‘Tis the season to be funny, touching, sexy, gripping, and epic, as Hollywood rolls out its big holiday offerings and its grandest stars. Here’s our annual insider’s report on the most hotly anticipated movies due before year’s end — plus the latest line on how the oscar race is shaping up. Some release dates may change.
Spike Lee directs Denzel Washington as the legendary black leader in an epic that spans 40 years and a controversial 3 hours, 21 minutes. The film, based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X, follows Malcolm Little from his criminal youth in Boston and Harlem, through his incarceration and transformation into the Black Muslim movement’s charismatic champion of black pride, to his mind-opening pilgrimage to Mecca, his eventual repudiation of the Nation of Islam, and his assassination in 1965.
Inside Story: ”The movie will be an inspirational black film,” predicts the indefatigable Lee, ”which will light a fire under 30 million Afro-American asses.” Getting it made required him to light a few fires of his own. First he lobbied in the press to take the project away from Oscar-winning director Norman Jewison, on the grounds that this crucial biography should be directed by an African-American; then he fought to shoot it at the 3-hours-plus length he had always insisted it required instead of the 135 minutes specified by Warner Bros. By the time he completed filming in January, he was already $5 million over his $28 million budget, and the film’s insurer was threatening to take over the editing room. Contributions from black celebrities helped Lee carry on until the studio reluctantly let him finish the film his way. (Warner Bros.)
HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK
In this sequel to the third-highest-grossing film of all time, young Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is again misplaced by his family, this time en route to a Christmas vacation in Florida, and sets himself up in an elegant suite at New York’s Plaza Hotel. Those bumbling burglars Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), newly escaped from prison, have also just arrived in town. You can guess the rest.
Inside Story: Culkin’s father, Kit, reportedly threatened to pull his then-11-year-old son out of Home Alone 2 unless Fox also cast him as a psychotic child in the upcoming drama The Good Son. Studio executives must have thought Macaulay was worth it — he got the psycho role, not to mention a reported $4.5 million and 5 percent of the gross of the Home Alone sequel. For his part, producer-writer John Hughes claims there was never any question that Mac would be back. ”I was writing the script and no one ever told me to stop,” he says. ”People weren’t holding out. Kit Culkin gets a bad rap. He’s got this hot commodity and if he says ‘No,’ people think he’s a jerk. He’s looking at Mac’s life, not like an agent or manager who’s looking at a career. He’s not jamming Mac in movie after movie.” (Twentieth Century Fox)