
30 Days of Night

easily ruled the charts while a handful of adult dramas were met with opening
weekend sales that ranged from mild to embarrassing. Oscar-winning actresses
Reese
Witherspoon
and
Halle Berry
both failed miserably with their new serious stories which were both shunned by
ticket buyers. With so many fall offerings eating into each others’ business,
the overall marketplace remained sluggish as for the fifth consecutive weekend
the top ten slumped below year-ago levels.

Sony commanded the top spot with its R-rated gorefest
30 Days of Night

which opened with an estimated $16M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Attacking
2,855 theaters, the vampires-in-Alaska pic averaged a solid $5,604 and tapped
into a pre-Halloween box office that offered no major scary movies. The lack of
competition helped the $30M
Josh Hartnett
starrer which brought out older teens, young adults, and genre fans. Days
was based on a popular graphic novel and earned mixed reviews which is above
average by horror picture standards.



Tyler Perry
followed up his muscular top spot debut for his latest comedy
Why
Did I Get Married?
with a strong second weekend hold dropping only
43% to an estimated $12.1M. After just ten days in theaters, the Lionsgate
release has already collected a sturdy $38.9M which is just ahead of the $38.1M
that Perry’s first film
Diary of a
Mad Black Woman
took in during its first ten days in 2005. Married
suffered a smaller drop than his other films witnessed indicating that the
filmmaker’s latest entry could be reaching beyond its core African American
audience. Diary fell 50% in its sophomore session while

Madea’s Family Reunion
and
Daddy’s Little
Girls
tumbled by about 57% each. Married looks on course to reach
a remarkable $65-70M which would be a new career high for Perry



Posting the smallest decline in the top ten once again was
The Rock‘s hit family
comedy The Game
Plan
which ranked third in its fourth weekend with an estimated
$8.1M. That represented a slim drop of only 26% and boosted Disney’s cume to
$69.2M. The durable sensation ranks as the actor’s second biggest hit in a lead
role after The Scorpion King which took in $90.5M in 2002.
Game Plan should
easily surpass that mark and has not yet seen a drop of more than 35%.


Also holding up very well was
George Clooney‘s legal thriller
Michael Clayton
which remained in fourth place with an estimated $7.1M. The Warner Bros. title
dropped by only 32% and boosted its total gross to $22M matching its production
budget. The marketplace was crowded with adult dramas targeting Clayton‘s
audience so the strong hold was an impressive performance. Powerful reviews and
good word-of-mouth contributed to the success. A final tally of $40-50M may
result.



Two new films fought fiercely over the number five spot. Miramax estimated that
its kidnapping thriller
Gone Baby Gone
would collect $6M over the weekend from
1,713 theaters for a mild $3,503 average. The directorial debut of
Ben Affleck
stars his brother

Casey Affleck
along with
Morgan Freeman and
Ed Harris and was
greeted with stellar reviews from film critics. Produced for $19M, Gone faced
tough competition from other adult dramas but could have legs in the weeks
ahead.



Aiming for teens and young adults with a dose of immature spoof comedy was
The
Comebacks
which grossed an estimated $5.9M for Fox. The PG-13 sports film
enjoyed a much wider release in 2,812 venues and generated a dull $2,080
average. The debut was nowhere near the numbers that the studio has seen in the
recent past with its other spoof comedies. Both
Epic Movie
from earlier this
year and Date Movie from 2006 debuted to about $19M. Comebacks will be lucky to
reach that amount overall.



Despite the weekend estimates reported by Miramax and Fox, three studios
estimated that Comebacks edged out Gone Baby Gone by a slim margin over the
weekend. Miramax’s estimate factored in a 26% Saturday-to-Sunday decline while
Fox’s figure includes a more reasonable 38% drop. All other films in the top ten
projected Sunday declines of 34% to 51%. Final box office grosses to be reported
on Monday will tell which film truly earns the fifth-place spot. The position is
valuable to studios for the publicity since many news outlets only report on the
top five films each weekend and ignore anything below them.



Falling hardest among holdover titles was the
Joaquin
Phoenix
/Mark
Wahlberg

crime thriller
We Own the Night

which dropped by 49% to an estimated $5.5M in its second weekend. The Sony
release has banked $19.8M in ten days and looks headed for a mediocre finish of
$30-33M.



