1. Captain Phillips (Sony/Columbia 3,020 screens, 134 minutes, Rated PG-13): It seems unseemly to call this Oscar bait, because, well, every Tom Hanks film should at least be given a cursory Oscar consideration (well, at least the ones not adapted from Dan Brown novels that is). But this does have all the markings.
It is based on the true story (BING!) from the book (BING!) A Captain’s Duty featuring a tale torn from today’s headlines (BING!) about a U.S. marketed ship hijacked by Somali pirates. It is directed Oscar-nominated director (BING!) Paul Greengrass.
Odds are this film will be very good. It will also probably be another Oscar caliber film that will put audiences through the ringer. I don’t know if I can face sitting through two hours of tension, even if I know the ending.
2. Machete Kills (Open Road Films, 2,538 screens, 107 minutes, Rated R): Do people consider 2007’s Grindhouse a failure? I don’t. I think that anybody who says that just didn’t get the point of that film. But even if they did think that, this franchise proves that the original was not a failure at all.
As you may know, Machete appeared as a fake trailer during the fake double feature of Grindhouse. That trailer was expanded to a real movie. That real movie did well enough for this sequel.
I have a special place in my heart for this film. I mean, how can you not? It’s a film that mixes Mel Gibson, Lady Gaga and Charlie Sheen with Sofia Vegara, Damian Bichir and Vanessa Hudgens with Danny Trejo in the lead. And film with that cast has to be awesome. Add explosions, sex and violence, how can the film be bad?