Some movies seem to have Oscar written all over them, only to have that writing turn into invisible ink once they actually open. Remember last year’s can’t-miss bets The Crucible, The Portrait of a Lady, Hamlet, and Evita? So in October, we’re going to turn our attention to a handful of films that don’t look like sure things and hope that one or more of them surprises us. First up: Oliver Stone’s blackly comic, violent thriller U-Turn. Ordinarily, we’d rule it out, since this doesn’t sound like the kind of film that plays well at Academy screenings, but Stone’s track record — which includes 11 nominations for writing, directing, and producing — makes that impossible. The Brad Pitt epic Seven Years in Tibet will have to woo critics who are probably hoping it’s not as good as Martin Scorsese’s similar December release Kundun (let’s be honest: the pen snipers will likely have a ball shooting holes in Pitt’s spiritual quest). Kiss the Girls sounds like just one more serial-torturer thriller, but it stars the never-to-be-underestimated Morgan Freeman. Never-nominated Jennifer Jason Leigh and two-time winner Maggie Smith can’t be ruled out for the small-scale Henry James adaptation Washington Square. And from the fringes, two films will try to fight their way to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion: The ’70s porn-industry drama Boogie Nights, which boasts a fascinatingly eclectic cast ranging from (Marky) Mark Wahlberg to Burt Reynolds, and the Trainspotting team’s angels-and-kidnappers comedy A Life Less Ordinary, which teams Ewan McGregor with Cameron Diaz under the otherwordly eyes of Delroy Lindo and Holly Hunter.
Posted August 22 1997 — 12:00 AM EDT
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