This weekend, multiplexes hope to cram in lots of moviegoers thanks to a wide selection of new films. Six movies open or expand nationally on Friday making for what will be one of the most competitive weekends of the holiday season.

Adult audiences looking for a laugh can see Will Ferrell in a more mature role in "Stranger Than Fiction." The female vote will be split with daughters going for a scare with Sarah Michelle Gellar in "The Return" while their mothers can spend the evening with Russell Crowe in the romantic comedy "A Good Year." The action flick "Harsh Times" rounds out the menu of new releases targeting young men.

In addition, the cross-continent drama "Babel" expands across the country after two weeks of stellar results in limited release. Despite all the new opponents entering the field, reigning box office incumbent "Borat" will go fully national in an attempt to be re-elected for a second term as commander-in-chief. Rarely does a November weekend have so many new offerings. The fight for screens and moviegoer attention will be fierce. Not every film will survive so some casualties will be left behind on the battlefield by the end of the frame.

After battling Sacha Baron Cohen with race cars last summer in "Talladega Nights," Will Ferrell once again takes on the British comedian at the box office with "Stranger Than Fiction" which will try to stop the seemingly unstoppable "Borat" machine. In the PG-13 film, the funnyman plays an agent with the IRS who begins to hear a voice narrating his life and his every move. Emma Thompson provides the voice while Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah co-star. Directed by Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland," "Monster’s Ball"), "Stranger" takes an A-list comedian and puts him in a more mature and serious film that still has some comedic elements. That means that the 14-year-old boys who powered "Talladega Nights" to a $47M opening will take a pass this time around.

When Jim Carrey went arthouse, he saw "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" open to $8.2M with a $6,042 average and "Man on the Moon" bow to $7.5M with a $3,615 average. Adam Sandler‘s "Spanglish" debuted to $8.8M and a $3,617 average. It can often be a tough sell to take a comedian known mostly for mainstream comedies and put him into a more mature film, even if it still has laughs. "Stranger Than Fiction" might find it difficult to pull in teens and young adults, but mature adults will have interest. Reviews have been generally good and the concept makes the film stand out in the current marketplace. Competition for adults will come from both "Babel" and "A Good Year" while "Borat" will continue to steal away millions of moviegoers looking for a good laugh. Launching in 2,264 theaters, "Stranger Than Fiction" might open with roughly $16M.


Will Ferrell screaming at a bus in "Stranger Than Fiction."

Halloween may have passed but those in search of a scare, and were disappointed that "The Grudge 2" did not have Sarah Michelle Gellar in a full role, will have a chance to see their favorite vampire slayer in the new supernatural thriller "The Return." With a commercially friendly PG-13 rating, the spookfest finds Gellar playing a young businesswoman guided by mysterious forces to avenge her own death from a previous life. In the horror genre, Gellar is a bonafide star and can pull in teens and young adults. But with so many fright sequels cramming into theaters recently during the pre-pumpkin period, many genre fans might be all scared out by now. Luckily for "The Return," competition will not be too fierce as nothing else is exciting teenage girls at the moment. The marketing push has been decent, but in many ways it does not stand out as something special or unique that is worth seeing right away. Opening in 1,986 theaters, "The Return" might gross around $8M over the weekend.


Sarah Michelle Gellar, padding her horror credentials in "The Return."

Russell Crowe reteams with his "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott for a trip to a new genre (romantic comedy) in "A Good Year." The PG-13 film finds the former Maximus playing a financial guru who finds women and wine at a french vineyard he inherits. Talk about a tough sell. On paper, the Scott-Crowe combo is box office gold, only they chose to try out a type of film that will repel fans who spent $187.7M on the 2000 Best Picture Oscar winner. Plus the Fox release has no notable female star to boost its potential. Add to that the bad buzz that "Year" received at the Toronto Film Festival plus the mostly negative reviews from critics, and it surely will have its work cut out for it. Could this be "All the King’s Men" all over again?

"A Good Year" stands as that rare film which reunites an Oscar-caliber director with an Oscar-winning actor that earns bad reviews and lukewarm studio support. Crowe’s last film "Cinderella Man" bowed to $18.3M from 2,812 theaters for a $6,515 average in June of last year and was considered an underperformer. The actor’s latest picture lacks the Ron Howard film’s strong critical support, added starpower from Renee Zellweger, and sizable push from Universal. "A Good Year" should play mostly to adult female audiences as the male appeal is low. That makes "Babel" and "Stranger Than Fiction," which have better cross-gender appeal, direct competitors this weekend for mature couples. Opening in 2,066 theaters, "A Good Year" could find itself with about $8M this weekend and a rough road ahead.


Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott enter chick flick territory with "A Good Year."

Still in the top ten with "The Prestige," Christian Bale comes back for double duty in the new action thriller "Harsh Times" from MGM. The R-rated film from the writer of "Training Day" finds the Caped Crusader playing an ex-Army Ranger enlisting with the LAPD who still has ties into the crime world in South Central. "Harsh" will play to urban audiences and should skew male but will find the marketplace difficult to navigate with bigger titles like "Borat" and "Saw III" already doing strong business with that demo. Bale lacks the drawing power of Denzel Washington in his Oscar-winning role in "Training Day" so the grosses should not be in the same ballpark. A moderate national release in over 900 theaters will also limit the potential. "Harsh Times" will have to fight hard in order to crack the top ten and could finish the frame with around $3M.


Christian Bale as a psychopath in "Harsh Times."

Among holdovers, all eyes will be on "Borat" this weekend. Can the Kazakh superstar spend another weekend at number one? Following its robust $26.5M bow from 837 theaters, the Sacha Baron Cohen starrer has delivered solid midweek results grossing over $3M on both Monday and Tuesday. Now, Fox will expand the raunchy comedy on Friday by more than tripling the run to 2,565 theaters allowing everyone to have easy access to the most-talked-about film of the season. Word-of-mouth has been encouraging and "Borat" might even reach the Holy Grail of the box office – repeat business.

Last weekend’s potent average of $31,607 will certainly come crashing down since the film will be in more theaters and most of the hardcore fans have now already seen it. But the buzz is still hot and the Uzbekistan-hating TV journalist is now trying to crossover into new audience segments not initially sold on the concept last week. With the frame’s new films all a mixed bag without a surefire smash among them, "Borat" looks ready to retain its hold on the number one spot. A weekend gross of around $24M could result giving Fox a stellar $62M in only ten days.


"Kazakhstan is the greatest…"

Another cross-cultural film with a five-letter title starting with a B expanding over the weekend is "Babel" starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Paramount Vantage has attracted scorching results in limited release for two weeks and is now hoping that moviegoers nationwide are ready for the acclaimed drama. Last weekend, "Babel" popped into the Top 20 with a stellar $26,264 average from 35 locations. On Friday, the R-rated film expands to over 1,200 sites and should continue to play to an upscale adult audience.

"Babel" is likely to play to the same crowd that powered last December’s "Syriana" to a $11.7M bow from 1,752 theaters for a $6,699 average. That film had more theaters and a star, George Clooney, who is despised by many American moviegoers for his political beliefs. On the other hand, Pitt can cheat on his wife and father a baby with another woman, and the public still can’t get enough of him. That’s pure starpower. But "Babel" is not the type of commercial role that Pitt attracts large crowds to. Still, the average should be solid so given its level of distribution, "Babel" could gross about $10M this weekend.


Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, looking rather disheveled in "Babel."

Disney and Paramount went head to head last weekend with competing kidpics and split the family vote in half pretty evenly. "Flushed Away" is getting better word-of-mouth and is offering audiences something new so its decline might be smaller than that of "The Santa Clause 3." Kid movies opening in early November typically have good legs and enjoy strong second weekend holds. Sophomore drops for recent films of the genre include 21% for last year’s "Chicken Little," 29% for 2004’s "The Incredibles," 15% for 2003’s "Elf," and 15% for 2002’s "The Santa Clause 2." This weekend, "Clause 3" might drop by 25% and "Flushed" could wash away 20% leaving each with a three-day tally in the neighborhood of $15M. That would push ten-day cumes to roughly $39M a piece for the Mouse House pic and the rat toon.

LAST YEAR: Disney’s poultry toon "Chicken Little" stayed at number one for a second weekend with an impressive $31.7M. Three new releases followed within a tight range. Sony’s big-budget kidpic "Zathura" bowed in second with $13.4M on its way to a disappointing $28.2M. Jennifer Aniston was close behind with her thriller "Derailed" which opened to $12.2M. The Weinstein Co. release went on to gross a moderate $36M. Paramount’s urban action pic "Get Rich or Die Tryin’" debuted in fourth place with a $12M weekend and $17.7M over five days. The 50 Cent starrer finished its run with $31M. Rounding out the top five was the military drama "Jarhead" which tumbled 58% to $11.7M. Premiering to sensational results was the period film "Pride & Prejudice" which grossed $2.9M from only 215 theaters for a sizzling $13,326 average. The Focus release went on to become an awards contender and took in $38.4M making it the top-grossing pic among the weekend’s new films.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Movie geeks love Tuesdays, and here’s why: It’s DVD Day! With each new Tuesday comes the promise of varying DVD goodness, so I thought it might be fun to do a reminder-piece each week, if only to help my fellow disc junkies to keep their shopping lists in order. And it looks like I picked a pretty good week to get started, because beginning today, Peter Jackson‘s "King Kong" can be yours!

