All Viola Davis Movies, Ranked by Tomatometer

After a decade of bit parts, many of them within the gainful employ of Steven Soderbergh’s production company, Viola Davis broke into the mainstream with a movie-stealing turn – and from Meryl Streep! – in 2008’s Catholic Church child abuse drama Doubt. Davis has all of 10 minutes of screen time in Doubt but earned an Oscar nomination for her work, joining the likes of Ruby Dee for American Gangster or Ned Beatty for Network of Oscar nominees who made the most out of their single-scene appearances. Yet, Davis forms Doubt’s emotional pillar, powerfully delivering social and cultural history that further obfuscates the film’s central mystery.

Davis has been releasing multiple movies a year ever since, frequently playing women of power or high up in their professions, in the likes of Law Abiding Citizen, Knight & Day, Ender’s Game, and Suicide Squad, as Amanda Waller, one of that movie’s rare bright spots. And Davis has frequently reached the same heights as Doubt in Certified Fresh films like Widows, The Help (receiving a Lead Actress nomination), and Fences, for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. Davis got another Lead Actress nom for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and she returned as Waller for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. And now, we’re ranking all Viola Davis movies by Tomatometer! Alex Vo

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 119309%
Critics Consensus: Framed by a pair of powerhouse performances, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom pays affectionate tribute to a blues legend -- and Black culture at large.
Synopsis: Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians... [More]
Directed By: George C. Wolfe

#2

Fences (2016)
92%

#2
Adjusted Score: 108573%
Critics Consensus: From its reunited Broadway stars to its screenplay, the solidly crafted Fences finds its Pulitzer-winning source material fundamentally unchanged -- and still just as powerful.
Synopsis: Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) makes his living as a sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh. Maxson once dreamed of becoming a... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

#3

Widows (2018)
91%

#3
Adjusted Score: 117508%
Critics Consensus: Widows rounds up a stellar ensemble for a heist thriller that mixes popcorn entertainment with a message - and marks another artistic leap for director Steve McQueen.
Synopsis: A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows -- Veronica, Linda,... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 109329%
Critics Consensus: Enlivened by writer-director James Gunn's singularly skewed vision, The Suicide Squad marks a funny, fast-paced rebound that plays to the source material's violent, anarchic strengths.
Synopsis: Welcome to hell--a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#5

State of Play (2009)
84%

#5
Adjusted Score: 93246%
Critics Consensus: A taut, well-acted political thriller, State of Play overcomes some unsubtle plot twists with an intelligent script and swift direction.
Synopsis: Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is a rising star in Washington; handsome, unflappable and seemingly honorable, he's seen as his... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#6

Prisoners (2013)
81%

#6
Adjusted Score: 90699%
Critics Consensus: Prisoners has an emotional complexity and a sense of dread that makes for absorbing (and disturbing) viewing.
Synopsis: Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) faces a parent's worst nightmare when his 6-year-old daughter, Anna, and her friend go missing. The... [More]
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve

#7

Get On Up (2014)
80%

#7
Adjusted Score: 87306%
Critics Consensus: With an unforgettable Chadwick Boseman in the starring role, Get On Up offers the Godfather of Soul a fittingly dynamic homage.
Synopsis: James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) was born in extreme poverty in 1933 South Carolina and survived abandonment, abuse and jail to... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor

#8

Doubt (2008)
79%

#8
Adjusted Score: 88354%
Critics Consensus: Doubt succeeds on the strength of its top-notch cast, who successfully guide the film through the occasional narrative lull.
Synopsis: In 1964 the winds of change are sweeping through Sister Aloysius' (Meryl Streep) St. Nicholas school. Father Flynn (Philip Seymour... [More]
Directed By: John Patrick Shanley

#9

Trust (2010)
79%

#9
Adjusted Score: 79999%
Critics Consensus: Director David Schwimmer gets some gut-wrenching performances out of his actors but he still lacks the chops to fully ratchet up story tension.
Synopsis: A man (Clive Owen) has difficulty coping with the knowledge that his 14-year-daughter (Liana Liberato) was assaulted by a sexual... [More]
Directed By: David Schwimmer

#10

The Help (2011)
76%

#10
Adjusted Score: 85543%
Critics Consensus: Though it fails to fully engage with its racial themes, The Help rises on the strength of its cast -- particularly Viola Davis, whose performance is powerful enough to carry the film on its own.
Synopsis: In 1960s Mississippi, Southern society girl Skeeter (Emma Stone) returns from college with dreams of being a writer. She turns... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor

#11

Troop Zero (2019)
68%

#11
Adjusted Score: 70935%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a charming cast and infectious energy, Troop Zero is more than the sum of its instantly familiar parts.
Synopsis: Misfit Birdie Scouts enter a national competition.... [More]
Directed By: Bert & Bertie

#12
Adjusted Score: 68466%
Critics Consensus: Led by strong performances from Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a hauntingly original rumination on love and loss.
Synopsis: Following the death of their child, a woman (Jessica Chastain) leaves her husband (James McAvoy) and flees to the suburban... [More]
Directed By: Ned Benson

#13

Ender's Game (2013)
62%

#13
Adjusted Score: 71490%
Critics Consensus: If it isn't quite as thought-provoking as the book, Ender's Game still manages to offer a commendable number of well-acted, solidly written sci-fi thrills.
Synopsis: When hostile aliens called the Formics attack Earth, only the legendary heroics of Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) manage to attain... [More]
Directed By: Gavin Hood

#14
Adjusted Score: 62272%
Critics Consensus: It's amiable, and it does a surprisingly good job of sidestepping psych ward comedy cliches, but given its talented cast and directors, It's Kind of a Funny Story should be more than just mildly entertaining.
Synopsis: Stressed by adolescence, 16-year-old Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist) checks himself into a mental-health clinic. Unfortunately, the youth wing is closed,... [More]
Directed By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

#15

Knight and Day (2010)
52%

#15
Adjusted Score: 60489%
Critics Consensus: It's pure formula, but thanks to its breezy pace and a pair of charming performances from Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day offers some agreeably middle-of-the-road summer action.
Synopsis: June Havens (Cameron Diaz) chats up her charming seatmate on a flight out of Kansas, but she doesn't realize that... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 54536%
Critics Consensus: Charming romantic leads and esteemed supporting cast aside, Beautiful Creatures is a plodding YA novel adaptation that feels watered down for the Twilight set.
Synopsis: In the small town of Gatlin, S.C., teenage Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) sees his static world shaken by the arrival... [More]
Directed By: Richard LaGravenese

#17
Adjusted Score: 53333%
Critics Consensus: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.
Synopsis: Oskar (Thomas Horn), who lost his father (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, is convinced... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Daldry

#18

Lila & Eve (2015)
40%

#18
Adjusted Score: 40829%
Critics Consensus: Lila & Eve gets some mileage out of its formidable stars, with Viola Davis in particular proving that she will commandingly commit to any material, but this is a revenge flick served stale due to a lackluster script.
Synopsis: After the senseless murder of her son (Aml Ameen), a grief-stricken mother (Viola Davis) joins forces with another woman (Jennifer... [More]
Directed By: Charles Stone III

#19

The Unforgivable (2021)
38%

#19
Adjusted Score: 42130%
Critics Consensus: The Unforgivable proves Sandra Bullock is more than capable of playing against type, but her performance is wasted on a contrived and unrelentingly grim story.
Synopsis: Released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime, Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock) re-enters a society that refuses... [More]
Directed By: Nora Fingscheidt

#20

Eat Pray Love (2010)
36%

#20
Adjusted Score: 43371%
Critics Consensus: The scenery is nice to look at, and Julia Roberts is as luminous as ever, but without the spiritual and emotional weight of the book that inspired it, Eat Pray Love is too shallow to resonate.
Synopsis: Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) thought she had everything she wanted in life: a home, a husband and a successful career.... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Murphy

#21

Won't Back Down (2012)
35%

#21
Adjusted Score: 38179%
Critics Consensus: Despite the best efforts of its talented leads, Won't Back Down fails to lend sufficient dramatic heft or sophistication to the hot-button issue of education reform.
Synopsis: Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Nona Alberts (Viola Davis) are two women from opposites sides of the social and economic... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Barnz

