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Weekend Movie Guide: And the Oscar goes to...

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Atonement hits theaters this weekend as one of the few, definite contenders for an Academy Award. It bears all the traditional hallmarks of an Oscar-caliber film: lavish period piece (check), excellent source novel (check), epic scope (check), high-powered English cast (check), nude scene from Keira Knightley (double check). Those critics who've already seen it have been generous with praise, so I'm expecting nothing less than a winner.

It's virtually certain that The Golden Compass will top the box-office this weekend. Nevertheless, New Line still has to be sweating the numbers. They've made a huge financial bet on the franchise and if Compass is still-born, well, Bob Shaye is probably out of a job (is that a good thing or a bad thing?). Personallly, I'm rooting for Compass to hit 45 million bucks and insure that the even more daring The Subtle Knife goes into production.

There has been so much good press (bordering on hype) about Juno since Telluride that the backlash is starting almost before the film is opening. Here's what I know: Ellen Page is always great and if Diablo Cody is even half as clever a writer as she's being made out to be, we've got ourselves a decent non-Apatow comedy for the first time in awhile. Personally, I'll see anything with Michael Cera in it. The man is a miracle of subtlety.

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Grace is Gone was one of the big winners this year at Sundance. You know the drill: tickets to a screening of it were impossible to get; distributors were clamoring over it; it was going to be a big indie hit for whomever acquired it. Now here we are ten months later and, after a string of dismal performances by Iraq War-themed films, the prospects of Grace is Gone suddenly don't look so promising. Got to see it for Cusack, though.

The Amateurs, previously The Moguls, has been sitting on the shelf for almost three years. Due to financial issues with its original distributor, it was unable to actually make one of its many release dates. Today, it's finally landing. The question is, "Will a movie about a bunch of middle-aged guys making a porno" have any resonance in the marketplace? Given the poor reviews it's received so far, the answer is likely, 'no'.

Revolver is another movie that's been waiting to hit American theaters for awhile. It's already come and gone in the U.K. Is anyone else disappointed and confused about the continuing tailspin that Guy Ritchie's career has fallen into? I was a huge fan of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and, to a lesser extent, Snatch. It's been pretty much all downhill since then. I blame Madonna.

Without much fanfare, The Walker has slipped into theaters. Considering it's about a male escort and that it's written and directed by Paul Schrader, I'm getting an extremely strong American Gigolo vibe with this one. Which is a good thing. Schrader's no longer the firebrand he once was, but I think he's mellowed nicely with age. Auto Focus was one of my faves of 2002. I'll be checking this one out.

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Tickets & Showtimes

Atonement
The Golden Compass
Juno
Grace is Gone
The Amateurs
Revolver
The Walker

Reviews

Atonement
The Golden Compass
Juno
Grace is Gone
The Amateurs
Revolver
The Walker

Previews

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Atonement

The Golden Compass

Juno

Grace is Gone

The Amateurs

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Revolver

The Walker

Photos courtesy of Focus Features and The Weinstein Company