Scoring an impressive 84% on the Tomatometer and tallying nearly $218 million at the domestic box office, "King Kong" was a huge treat for tons of moviegoers. True, Universal was betting on a relatively higher box office showing, but it’s tough to knock a flick that crossed the $210 million mark. And now that the DVDs are out, the profit margin is about to skyrocket. "Kong" hits DVD in your choice of a single-disc serving or a two-platter SE … but be warned: Universal is well known for "double (& triple) dipping, and the eventual arrival of a multi-disc Mega-Swanky Kongdition is almost a foregone conclusion. (The two-discer, which is what I’ll be purchasing in about two hours, comes with three hours worth of post-production diaries and various Peter Jackson-y treats.)

And for those who still need a copy of the original "King Kong" on DVD, WB sliced their phenomenal special edition down to a bare-bones single-disc release, which also hits stores today.

Most of the majors are (wisely) opting to stay out of the monkey’s way this Tuesday, but Sony’s not afraid. Today you can also purchase your "Memoirs of a Geisha" DVD (35% Tomatometer, $57m box office), which comes with a pair of audio commentaries, 11 featurettes, and some recipes. (Yep, I said recipes!)

Also hitting the shelves today is the urban drama "Get Rich or Die Tryin’," which scored a measly 18% on the Tomatometer and grossed about $31 million at the box office, the psycho-thriller "Stay" (26% T-meter, $3.3m), and the sci-fi turkey "A Sound of Thunder," which hit a whopping 7% on the Tomatometer on its way to a $1.7 million box office run. (This one’s good for fans of bad cinema. Rent it and see!)

Fans of the catalog titles will want to check out an all new "Godzilla" Monster Edition (or maybe not), Adam Goldberg‘s directorial debut "I Love Your Work," the "Sliver" special edition that nobody asked for, and (finally!) the DVD debut of some Peanuts classics: "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" and "Snoopy Come Home" both arrive on DVD today, and I know a few Gen-Xers who’re pretty darn psyched about it. (Bring on "Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown" and "Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!") already!)

Last but in no way least is a mega-massive-huge "Planet of the Apes" collection from Fox. This 14-disc behemoth includes the following movies: "Planet of the Apes" (1968), "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (1970), "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" (1971), "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" (1972), "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" (1973), Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of the original, all 14 episodes of the 1974 spinoff series (epsiodes of which were, at one point, wedged into a pair of TV movies called "Back to the Planet of the Apes" and "Farewell to the Planet of the Apes," but that’s some mega-geeky trivia there, so let’s move on), all 13 episodes of the 1975 animated spinoff "Return to the Planet of the Apes," the 1998 feature-length documentary "Behind the Planet of the Apes," and more extra Apes goodies than you can shake a banana at. PLUS it comes in this box:

Whew, that’s a lot of apes for one Tuesday. The secret words for next Tuesday are "Narnia" and "Brokeback."

The film critics of Central Ohio have chimed in with their own year-end picks, and they came up with quite a few solid surprises, actually. How about "A History of Violence" as best film of the year?

Best Picture

A History of Violence
Runner up: Brokeback Mountain

Best Direction

David Cronenberg, A History of Violence
Runner up: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

Best Lead Performance

Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Runner up: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Best Supporting Performance

Maria Bello, A History of Violence
Runner up: Amy Adams, Junebug

Actor of the Year

Heath Ledger — Brokeback Mountain, Casanova, Lords of Dogtown, The Brothers Grimm
Runner up: Terrence HowardCrash, Four Brothers, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Hustle & Flow

Best Ensemble

Munich
Runner up: Brokeback Mountain

Best Screenplay

Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
Runner up: George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck

Best Formal Design

Sin City
Runner up: Brokeback Mountain

Best Sound Design

War of the Worlds
Runner up: Walk the Line

Breakthrough Film Artist

Amy Adams — Junebug
Runner up: Joe WrightPride & Prejudice

Top Ten Films

A History of Violence
Brokeback Mountain
Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Good Night, and Good Luck
Munich
Murderball
Crash
Sin City
Pride & Prejudice
Batman Begins

As always, we thank Movie City News for sharing all the lists.