#22

Blackhat (2015)
33%

#22
Adjusted Score: 39735%
Critics Consensus: Thematically timely but dramatically inert, Blackhat strands Chris Hemsworth in a muddled misfire from director Michael Mann.
Synopsis: After a Hong Kong nuclear plant and the Mercantile Trade Exchange in Chicago are hacked by unknown perpetrators, a federal... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 35354%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and schmaltzy, Nicholas Sparks' Nights in Rodanthe is strongly mottled by contrivances that even the charisma of stars Diane Lane and Richard Gere can't repair.
Synopsis: When Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) arrives at the coastal town of Rodanthe, N.C., her life is in chaos. There, she... [More]
Directed By: George C. Wolfe

#24
Adjusted Score: 29467%
Critics Consensus: Divided between sincere melodrama and populist comedy, Madea Goes to Jail fails to provide enough laughs -- or screen time -- for its titular heroine.
Synopsis: After a high-speed car chase, Madea (Tyler Perry) winds up behind bars because her quick temper gets the best of... [More]
Directed By: Tyler Perry

#25

Suicide Squad (2016)
26%

#25
Adjusted Score: 51632%
Critics Consensus: Suicide Squad boasts a talented cast and a little more humor than previous DCEU efforts, but they aren't enough to save the disappointing end result from a muddled plot, thinly written characters, and choppy directing.
Synopsis: Figuring they're all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret... [More]
Directed By: David Ayer

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 31686%
Critics Consensus: Unnecessarily violent and unflinchingly absurd, Law Abiding Citizen is plagued by subpar acting and a story that defies reason.
Synopsis: Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is an honorable family man, until the day his wife and daughter are murdered in a... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

Featured image: Jessica Miglio / © Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

The Devil Wears Prada

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All Meryl Streep Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

Meryl Streep landed her first Oscar nomination for just her second on-screen role: 1978’s The Deer Hunter, opposite John Cazale. A few more performances after that and she’d find herself standing before Hollywood’s elite, accepting the gold trophy for her complex “villain” role in 1980’s Kramer vs. Kramer. Stardom came within that decade, as she made her mark across disparate films and genres, becoming versatility personified in the acting game, as featured in a Best Picture winner (Out of Africa), rom-coms (Heartburn), political social thrillers (Silkwood), dramas (Sophie’s Choice), and period pieces (Ironweed).

This canny ability to wedge and dissolve into roles that sparked her attention has been rewarded with a record 21 Oscar nominations over decades, winning three for Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, and The Iron Lady. Yes, there were noms for so-called Oscar bait like Doubt, The Post, and the actually-Rotten Iron Lady, but Streep pulled nominations out of more unique genres, like musicals (Into the Woods), broad comedies (The Devil Wears Prada, Florence Foster Jenkins), and wherever you want to categorize Adaptation.

Streep’s most recent films have been Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation, and the mostly-ignored The Laundromat. She must’ve enjoyed the Steven Soderbergh experience on Laundromat, because she’s teaming up with him again for comedy Let Them All Talk next. Additionally, she’s got another musical (along with the Mamma Mia! movies, they’ve been a late-career boon) in the works in The Prom, from Ryan Murphy. And now, we’re celebrating with all Meryl Streep movies, ranked by Tomatometer!

#58

Evening (2007)
27%

#58
Adjusted Score: 32415%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully filmed, but decidedly dull, Evening is a collossal waste of a talented cast.
Synopsis: Lying on her deathbed, drifting in and out of consciousness, Ann Grant Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) calls forth memories of her... [More]
Directed By: Lajos Koltai

#57

Lions for Lambs (2007)
27%

#57
Adjusted Score: 35195%
Critics Consensus: Despite its powerhouse cast, Lions for Lambs feels like a disjointed series of lectures, rather than a sharp narrative, and ends up falling flat.
Synopsis: Inspired by their idealistic professor, Dr. Mallery (Robert Redford), to do something meaningful with their lives, Arian (Derek Luke) and... [More]
Directed By: Robert Redford

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 31728%
Critics Consensus: An enviable collection of sterling actors are all woefully miscast in The House of the Spirits, a plodding saga of magical realism that lacks much magic or realism.
Synopsis: A rancher (Jeremy Irons), his clairvoyant wife (Meryl Streep) and their family face turbulent years in South America.... [More]
Directed By: Bille August

#55

Before and After (1996)
32%

#55
Adjusted Score: 28801%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The lives of Carolyn Ryan (Meryl Streep), a small-town doctor, and her artist husband, Ben (Liam Neeson), are shaken up... [More]
Directed By: Barbet Schroeder

#54

The Giver (2014)
35%

#54
Adjusted Score: 41259%
Critics Consensus: Phillip Noyce directs The Giver with visual grace, but the movie doesn't dig deep enough into the classic source material's thought-provoking ideas.
Synopsis: Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a seemingly idyllic world of conformity and contentment. When he begins to spend time with... [More]
Directed By: Phillip Noyce

#53

She-Devil (1989)
40%

#53
Adjusted Score: 40831%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Housewife and mother Ruth Patchett (Roseanne Barr), an overweight and unkempt woman, can seem to do nothing to make her... [More]
Directed By: Susan Seidelman

#52

Dark Matter (2007)
40%

#52
Adjusted Score: 40898%
Critics Consensus: The creaky plotting, inscrutable characters, and unconvincing ending make it difficult for audiences to connect with Dark Matter.
Synopsis: Liu Xing (Ye Liu), a promising Chinese doctoral candidate accepted into an elite astronomy program in the United States, struggles... [More]
Directed By: Chen Shi-Zeng

#51

The Laundromat (2019)
40%

#51
Adjusted Score: 50454%
Critics Consensus: The Laundromat misuses its incredible cast by taking a disappointingly blunt and unfocused approach to dramatizing the real-life events that inspired it.
Synopsis: When her idyllic vacation takes an unthinkable turn, Ellen Martin begins investigating a fake insurance policy.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#50

Heartburn (1986)
45%

#50
Adjusted Score: 44332%
Critics Consensus: Despite an astonishing collection of talent across the board, Heartburn's aimless plot inspires mild indigestion instead of romantic ardor.
Synopsis: Rachel Samstat (Meryl Streep), a New York food critic, beds Mark Forman (Jack Nicholson), a Washington, D.C., newspaper columnist. The... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#49

Rendition (2007)
47%

#49
Adjusted Score: 53712%
Critics Consensus: The impressive cast cannot rescue Rendition, which explores complex issues in woefully simplified terms.
Synopsis: Isabella El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon), the wife of an Egyptian engineer, tries desperately to track down her husband after he disappears... [More]
Directed By: Gavin Hood

#48

Prime (2005)
50%

#48
Adjusted Score: 54709%
Critics Consensus: Though Streep is dependably terrific in her role, the rest of the movie is too sitcom-ish, and the romance itself is dull.
Synopsis: Rafi Gardet (Uma Thurman) is a 37-year-old divorced Catholic businesswoman falling for David (Bryan Greenberg), a 23-year-old Jewish artist. With... [More]
Directed By: Ben Younger

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 57246%
Critics Consensus: Hawn and Streep are as fabulous as Death Becomes Her's innovative special effects; Zemeckis' satire, on the other hand, is as hollow as the world it mocks.
Synopsis: When a novelist loses her man to a movie star and former friend, she winds up in a psychiatric hospital.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#46

The Iron Lady (2011)
52%

#46
Adjusted Score: 62483%
Critics Consensus: Meryl Streep's performance as The Iron Lady is reliably perfect, but it's mired in bland, self-important storytelling.
Synopsis: In her twilight years, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) reflects on her life and career as she... [More]
Directed By: Phyllida Lloyd

#45

Mamma Mia! (2008)
55%

#45
Adjusted Score: 61702%
Critics Consensus: This jukebox musical is full of fluffy fun but rough singing voices and a campy tone might not make you feel like "You Can Dance" the whole 90 minutes.
Synopsis: Donna (Meryl Streep), an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, is preparing for her daughter's wedding with the help of... [More]
Directed By: Phyllida Lloyd

#44

Plenty (1985)
56%

#44
Adjusted Score: 40203%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Susan Traherne (Meryl Streep) is trying to put find her purpose in the wake of World War II. After a... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#43

The River Wild (1994)
57%

#43
Adjusted Score: 58604%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Fast-paced thriller in which a young family on a white-water rafting adventure in Montana are taken hostage by a pair... [More]
Directed By: Curtis Hanson

