Thursday, September 2, 2004

As the last gasp of summer blockbuster stragglers such as “Alien Vs. Predator” and “Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2” stumble through the multiplex, it’s time to start looking ahead.
Autumn is when movies supposedly get “serious” and start polishing up their Oscar bait. But in reality, fall’s movies are like any other time of year — a mixed bag, with a fair amount of clunkers and some great gems lurking ahead.
As I look at the Associated Press’s list of fall films, here’s the top five that I’m most anticipating. (Keeping in mind, of course, that not all movies turn out like you’d think.)
1. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou — It’s by Wes Anderson, the mind behind “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums,” it’s about an eccentric undersea explorer, and it stars Bill Murray. It may not be a mainstream hit, but I’m looking forward to it more than anything else this fall.
2. Ocean’s 12 — The sequel to “Ocean’s 11,” this promises to be another snappy action flick for adults like its predecessor.
3. The Incredibles — Combining the Pixar animation team behind “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” with a great concept about outcast superheroes, this will be one of the fall’s biggest hits. It should also be terrific fun for kids and adults.
4. The Aviator — Big-time Oscar bait from Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the young Howard Hughes. Sounds more focused than Scorsese’s troubled “Gangs Of New York” was.
5. Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow — Another big question mark. Featuring cutting-edge computer animation and real-life actors Jude Law, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow in a pulpy tale of mad geniuses and killer robots. Hard to tell from the previews if this will be a big hit, a cult classic or a massive belly-flop.

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