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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Release Date: Dec. 25
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Taraji P. Henson
Benjamin Button isn't your typical Hollywood fare. Adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story of the same name, its story about a man (Pitt) who ages in reverse seems to exude a certain melancholy whimsy that might not connect with audiences. Even its tagline seems uncharacteristically profound: "Life can only be understood backward, it must be lived forward." Despite its questionable commercial viability, the film looks astonishing, worthy of every drop of pre-release ink it has received. Already touted as a frontrunner for a best-picture nomination, Button just might be the vehicle that gets Fincher (director of Se7en and the criminally underseen Zodiac) the recognition he's owed. The cast looks uniformly strong, particularly the underrated Pitt whose acting seems to be improving as he ages.
Release Date: Dec. 19
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Barry Pepper
Smith, the reigning box office king, netted an Oscar nomination for his last collaboration with the director Muccino, The Pursuit of Happyness. Whereas that film walked a fine line between subtle and saccahrine, Seven Pounds seems to stroll right past that line without looking back. It's hard to tell exactly what it's about, but the IMDb plot description says Smith plays a guilt-stricken IRS agent fixated on improving the lives of seven strangers. Dawson plays a woman ailed by a threatening heart condition. Smith's likability is never in question, but it looks like he's saddled himself to an overblown, melodramatic snoozer. Granted, one that's still likely to make over $100 million, but still.