#42

Falling in Love (1984)
54%

#42
Adjusted Score: 34279%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Commuting to Manhattan on the same train, two married strangers (Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep) meet by accident and have... [More]
Directed By: Ulu Grosbard

#41

Out of Africa (1985)
61%

#41
Adjusted Score: 67973%
Critics Consensus: Though lensed with stunning cinematography and featuring a pair of winning performances from Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, Out of Africa suffers from excessive length and glacial pacing.
Synopsis: Initially set on being a dairy farmer, the aristocratic Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) travels to Africa to join her husband,... [More]
Directed By: Sydney Pollack

#40

Ironweed (1987)
58%

#40
Adjusted Score: 59080%
Critics Consensus: Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep play masterfully off each, but Ironweed's unrelenting bleakness proves to be more monotonous than compelling.
Synopsis: In Depression-era Albany, N.Y., erstwhile baseball star Francis Phelan (Jack Nicholson) has become an alcoholic vagabond after guilt over accidentally... [More]
Directed By: Hector Babenco

#39

It's Complicated (2009)
58%

#39
Adjusted Score: 65684%
Critics Consensus: Despite fine work by an appealing cast, It's Complicated is predictable romantic comedy fare, going for broad laughs instead of subtlety and nuance.
Synopsis: Jane (Meryl Streep), a successful restaurateur, has been divorced from Jake (Alec Baldwin) for many years, although they remain friends.... [More]
Directed By: Nancy Meyers

#38

The Ant Bully (2006)
62%

#38
Adjusted Score: 65759%
Critics Consensus: Sometimes inventive and witty, this animated adventure into an ant-sized world is a pleasant diversion.
Synopsis: Tired of weathering constant attacks on their colony, ants shrink a destructive boy, named Lucas (Zach Tyler Eisen), to their... [More]
Directed By: John A. Davis

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 22541%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When one of his patients is found murdered, psychiatrist Dr. Sam Rice (Roy Scheider) is visited by the investigating officer... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 66512%
Critics Consensus: Meryl Streep's depiction of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things transcends, inspires, and entertains.
Synopsis: After being abandoned by her husband, depressed music teacher Roberta (Meryl Streep) lands a job teaching violin to underprivileged children... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 64010%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Kate Mundy (Meryl Streep) is the eldest of five sisters living together in a small house in Ireland in 1936.... [More]
Directed By: Pat O'Connor

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 72189%
Critics Consensus: Meryl Streep's outstanding work helps Ricki and the Flash overcome its inconsistent tone and fairly predictable premise.
Synopsis: It's been a roller-coaster ride for Ricki Rendazzo (Meryl Streep), a one-time wife and mother of three who left her... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 74937%
Critics Consensus: The sheer amount of acting going on in August: Osage County threatens to overwhelm, but when the actors involved are as talented as Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, it's difficult to complain.
Synopsis: The death and funeral of their father brings three sisters to the home of their mother, Violet (Meryl Streep), an... [More]
Directed By: John Wells

#32

Into the Woods (2014)
71%

#32
Adjusted Score: 79852%
Critics Consensus: On the whole, this Disney adaptation of the Sondheim classic sits comfortably at the corner of Hollywood and Broadway -- even if it darkens to its detriment in the final act.
Synopsis: As the result of the curse of a once-beautiful witch (Meryl Streep), a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily... [More]
Directed By: Rob Marshall

#31
Adjusted Score: 78394%
Critics Consensus: Although it softens the nasty edges of its source material, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a gothic visual treat, and it features a hilariously manic turn from Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf.
Synopsis: After the three young Baudelaire siblings are left orphaned by a fire in their mansion, they are carted off to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#30

Suffragette (2015)
73%

#30
Adjusted Score: 81148%
Critics Consensus: Suffragette dramatizes an important -- and still painfully relevant -- fact-based story with more than enough craft and sincerity to overcome its flaws.
Synopsis: In early 20th-century Britain, the growing suffragette movement forever changes the life of working wife and mother Maud Watts (Carey... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Gavron

#29

Silkwood (1983)
76%

#29
Adjusted Score: 77220%
Critics Consensus: Silkwood seethes with real-life rage -- but backs it up with compelling characters and trenchant observations.
Synopsis: This drama is based on the true story of Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep), who works at a nuclear facility, along... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#28
Adjusted Score: 83043%
Critics Consensus: A curious, not always seamless, amalgamation of Kubrick's chilly bleakness and Spielberg's warm-hearted optimism, A.I. is, in a word, fascinating.
Synopsis: A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 82516%
Critics Consensus: A rare film that surpasses the quality of its source novel, this Devil is a witty expose of New York's fashion scene, with Meryl Streep in top form and Anne Hathaway more than holding her own.
Synopsis: Andy (Anne Hathaway) is a recent college graduate with big dreams. Upon landing a job at prestigious Runway magazine, she... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#26

Hope Springs (2012)
75%

#26
Adjusted Score: 82502%
Critics Consensus: Led by a pair of mesmerizing performances from Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, Hope Springs offers filmgoers some grown-up laughs -- and a thoughtful look at mature relationships.
Synopsis: Long-married couple Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) love each other, but after so many years together, Kay... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#25

Sophie's Choice (1982)
78%

#25
Adjusted Score: 80777%
Critics Consensus: Sophie's Choice may be more sobering than stirring, but Meryl Streep's Oscar-winning performance holds this postwar period drama together.
Synopsis: Stingo (Peter MacNicol), a young writer, moves to Brooklyn in 1947 to begin work on his first novel. As he... [More]
Directed By: Alan J. Pakula

#24

Julie & Julia (2009)
78%

#24
Adjusted Score: 86820%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Meryl Streep's charismatic performance as Julia Child, Julie and Julia is a light, but fairly entertaining culinary comedy.
Synopsis: Frustrated with a soul-killing job, New Yorker Julie Powell (Amy Adams) embarks on a daring project: she vows to prepare... [More]
Directed By: Nora Ephron

#23
Adjusted Score: 83441%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this story-within-a-story, Anna (Meryl Streep) is an actress starring opposite Mike (Jeremy Irons) in a period piece about the... [More]
Directed By: Karel Reisz

#22
Adjusted Score: 95079%
Critics Consensus: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again doubles down on just about everything fans loved about the original -- and my my, how can fans resist it?
Synopsis: In 1979 young Donna, Tanya and Rosie graduate from Oxford University -- leaving Donna free to embark on a series... [More]
Directed By: Ol Parker

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 102584%
Critics Consensus: Mary Poppins Returns relies on the magic of its classic forebear to cast a familiar -- but still solidly effective -- family-friendly spell.
Synopsis: Now an adult with three children, bank teller Michael Banks learns that his house will be repossessed in five days... [More]
Directed By: Rob Marshall

#20

The Hours (2002)
79%

#20
Adjusted Score: 85679%
Critics Consensus: The movie may be a downer, but it packs an emotional wallop. Some fine acting on display here.
Synopsis: "The Hours" is the story of three women searching for more potent, meaningful lives. Each is alive at a different... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Daldry

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 87691%
Critics Consensus: While not the classic its predecessor is, this update is well-acted and conjures a chilling resonance.
Synopsis: Years after his squad was ambushed during the Gulf War, Major Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) finds himself having terrible nightmares.... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#18

Doubt (2008)
79%

#18
Adjusted Score: 88354%
Critics Consensus: Doubt succeeds on the strength of its top-notch cast, who successfully guide the film through the occasional narrative lull.
Synopsis: In 1964 the winds of change are sweeping through Sister Aloysius' (Meryl Streep) St. Nicholas school. Father Flynn (Philip Seymour... [More]
Directed By: John Patrick Shanley

#17

The Homesman (2014)
80%

#17
Adjusted Score: 86134%
Critics Consensus: A squarely traditional yet somewhat progressive Western, The Homesman adds another absorbing entry to Tommy Lee Jones' directorial résumé.
Synopsis: A frontier farm woman (Hilary Swank) saves the life of a claim-jumper (Tommy Lee Jones) and persuades him to help... [More]
Directed By: Tommy Lee Jones