Generating the hottest average in the top ten was the latest re-release of Tim
Burton’s creepy animated hit
The Nightmare Before Christmas
which debuted to an
estimated $5.1M from only 564 theaters for a potent $9,122 average. The special
3D version was given a wider launch by Disney compared to this weekend a year
ago when it opened in 168 theaters for a $3.3M weekend and sizzling $19,506
average. That re-release bagged $8.7M while its original 1993 run brought in
$50M. With no other good options for parents other than the studio’s own The
Game Plan
, Nightmare proved to be an exciting pre-Halloween option for families.
The PG-rated film will only play for a limited three-week engagement and goes
back into the Mouse House’s vault soon after the pumpkin holiday.



Moviegoers ignored the terrorism drama
Rendition
despite its acclaimed cast
allowing it to barely debut in the top ten. The New Line release opened to an
estimated $4.2M from 2,250 locations for a horrible $1,856 average. It was Reese
Witherspoon’s first film since winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for
2005’s Walk the Line, but fans were not biting. Jake Gyllenhaal,
Meryl Streep,
and Alan Arkin also starred in the R-rated story of a woman in search of her
Egyptian-born husband who is captured by the CIA after being suspected of being
a terrorist. Rendition was the third film in recent weeks dealing with Middle
East issues and entered a marketplace flooded with serious adult dramas. Plus
lukewarm reviews helped to make this a non-priority among ticket buyers this
weekend.



Rounding out the top ten was the
Ben Stiller comedy
The
Heartbreak Kid
with an
estimated $3.9M, off 46%, for a $32.1M cume for Paramount.



Halle Berry joined fellow Oscar-winning actress Reese in striking out with
audiences with her new adult drama. The former Storm headlined the Paramount
release
Things We Lost in the Fire
with
Benicio Del Toro and attracted a measly
$1.6M in business on opening weekend, according to estimates. Debuting in 1,142
locations, the R-rated film about a woman who befriends her dead husband’s
heroin-addicted pal averaged a pathetic $1,405. Reviews were generally favorable
and studio research indicated that two-thirds of the audience consisted of women
over 30. Fire cost a relatively low $16M to produce, but has a long road ahead
of it in order to reach profitability.



Two additional films risked going nationwide and met with embarrassing results.
The teen thriller
Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour
bowed to an estimated
$560,000 from 1,115 theaters for a disastrous $502 average for Freestyle
Releasing. Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain Pictures unleashed its animated pic
The Ten
Commandments
in 830 sites and was met with only $480,000, according to
estimates, for a horrible $578 average. Both films should find their primary
audiences on DVD.

Focus saw a soft bow for its downbeat drama
Reservation Road
which debuted in
just fourteen theaters for a weak estimate of $36,821 for a poor average of
$2,630. The arthouse crowd was just not in the mood for this depressing drama
about the death of a young boy which starred Joaquin Phoenix,
Mark Ruffalo,
Jennifer Connelly, and
Mira Sorvino. Also hurting
Road‘s performance were
reviews that were far from glowing.



With all the new content in the multiplexes, five films were tossed out of the
top ten over the weekend. The costume drama sequel
Elizabeth: The Golden Age

dropped 49% in its sophomore session to an estimated $3.1M giving Universal a
weak $11.2M in ten days. Look for the
Cate Blanchett pic to end its domestic run
with a dismal $16-18M. Overseas prospects do look brighter though.



Sony’s durable musical extravaganza
Across the
Universe
dipped by 29% to an
estimated $2.7M for a solid $16.8M total from less than 1,000 theaters. A
$25-30M final could result. The Saudi Arabia-set political thriller
The Kingdom
fell by 48% in its fourth outing to an estimated $2.4M. Universal has taken in
$44M thus far and should end up with just under $50M which means that the $70M
production will need to still work hard overseas and on video in order to break
even.



The Milla Jovovich threequel

Resident Evil: Extinction
tumbled 60% to an
estimated $1.1M and raised its sum to a cool $50M. Fox’s fantasy adventure
The
Seeker: The Dark is Rising
saw its weekend gross nosedive by an alarming 81% to
an estimated $425,000 lifting the dull total to $8.2M with little left to go.



The top ten films grossed an estimated $73.9M which was down 10% from last year
when The Prestige debuted in first place with $14.8M; but up 13% from 2005 when
Doom opened in the top spot with $15.5M. Author: Gitesh Pandaya, www.boxofficeguru.com

This week at the movies we have Alaskan vamps (30
Days of Night
, starring
Josh Hartnett
and Melissa
George
), imprisoned citizens (Rendition,
starring Jake
Gyllenhaal
and
Reese
Witherspoon
), private eyes (Gone
Baby Gone
, starring
Casey Affleck
and
Michelle Monaghan
), grieving adults (Things
We Lost in the Fire
, starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro),
biblical figures (The
Ten Commandments
), athletes (The
Comebacks
), and teen detectives of the supernatural (Sarah
Landon and the Paranormal Hour
). What do the critics have to say?