Yesterday we got the year-end nominations from the Writers Guild and the Producers Guild, so simple logic dictates that today should bring news from the directors (DGA) and the actors (SAG). As always we thank Movie City News for divulging every single nomination on the planet.

Director’s Guild Nominations

George ClooneyGood Night, and Good Luck.

George Clooney’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Barbara A. Hall
First Assistant Director: David Webb
Second Assistant Director: Melissa V. Barnes
Second Second Assistant Director: Richard Gonzales

Paul HaggisCrash

Paul Haggis’ Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Betsy Danbury
First Assistant Director: Scott Cameron
Second Assistant Director: Simone Farber

Ang LeeBrokeback Mountain

Ang Lee’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Managers: Scott Ferguson, Tom Benz
First Assistant Directors: Michael Hausman, Pierre Tremblay
Second Assistant Director: Donald Murphy
Second Second Assistant Director: Brad Moerke

Bennett MillerCapote

Bennett Miller’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Managers: Ellen Rutter, Caroline Baron
First Assistant Directors: Ronaldo Nacionales, Richard O’Brien Moran
Second Assistant Director: Charles Crossin

Steven SpielbergMunich

Steven Spielberg’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Ian Hickinbotham
First Assistant Director: Adam Somner
Second Second Assistant Director: Pierre Ellul

Additionally, Clint Eastwood will receive the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award



Screen Actors Guild Nominations

THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Russell Crowe / CINDERELLA MAN
Philip Seymour Hoffman / CAPOTE
Heath Ledger / BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Joaquin Phoenix / WALK THE LINE
David Strathairn / GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Judi Dench / MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
Felicity Huffman / TRANSAMERICA
Charlize Theron / NORTH COUNTRY
Reese Witherspoon / WALK THE LINE
Ziyi Zhang / MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Don Cheadle / CRASH
George Clooney / SYRIANA
Matt Dillon / CRASH
Paul Giamatti / CINDERELLA MAN
Jake Gyllenhaal / BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams / JUNEBUG
Catherine Keener / CAPOTE
Frances McDormand / NORTH COUNTRY
Rachel Weisz / THE CONSTANT GARDENER
Michelle Williams / BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (Focus Features)
Linda Cardellini – Cassie
Anna Faris – Lashawn Malone
Jake Gyllenhaal – Jack Twist
Anne Hathaway – Lureen Phillips
Heath Ledger – Ennis Del Mar
Randy Quaid – Joe Aguirre
Michelle Williams – Alma

CAPOTE (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
Bob Balaban – William Shawn
Clifton Collins, Jr. – Perry Smith
Chris Cooper – Alvin Dewey
Bruce Greenwood – Jack Dunphy
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Truman Capote
Catherine Keener – Nelle Harper Lee
Mark Pellegrino – Dick Hickock

CRASH (Lions Gate Films)
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges – Anthony
Sandra Bullock – Jean Cabot
Don Cheadle – Graham
Matt Dillon – Officer Ryan
Jennifer Esposito – Ria
Brendan Fraser – Rick Cabot
Terrence Howard – Cameron Thayer
Thandie Newton – Christine Thayer
Ryan Phillippe – Thomas Hansen
Larenz Tate – Peter

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. (Warner Independent Pictures)
Rose Abdoo – Millie Lerner
Alex Borstein – Natalie
Robert John Burke – Charlie Mack
Patricia Clarkson – Shirley Wershba
George Clooney – Fred Friendly
Jeff Daniels – Sig Mickelson
Reed Diamond – John Aaron
Tate Donovan – Jesse Zousmer
Robert Downey, Jr. – Joe Wershba
Grant Heslov – Don Hewitt
Peter Jacobson – Jimmy
Frank Langella – William Paley
Tom McCarthy – Palmer Williams
Diane Reeves – Jazz Singer
Matt Ross – Eddie Scott
David Strathairn – Edward R. Murrow
Ray Wise – Don Hollenbeck

HUSTLE & FLOW (Paramount Classics)
Anthony Anderson – Key
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges – Skinny Black
Isaac Hayes – Arnel
Taraji P. Henson – Shug
Terrence Howard -DJay
Taryn Manning – Nola
Elise Neal – Yevette
Paula Jai Parker – Lexus
D.J. Qualls – Shelby