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 88711%
Critics Consensus: The final film by the great Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion, the big screen adaptation of Garrison Keillor's radio broadcast showcases plenty of the director's strengths: it's got a gigantic cast and plenty of quirky acting and dialogue.
Synopsis: A private investigator (Kevin Kline) keeps tabs on the proceedings as guests, cast and crew (Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Woody... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 85661%
Critics Consensus: Uniting a pair of powerhouse talents with a smart, sharply written script, Postcards from the Edge makes compelling drama out of reality-inspired trauma.
Synopsis: Hollywood actress Suzanne Vale is on a slippery slope as a recovering addict. On exit from rehab, it is recommended... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#14

Marvin's Room (1996)
84%

#14
Adjusted Score: 86523%
Critics Consensus: Marvin's Room rises above the pack of dysfunctional family dramas thanks to an impeccable cast that includes Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Synopsis: Bessie (Diane Keaton) and Lee (Meryl Streep) are sisters who have remained apart for nearly 20 years due to radically... [More]
Directed By: Jerry Zaks

#13
Adjusted Score: 61495%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A liberal United States senator, Joe Tynan (Alan Alda) is in over his head with both his work and his... [More]
Directed By: Jerry Schatzberg

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 102048%
Critics Consensus: Florence Foster Jenkins makes poignant, crowd-pleasing dramedy out of its stranger-than-fiction tale -- and does its subject justice with a reliably terrific turn from star Meryl Streep.
Synopsis: In the 1940s, New York socialite Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) dreams of becoming a great opera singer. Unfortunately, her... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Frears

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 96411%
Critics Consensus: The divorce subject isn't as shocking, but the film is still a thoughtful, well-acted drama that resists the urge to take sides or give easy answers.
Synopsis: On the same day Manhattan advertising executive Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) lands the biggest account of his career, he learns... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#10

The Post (2017)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 113533%
Critics Consensus: The Post's period setting belies its bitingly timely themes, brought compellingly to life by director Steven Spielberg and an outstanding ensemble cast.
Synopsis: Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper -- The Washington Post. With help from editor... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#9

One True Thing (1998)
88%

#9
Adjusted Score: 90657%
Critics Consensus: Solid performances lift this drama to a higher level.
Synopsis: Kate (Meryl Streep), the undervalued matriarch of the Gulden family, is diagnosed with cancer. Daughter and journalist Ellen (Renée Zellweger)... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#8
Adjusted Score: 93614%
Critics Consensus: Sentimental, slow, schmaltzy, and very satisfying, The Bridges of Madison County finds Clint Eastwood adapting a bestseller with heft, wit, and grace.
Synopsis: A moving love story about a photographer on assignment to shoot the historic bridges of Madison County. He meets a... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#7

Adaptation (2002)
91%

#7
Adjusted Score: 97362%
Critics Consensus: Dizzyingly original, the loopy, multi-layered Adaptation is both funny and thought-provoking.
Synopsis: Nicolas Cage is Charlie Kaufman, a confused L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, sexual frustration, self-loathing, and by the... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 102622%
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

#5

The Deer Hunter (1978)
88%

#5
Adjusted Score: 96863%
Critics Consensus: Its greatness is blunted by its length and one-sided point of view, but the film's weaknesses are overpowered by Michael Cimino's sympathetic direction and a series of heartbreaking performances from Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken.
Synopsis: In 1968, Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage), lifelong friends from a working-class Pennsylvania steel... [More]
Directed By: Michael Cimino

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 94375%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: While on vacation in the Australian outback, Seventh Day Adventist priest Michael Chamberlain (Sam Neill) and his wife, Lindy (Meryl... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#3

Manhattan (1979)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 99464%
Critics Consensus: One of Woody Allen's early classics, Manhattan combines modern, bittersweet humor and timeless romanticism with unerring grace.
Synopsis: Director Woody Allen's love letter to New York City stars Allen as frustrated television writer Isaac Davis, a twice-divorced malcontent... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#2

Little Women (2019)
95%

#2
Adjusted Score: 121535%
Critics Consensus: With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig's Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer,... [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 99259%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) isn't having a good week. For starters, he died after he got hit by a bus.... [More]
Directed By: Albert Brooks

This week’s new releases include a few Hollywood takes on science fiction (Fox’s remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still; the 1984 sequel 2010: The Year We Make Contact on Blu-ray), and a few that fall into the fantasy genre (Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories; Jim Carrey in Yes Man, where he romances the 18-years younger Zooey Deschanel — a middle-aged male fantasy if there ever was one). Awards-watchers have an Oscar-nominated film new to DVD (Doubt) and a new double-dip from a Coen brothers classic in the making (No Country for Old Men Collector’s Edition). Read on for more!

The Day the Earth Stood Still — 20%

When studios remake films, the question always arises: Why fix it if it ain’t broken? (The original 1951 sci-fi classic sits pretty at a robust 94 percent on the Tomatometer.) The folks at Fox apparently don’t like such questions, because they decided to “update” the tale of an alien visitor named Klaatu who brings a message of peace — and then, potential destruction — to the callow denizens of Earth. Keanu Reeves‘ monotone delivery as Klaatu didn’t help TDTESS‘s clunky direction and script, though in his defense, he was doing it on purpose. Find the 3-Disc version for a plethora of bonus materials (production photos, storyboards, and concept art) and tons of thematic and making-of featurettes; unfortunately, the lone commentary track does not feature the film’s stars or its director, Scott Derrickson. The good news? Limited editions of the 2-Disc and 3-Disc DVDs also come with the original The Day The Earth Stood Still, so you might get some enjoyment out of the release after all.

Next: Adam Sandler in Bedtime Stories

Back again with another family-friendly comic clunker, Adam Sandler stars as a goofball uncle named Skeeter who entertains his niece and nephew with fantastical stories — stories that begin to come to life! Although the appealing Keri Russell co-stars as Sandler’s love interest, and the rascally Russell Brand as his best friend, this high concept comedy fell flat. Even director Adam Shankman (Hairspray) couldn’t breathe enough pep and life into the proceedings, and he was able to make people enjoy watching John Travolta in drag. Special features include pieces on the film’s special effects, child actors, and computer-generated guinea pig, bloopers, deleted scenes, and an infomercial-type appearance by Big Daddy co-stars Cole and Dylan Sprouse (now bonafide Disney idols).

Next: Multiple Oscar nominee, Doubt

Doubt — 78%

Oscar-watchers absolutely must see this Certified Fresh chamber piece, which earned five Academy Award nominations and was adapted by director John Patrick Shanley from his own Pulitzer-winning play. With creds like these, is there any, ahem, doubt, that serious moviegoers should move this to the top of their Netflix queue this week? A strong cast led by Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams give this period piece about suspicion and the specter of abuse in a 1950s parish serious weight, though a brief, powerhouse performance by Viola Davis steals the show.

Next: Say maybe to Jim Carrey’s Yes Man

Jim Carrey is a shadow of his former self in Yes Man, a predictable comedy about a straight-laced banker who battles his mid-life crisis by embracing a single word: yes. Unfortunately, critics overwhelmingly disagreed with the film’s central theme (“Say yes to everything!”), despite a winning if strained performance by Carrey, who plays against his strengths as the straight man with the occasional glimmer of that slapsticky, classic Carrey. And then, there’s Zooey Deschanel. Always winning as the token “manic pixie dream girl,” she’s extra-quirky in a role as a scooter-driving, rock band-fronting, Silverlake-dwelling free spirit who, naturally, falls in love with Carrey (18 years her senior in real life). Deschanel’s musical performances, included in full as bonus features, are the highlight of Yes Man on DVD – watch one below!

Next: Contemplate your credit history with I.O.U.S.A.

I.O.U.S.A. — 91%

Economy got you in a funk? If watching an entire documentary about the nation’s money woes won’t sink you further into depression, then we fervently recommend picking up I.O.U.S.A. (maybe a rental — it’s more cost-effective). This nonpartisan doc aims to educate America about fiscal responsibility — but in an entertaining way, unlike your bank’s customer service agents — utilizing engaging graphics to make its terrifying point. Another bonus: I.O.U.S.A. is directed by award-winning filmmaker Patrick Creadon, whose 2006 doc Wordplay introduced audiences to the nation’s biggest crossword nerds — and won a Golden Tomato award to boot.

Next: Yup, someone made a movie entitled Donkey Punch

Donkey Punch — 47%

The title does bear explanation, but you’ll have to watch this film to find out what it means. It’s got a promising premise; this British thriller follows a group of young partiers adrift on a boat trip that takes a dangerous turn at sea. Critics liked it to a point, but gave it negative reviews for giving way to tired genre cliché. Brutal violence, drug use, and general hedonism abound, if you like that sort of thing…but while curiosity is bound to get the best of anyone looking for sordid thrills, Donkey Punch might turn out less impactful than its own title.