Many horror films go to great lengths to create a dark atmosphere. 30
Days of Night
does them all one better, venturing to a place where it’s night for
a month: Barrow, AK, the northernmost point in the U.S. Unfortunately, critics
are left cold by this one. Night stars Josh Hartnett and Melissa George
as an estranged couple defending their town against a horde of bloodthirsty
vampires. Critics say the film has some frightful moments that should please
gorehounds, but overall, the film lacks the nuance and sustained tension to
really put this kind of genre exercise over. At 39 percent on the Tomatometer, Night
doesn’t shine.



Hartnett and company check for undead termites.
 

Reese Witherspoon stars in Rendition as a housewife whose husband is imprisoned
and tortured by the U.S. for his suspected involvement with terrorists. Jake Gyllenhaal co-stars as a government employee trying to set him free, with
Meryl
Streep
as a bureaucrat intent on keeping him there. While critics commended the
film for exploring the issue of torture within the context of combating
terrorism, they say the plot is spread thinly across an abundance of characters
and doesn’t give the film the emotional drive it needs, while arriving at an
oversimplified conclusion of this very complex subject. At 39 percent, this
Rendition is less than extraordinary.




Who needs work when you have Snood?
 

Ben Affleck has had a rollercoaster career, but critics say his feature
directorial debut, Gone
Baby Gone
, is one of the high points. Treading
the same rough Boston streets as
Mystic River
(also adapted from one of
source writer Dennis
Lehane
‘s novels), Gone Baby Gone tells the story of
a pair of private eyes (Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) searching for a
lost four-year-old, a quest that delves into the dark shadows of the city, from
the criminal underworld to corrupt cops. Critics say Baby is grim, but
also deliciously noirish and morally complex, featuring standout performances
from its leads, as well as
Morgan Freeman and
Ed Harris. With a score of 89
percent on the Tomatometer, Gone Baby Gone‘s critical reaction should
assuage Ben’s depression over the current state of his beloved Red Sox. (Check
out this week’s Total Recall, where we examine some of Affleck’s notable
cameos).



Affleck ponders another imminent Red Sox defeat.
 

Susanne Bier, famed in her native Denmark for her dark and complex melodramas,
makes her American debut this week with Things
We Lost in the Fire
. Halle Berry
stars as a grieving widow who invites Benicio Del Toro’s character, her
husband’s childhood friend and heroin addict, to move in with her and her
children. Though it frequently drips into maudlin territory (something Bier
avoided with her previous effort, the Certified Fresh
After the Wedding
),
critics recognize it as at least a sincere tearjerker, and an honest and
emotionally raw portrayal of two tortured people. At 64 percent, Fire isn’t
red-hot but should appease viewers out for a soapy drama.




A therapeutic game of thumb war.
 
Movie lovers who lack the patience to sit through the
The Decalogue
are
in luck:
The Ten Commandments
tells the story of Moses in less than an
hour and a half, and in animated form, no less. But is it any good? Well,
critics are forbidden to bear false witness, and they say it isn’t. The Ten
Commandments
follows Moses’ journey from infancy to the point where he leads
the Chosen People to the Promised Land, and features voice work from the likes
of Ben Kingsley and
Christian Slater. But critics say the film’s middling
animation and lack of nuance make for a dull take on one of the Bible’s most
rousing tales. At 20 percent on the Tomatometer, critics say thou shall not
enjoy The Ten Commandments.

This week, the folks behind both The
Comebacks
and Sarah
Landon and the Paranormal Hour
declined to screen their films for pundits. The
Comebacks
spoofs inspirational sports movies, while Sarah Landon is
about a 17-year-old who discovers spectral activity in her hometown. Our only
guess is that it was assumed each film would receive a critical (buzzer)
beating, or wouldn’t stand a ghost of a chance with the scribes. (Thank you.
I’ll be here all week.) Guess those Tomatometers.



"I’ve got a bad case of athlete’s spoof."
 