PRIMETIME TELEVISION

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Kenneth Branagh / WARM SPRINGS – Franklin Delano Roosevelt (HBO)
Ted Danson / KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTH BRONX – David MacEnulty (A&E)
Ed Harris / EMPIRE FALLS – Miles Roby (HBO)
Paul Newman / EMPIRE FALLS – Max Roby (HBO)
Christopher Plummer / OUR FATHERS – Cardinal Bernard Law (Showtime)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Tonantzin Carmelo / INTO THE WEST – Thunder Heart Woman (TNT)
S. Epatha Merkerson / LACKAWANNA BLUES – Rachel “Nanny” Crosby (HBO)
Cynthia Nixon / WARM SPRINGS – Eleanor Roosevelt (HBO)
Joanne Woodward / EMPIRE FALLS – Francine Whiting (HBO)
Robin Wright Penn / EMPIRE FALLS – Grace Roby (HBO)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Alan Alda / THE WEST WING – Arnold Vinick (NBC)
Patrick Dempsey / GREY’S ANATOMY – Dr. Derek Shepherd (ABC)
Hugh Laurie / HOUSE – Dr. Gregory House (FOX)
Ian McShane / DEADWOOD – Al Swearengen (HBO)
Kiefer Sutherland / 24 – Jack Bauer (FOX)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Patricia Arquette / MEDIUM – Allison Dubois (NBC)
Geena Davis / COMMANDER IN CHIEF – Mackenzie Allen (ABC)
Mariska Hargitay / LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT – Det. Olivia Benson (NBC)
Sandra Oh / GREY’S ANATOMY – Dr. Cristina Yang (ABC)
Kyra Sedgwick / THE CLOSER – Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (TNT)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Larry David / CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM – Himself (HBO)
Sean Hayes / WILL & GRACE – Jack McFarland (NBC)
Jason Lee / MY NAME IS EARL – Earl Hickey (NBC)
William Shatner / BOSTON LEGAL – Denny Crane (ABC)
James Spader / BOSTON LEGAL – Alan Shore (ABC)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Candice Bergen / BOSTON LEGAL – Shirley Schmidt (ABC)
Patricia Heaton / EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND – Debra Barone (CBS)
Felicity Huffman / DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES – Lynette Scavo (ABC)
Megan Mullally / WILL & GRACE – Karen Walker (NBC)
Mary-Louise Parker / WEEDS – Nancy Botwin (Showtime)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

THE CLOSER (TNT)
G.W. Bailey Det. – Lt. Provenza
Tony Denison – Det. Andy Flynn
Robert Gossett – Captain Taylor
Corey Reynolds – Sgt. David Gabriel
Kyra Sedgwick – Dep. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson
J.K. Simmons – Asst. Chief Will Pope
Jon Tenney – FBI Agent Fritz Howard

GREY’S ANATOMY (ABC)
Justin Chambers – Alex Karev
Patrick Dempsey – Derek Shepherd
Katherine Heigl – Isobel “Izzie” Stevens
T.R. Knight – George O’Malley
Sandra Oh – Cristina Yang
James Pickens, Jr. – Richard Webber
Ellen Pompeo – Meredith Grey
Kate Walsh – Addison Forbes Montgomery Shepherd
Isaiah Washington – Preston Burke
Chandra Wilson – Miranda Bailey

LOST (ABC)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – Mr. Eko
Naveen Andrews – Sayid
Emilie de Ravin – Claire
Matthew Fox – Jack
Jorge Garcia – Hurley
Maggie Grace – Shannon
Josh Holloway – Sawyer
Malcolm David – Kelley Walt
Daniel Dae Kim – Jin
Yunjin Kim – Sun
Evangeline Lilly – Kate
Dominic Monaghan – Charlie
Terry O’Quinn – Locke
Harold Perrineau – Michael
Michelle Rodriguez – Ana Lucia
Ian Somerhalder – Boone
Cynthia Watros – Libby

SIX FEET UNDER (HBO)
Lauren Ambrose – Claire Fisher
Joanna Cassidy – Margaret Chenowith
Frances Conroy – Ruth Fisher
James Cromwell – George Sibley
Rachel Griffiths – Brenda Chenowith
Michael C. Hall – David Fisher
Tina Holmes – Maggie Sibley
Peter Krause – Nate Fisher
Justina Machado – Vanessa Diaz
Freddy Rodriguez – Federico Diaz
Jeremy Sisto – Billy Chenowith
Mathew St. Patrick – Keith Charles