Next: Painterly animation and adventure in The Tale of Despereaux

When it comes to animation, it would seem that American studios (Pixar, DreamWorks) have a monopoly on critical success. European studio Framestore Animation nonetheless tried their hand with The Tale of Despereaux, whose titular character is a mouse of particular courage and manners. Despereaux aimed to capture the imaginations of young audiences but ended up splitting critics, who credited it with handsome, painterly CG visuals but complained of a lack of spirit. The bland allegory, based on the novel by author Kate DiMillo, might serve hardcore fans of animation (and those with small children) best; all else, be warned. A few games and making-of featurettes highlight the DVD.

Next: Get naughty and nostalgic with the Pre-Code Hollywood Collection

Hearken back to an Old Hollywood unencumbered by silly “morals,” before that stuffy Hays Code took effect, with six delightfully dirty classics: The Cheat (1931, pictured above), Merrily We Go To Hell (1932), Hot Saturday (1932), Torch Singer (1933), Murder at the Vanities (1934), and Search For Beauty (1934). Among the set are films starring the likes of Tallulah Bankhead, Cary Grant, Lucille Ball and Claudette Colbert, with salacious storylines that span the un-PC themes of adultery, wedlock, murder, and good old-fashioned smut. (Bankhead’s The Cheat plays like an early version of Indecent Proposal, as an indebted woman considers paying the ultimate price to a “lecherous scoundrel.”) A mini-handbook reprint of the infamous 1934 Production Code accompanies the set; here, we share our favorite bylaws: “Revenge in modern times shall not be justified” and “Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown.”

Next: Should you double dip with the No Country For Old Men Collector’s Edition?

No Country For Old Men Collector’s Edition Blu-ray — 94%

Double-dip home video releases are never enticing to fans who already own a title, but this week’s Blu-ray release of the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men comes with enough new bonus material that fervent Coen fans should take a look. When No Country first hit DVD and Blu-ray a while back, only a trio of features accompanied the film; all three of those features are ported over to the new Collector’s Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray and 3-Disc DVD, and share space with a wealth of new extras, which include Josh Brolin‘s behind-the-scenes feature, a Q&A with Joel and Ethan Coen and cinematographer Roger Deakins, and nine additional pieces featuring the Coens and their stars talking with various media programs about No Country. If you’ve spent hours analyzing the film’s ending, shot compositions, or Anton Chigurh’s hairdo of choice, consider these materials study guides to the Coen classic.

Next: 2010: The Year We Make Contact hits Blu-ray

It was an audacious idea to begin with; who in their right mind would attempt to follow Stanley Kubrick‘s science fiction classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a sequel? In the year 1984, that person was director Peter Hyams (Capricorn One, The Star Chamber, Timecop), whose adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s follow-up novel picked up nine years after the events of 2001. Roy Scheider stars as Dr. Heywood Floyd, a now-disgraced aeronautics expert investigating the HAL 9000 glitch, who along with John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, and Bob Balaban, tries to unlock the secret of the monolith. While the release comes with woefully few bonus features (a vintage featurette and the theatrical trailer), it’s a great High Def release for science fiction purists.

Until next week, happy renting!

The 14th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards were given on January 8, 2009, to honor the finest achievements in 2008 filmmaking. A list of nominees follows below, with winners in bold:

Best Picture:
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Doubt
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Wall-E
The Wrestler

Best Actor:
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Best Actress (Tie):
Kate Beckinsale, Nothing But the Truth
Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt

Best Supporting Actor:
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

James Franco, Milk

Best Supporting Actress:
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Vera Farmiga, Nothing But the Truth
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Best Acting Ensemble:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Doubt
Milk

Rachel Getting Married

Best Director:
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Gus Van Sant, Milk

Best Writer:
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

Best Animated Feature:
Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Wall-E
Waltz With Bashir

Best Young Actor/Actress:
Dakota Fanning, The Secret Life of Bees
David Kross, The Reader
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

Brandon Walters, Australia

Best Action Movie:
The Dark Knight

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Iron Man
Quantum of Solace
Wanted

Best Comedy Movie:
Burn After Reading
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Role Models
Tropic Thunder

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Foreign Language Film:
A Christmas Tale
Gomorrah
I’ve Loved You So Long
Let the Right One In
Mongol
Waltz With Bashir

Best Documentary Feature:
I.O.U.S.A.
Man On Wire

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
Standard Operating Procedure
Young At Heart

Source: Broadcast Film Critics Association

This weekend people were in the mood for movies over Christmas weekend as multiplexes were jam-packed with customers that powered four different new releases to more than $30M in ticket sales each over the long Thursday-to-Sunday holiday session. The Owen Wilson-Jennifer Aniston dog drama Marley & Me led the way with a huge debut that exceeded expectations. Adam Sandler’s new family comedy Bedtime Stories and Brad Pitt’s period drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button generated nearly identical numbers with the former winning the three-day period and the latter grossing more over the four-day span. Tom Cruise also showed some firepower with his war thriller Valkyrie which found a large audience too.


North American ticket buyers had no problems spending ferociously as the Top 20 films hauled in a stunning $200M making for the second biggest weekend of 2008 after only the July 18-20 frame when The Dark Knight scored its record debut. This weekend’s explosive box office was even more impressive considering the fact that there were no sequels in the top ten at all. Instead, moviegoers spread their money across numerous star-driven films as everyone found something to their liking.


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Soaring ahead of its competitors, Marley & Me scored a powerful top spot debut grossing an estimated $37M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a sensational $51.7M since its Thursday launch. After several months of disappointments, Fox finally delivered a surefire smash averaging a sturdy $10,632 over three days from 3,480 locations. The studio began 2008 with hits like 27 Dresses, Jumper, and Horton Hears a Who but then stumbled with a handful of films that generated little excitement.


Based on the best-selling book, the PG-rated Marley drew upon a built-in audience but the studio also marketed the film to dog lovers and families to pull in a wide range of business. Thursday saw a stellar $14.7M in sales which set a new record for Christmas Day openers beating the $10.2M of 2001’s Ali which translates to about $13M at today’s ticket prices. With kids off from school and a large number of adults having no work either, everyday this week will be like a Saturday at the box office so Marley could shatter the $100M mark by next weekend.


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Disney’s comedy adventure Bedtime Stories, picked by many to be the top dog this weekend, settled into second with an estimated $28.1M in three days and $38.6M over its four-day Thursday-to-Sunday launch. The Adam Sandler family pic averaged an impressive $7,625 during three days and played to a broad audience. Studio data showed that 51% of the turnout was female and 52% was over 25 so all four quadrants were well represented. Bedtime basically targeted the same audience that powered Ben Stiller film Night at the Museum to a $42.2M four-day Christmas weekend launch two years ago. Reviews were dismal, but moviegoers responded instead to the starpower and effects-driven adventure of the PG-rated entry.


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Brad Pitt attracted a sizable audience to his Oscar contender The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with an estimated $27M over the weekend and a stellar $39M over the four-day span. Paramount averaged a strong $9,036 from 2,988 theaters over three days with its PG-13 tale of a man who ages in reverse. Directed by David Fincher, Button co-stars Cate Blanchett and runs 2 hours and 47 minutes in length meaning most auditoriums were offering just four shows per day instead of five. Reviews have been very favorable and the film has scored five Golden Globe nominations. Many expect it to be a Best Picture candidate come Oscar night on February 22.


Adult women made up the biggest sector of the audience for Brad. Females were 60% of the crowd while 70% were over 25. Button was not an easy sell for the studio and competition for mature adults was intense so the large opening truly underlines the drawing power of Shiloh’s dad. In fact its first day take of $12M marked the second biggest Christmas Day opening in history after Marley.

Co-produced by Warner Bros. which will handle the film overseas, Button cost a whopping $150M to produce. But with Golden Globe awards and Academy Award nominations to be announced in January, the epic film should have long legs at the box office and may surpass that figure in domestic coin.