Also opening this week in limited release:
Meeting Resistance
, a doc
about Iraqi insurgents, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer;
Trigger Man
,
an indie about a harrowing hunting trip, is at 100 percent;
Wristcutters: A
Love Story
, a dramedy about the afterlife starring
Patrick Fugit, is at 71
percent; the Spanish import
DarkBlueAlmostBlack
, about the familial
responsibilities of a young janitor, is at 67 percent;
Out of the Blue
, a
fictional retelling of New Zealand’s largest mass-murder, is at 67 percent;
Summer
Love
, a Polish take on the spaghetti western genre, is at 60 percent;
Weirdsville,
a wacky tale of stoners and satanic cults, is at 58
percent;
The Girl Next Door
, a tale of torture beneath the placid façade
of 1950s suburbia, is at 58 percent;
Reservation Road
, a tale of familial
grief starring
Joaquin Phoenix,
Jennifer Connelly, and
Mark Ruffalo, is at 37
percent (check out our interview with director Terry George
here); and
Klimt
,
starring John Malkovich in a biopic of the great painter, is at 30 percent.




"You have a beard but you’re not the bad guy? That’s weird."
 
Finally, props to Bloody Mathias for coming the closest to guessing
Tyler
Perry’s Why Did I Get Married
‘s 48 percent Tomatometer. Try putting a
bandage on it, and perhaps then you won’t be bloody, Mathias.

Recent Ben Affleck Movies:
—————————————-
26% — Smokin’ Aces (2007)
38% — Man About Town (2006)
63% — Clerks II (2006)
70% — Hollywoodland (2006)
7% — Surviving Christmas (2004)

Recent Casey Affleck Movies:
—————————————-
73% —
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
(2007)
69% — Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
46% — The Last Kiss (2006)
55% — Lonesome Jim (2006)
55% — Ocean’s
Twelve
(2004)

Though there’s never been an Irish New Wave per se,
Terry George‘s
early work shares the two themes characterized in most Irish films steadily
released over the past three decades: the struggle of the working class and the
everlasting tension between Ireland and Britain. After being imprisoned for six
years for involvement with Irish republican organizations, George began his
career co-writing the screenplays to
In the Name
of the Father
, The
Boxer
with
Jim Sheridan,
and writing/directing 1996’s
Some Mother’s Son.
George broadened his scope with
Hotel Rwanda
, which
earned George an Oscar nomination for co-writing the screenplay and a nomination for Don
Cheadle’s lead performance.

Rotten Tomatoes spoke to Terry George in San Francisco at
the beginning of his press tour promoting his latest film,
Reservation Road
.
An adaptation of the
John
Burnham Schwartz
novel, Reservation Road stars
Joaquin
Phoenix
as a father who loses his son in a hit-and-run accident and
Mark Ruffalo
as the guilt-ridden killer, and opens this Friday in limited release.

Rotten Tomatoes: Given your history and background, it’s
surprising you haven’t directed more movies about Ireland.

Terry George: Well, I’ve done three. I wrote In
the Name of the Father
and The Boxer, and I directed Some Mother’s
Son
. And they covered, certainly, the central section of the Troubles. The
timeframe of In the Name of the Father was 1974; The Boxer would’ve
been 1988. So we covered a 14 year range at the heart of the Troubles.

RT: So for now you’re satisfied with the subject?

TG: There’s a project Jim [Sheridan] and I have
talked about. We want to do what would essentially be three movies, almost like


Lord of the Rings
. [We’d] cover the whole Troubles with real characters
[who] move though it. That’d be divided up between me and Jim and another Irish
director so we’d be making them at the same time. Maybe
Neil Jordan,
or
Thaddeus O’Sullivan
, or
John Carney,
who just did Once. Or
maybe Paul
Greengrass
.

RT: How did you and Sheridan first meet and start
collaborating?

TG: He was the artistic director of a theater called
the Irish Arts Center in New York. And I had wrote a play in Northern Ireland
about a prison escape. I took it to him and he put it on. It ran pretty well,
ran for six months. Then he went off to do
My Left Foot
and
I stayed behind and became this sort of temporary artistic director. [Then] I
encountered Gerry Conlon, the subject character of In the Name of the Father,
and started working [on the screenplay]. So I sort of stumbled into
[filmmaking].

RT: Were you always interested in it?

TG: My interest was primarily journalism. I was
working as a freelance journalist doing some work on research and work on a big
Mafia book. The playwriting was just a way of expressing sentiments I felt about
Northern Ireland, having left it in 1981, 1982. So, no, I never really planned a
career or anything.

RT: For a while, you were attached to direct
American Gangster

with Don Cheadle and
Benicio Del
Toro
. What happened with that project?

TG: I had a perception of a cast, so I rewrote it.

RT: This was after Washington and
Antoine Fuqua
had left the project.

TG: Right. I always viewed it as a team. Me and [Cheadle]
were a package deal. Then the studio wasn’t in favor of Benicio anymore. So I
proposed that we do me and Don and Joaquin. And the cost of the movie didn’t
match up with the perception of what we [could] draw [at the box office]. And
then Denzel became interested again and I couldn’t in all good conscience
abandon Don.

I think what [Universal] ended up with is the product they
were after in the first place. Big stylish movie. I tried to approach it but if
you have a $120 million dollar budget, it’s different from a $65 million dollar
budget. So that was basically it. RT: You’ve worked with Jim Sheridan multiple times, were
going to work with Cheadle again, and have worked twice with Phoenix…

TG: Three times, actually. I was the on-set script
writer for Ladder 49.
That’s where I met him.

RT: Do you seek out these collaborations?

TG: I do. I [enjoy working] with great actors.
Clearly with Don. Obviously Joaquin. I’d love to do something with
Daniel
Day-Lewis
. Jim and I have a couple of projects that we’re talking about.
It’s just that you build up a comfort level with people. Ruffalo I would
definitely work with again.
Jennifer
[Connelly]
and
Mira [Sorvino],
they’re good people. Suddenly you know their strengths and you start crafting
characters that go along with that.

RT: Did you and John Burnham Schwartz collaborate on
Reservation Road
‘s script?

TG: He did his first and then I did mine. Not out of
any decisions by me that that’s the way it had to be. Joaquin gave me the script
in June of last year and then we were shooting by September. We casted in a
couple of weeks. We were going really fast. Everyone wanted to work on the
characters a bit. Basically, out of practicality, I had to sit down and do it
myself. Whereas with Sheridan we have a lot of back and forth.

RT: Have you read the book?

TG: Yeah. I read the script, and then I read the
book. At some point, you have to put it down and make the thing work in terms of
cinema itself. I’m very structure oriented. I need the three act structure. I
like that because I think audiences are attuned to it. You’re not challenging
them to put together a jigsaw puzzle, you’re challenging them to sit back and
get in with these characters.

RT: Reservation Road seems like a challenge to
adapt since a lot of it takes place inside people’s heads.

TG: Books tend to be, and this one in particular,
cerebral, and you have to translate that into the dialogue or the visualization
of the scene. It’s a distillation.

I always knew this movie had to be around 100 minutes. It
couldn’t be longer than that because the subject matter and the weight of it was
such that if you didn’t go fast with the edit and the storytelling it’d become
maudlin, and depressing in not a very cinematic way.

RT: There’s also the thriller aspect of the story to
maintain.

TG: For me, it’s more psychological thriller. I was
more interested in the theme of revenge, particularly demonizing the opposition
where you create a monster inside your head capable of doing violence to. That
seemed like a very post 9/11 theme because that was the mood of the nation at
one stage. Clearly, we’ve learned now the folly of that emotion as a driving
force. The pain and the kind of damage that action does, and the inability to
look beyond the event and try to find a way to come to terms with it is what
interested me.

RT: Was it a challenge to balance the drama and thriller elements? Or to
balance the story of the book and the story you wanted to present?

TG: I had to craft. I had to work at that. You can’t
take a book and then reinvent it completely. There’s a sort of obligation to
stay within the parameter of the book. Maybe change some stuff to make it work,
but the basic events I wanted to keep in there. The small town setting. The fact
that in that small town setting you could have people living in the next street
to each who never meet and then an event happens and suddenly they’re embroiled
in each other’s lives.

I know some critics had problems with what they said were
coincidences [of the plot]. I never had a problem with that at all. And I’m
very, I think, very rigorous about looking for plot coincidences or weaknesses
that pull people out. But there you go.

RT: Do you follow film criticism closely?

TG: I did. [There] are some [reviewers] who are
given credibility that I wouldn’t have.

In a funny way, it’s in the movie as well. I love the
Internet. It’s probably, in terms of the spreading of knowledge, the greatest
thing that’s happened to mankind. [But] there’s an obsession with it, an
addiction. Like, [Phoenix’s character] Ethan goes to the Internet for solace.
That’s a reality. I know a lot of people who find the answer to everything on
the Internet. On the websites that Ethan visits, there’s a fueling, a
reinforcing of this anger and sentiment between bunches of despaired people
around America, around the world. That’s kind of destructive. But as always
happens in Hollywood…

It’s like if
you do a test screening. I love test screenings. I love the comments. But
the studios insist on the score. They’re fixated on the score. "Is it 86? Or is
it 80?" Unnatural decisions are made on that basis. And more and more financial
decisions, or the perception of financial decisions, are made on that score.
They’re willing to take any information in replacement for scholarly analysis.
If executives thought that by sacrificing a chicken and throwing its guts and
bones on the ground would help, there’d be chickens getting slaughtered all over
Hollywood.

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