The Hot Sheet
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.
Mariah Carey: "Oh Santa!" — Well, it’s no “All I Want for Christmas is You,” but Mariah Carey is completely in her element with her newly released original Christmas song, “Oh Santa!” Time will tell if this tune has what it takes to become a Christmas classic, but in the music video, the singer takes it back to the heyday of Radio City Music Hall — complete with backup singers, dancers, and that fur-lined Santa dress she made famous all those years ago. Get into the spirit early, Mimi-style. Watch the video below.
Natasha Bedingfield: "Strip Me" — Considering Natasha Bedingfield’s latest single, “Strip Me,” has been playing over the trailer to the Diane Keaton–Rachel McAdams flick Morning Glory since summer, it’s doubtful she wrote it with the It Gets Better campaign in mind. But the song’s message definitely plays like an equal rights anthem, and coupled with Bedingfield’s predictably strong vocals and a rare music video that replaces sexuality with individuality, it’s a catchy, surefire hit. Watch the video below.
The Songs of Scott Alan: What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up — New York–based songwriter Scott Alan knows how to write a Broadway power ballad (as he does with much success on the songs “Not Quite Ready Yet to Grieve” and “Anything Worth Holding on To”). But he’s also a master lyricist, and the songs span genre and emotion (“I Wish,” sung by Idol alum Diana DeGarmo here, is easily one of the collection’s most earnestly perky tunes, while “Over the Mountains, as sung by Bobby Steggert, packs a heavy emotional wallop) and linger long after they finish. On this, his third collection of tunes, Alan is at his most confident and establishes himself as a songwriter to keep your eye on. Watch Steggert’s performance below and buy the CD here.
Cher: The Film Collection— Six of the beloved entertainer's films are compiled for the first time in this boxed set, just in time for the release of this month's splashy musical Burlesque. The collection includes her '60s time capsule pieces like Good Times (1967), a harmless, sometimes meta-musical in which she and husband Sonny Bono plan to make a musical movie and the Bono-directed Chastity (1969), about a wild-child drifter who hits the streets to find herself. It's not quite as bad as its reputation and proves Cher's early on-screen charisma. Also here is Silkwood (1983), which finds the superstar holding her own against Meryl Streep as the lesbian roommate of whistleblower Karen Silkwood, and Moonstruck (1987), still one of the movies' great ensemble comedies, which brought Cher an Oscar for her turn as an unlucky-in-love Italian widow. Rounding out the set are Mermaids (1990), the eccentric single mother dramedy is best remembered for Cher's promotional video version of "It's in His Kiss," and Tea with Mussolini (1999), a rare period drama which finds the star looking sleek alongside Lily Tomlin, Judi Dench, and Maggie Smith as an American in WWII Florence.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — Underappreciated during its theatrical release, Scott Pilgrim is a generally satisfying, sometimes very amusing adaptation of the popular comic book about an unemployed young musician (Michael Cera) who discovers that in order to date his dream girl, he must first battle her seven evil superpowered ex-boyfriends. Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman, and Milk's Alison Pill costar, but the film's standout is the scene-stealing Kieran Culkin as Cera's acerbic roommate (and conscience) who just happens to be gay.
V: The Complete First Season — Gay fave Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, Gia) left the island behind at the end of Lost’s fifth season to re-create one of the most memorable miniseries of all time. The redux of V gets off to a shaky start (the obvious green screens don’t help) but finds its footing toward the end of the first season, with Mitchell and the queen of the V’s (Morena Baccarin) proving able foes. Plus, Scott Wolf is still looking good, and he spends a fair chunk of the season shirtless.