THE WEST WING (NBC)
Alan Alda – Arnold Vinick
Kristin Chenoweth – Annabeth Schott
Janeane Garofalo – Louise Thornton
Dulé Hill – Charlie Young
Allison Janney – C.J. Cregg
Joshua Malina – Will Bailey
Mary McCormack – Kate Harper
Janel Moloney – Donna Moss
Teri Polo – Helen Santos
Richard Schiff – Toby Ziegler
Martin Sheen – Josiah Bartlet
Jimmy Smits – Matthew Santos
John Spencer – Leo McGarry
Bradley Whitford – Josh Lyman

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (FOX)
Will Arnett – Gob Bluth
Jason Bateman – Michael Bluth
Michael Cera – George-Michael Bluth
David Cross – Tobias Fünke
Portia de Rossi – Lindsay Bluth Fünke
Tony Hale – Buster Bluth
Alia Shawkat – Maeby Fünke
Jeffrey Tambor – George Bluth, Sr./Oscar Bluth
Jessica Walter – Lucille Bluth

BOSTON LEGAL (ABC)
Rene Auberjonois – Paul Lewiston
Ryan Michelle Bathe – Sara Holt
Candice Bergen – Shirley Schmidt
Julie Bowen – Denise Bauer
Justin Mentelli – Garrett Wells
Rhona Mitra – Tara Wilson
Monica Potter – Lori Colson
William Shatner – Denny Crane
James Spader – Alan Shore
Mark Valley – Brad Chase

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO)
Shelley Berman – Nat David
Larry David – Himself
Susie Essman – Susie Greene
Jeff Garlin – Jeff Greene
Cheryl Hines – Cheryl David
Richard Lewis – Himself

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
Roger Bart – George Williams
Andrea Bowen – Julie Mayer
Mehcad Brooks – Matthew Applewhite
Ricardo Antonio Chavira – Carlos Solis
Marcia Cross – Bree Van De Kamp
Steven Culp – Rex Van De Kamp
James Denton – Mike Delfino
Teri Hatcher – Susan Mayer
Felicity Huffman – Lynette Scavo
Brent Kinsman – Preston Scavo
Shane Kinsman – Porter Scavo
Eva Longoria – Gabrielle Solis
Mark Moses – Paul Young
Doug Savant – Tom Scavo
Nicollette Sheridan – Edie Britt
Brenda Strong – Mary Alice Young
Alfre Woodard – Betty Applewhite

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS)
Peter Boyle – Frank Barone
Brad Garrett – Robert Barone
Patricia Heaton – Debra Barone
Monica Horan – Amy McDougal-Barone
Doris Roberts – Marie Barone
Ray Romano – Raymond Barone
Madlyn Sweeten – Ally Barone

MY NAME IS EARL (NBC)
Jason Lee – Earl Hickey
Jaime Pressly – Joy Darville
Eddie Steeples – Darnell
Ethan Suplee – Randy Hickey
Nadine Velazquez – Catalina

Screen Actors Guild Awards 42st Annual Life Achievement Award — Shirley Temple Black

If you’re a fan of the late-year awards season, be sure to add Movie City News to your hit list, because they deliver some consistently excellent coverage. Mid-December is when most of the critics’ groups start doling out their accolades, and so far we’ve gotten input from reviewers’ groups in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington.

Boston Film Critics Awards

Best Picture

Brokeback Mountain

Best Director

Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)

Best Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)

Best Actress
Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line)

Best Supporting Actor
Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man)

Best Supporting Actress
Catherine Keener (Capote)

Best Screenplay
Dan Futterman (Capote)

Best Documentary
Murderball

David Brudnoy New Filmmaker Award
Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice)

Best Ensemble Cast
Syriana

Best Cinematography
Robert Elswit (Good Night and Good Luck)

Best Foreign Film
Kung Fu Hustle

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

Best Picture
Brokeback Mountain
Runner-up: A History of Violence

Best Director
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Runner-up: David Cronenberg, A History of Violence

Best Actor
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Runner-up: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain

Best Actress
Vera Farmiga, Down to the Bone
Runner-up: Dame Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents

Best Supporting Actor
William Hurt, A History of Violence
Runner-up: Frank Langella, Good Night, and Good Luck

Best Supporting Actress
Catherine Keener, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Capote, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, & The Interpreter
Runner-up: Amy Adams, Junebug

Best Screenplay
TIE between
Dan Futterman, Capote
and
Noah Baumbach, The Squid & The Whale

Best Cinematography
Robert Elswit, Good Night, and Good Luck.
Runner-up: Chris Doyle, Kwan Pun Leung, Yiu-Fai Lai, 2046

Best Production Design
William Chang, 2046
Runner-up: James D. Bissell, Good Night, And Good Luck.

