For Colored Girls — Capable actors like Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, and especially Kimberly Elise (in the film's best performance) are adrift in director Tyler Perry’s often ghastly adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s milestone play about being black and female in America. Perhaps the impact of its hot-button subject matter, including date rape, illegal abortion, and men on the down low, has been diluted by three decades of daytime talk shows, but Perry does neither the material nor the audience any favor by telegraphing every (sometimes shockingly ugly) plot point so far in advance.
Fair Game — Naomi Watts and Sean Penn team for their third film together in the story of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame. Directed by The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman, Watts plays rogue-around-the-edges Plame with bite and backbone. And a plus for gay fans of the thriller genre is that these two stars both turned in landmark performances playing gay (Penn in Milk and Watts in David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive).
127 Hours — Aron Ralston's unflinching memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place chronicled how the veteran hiker fell into a ravine, got his arm wedged beneath a boulder, and was forced to make an unthinkable decision to survive. In the hands of gifted director Danny Boyle, what could have been unbearable viewing becomes a surreal, often enlightening portrait of a man’s journey toward self-discovery. As Ralston, James Franco, on screen alone for most of the film, delivers a magnetic, tour de force performance.
Megamind — A supervillain learns he has no purpose without his superhero counterpart in this sleek and surprisingly sophisticated entertainment. Stellar vocal performances by gay faves Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, and Brad Pitt and gorgeous, state-of-the-art 3D help the message that good and evil are meaningless unless they exist in constant conflict go down easily.
Red Hill — Ryan Kwanten returns to his Australian homeland to star as a young police officer whose first day on duty quickly becomes nightmarish. This taught, atmospheric, violent Western-thriller gives the True Blood heartthrob an opportunity to stretch his considerable — and often underrated — acting muscles.