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Coming Soon

film-augustLast big movies of 2013 heading our way this month

Most of the big, end-of-the-year "event" movies of 2013 are already playing in Santa Cruz. But there are always a few entries whose parent studios decide to avoid the crush at the end of December and "platform" their films more gradually into release during the month of January—hopefully drumming up business along the way for movies aiming for Academy Award recognition come February.

Which is not to say that all the films heading our way in the next couple of months are bona fide Oscar bait. But the traditional moviehouse doldrums of January look to be livened up by these few random, plucky holdovers from last year coming soon to a local screen near you.

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Meryl Streep promises to chew up the scenery as a waspish Oklahoma matriarch making things unpleasant when her estranged daughters and their spouses and assorted relations come home for a family funeral in this adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play.  OK, I've seen the preview trailer so often, I'm already exhausted by the whole idea, but look at this cast: Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Yowza. Directed by TV veteran John Wells. (Opens Jan. 10)

HER Spike Jonze, the mad genius behind Being John Malkovich and Where The Wild Things Are, wrote and directed this post-modern romance. In the Los Angeles of the very near future, a lonely tech writer (Golden Globe nominee Joaquin Phoenix), who has trouble maintaining relationships with real, live girlfriends, falls in love with his new computer operating system; she has a name, and speaks to him out of every electronic device wherever he goes (sultry voice provided by Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson). Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Kristen Wiig co-star in what promises to be an intriguing, ironic meditation on the isolating effects of technology. (Opens Jan. 10)

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Victorian novelist Charles Dickens in this biographical period drama. Based on the non-fiction book by Claire Tomalin, the film centers on Nelly Ternan, a young English stage actress who met Dickens in the prime of his career, and became his secret mistress for the rest of his life. Felicity Jones (Like Crazy; The Tempest) co-stars as Nelly. (She was nearly 30 years Dickens' junior.) Kristin Scott Thomas plays her mother, who encouraged and abetted the affair, and Tom Hollander is on board as celebrated felllow novelist Wilkie Collins. (Opens Jan. 24)

LABOR DAY Kate Winslet racked up a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in this contemporary thriller from director Jason Reitman (Juno; Up In the Air). As a reclusive mother out on a back-to-school shopping trip with her 13-year-old son, she has a close encounter with a wounded yet intimidating stranger (Josh Brolin), who persuades them to take him into their home—a decision that has intense repercussions as the long weekend plays out. Tobey Maguire and James Van Der Beek pop up in the supporting cast. Adapted from a novel by Joyce Maynard. (Opens Jan. 31)

MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM The inspirational true story of the life and lifelong activism of the late Nelson Mandela is told in this biographical drama from filmmaker Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl). Based in part on Mandela's own autobiography, the film follows his childhood in a small, rural village, his youth as an anti-apartheid crusader, his 27-year jail sentence and, finally, his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa. Idris Elba has scored a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination in the title role. Naomie Harris co-stars as Winnie Mandela. (Opens in January)

THE PAST This Iranian film from director Asghar Farhadi (whose A Separation won a Foreign Language Oscar a couple of years back) finds the filmmaker again exploring broken personal relationships among his countrymen and women. Berenice Bejo (The Artist) stars as a Frenchwoman whose Iranian husband has left her and their daughters to go home. When he returns to Paris to finalize divorce proceedings, she has begun a tentative new relationship with a new man, causing emotional reverberations throughout both families. Bejo won the Best Actress prize at Cannes for her performance. (Opens Jan. 31)

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