Release Date: Dec. 10 (limited)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Bruno Ganz
This evocative, effective trailer all but erases the film's troublesome production issues. While the directing, cinematography and production values all look exquisite, let's call The Reader what it really is: Winslet's best chance to win her first Oscar. She's playing a sympathetic Nazi standing trial for wrongdoing during the war, in a role that will see her age several decades. With news her performance in The Reader will be campaigned as supporting (so as not to compete with her lead performance in Revolutionary Road), her chances look likely. It doesn't hurt that she looks astonishing in the film, nailing another accent while effortlessly emoting her guilt and confusion (particularly at the 2:07 minute mark). One cause for concern: the trailer paints the film as a courtroom drama. Bernard Schlink's novel was much more dynamic.
Release Date: Feb. 6, 2009
Director: Kyle Newman
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell, Dan Fogler, Sam Huntington
NY Mag and the Observer recently wondered why Baruchel isn't a bigger star. We can explain: it's because he picks projects like this. To be fair, the parody of Ain't It Cool News proprietor Harry Knowles looks pretty funny. But if the funniest part of a trailer is its credits (starring "Shooter McGavin" and "the Hot Chick from Sin City," amongst other notables), that's probably not a good sign.
Monsters vs. Aliens
Release Date: March 27, 2009
Directors: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Featuring the voices of: Reese Witherspoon, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen
Poor DreamWorks—always second best to Pixar. In Monsters vs. Aliens, a team of misfits learn to work together to tackle a larger foe. Basically, it's Monsters, Inc. meets The Incredibles. To the company's credit, the charming Kung Fu Panda was its best since the original Shrek, and the soon-to-be-released Madagascar 2 has received some positive reviews thus far. Monsters vs. Aliens looks harmless, and should find a sizable audience with a smart end-of-March release date. But with Pixar's Up opening mere weeks later, there's nothing to suggest from this trailer that Monsters will be anything other than yet another entry in the never-ending line of computer animated flicks.