Currently Oscar-nominated for best picture and best actor, Slumdog Millionaire director and co-screenwriter Danny Boyle’s true and thoroughly engrossing drama boasts a bravura performance by James Franco as Aron Ralston, a carefree climber who faces the challenge of his life when an accident leaves his arm pinned by a boulder. He makes a drastic decision not for the weak of stomach to witness. Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara play other climbers he encounters before his ordeal begins. (Rated R).
The story is almost as old as movies themselves, but if it’s splashy production numbers you want, this musical drama has a bounty of them ... along with a teaming of two iconic talents, Cher and Christina Aguilera. The latter plays a Midwesterner who goes to Los Angeles in search of fame, which she just might find by graduating from waitress to performer at a nightclub operated by Cher’s character. Costars include Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell, Alan Cumming, Cam Gigandet, Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy) and Julianne Hough (Dancing With the Stars). The Diane Warren-written song You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me earned a Golden Globe Award. (Rated PG-13).
LOVE & OTHER DRUGS
The tone of director Edward Zwick’s (Legends of the Fall) comedy-drama shifts frequently, but Anne Hathaway — a co-host of this week’s Academy Awards — gets kudos for hanging with the changes and faring nicely with a complex character. She plays a spontaneous young woman who appeals to a ladies man pharmaceutical salesman (Jake Gyllenhaal, who worked with Hathaway earlier in Brokeback Mountain), and what he initially doesn’t know about her eventually puts their relationship to a big test. Co-stars include Jill Clayburgh (in one of her last screen appearances), Oliver Platt, George Segal and Josh Gad (21). (Rated R).