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MGM performed a Christmas miracle this weekend. The studio took what was long considered a surefire flop anchored by a star on the decline and turned it around and into a big hit. That film, Tom Cruise’s war drama Valkyrie, debuted in fourth place with an estimated $21.5M over the weekend and a terrific $30M since its Thursday launch. Invading 2,711 venues, the thriller about a plot to assassinate Hitler averaged a sturdy $7,942.Valkyrie‘s debut was in the same vicinity as other Cruise pics like Collateral ($24.7M opening) and The Last
Samurai
($24.3M) although those films opened on Fridays during non-holiday frames.


Valkyrie took advantage of a void in the marketplace and seized the opportunity. Emotional dramas like Marley and Button skewed female and Bedtime appealed more to kids leaving adult men with very few films to be excited about. Studio research showed that the PG-13 film pulled in an audience that was 55% male and 66% over 25. Backed by decent reviews, the World War II flick now has a shot at becoming yet another $100M hit for Cruise capping off a major comeback year for Suri’s old man who also delivered one of the summer’s most memorable performances with his Golden Globe-nominated turn in Tropic Thunder.

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Following a less-than-spectacular opening last weekend, Jim Carrey’s comedy Yes Man dropped from first to fifth place with an estimated $16.5M. But the Warner Bros. release held up well dipping only 10% putting the ten-day cume at a solid $49.6M. A trip to the $100M club may still result for the A-list funnyman. Will Smith also saw a good hold for his latest venture. The do-gooder drama Seven Pounds slipped by 10% as well from its opening frame and grossed an estimated $13.4M pushing its ten-day tally to $39M for Sony.


Universal’s animated film The Tale of Despereaux eased by just 7% and collected an estimated $9.4M for seventh place. The top ten’s only G-rated film has taken in $27.9M in ten days and has helped the studio reach a new company high with $1.1 billion in box office in 2008. Keanu Reeves followed with an estimated $7.9M for his sci-fi remake The Day the Earth Stood Still. Down 20%, the Fox release has pulled in $63.6M in 17 days.


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Not all new releases clicked with moviegoers this holiday weekend. The one casualty was Lionsgate’s stylish actioner The Spirit which bowed to an estimated $6.5M over three days and $10.3M across four days. Playing in 2,509 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a weak $2,593. Graphic novel king Frank Miller made his solo directing debut after co-helming the 2005 hit Sin City with Robert Rodriguez which opened much stronger with $29.1M over three days.


Rounding out the top ten was Miramax’s Doubt which expanded nationally from 39 to 1,267 theaters and grossed an estimated $5.7M. Averaging a respectable $4,479, the Meryl Streep pic has taken in $8.8M thus far and has made the queen bee of actresses a major contender for the Oscar…again.


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Everything has been going right for specialty distributors this holiday season as every major limited release has been met with sold out shows and strong averages. Two more new pics enjoyed solid bows this weekend. The much-hyped Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet reunion in Revolutionary Road led to the year’s best opening weekend average. Paramount Vantage took in an estimated $192,000 from only three sites for a robust $64,000 average and will expand next
weekend into the top 15 markets. Road has earned four Golden Globe nominations and has been well-liked by most critics.


Overture got off to a nice start with its double Globe nominee Last Chance Harvey which bowed to an estimated $96,000 from six locations for a solid $16,000 average. The Dustin Hoffman-Emma Thompson pic has grossed $132,000 since debuting on Christmas Day.

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Holdover pics in limited release scored some extra theaters and saw their weekend grosses climb. Fox Searchlight’s Slumdog Millionaire grossed an estimated $4.5M from 614 theaters for an impressive $7,248 average, up 46% from last weekend. The Clint Eastwood hit Gran Torino expanded from 19 to 84 sites and collected an estimated $2.4M for a powerful $29,048 average. Totals sit at
$19.7M and $4.3M, respectively.

Milk inched up 6% to an estimated $1.8M from 311 playdates for a $5,883 average. The Sean Penn starrer has grossed $13.6M for Focus. Parent company Universal used Christmas to widen its political drama Frost/Nixon from 39 to 205 locations and saw an estimated $1.5M in sales for a strong $7,180 average. Cume is $3.7M.


The Weinstein Co. expanded the Kate Winslet flick The Reader into 116 houses and took in an estimated $671,000 for a $5,787 average. Mickey Rourke’s The Wrestler averaged a muscular $21,170 thanks to its estimated $381,000 from 18 arenas for Fox Searchlight.


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Also notable below the top ten was the vampire blockbuster Twilight surpassing the total gross of fellow November hit Quantum of Solace. Just a month ago, nobody would have guessed that the modestly-budgeted $37M teen saga would go on to outgun the latest James Bond film and its $200M+ budget. Twilight grossed an estimated $4.5M this weekend, down only 13%, for a $167.1M domestic total while Quantum fell 29% to an estimated $1.5M pushing its cume to $164.3M. Overseas, of course, is another story with the 007 actioner having a $300M advantage, but Stephanie Meyer fans have given the film industry something that is rare nowadays – a hit with legs. For the year, Twilight ranks as the eighth biggest blockbuster of 2008.


The top ten films grossed an estimated $172.9M which was up 9% from last year when National Treasure: Book of Secrets stayed in the top spot with $36.7M; and up 29% from 2006 when Night at the Museum remained at number one with $36.8M.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a full slate of new flicks: Bedtime Stories, starring Adam Sandler and Keri Russell; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise and Kenneth Branagh; Marley & Me, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston; and The Spirit, starring Gabriel Macht and Scarlett Johansson. What do the critics have to say?

In such films as Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, Adam Sandler has proven that his adolescent schtick isn’t the only note he can play. So critics are a bit disappointed with Bedtime Stories, in which the beloved funnyman attempts to make a comedy for all ages — and comes up with something that never fulfills its admittedly clever premise. Sandler stars as Skeeter, a handyman at a hotel who notices something strange: the bedtime stories he’s been telling his children have a tendency to come true. A tug-of-war between Skeeter’s attempts to use this strange power to his advantage — and his children’s additions to the stories — ensues. The pundits say Bedtime Stories may offer younger audiences some yucks, but the film’s overplotted and haphazard approach can’t sustain the laughs — or much dramatic interest. At 24 percent on the Tomatometer, it appears to be bedtime for Bedtime.

“This Tomatometer score is all your fault. I knew we should have gone with your brother.”

Taking a break from chronicling the dark side of humanity, David Fincher makes a foray into period fantasy melodrama with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And the critics say the film presents a bold, if flawed, dreamworld. In this loose adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, Brad Pitt stars as a man who is born old and ages in reverse. This profoundly complicates his romance with Daisy (Cate Blanchett), as the two of them can only share love at a fleeting moment in the middle of their lives. While critics say the film is sometimes so taken with its own epic grandeur that it doesn’t quite register emotionally, Button is visually remarkable thanks to some groundbreaking special effects, and Pitt is admirably nuanced in the title role. At 74 percent on the Tomatometer, the Curious may want to check this one out. (And click here for our interview with screenwriter Eric Roth.)

“So this is what Australia looks like…”

After months of rumor, innuendo, and release-date switcheroos, Bryan Singer’s World War II thriller, Valkyrie, is finally hitting theaters. And the pundits say it’s certainly not the disaster that industry buzz might have portended; instead, it’s respectable, if not spectacular. Tom Cruise stars as Claus von Stauffenberg, the ringleader of a plot by German officers to assassinate Adolph Hitler. It may sound like a plodding procedural, but the critics say the film is well-constructed and sharply-paced, a respectable adaptation of a remarkable true story. However, others say the performances are something of a mixed bag, and a sense of anticlimax can weigh down even some of the sharper scenes. Valkyrie currently stands at 58 percent on the Tomatometer.

“No, Tom, you can’t wear the general’s uniform. Get over it.”

Pooch-lovers the world over will likely rejoice at the prospect of Marley and Me, since they get to see the antics of an adorable canine. However, critics say lovers of drama and comedy may find this one to be lacking. Based on John Grogan’s bestselling memoir, Marley and Me stars Owen Wilson as a newspaper columnist who, along with his wife Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) adopts a Labrador retriever as a trial run for parenthood. Unfortunately, the dog is ill-behaved, destroying the house and occasionally threatening the couple’s sanity despite maintaining some measure of lovability. The pundits say what worked on the page doesn’t translate to the screen, as complexity and nuance have been jettisoned in favor a light blend of comedy and drama that feels, well, dog-eared. At 40 percent on the Tomatometer, you may not want to fetch Marley and Me.

