Come Christmas, moviegoers will be overwhelmed at the number of new viewing choices in the theaters. Opening in the Springs are the predictable but remarkably varied big studio releases: Director Anthony Minghella's dark drama, The Talented Mr. Ripley, with Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow; Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey as bizarre comic Andy Kaufman, directed by Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest); Oliver Stone's commentary on professional football, Any Given Sunday, with Al Pacino and Cameron Diaz; Robin Williams' Christmas confection Bicentennial Man; and this year's easy-viewing, all-I-want-for-Christmas-is-a-good-belly-laugh entry, Galaxy Quest, with Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver.
And thanks to early award nominations and announcements, Springs viewers will get a glimpse of a true independent film triumph, darling of this year's film festival circuit, Tumbleweeds, directed by first-timer Gavin O'Connor who also acts in the film. Aside from the film fest buzz, Tumbleweeds' acclaim comes primarily from rave reviews of British stage actress Janet McTeer's star turn as Mary Jo, a working class North Carolina gal who can't seem to win in love, except with her daughter and sidekick, Ava, played by Kimberly Brown (soap opera addicts like me will recognize Brown as the former Marah Shane from Guiding Light). McTeer has already won the National Board of Review award for best actress, and is nominated for a Golden Globe.
But how soon will we get to see the rest of this year's batch of attention getters?
Don't expect many of those films with full-page ads in the Sunday New York Times to hit Colorado Springs until mid- or late-January, or even later. Most were released on the two coasts pre-Dec. 31, in order to qualify for Academy Award nominations, but won't penetrate smaller market like ours for a while.
Come the new year, we'll still be looking for: The End of the Affair with Ralph Fiennes and Golden Globe nominee Julianne Moore; Sweet and Lowdown, the Woody Allen 1930s jazz romance with Sean Penn; Tim Robbins' lefty opus The Cradle Will Rock; Shine director Scott Hicks' adaptation of David Gterson's best-selling novel, Snow Falling on Cedars; Denzel Washington as a legendary boxer in The Hurricane; Alan Parker's much-awaited adaptation of Angela's Ashes, starring Robert Carlyle and Emily Watson; and the surprise hit, Boys Don't Cry, featuring widely acclaimed performances by Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny.
Additionally, we're still waiting for Barry Levinson's Liberty Heights, David Lynch's The Straight Story, Canadian director Patricia Romeza's Mansfield Park, Ang Lee's Ride With the Devil, The Cider House Rules with a screen adaptation by author John Irving, and Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted.
And just in case any theater managers are listening out there, we'd really like to see, before they come out in video, these films that were released in '99, but never made it to the Springs. What happened to Jane Campion's tale of cult deprogramming set in India, Holy Smoke, with Harvey Keitel and Kate Winslet? What about Felicia's Journey, director Atom Egoyan's film with a highly touted performance by Bob Hoskins? We really don't expect to see Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother in Colorado Springs (after all, it's subtitled), but, hey, why not shoot for the moon? And while you're at it, we still want to see Canadian actress Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter) in Guinevere.
Here's to 1999, a year of surprises at the movies, and to the '99 releases we'll see in the Springs, hopefully, sometime in the year 2000.