You gotta be Kidman
The last time she played a tormented artist, Nicole Kidman won an Oscar. Don't expect a prosthetic nose (or, alas, a same-sex kiss) in her portrayal of the legendary photographer Diane Arbus, a well-brought up woman who married well, had kids and then took some of the most disturbing photographs of the 20th century. For that matter, don't expect Fur to be a typical biopic. The film, subtitled An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus, tracks a fictional period in her life when she discovers her artistic calling thanks to a mysterious, fur-covered (!) neighbour named Lionel ( Robert Downey Jr. ). Director Steven Shainberg 's last film was Secretary, so he knows how to sharpen that edge. Opens November 10.
When I heard that Martin Scorsese was set to direct the U.S. remake of the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs, I thought, "At least now I'll be able to make sense of the plot." The Departed is about a good cop who infiltrates the Mob (it's set in Boston) and a bad one planted among the boys in blue. Jack Nicholson , looking gleefully insane in the trailers, plays the crime lord. This sounds like a return to Scorsese's old-style crime classics and could emerge as one of the season's huge hits. What's telling is that recent Scorsese muse Leonardo DiCaprio gets top billing, above Matt Damon and Nicholson. October 6.
Long Live Helen Mirren
Surprise, surprise. It's been another crappy year for women's roles. The exception could be Helen Mirren 's turn as Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears 's look at how the icy monarch - and Prime Minister Tony Blair (dead ringer Michael Sheen ) - handled the aftermath of Princess Diana's death. Mirren copped the best actress prize for The Queen at Venice, and she's a front-runner for the Oscar. What's more, this film could tap into an older, royalty-obsessed demographic that normally doesn't flock to first-run movies, something those studio bean-counters love. October 13.
As recounted in his darkly funny memoir Running With Scissors , Augusten Burroughs 's life story sounds like the plot of a Wes Anderson film. At 12 he was sent to live with his mother's psychiatrist's nutty family, where he endured an abusive, years-long relationship with the family's 33-year-old adopted son. Ryan Murphy , of TV's Nip/Tuck, directs a terrific cast that includes Annette Bening as Burroughs's bipolar poet mom, Brian Cox as the shrink and Evan Rachel Wood , Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow as his new siblings. This could be a breakout year for lead Joseph Cross , who's also in the new Clint Eastwood drama, Flags Of Our Fathers . October 27.
One prestige pic that emerged unscathed from TIFF was The Last King Of Scotland , Kevin Macdonald 's look at Uganda's bloody dictator, Idi Amin, ( Forest Whitaker ) as seen through the eyes of his personal doctor/adviser, Nicholas Garrigan ( James McAvoy ). Garrigan's a fiction pieced together from real-life figures surrounding the not-so-great dictator, but Macdonald, an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, shot in Uganda and gets a powerful, frightening performance from the underrated Whitaker. October 6.
Trailer Park it here
Hard to believe those Trailer Park Boys Julian, Ricky and Bubbles have been entertaining us for six seasons. Now those style-challenged ex-cons are motoring it to the silver screen. The trailers have been getting moderate laughs, but the cult show's fan base is loyal and the kind of crowd to see flicks opening weekends. On the other hand, movies based on TV shows starring funny Canadians don't translate well to the big screen. For every Strange Brew there's a Brain Candy or Jiminy Glick In Lalawood. Expect a big promo push by Alliance Atlantis. October 6.
Even before his DUI charge and regrettable rants, Mel Gibson 's Apocalypto - a 15th-century Mayan epic about human sacrifice - looked doomed. More eyes than ever will be on Gibson to see if he can resurrect his career. There's even talk that the film, already postponed from its original August slot, might not open December 8. Talk about sacrifice.