Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, this true story about how the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) changed the recruiting game should give all moviegoers something to cheer about this baseball season. Pitt stands as possibly the most reliably impressive, consistently charming superstar working in Hollywood today, and he’ll no doubt hit it out of the park here. And in an atypical, serious yet deadpan performance, Jonah Hill stars as the whiz who helps Beane build a winning team based off straight statistics instead of star power. Even for those who don’t care about the sport, “Moneyball” should deliver an entertaining crowd-pleaser, while also achieving a clever, highly enjoyable look into the inner workings of the game.
George Clooney’s making some big plays for an Oscar this year. Not only is he an early contender in the Best Actor race for the dramedy “The Descendants,” but with “The Ides of March” he has a shot for Best Director as well, especially if he delivers like he did with 2005’s subtly poignant “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Ryan Gosling stars as the maverick young campaign manager for the democratic presidential candidate (played by Clooney, a political activist in real-life too) in the upcoming election. But along the campaign trail, the opposing side tempts Gosling and he becomes entrapped in a game of dirty politics. A timely political thriller bolstered by a sizzling cast, “The Ides of March” holds lots for thoughtful viewers to look forward to.
Over the past decade, Clint Eastwood has become one of the most dependable directors for strong, effective dramas, and after the slight misstep of last year’s “Hereafter,” Eastwood returns to form with a biopic on J. Edgar Hoover. As the first FBI director, he reigned for nearly 40 years, but his personal secrets could have wrecked his career. Leonardo DiCaprio certainly has his work cut out for him in portraying the extremely powerful, widely influential and surprisingly controversial leader. Insights into Hoover’s alleged homosexuality and relationship with his longtime roommate Clyde Tolson (“Social Network” twin Armie Hammer) look to further the intrigue, and as is par for Eastwood films, expect all-around superb performances.
The high-octane spy action of the new “Mission: Impossible” is going to blow up the box office in December, but this adaptation of John Le Carré’s classic novel takes center stage in the spy genre this year, telling a realistic suspenseful tale of espionage and deception during the Cold War. While “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is much lower-key spy fare than standard genre entries, it’s equally as intense. Veteran Gary Oldman leads as a retired secret service agent called back into the field, tasked with uncovering a Soviet mole who’s infiltrated the highest levels of MI6. Supported by the likes of Colin Firth, Tom Hardy and Mark Strong, this twisting slowburner should be among the year’s best.
As engrossing as the original Swedish film is, this American remake almost guarantees a superior adaptation of the best-selling novel, and there’s one main reason for that – director David Fincher. A master of the serial killer mystery genre (look no further than “Se7en” for proof), Fincher perfects every aspect of his productions and creates compelling atmosphere and searing tension like few others can. With devoted performances from Daniel Craig as the journalist trying to solve a 40-year-old disappearance and up-and-comer Rooney Mara as the titular punk-hacker who assists him, Fincher’s “Social Network” follow-up assures one hell of a gritty, electrifying thriller.
Rarely, if ever, has an animated film held as high a pedigree as “The Adventures of Tintin.” Co-produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Steven Speilberg, this adaptation of the Belgian comics about a boy and his dog’s adventures (here searching for a lost, mystical treasure ship) will provide the family-friendly, wondrously exciting hit of the Christmas holiday. It’s easy to get lost in the dazzling visuals of “Tintin’s” world from the trailer alone (this one needs to be seen in 3D), and with lots of motion capture work, including from mo-cap acting master Andy Serkis, the performances should offer great depth as well. If Spielberg knows one thing, it’s how to captivate audiences, and here’s a prime example.