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Cinema Chat: Films With Academy Award Buzz Playing In Ann Arbor

  It is still a little early, but the buzz in Hollywood regarding potential Oscar nominees continues to grow. A number of oft-mentioned films are available to you this week. In this week's edition of 'Cinema Chat,'   Michigan Theater Program Director Ruth Lednicer joins WEMU's David Fair to give you the rundown. 

Now Playing Downtown


Academy Award nominees Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter, and three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, lead the cast of “Suffragette,” a powerful drama about the women who were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality in early-20th-Century Britain. The story centers on Maud (Mulligan), a working wife and mother whose life is forever changed when she is secretly recruited to join the U.K.'s growing suffragette movement. Galvanized by the outlaw fugitive EmmelinePankhurst (Streep), Maud becomes an activist for the cause. When aggressive police action forces Maud and her fellow suffragettes underground, they engage in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the authorities. Inspired by true events, “Suffragette” is a moving drama exploring the passion and heartbreak of those who risked all they had for women's right to vote. “Suffragette” continues at the Michigan.


In “Trumbo,” screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) had it all: wealth, fame, Oscar nominations.  But he refused to name names for the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Cold War, and was jailed and blacklisted for his political beliefs.  Despite this, Dalton used words and wit to go on to win two Academy Awards and expose the absurdity and injustice of the blacklist.  “Trumbo” continues at the Michigan.


“Brooklyn” tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs the comfort of her mother's home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.  Ronan, previously nominated for an Academy Award for 2007’s “Atonement,” is considered a sure thing for the Best Actress Oscar nomination for her remarkable performance.  “Brooklyn” continues at the State.


In “Spotlight,” the Boston Globe’s tenacious reporters delve into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church.  Their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's establishment, causing a crisis in one of the world's oldest and most trusted institutions.  “Spotlight” boasts a stellar cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Stanley Tucci.  “Spotlight” continues at the State.  

Special Screenings Downtown

Love Actually

Billed as "the ultimate romantic comedy," “Love Actually” involves more than a dozen main characters, each weaving his or her way into another's heart over the course of one particularly eventful Christmas.  With an all-star cast including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley and Bill Nighy, “Love Actually” has become standard holiday viewing.  “Love Actually” plays Friday at 7 PM at the State.  

Muppet Christmas Carol

In “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” the Muppets perform the classic Dickens holiday tale, with Kermit the Frog playing Bob Cratchit, the put-upon clerk of stingy Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine).  Surrounded by legions of fuzzy, felt puppets, Caine plays it straight as Scrooge, the old miser who could care less about Christmas. But then he is visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and after revisiting his sorrowful past, hate-filled present, and doomed future, turns over a new leaf and becomes the most generous person in town.  “The Muppet Christmas Carol” plays Sunday at 1:30 PM as part of the Holiday Classics Film Series.  Admission is free!


“T-Rex” introduce us to 17-year-old Claressa ‘T-Rex’ Shields from Flint, Michigan, the fiercest teenager in America,. This documentary follows her as she trains and dreams of being the first woman in history to win a gold medal in Olympic boxing. But in order for her to succeed, she’ll need to stand her ground both inside and outside the ring.  “T-Rex” plays Monday at 7 PM.  Presented by the Cinetopia Film Festival.

Cecil B. Demented

The Yours Truly, John Waters film series concludes with “Cecil B. Demented.” An insane independent film director and his renegade group of teenage filmmakers kidnap an A-list Hollywood actress and force her to star in their underground film. “Pecker” plays Wednesday at 7 PM at the State.


The Lusophone Film Festival, showcasing the contemporary cinema of the Portuguese-speaking world, concludes with “Tattoo,” a gay love story set during the days of Brazil’s military dictatorship, on Thursday, December 3 at 7 PM at the State.

Opening at the Multiplex


In “Krampus,” when his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own. “Krampus” opens Friday.

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu