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December 22nd, 2010 By Jason Gargano | Movies |

Wednesday Movie Roundup: Year in Film Edition

The year-end movie season is now in high gear, as media entities of every stripe unveil their top 10 lists and various awards groups reveal their nominations. CityBeat's film writers will present our lists next week. In the meantime, check out this week's Year in Film essays, which offer a look at 2010's noteworthy cinematic trends — from a roundup of “off-the-wall” DVDs and an examination of the further fracturing of movie reality and indie cinema to the year's best crime epics and the lack of strong movies by and for African Americans. (Oh, and check out my and a host of others' top 10 music lists here.)

As for this week's new movie releases, two of which open today, The King's Speech and the Coen brothers' True Grit are your best bests. While I didn't quite like True Grit as much as Scott Renshaw (who, in his review below, goes as far as to say it might be the Coens' best yet), I'm slightly surprised that it didn't get more love in the annual IndieWIRE critic's poll — especially with inferior films like Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (an inexplicable No. 7), Mike Leigh's Another Year and Alain Resnais' Wild Grass finishing well ahead of its No. 19 placement.

Maybe too few saw it before the poll was conducted? Or, more likely, this is just the most curious movie year in recent memory, one in which our cultural consensus continues to fracture in unexpected ways.

Speaking of fractured, it looks like it's time to do away with the Focker movies, as the latest installment actually looks worse than the tepid (at best) second entry.

Elsewhere, a couple of funny guys, Jack Black and Jim Carrey, who have been less busy in recent years return in polar-opposite projects.

Opening films:

GULLIVER'S TRAVELS — Jack Black stars as the giant in this latest update of Jonathan Swift's satiric masterpiece. Rob Letterman directs a cast that also includes Emily Blunt, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet and Jason Segel. And, of course, it's presented in 3-D. (Opens wide Saturday.) — Jason Gargano (Rated PG.) Not screened for review.

THE KING'S SPEECH — Colin Firth, hot off his Academy Award- nominated turn last year in A Single Man, returns to period work as King George VI, the father of currently reigning Queen Elizabeth, in Tom Hooper's stellar true-life tale. Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter co-star. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens Saturday at Mariemont Theatre.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated R.) Grade: A-

LITTLE FOCKERS — Rather than truly devoting time to tracking what could have been the comic evolution of the relationship between male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his former CIA agent father-in-law Frank (Robert De Niro), director Paul Weitz seemingly ended up dangling money before his performers to get them to react on cue in this rote, terribly unfunny exercise. It's obvious that no one gave a fock about anything other than the cash. (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — tts (Rated PG-13.) Grade: D-

I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS — There's something terribly romantic about the bond that develops between Ewan McGregor's and Jim Carrey's gay lovers in a con-man story not far removed from a great film like Catch Me if You Can. There's a sincerity in both movies than humanizes its criminal protagonists and celebrates their abilities to outwit the lawmen that tirelessly pursue them. Based on the exploits of an true-life thief named Steven Russell, the movie is a comedy that's funny for all the right reasons, and equally dramatic as well. (Read full review here.) (Opens Saturday at Esquire Theatre.) — Cole Smithey (Rated R.) Grade: A-

TRUE GRIT — After 25 years, Joel and Ethan Coen not only continue to make great movies but also they keep finding new ways to surprise us. Not so much a remake of the 1969 John Wayne Oscar-winner as a more faithful adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel, this might just be the Coens best and most heartfelt movie yet. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens wide today.) — Scott Renshaw (Rated PG-13.) Grade: A

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