A lame-o film at Hot Docs tried (unsuccessfully) to discredit feisty documentarian Michael Moore , but he's back again this summer with another exposé, Sicko , about the American health-care industry. The Oscar-winning filmmaker's being pretty hush-hush about the project; apparently one of the most controversial parts of the film has to do with his possible exploitation subjects who helped sift through the World Trade Center debris and subsequently became ill. You've got to admit the tag line for the film is pretty awesome: "A comedy about 45 million people with no health care in the richest country on earth." You can bet decision-makers up here are going to be watching the reaction to the film carefully. Opens June, date tba.
Apparently the best-actress Oscar race officially begins with Marion Cotillard 's spine-tingling performance as France's Little Sparrow of song, Edith Piaf. La Vie En Rose and Cotillard earned a 15-minute standing O at the Berlin Film Fest, and the biopic's already raked in $70 million in France and $2 million more in Quebec. Look for French heartthrob Jean-Pierre Martins as Piaf's boxer love interest and the ubiquitous Gérard Depardieu as her manager. And plan on whistling Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien as you leave the theatre. Opens June 8.
The smartest thing SNL's Lorne Michaels did in the past few years was hire Andy Samberg , whose experience came more from online video comedy than live sketch. Samberg has catapulted SNL into the 21st century with two of the show's most famous YouTube imports, Lazy Sunday (the Chronicles Of Narnia bit with Chris Parnell) and Dick In A Box with Justin Timberlake. Sexy geekboy Samberg's actually more relaxed in these non-live segments than he is in person. So expectations are high for Hot Rod , originally skedded for SNL alum Will Ferrell, in which Samberg plays a moustachioed stuntman who wants to ride a motorcycle over 15 buses to raise money for his dad's heart operation. Looks like Ricky Bobby meets Napoleon Dynamite. And it doesn't hurt that rising star Isla Fisher is along for the ride. Opens August 3.
Hairspray could stick
Was the nightmarishly awful Dreamgirls a sign that the musical adaptation trend is dying out? Maybe. But you can't rule out this adaptation of the catchy musical based on the John Waters camp classic. And although the advance images of John Travolta in fat-suited drag as Edna Turnblad look scarier than the Wayans brothers in White Chicks, this is Travolta's first singing screen role since - can you believe it? - Grease.
The rest of the cast is pretty terrific, too: Michelle Pfeiffer , Christopher Walken , Queen Latifah . But word is that the real standout is lead Nikki Blonsky , who got the role in an open audition. And here's the thing. If the film sucks, you can at least distract yourself by playing spot-the-Toronto-landmark. It was shot here last year. Opens July 20.
By the Bay
What's summer without a big explosion-filled popcorn movie? It's nothing, dammit! At least that's what Michael Bay 's hoping, since his last attempt, 2005's The Island, bombed at the box office. (Rent it, it's actually pretty good.) Where The Island had a somewhat confusing marketing campaign, there's no such problem with Bay's Transformers . This thing has market recognition up the wazoo - not just decades of comic books, TV shows, a movie and toys, toys, toys, but also rising young star Shia LaBeouf , seen in ads running for his life from an evil bot. The action begins July 4.
Time was, short films were those things you stumbled over when filling out the pesky office Oscar pool form. But now, thanks to the Internet, those cute little films preceding Pixar movies and the fact that a whole pile of Canadians (Chris Landreth for Ryan, Torill Kove for The Danish Poet) have won Oscars for them, we're seeing a lot more interest. The best place to watch them remains the Worldwide Short Film Festival , which showcases more than 300 of the best in the world. They're always grouped in cool categories. And who knows? Maybe you'll get a leg up on next year's Oscar ballot. June 12 to 17. www.worldwideshortfilmfest.com.
Who cares about how The Sopranos ends? What TV watchers really wanna know is, what's in The Simpsons Movie ? How will the greatest animated series in the medium's history make the transition to the big screen? Even the loud-mouthed Harry Shearer , who voices Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns and a ton of other Simpsons characters, stayed hush-hush about the film when I interviewed him a few weeks ago. The fact is, though, TV viewers don't necessarily translate into moviegoers; why should you pay for something you see for free in the privacy of your home? And - d'oh - won't it be on DVD soon any way? Still, count on a terrific opening weekend. And personally, I'm kinda looking forward to seeing Homer's head as big as a bungalow. Opens July 27.