How Do You Know? — A love triangle between Legally Blonde's Reese Witherspoon (as a professional softball player at the end of her career), The Object of My Affection's Paul Rudd (as a financially beleaguered businessman) and Owen Wilson (as a womanizing baseball star) seems like a comedic home run, but even a broader-than-usual Jack Nicholson (as the father of Rudd's character) can't knock the thin, familiar material out of the park. The latest from the once-reliable writer-director James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, As Good as It Gets) is, unfortunately, a strike \out.
Rabbit Hole — Hedwig's John Cameron Mitchell seems like an odd choice to direct the film of David Lindsay-Abaire's Tony award–winning play about a couple (Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart) grieving the death of their 4-year-old son, but he proves an inspired choice to helm the harrowing material. Mitchell finds the unexpected humor in the story and allows Kidman to give a naturalistic performance that's her best work since The Hours. Two-time Oscar-winner Dianne Wiest and Life With Judy Garland's Tammy Blanchard also deliver indelible performances as Kidman's sympathetic mother and party-girl sister, respectively.
Tron: Legacy — In this sequel to the 1982 sci-fi hit Tron, Jeff Bridges returns as a software programmer trapped in the gladiatorial Grid he created. As his son, Country Strong cutie Garrett Hedlund — who will also star in the film version of Jack Kerouac's On the Road — gives a cocky-sensitive performance much like Chris Pine’s Star Trek breakthrough. House’s Olivia Wilde is a quirky love interest, and a blond Michael Sheen channels Alan Cumming as a Grid club owner. The plot’s nonsensical, but the 3D visuals and Daft Punk score are neato.
Best Night of My Life, Jamie Foxx — He claims to be so straight that he “could eat pizza in a male shower and not feel anything,” but the drag-friendly In Living Color alum has frequently expressed appreciation for his gay fans. Blame it on the alcohol or a certain nude photo scandal, but we’ll gladly return the favor on his fourth album. Ditching auto-tune, tracks like “Winner” with Justin Timberlake bring the party as promised.
Kandi Koated, Kandi — Because this is her first album since her 2000 debut, former Xscape singer Kandi Burruss is better known nowadays from Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta and for penning costar Kim Zolciak’s “Tardy for the Party.” But syrupy slow jams like sassy lead single “Leave U” may remind listeners that she’s also the celebrated songwriter behind TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills.”
No Boys Allowed, Keri Hilson — Like Kandi, Keri Hilson wrote hits for other artists until Timbaland’s “The Way I Are” and her 2009 debut gave her a voice — and gorgeous looks to match. Her sexually confident sophomore record is anchored by two catchy female-empowerment anthems: a “One Night Stand” with Chris Brown and the retro-peppy “don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful” single “Pretty Girl Rock.” Gay boys are allowed.
Easy A — A star-making vehicle for Emma Stone, Easy A casts the actress as straitlaced teacher’s pet Olive Penderghast, who, in an effort to protect her gay BFF (Dan Byrd) and shake up her own image, lets the whole school think she’s giving it up to anyone who’ll ask. A strong supporting cast (including Amanda Bynes as Olive’s Anita Bryant–like, born-again foil and Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as her free-lovin’ parents) gives Easy A its grit, but this is Stone’s film all the way and a sure sign we’ll be hearing much more from her in the years to come.
Salt — Angelina Jolie jumps back into the action genre as CIA agent/maybe Russian spy Evelyn Salt, proving once again blond is not her color. Once she ditches the obvious wig for her trademark dark locks (which, for some inexplicable reason, is also a wig), she looks better, and the action never lets up. For die-hard Angelina fans who like watching her kicking ass and taking names, this is a must-see. But the film is thin on plot — and at the thinnest she’s ever been on film, the actress doesn’t exactly look believable as a hit woman.
Deck Them Halls, Y’all — Unlike My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, which he’ll take to London early next year, Leslie Jordan’s new solo show isn’t autobiographical. At the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre, the Emmy-winning Will & Grace star portrays three hilariously tragic members of a trashy Southern family: an elderly ex-stripper, her pre-op transgender lesbian daughter, and her choir-loving 10-year-old grandson.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas — What's Christmas without a little Judy Garland? Making merry at Hotel Nikko’s Rrazz Room in San Francisco, renowned female Judy impersonator Connie Champagne respectfully channels the gay icon — specifically in the festive spirit of Judy's legendary 1963 holiday television special — with an evening of classic holiday songs, special guests, and a surprise visit from Santa.
Jackie Beat’s All-You-Can-Eat Christmas! — Having scandalized good Catholics everywhere since her first holiday tribute in 1998, L.A.-based drag grinch Jackie Beat returns to New York City’s Laurie Beechman Theatre with her lucky 13th annual Christmas show. Yes, Virginia, it’s that time of year again, when Beat can use her gift for crafting cleverly irreverent pop song parodies to roast sacred holiday chestnuts over an open fire. Yum!