Summer movie season coming to an end — films to see before Oscar frenzy begins

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

According to the calendar, we’ve got plenty of summer left, but according to the peculiar calendar Hollywood keeps, fall is almost upon us. Translation: bye-bye superheroes and hello Oscar bait.

Right now, probably the only movie in theaters with Oscar potential is “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.” And that’s not only because it’s a good movie; it’s also a very good end to a popular series.

So if you want a jump of the annual Oscar chaos, you may want to check it out.

Otherwise, what’s out there to recommend?

Here are a few choices:

“Midnight in Paris” — If someone else had made this movie, you’d still be hearing about “this bright new voice.” But because it’s Woody Allen’s umpteenth picture, the conversation runs more along the lines of, is it Old Woody (terrific) or New Woody (crap shoot). Happily, “Midnight in Paris” is an utter charmer. Not in the same league as “Crimes and Misdemeanors” or “Manhattan” or “Annie Hall,” but amusing and creative — like “Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Owen Wilson plays a Woody-esque dreamer who’s whisked away to 1920’s Paris where he runs into everyone who was anyone.

“Buck” — An engaging and adroit documentary about the real-life horse whisperer: a ready-for-his-close-up wrangler named Buck Brannaman. As attuned to riders as he is to their horses, Buck has overcome a difficult past (an unnervingly demanding father) and now uses that sensitivity to work his particular brand of magic. Truly not just for equine enthusiasts, “Buck” is a portrait of humanity at its best…and, occasionally, its worst.

“Bridesmaids” — Kristen Wiig shows she’s ready for her close-up (big screen, that is) as the writer and star of this immensely entertaining comedy that reminds us there’s more to a wedding than saying yes to the dress.

“Winnie The Pooh” — I’m as pro-Pixar and their brand of computer animation as anyone. But gosh it’s lovely to see a bit of the old hand-drawn stuff in this lovely (and short; good for very young attention spans) movie featuring all our A.A. Milne favorites. I’ve missed the Hundred Acres Woods more than I realized.

“Beginners” — I may have spoken too soon about “Harry” being the only Oscar-bait. I’m betting (fingers crossed) Christopher Plummer gets a best supporting nomination, if not the prize itself, for his portrayal of a gay man who happily comes out after his wife’s death.

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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