Best Music Score
Howl’s Moving Castle, Joe Hisaishi
Runner-up: Tony Takatani, Ryuichi Sakamoto

Best Foreign-Language Film
Cache, directed by Michael Haneke
Runner-up: 2046, directed by Wong Kar Wai

Best Documentary/Non-Fiction Film
Grizzly Man, directed by Werner Herzog
Runner-up: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room directed by Alex Gibney

Best Animation
Nick Park and Steve Box, Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The Douglas Edwards Experimental/Independent Film/Video Award
La Commune (Paris, 1871) directed by Peter Watkins

New Generation Award
Terrence Howard

Career Achievement Award
Richard Widmark

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

Best Picture
Brokeback Mountain

Best Director

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

Best Non-Fiction Films
Werner Herzog for Grizzly Man and White Diamond

Best Foreign-Language Film

2046, directed by Wong Kar Wai

Best First Film
Bennet Miller for Capote

Best Animated Feature
Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle

Best Actor
Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain

Best Actress
Reese Witherspoon for Walk The Line

Best Supporting Actor
William Hurt, A History of Violence

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bello, A History of Violence

Best Cinematography
Chris Doyle, Kwan Pun Leung, Yiu-Fai Lai for 2046

Best Screenplay
Noah Baumbach for The Squid & The Whale

NYFCO Awards (New York Film Critics Online)

Best Picture
The Squid and the Whale

Best Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)

Best Actress
Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice)

Best Director
Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener)

Best Supporting Actor
Oliver Platt (Casanova)

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (Junebug)

Best Breakthrough Performer

Terrence Howard (Hustle and Flow, Crash, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Four Brothers)

Best Debut Director
Paul Haggis (Crash)

Best Screenplay

Paul Haggis (Crash)

Best Documentary
Grizzly Man

Best Foreign Language
Downfall

Best Animated
Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Best Cinematography

March of the Penguins

Top 9
The Best of Youth (Miramax)
Brokeback Mountain (Focus)
Capote (Sony Classics)
The Constant Gardener (Focus)
Crash (Lions Gate)
Good Night, and Good Luck. (Warner Independent)
Munich (Universal/DreamWorks)
The Squid and the Whale (Samuel Goldwyn)
Syriana (Warner Bros.)

Washington Area Film Critics Awards

Best Actor

Phillip Seymor Hoffman – Capote

Best Actress
Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line

Best Supporting Actor

Paul Giamatti – Cinderella Man

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams – Junebug

Best Director
Steven Spielberg – Munich

Best Original Screenplay
Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco – Crash

Best Adapted Screenplay
Dan Futterman – Capote

Best Film
Munich / Universal

Best Foreign Film
Kung Fu Hustle / Sony Pictures Classic

Best Animated Feature
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit / DreamWorks

Best Documentary
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room / Magnolia Pictures

Best Breakthrough Performance

Terrence Howard – Hustle & Flow

Best Ensemble

Crash / Lions Gate

Best Art Direction
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe / Buena Vista

This is just the tip of the iceberg, awards-wise, but you can expect lots of frequent updates over the upcoming weeks.

Disney’s "Chicken Little" managed to stay atop the box office charts for a second consecutive weekend, despite family-friendly competition of the outer space kind. "Little" added a big $32 million egg to an omelette presently worth $80.7 million, and the folks over at Disney Animation think the thing’s pretty delicious. Debuting in second place was Sony’s "Jumanji" in Space" adventure "Zathura," which tallied a fairly decent $14 million from 3,200 screens.

Third and fourth place also went to a pair of newcomers: The Weinstein’s thriller "Derailed" pulled in $12.8 million from 2,400 theaters, while Paramount’s 50-Center "Get Rich or Die Tryin’" tried just hard enough to net $12.5 million from over 1,600 theaters.

Universal’s "Jarhead" rounded out the top 5 by adding another $12.2 million to its $47 million war-chest.

Next weekend sees the release of only two wide-openers, but they’re both well-anticipated doozies: Fox will unleash the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line," while Warner Bros. will have to be content an obscure little indie flick called "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

As always we invite you to stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office page for a closer look at all the weekend numerals.