“Warmhearted dramedy or Viagra ad? You make the call.”

Frank Miller’s noir-ish aesthetic fueled such muscular visual treats as Sin City (which he co-directed with Robert Rodriguez) and 300. Now, he’s all alone in the director’s chair with The Spirit — and critics say the result is a big disappointment. Adapted from the Will Eisner comic strip, The Spirit follows the title character (Gabriel Macht) — a slain cop who returns from the grave to fight crime — as he tangles with the evil Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson). Negotiating the dark streets of Central City, our hero keeps running into a bevy of femme fatales (including Eva Mendes and Scarlett Johansson) with murky motives. The pundits say The Spirit‘s over-the-top characterizations could be forgiven in the right circumstances — see Sin City — but the movie is crafted with little regard for coherence, the performances are generally histrionic, and the whole enterprise verges on camp. At 29 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes aren’t feeling The Spirit.

“I deserve better than this. I’m mother****in’ Sam Jackson!”

John Patrick Shanley has adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play Doubt to the screen, and critics say it’s a worthy showcase for some of the finest acting you’ll see this year. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Father Flynn, a priest trying to bring new life to the staid world of a Bronx Catholic school. However, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is threatened by some of his changes — and that’s before she hears rumors that he’s been spending too much time with the school’s first African American student. The pundits say Doubt at times has a stagey, un-cinematic feel, but it’s more than redeemed by its air of moral ambiguity and outstanding performances; in addition to Streep and Hoffman, Viola Davis and Amy Adams have also earned high marks (and Golden Globes nods). Certified Fresh at 75 percent on the Tomatometer, there’s no Doubt this is a strong film. (Click here for RT’s interview with Davis.)

“So tell me more about this ‘Andalasia.'”

Also opening this week in limited release:

Recent Brad Pitt Movies:

If I can’t effectively move people, then I would prefer not to [act].” — Viola Davis

With a brief but heart-stopping performance in this week’s period drama Doubt, actress Viola Davis (Solaris, Far From Heaven) has simultaneously put herself on Hollywood’s Oscar radar and achieved what has got to be a near-impossible feat: stealing a scene from Meryl Streep. Although she’s wont to modesty where the latter is concerned, Davis will un-doubt-edly remain in the minds of pundits as awards season trudges on, especially given the film’s just-announced smattering of Golden Globes nominations: a Best Supporting Actress nod for Davis, as well as nominations for writer-director John Patrick Shanley, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Streep (who nabbed two nominations thanks to her other 2008 film, Mamma Mia). (See a gallery of Golden Globe nominees here.)

It’s a phenomenon that’s drawn attention before: Dame Judi Dench won her only Oscar to date with an eight-minute performance in 1998’s Shakespeare in Love; ditto Anthony Quinn in 1956’s Lust for Life. In Doubt, Davis’s appearance as the dedicated mother of a young school boy who may or may not be the victim of Catholic abuse runs about that long, if only a minute or two longer. And yet it’s among the more potent performances of the year, one that is garnering the Juilliard-trained Davis some much-deserved notice after a long career of television and award-winning theater appearances.

In Doubt, adapted by John Patrick Shanley from his own Pulitzer-winning play, the severe, authoritative Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) objects fundamentally to the progressive attitudes of St. Nicholas’s new priest, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and is quick to suspect him of inappropriate behavior with the school’s first and only black student, Donald Miller. Below, we go in-depth with Davis about her single scene in Doubt as Donald’s mother, Mrs. Miller, in which she memorably goes head-to-head with Sister Aloysius herself. Davis also discusses the strong social and cultural undercurrents in Doubt, plus her involvement in Tyler Perry’s next Madea film and how she feels about being lauded for her tragic characters.

It’s quite remarkable that, for a performance that’s so brief in screen time, you’re getting awards buzz. What’s it like for you to process, that such a short appearance could lead to so much?

Viola Davis: It’s pretty overwhelming! That’s a great word for it. I think it’s because when I went into the project, my only expectation for myself was to do a good job, because I knew the caliber of actors I was working with. And of course my scene is with Meryl Streep, and of course it’s based on a play that won the Pulitzer, won the actress who played the role that I played on Broadway, Adriane Lenox, the Tony…great expectations to do a good job, and to not fail. So that was it. I certainly didn’t think that in a movie filled with such fantastic performances, that people would even notice it. I thought that it would just kind of fit into the grand landscape of the movie, and just keep it together. [Laughs] I just wanted to hold up my leg of the journey. So everything else has been…I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe right now!

It’s all quite deserved. Now you’re known as the actress who could steal a scene from Meryl Streep!

Davis: Oh my goodness, I didn’t know I had that reputation. I don’t know if I can embrace that one, but I’m definitely flattered by the accolades.

Your character, Mrs. Miller, represents an interesting shift in perspective by the time we meet her in Doubt. Up until that point, the theme of faith has remained pretty religious in nature, but Mrs. Miller’s primary concerns are not faith and religion. So it’s her character that opens Doubt up into maybe a more secular perspective. How do you perceive Mrs. Miller as representative of that, and more specifically of her time and place?

Davis: It’s a great question, and it’s also a very difficult question to answer. Because when John Patrick Shanley wrote the play, he didn’t want to tell people how to feel; he didn’t even want to tell the actors how to feel. So I’m going to take a stab in the dark, as to her kind of secular influence. I think it’s upon her coming into the movie that you see the issues are much broader, and extend beyond religion. They extend into beliefs and ideals and just life issues; here’s a woman coming into the picture who literally just loves her son under extraordinary circumstances. And here is a woman who…you know, it’s funny, because I don’t even feel like Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) even represents a religious view; I feel that she just represents her view.

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But I think it’s when Mrs. Miller comes in that you begin to understand that the argument isn’t just within these insular walls of this church, that it involves issues of rigid belief systems, and broadening your mind and your heart. And it’s not just even about sending this guy down the river, and whether he molested this boy or not. It becomes about love, it becomes about friendship, it becomes about being an advocate for someone, it becomes about being nonjudgmental. When you’re in a religious environment, you’re not exposed to the world, and therefore your views are not challenged. They’re just not! They become very singular, and here I am and I represent the challenge.

Mrs. Miller isn’t the first person to challenge Sister Aloysius, but she’s the first one to effectively challenge her.

Davis: Absolutely. First of all, Father Flynn is not going to get to her because he’s a man. He’s a man and he’s a priest. For me, this is my opinion. He represents the enemy; you see lots of images in the film of how repressed women were even within the convent, and how free the men were. There’s definitely a hierarchy of power, so he was never going to affect her. I affect her because first of all, I’m a woman; second of all, I don’t have an obvious response to the problem that she tells me, and I think it knocks her off her feet. She did not expect how I was going to defend my son.

It raises an interesting conflict: in what circumstances could potential Catholic abuse be anything but reprehensible? To most people, it would be without a question, no circumstances.

Davis: Well absolutely, no circumstances. In life, you know, they do this in focus groups; if you were in such and such circumstance, what would you do? Well, you never know what you’re going do unless you’re faced with it. What did Sophie do when she was faced with a Nazi soldier who said you can choose between your son or your daughter? What do you do? You never think you’re going to be faced with those kinds of situations, as horrific as they are.

And like I said, for me, the movie was about more than Catholic abuse and molestation and ruining this priest’s career, it’s about pursuing what we feel is right at all costs, and never quite admitting that there could be a chance that we could be wrong, out of fear. It’s a much more human message.

Next: Race and gender politics in 1964 New York, plus Davis’s role in Tyler Perry’s next film

The story and motivations of especially your character also rely heavily on this particular time period and social climate; Donald is the only black child at this school.

Davis: And he has very few choices, which adds to the desperation; it adds to my desperation because I have no choice. If he cannot make it through this school, then he dies; there is no gray area. If it were 2008, of course I could put him in another school, or I could get a divorce from my husband. I would have choices. But now, I don’t have choices based on the cultural climate. And that adds to the obstacles that are already in the situation.

