By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Richard Linklater rewrites the rules and astounds again with this energized use of digital animation, which begins as a live-action, Slacker-like perambulation and ends up a fluid, computer-generated dream work. Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Steven Soderbergh, and Dazed and Confused everyman Wiley Wiggins are all in the mix.
Hands down, the best debut feature of the year. Todd Field's adaptation of an Andre Dubus short story is a compassionate, beautifully observed study of bereavement, family dynamics, and vigilante justice. The actors (including Sissy Spacek and Nick Stahl) are uniformly superb; you won't see a more heartbreaking performance this year than Tom Wilkinson's.
Scorsese finally gets to do late-1800s New York (shot in Italy), via Herbert Asbury's deathless 1928 volume about the Dead Rabbits and so on. Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, and Daniel Day-Lewis star; a virtual catalogue of old-Oirish pusses (Pete Postlethwaite, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Liam Neeson, John C. Reilly) join in.
After two astutely goofy, unexpectedly haunted comedies about friendship (Bottle Rocket and Rushmore), Wes Anderson plumbs a family of geniuses who include Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ben Stiller. The all-star cast might indicate that Anderson has gone Hollywood, but more likely it's Hollywood that's gone Wes.
THE GLASS HOUSE
This vintage '93 Hong Konger has already gone to video, but Miramax sees theater potential anyway. Directed by Matrix/Crouching Tiger choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping.
Cory McAbee's first feature, an oddball black-and-white musical space western in the grandest of punk-era, ultra-indie traditions.
Crime-caper farce involving a bomb in a suitcase, a 13-foot python, and a hallucinogenic toad. Barry Sonnenfeld directs, so it'll be cute and clunky.
Mariah Carey's aspiring-popstar '80s fable was postponed while she took like a minute off to eat ice cream and look at rainbows. All hope is not lost: A nervous breakdown, after all, could have turned The Wedding Planner into Spice World.
Kenneth Carlson's love letter to a high school football team from a small Ohio steel town has gotten the best advance word of any sports doc since Hoop Dreams.
SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK
Ed Burns is back with his forgettable brand of trash-talking romance, this time featuring one-time honey Heather Graham.
Rookie po-po Ethan Hawke gets trial-by-fire treatment when he starts work in the narcotics division of the LAPD. Denzel Washington gives noble speeches; Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Macy Gray contribute wake-up cameos.
DON'T SAY A WORD
TIME OF FAVOR
Joseph Cedar's Israeli melodrama demonstrates un-Gitai market savvy by stewing up military strife and romantic tragedy.
VA SAVOIR (WHO KNOWS?)
Jeanne Balibar plays a stage actress who returns to Paris and puts her love life in order. Straightforward by Jacques Rivette standards, but a treat nonethelessa spry, supple romantic farce handled with a lightness of touch directors a third of his age would kill for.
When Dr. Dre runs out of money, his friend Snoop Dogg advises him to get a job at the local car wash.
In his first feature since 1988's Let's Get Lost, Bruce Weber documents just about anything and everything that interests him, including himself, models, freaks, himself, movie stars, models, himself, and gay icons.
John Cusack's slow drift into conventional leading-man terrain is troubling, especially when the vehicle (costarring Kate Beckinsale) is a high-concept heartclutcher about Destiny directed by Town & Country's Peter Chelsom.
Four white-collar Canadians bet who can stay inside their massive office park-cum-bedroom community the longest in Gary Burns's thin but drolly observed comedy.
The French title of Catherine Breillat's latest sexual forensics lesson is "My Sister!," which better evokes its bloody core: the hopelessly entangled bond between two siblings, one gorgeous and cruel, the other obese and almost frightfully stoic. If Breillat doesn't earn her shocker ending, she certainly etches the sisterly dynamic with ruthless precision, blurring the lines between love and hate until they become indistinguishable.