An abysmally low Tomatometer and offensive billboards aren’t the only problems plaguing this week’s Jim Sheridan50 Cent release, "Get Rich or Die Tryin’" — one Pittsburgh area cineplex has pulled the rap-crime-drama following a fatal shooting Wednesday night.

The incident occurred during the late night hours, as 30 year-old Shelton Flowers was shot in the Loews Waterfront Theater near the concession stand. According to reports, the victim had been involved in an altercation in the theater bathroom prior to the shooting; so far police have no suspects.

Authorities are also unclear as to whether the victim and his assailants were attending the opening night showing of "Get Rich." Police confirmed all involved parties were African-American men, that the attackers were ‘wearing dark clothing,’ and that the men seemed to come from the direction of the 10 p.m. "Get Rich" showing. Loews president Travis Reid said management had anticipated the threat of violence from the film’s target demographic — young males – and, ostensibly, that threat is still present in West Homestead, PA: until the police investigation is over, 50 Cent’s drug dealer-turned-rap star vehicle will not be shown at the Loews Waterfront Theater.

This spells further negative publicity for a production already targeted by a nationwide campaign against a billboard ad depicting star 50 Cent with a microphone in one hand and a gun in the other. Protestors called "Get Rich" studio Paramount Pictures irresponsible for launching the ad in school zones and crime-ridden neighborhoods, a move they say glorifies violence. In response, the ads were taken down in some areas of Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Coincidentally, official posters for the film depict a much softer side — 50 Cent holding a baby.

On top of all this, the drugs-to-riches semi-biopic is currently languishing at 17 percent on the Tomatometer; arguably good for Curtis Jackson’s big-screen debut, but an all-time low for director Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot," "In America").

This week’s wide releases raise a number of questions. Is “Zathura” a game worth playing? Is 50 Cent‘s movie debut, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” the cinematic equivalent of a trip to the candy shop? Is “Derailed” a speedy locomotive, or is it true to its name? What do the critics have to say?

Zathura” is the third story by Rhode Island-based children’s book author Chris Van Allsburg to make the leap from the page to the big screen (the other two were “Jumanji” and last year’s “The Polar Express“). And critics say it’s the best of the bunch. “Zathura” tells the tale of a pair of squabbling brothers who must learn to work together after they are transported into space while playing the titular board game. According to the critics, the movie is solid family entertainment, with a real sense of adventure and wonder, emphasizing characters over the (not at all shabby) special effects. At 71 percent on the Tomatometer, “Zathura”‘s got game. And it beats “The Polar Bear Express,” which scored 56 percent on the Tomatometer, and “Jumanji,” at 48 percent.

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has a life story that seems ready-made for cinematic treatment: he was a drug dealer, he survived a shooting, and he eventually became one of America’s biggest musical stars. But the critics say the semi-autobiographical “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” which features 50 in his acting debut, still feels like the stuff of many other rags-to-riches dramas. The scribes say even veteran director Jim Sheridan can’t make it fresh, despite an excellent supporting cast that includes the always-dependable Terrence Howard. At 16 percent on the Tomatometer, “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” can’t make a dollar out of 50 Cent. And it’s the worst-reviewed film of Sheridan’s career (beating out “The Field,” at 46 percent).

As the old saying goes, what a tangled web we weave, when we make a thriller about adultery and betrayal with lots of plot twists. “Derailed” tells the story of an extramarital affair gone terribly awry, after a very bad guy threatens the two trapped philanderers. The critics say the title is all too apt; the plot twists become more tangled as the film goes along, and Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston, in spite of their considerable skills, are miscast as, respectively, a schlubby family man and a fundamentally decent femme fatale. At 19 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics say “Derailed” has jumped the tracks.

Movies Starring Musicians Playing Musicians:
——————————————————–
5% — Undiscovered (2005) – Starring Ashlee Simpson
81% — Hustle & Flow (2005) – Starring Ludacris
15% — Raise Your Voice (2004) – Starring Hilary Duff
76% — 8 Mile (2002) – Starring Eminem
7% — Glitter (2001) – Starring Mariah Carey
14% — Crossroads (2002) – Starring Britney Spears
24% — Duets (2000) – Starring Huey Lewis
32% — Black and White (1999) – Starring Raekwon
81% — Selena (1997) – Starring Jennifer Lopez
11% — Cool as Ice (1991) – Starring Vanilla Ice
70% — Purple Rain (1984) – Starring Prince

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