That also makes it easier to sympathize with Mrs. Miller’s very difficult parental choices…

Davis: We get on the track of believing what we do is right at all costs, but we forget…with Mrs. Miller and Sister Aloysius, there are a lot of similarities; you know, Sister Aloysius was married before, and I’m sure she joined the convent because there were very few choices for widow, for women who had no husband to basically take care of them. I don’t know if she even joined the convent out of choice, or if she was forced to because of the cultural climate. And here is Mrs. Miller, who is in a similar situation; she’s in a bad marriage, she has a child who may be being abused in every way, he’s black, we’re black, and I’m faced with very few choices, too. So I’m fighting for what is right not knowing that it could be right, not knowing that I could be destroying my son in the process, and she’s fighting for what is right thinking that she has my son’s best interest at heart. It makes for drama. That’s what’s dramatic about the scene.

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How long were you on set, and at what point during production did you come in?

Davis: I felt like I was on set forever, because I was in New York from mid-November to mid-February. That’s a long time for one scene, but we rehearsed for three weeks before. And then of course we shot the first part of the scene, which is an interior shot, and two weeks later shot the second half of the scene. It seemed like we were doing that scene for days — you know, your memory always fails you — but it seems like we were doing the second half of the scene for days. And then I came home to L.A. and I was called back to do the entire scene again!

I find it interesting that your next two projects are State of Play and a Tyler Perry film…

Davis: Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail! Which, I have to tell you, of everything that I’ve ever done in my career, that’s the only thing that’s perked up the ears of my nieces and nephews. That is it, that’s done it for them. That made me a bona fide star in their eyes! That project was just a joy to work on, that’s all, and to work with Tyler Perry in Atlanta…it was a great lesson for me to see someone who just had a vision, a dream, and pursued it and did not wait for Hollywood to bank roll it. It’s a lesson for many artists, because 95% of us are unemployed at any given time because we’re waiting, we’re waiting to be noticed. And this is a man who said, “I’m not gonna wait, I’m gonna pursue it,” and look what he’s done; of course, he faces a lot of criticism…[laughs] but I had fun.

State of Play happened right after Doubt, and that’s just a small role in the film; I have a scene with Russell Crowe. It’s a fabulous story though, kind of a twister — a thriller with a twist.

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Can you describe your role in Madea Goes to Jail?

Davis: I play, of course, an ex-prostitute drug addict. I do those roles really well! An ex-prostitute, ex-drug addict who is now ministering to prostitutes on the street, trying to change their lives around.

You certainly have an interesting body of work.

[Laughs] A varied body of work! I worked in television; I’m the Failed Pilot Queen, I’ve done so many television shows, pilots, theater…when you do it for so long, I’m telling you, you get to the point where it becomes varied because you take what’s available for a number of reasons. It’s just an occupational hazard. Sometimes you take a job for the money, sometimes you take it for the location, sometimes you take it for the script; there are just a number of reasons, and ultimately what you see is the whole landscape of it. But I can tell you from behind the scenes – that’s what it is, as an actor.

Pamela Renner for American Theatre once wrote about you in your theater days that you are “the actress of [your] generation who most honestly and nakedly wears the mantle of tragedy.

Davis: Oh yes, I think that is a great description of me! I don’t necessarily know if I love that statement, but I am woman enough to say that I think it’s a very honest assessment of me as an actress. I think that’s something that people feel that I do really well; I don’t mind it, because ultimately I think the characters I play move people, and who wouldn’t want to move people? That’s why I do what I do, and that’s why I wanted to be an actress from the time I was six years old. If I can’t effectively move people, then I would prefer not to do it.

For reviews, images and trailers from Doubt, click here.

Keanu Reeves invades multiplexes across North America with his new sci-fi actioner The Day the Earth Stood Still which opens five years to the day after the actor’s last stint in the number one spot. Also debuting are the family drama Nothing Like the Holidays and the animated adventure Delgo.

Gunning for an easy victory at the box office this weekend, The Day the Earth Stood Still sees Fox targeting the same audience that Warner Bros. went after with I Am Legend a year ago this very weekend with its own star-driven end-of-the-world thriller. The PG-13 film co-stars Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, and Kathy Bates. To add to the grossing potential, Day will also open on higher-priced Imax screens plus the film will have attached to it the trailer for the studio’s summer franchise flick X-Men Origins: Wolverine. These tactics will ensure that a large crowd will show up.

Earth has many factors working in its favor this weekend which will join forces to deliver a strong number one debut. Effects-driven disaster films almost always score big numbers and Keanu is a bankable lead in the sci-fi and action genres so his salary will end up being a worthwhile investment. Older sci-fi fans may also be curious to see how a classic tale got updated so the film could play to a broad age range. Plus the current marketplace is weak and ticket buyers are hungry for that next big event film and Earth is the only one that really fits the bill right now. No effects-driven action film has opened north of $20M in four months so Gort and company will capitalize on pent up demand.

Earth should connect with many of the same moviegoers that came out earlier this year for the non-sequel actioners Cloverfield and 10,000 B.C. Those pics bowed on top with $40.1M and $35.9M, respectively, but Keanu should fly higher. TV spots for Day even take a page from the successful campaign Fox put together for its weather disaster smash The Day After Tomorrow more than four years ago. Landing in 3,559 sites, The Day the Earth Stood Still may open to about $48M.


Keanu Reeves in The Day the Earth Stood Still

The always dependable family reunion is used to set up the story in Nothing Like the Holidays, the tale of a Chicago set that gets back together for Christmas to face challenges that can only be solved by…coming together as a family. The mostly Latino cast includes John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Jay Hernandez, Alfred Molina, and Debra Messing. Overture is looking for a hit and hoping that the picture can play to a broader audience than just the Spanish-speaking population. But that crowd alone can be a driving force at the box office and should respond to Nothing thanks to its starpower, family bonding plot, plus the fact that a wide release with a mostly Latino cast is a rare event not to be missed.

Reviews have been mixed and business from outside the community will not be easy to generate. African Americans have already proven themselves to be a viable demographic at the box office, but Latinos have had only a fraction of the opportunities even though they make up a larger portion of the country’s population. This film will be looked at as a test. Coming home to 1,671 theaters, Nothing Like the Holidays could collect roughly $7M this weekend.


John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, and Alfred Molina in Nothing Like the Holidays

Freestyle releases the animated adventure Delgo featuring the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kelly Ripa, and Val Kilmer into about 1,800 theaters. That’s curiously wide for a film with almost no buzz. The PG-rated toon will play mostly to kids and might scrape together around $2M.


Delgo

The usual end-of-year rush with limited release titles continues this weekend with a handful of new films opening in selected cities. Among the more high-caliber dramas are Clint Eastwood‘s second directorial effort of the year, and first that stars him, with Gran Torino which Warner Bros. platforms in New York and Los Angeles. Meryl Streep makes a bid for her record fifteenth Oscar nomination with Miramax’s Doubt co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Following his Best Actor win at Cannes earlier this year, Benicio del Toro hits the commercial market in the U.S. with Steven Soderbergh‘s Che in its full two-part four-and-a-half-hour length for a one-week Academy run at the Ziegfeld in New York and The Landmark in Los Angeles playing only two shows per day.

After two weeks at number one, the holiday comedy Four Christmases will drop a notch or two, but expect some decent legs. The Warner Bros. release is going over well with audiences so a 40% decline could result giving the film about $10M for the weekend and $84M in 19 days. Summit’s Twilight has also been staying relatively strong so a 45% drop to $7M may occur. That would give the vampire saga $149M to date.

Disney’s Bolt suffered a big fall coming off of the Thanksgiving holiday, but this weekend look for it to stabilize as it’s still the only major option for younger kids. Delgo will not be much of a threat. Look for a 40% fall to around $5.5M which would push the cume to $87M. A similar decline should result for Fox’s Australia which could round up another $4M lifting its modest domestic tally to $37M. The total snub by the Golden Globes won’t help.

LAST YEAR: Two smash openings led the overall box office to its biggest non-holiday December weekend ever. Will Smith led the way with his apocalyptic actioner I Am Legend which broke the December opening weekend record with a towering $77.2M. Warner Bros. would go on to capture $256.4M domestically and $584M worldwide. Fox also had reason to celebrate as its family comedy Alvin and the Chipmunks bowed in second place with a terrific $44.3M on its way to $217.3M from North America and $358M globally. Clobbered in its second weekend was the fantasy epic The Golden Compass which tumbled 66% falling two spots to third with $8.8M. The princess comedy Enchanted landed in fourth with $5.5M while eventual Oscar champ No Country For Old Men rounded out the top five with $2.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeguru.com