Weekend Movies: Evil Dolls, Kidnapped Wives & Oscar Bait

Awards season kicks off this weekend with two terrifying tales of scenarios that you never want to find yourself in.

The widest release of the weekend is ‘Annabelle‘, the horror spin-off to last summer’s unexpected global smash hit ‘The Conjuring‘. When a man buys his pregnant wife a vintage doll to add to her collection, he has no idea what will come along with it. The creepy keepsake literally has a cult following. Devil worshipers invade their home with malicious and murderous intent. While the cast is full of no-names, the cinematographer of ‘The Conjuring’ takes the helm for this spin-off.

In case you didn’t figure it out, ‘Annabelle’ isn’t the award-worthy release I mentioned above. For that, we look toward David Fincher.

You’ve got to applaud the many fans of Gillian Flynn’s novel for not spoiling a thing about the super twisted and extremely messed-up ‘Gone Girl‘. Ben Affleck leads the cast in Fincher’s first film since 2011’s remake of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘. As per usual, his three-year-break was well worth the wait. Affleck plays a man whose wife (Rosamund Pike) goes missing on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. With evidence scattered about, the detectives have enough to believe that the husband was involved with the disappearance and suspected murder, but not enough to arrest him. Two storytelling elements keep this dark black comedy afloat: not knowing what happened to the wife for a very long time and some wildly unexpected twists and turns. Be prepared for a wickedly delightful adult film that’s graphic in every sense of the word.

Nicolas Cage surprisingly stars in an unmarketed reboot of ‘Left Behind‘. Based on a popular Christian book series (previously made into a trilogy of direct-to-video movies starring Kirk Cameron), the film tells the story of a group of people who find themselves alone in the world as the Rapture claims Earth. Lea Thompson and the CW’s Chad Michael Murray co-star.

Warner Bros. is giving the new ‘Blind Side’-ish drama ‘The Good Lie‘ an odd release. As if it’s a huge Oscar contender, the film debuts this weekend on 461 screens and will presumably expand wide in the coming weeks – although that has yet to be announced. Reese Witherspoon stars as a woman who dedicates herself to helping Sudanese refugees escape their warring nation for a more peaceful life in the United States. No, this isn’t the Witherspoon movie that’s pushing her for Best Actress. That would be December’s ‘Wild’.

The limited release that is vying for Oscar attention prior to its October 10th nationwide expansion is Jason Reitman’s ‘Men, Women & Children‘, which appears to be applying the ensemble ‘Crash’ model to a group of technology-addicted characters. (Yes, this was just done with the Jason Bateman film ‘Disconnect‘ a couple years ago.) The film stars Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer, Dean Norris and Emma Thompson. As we know, Reitman fails much more than he succeeds, so don’t get your hopes too high.

For those Lars Von Trier fans out there who might not publicly raise your hands – you know who you are – now you can see what the filmmaker really wanted to show you with ‘Nymphomaniac: Director’s Cut‘. I received a few complaints for my positive review of the new four-hour extended director’s cut of Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in America‘. If you thought that film was excessive, how do you think the reaction will be to this 5-hour 25-minute cut of ‘Nymphomaniac?’

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