Each year, Oscar-nominated short animated and live-action narrative films come through San Diego. Those two shows have been playing the last two weeks, but they're moving from the Ken Cinema to Hillcrest Cinemas to make room for a new program of five Oscar-nominated short documentaries, which opens Friday, Feb. 15. To my knowledge, this marks the first time San Diego filmgoers have had the opportunity to watch the short docs before the Oscar ceremony—or in a theater at all, for that matter.
None of these documentaries are actually all that short—each clocks in at around 40 minutes, which means the entire show runs longer than three hours (there is an intermission). By press time, sadly, I'd had the chance to see only one of them, but, man, was it a doozy.
Inocente, by directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix, profiles a homeless, undocumented Latina teenager struggling to keep it together along with her mom and brothers. The circumstances sound devastatingly sad, but this young woman is smart, funny and terrifically inspiring, a teenager who makes art that's just like her: smart, funny and terrifically inspiring.
In many ways, Inocente puts a face on the immigration crisis and the homeless crisis, but you'll find yourself pulling for her just because you're human. Oh, and did I mention that Inocente and her family live in San Diego? Yeah, that really brings it home.
Beautiful Creatures: After the success of Twilight, you know there are plenty of young-adult supernatural franchises to come. This one is about witches!
Escape From Planet Earth: Brendan Fraser voices Scorch, an astronaut who needs the help of his little brother (Rob Cordrry) when he lands on an inhospitable planet full of unspeakable dangers. Hint: It's Earth.
A Good Day to Die Hard: Bruce Willis goes to Moscow, meets up with his son (Jai Courtney) and shoots a bunch of guys.
John Dies at the End: This horror comedy from Phantasm director Don Coscarelli, about two slackers trying to save the world from forces unknown, is pretty funny. Paul Giamatti shows up in a supporting role.
Safe Haven: The latest Nicholas Sparks romance stars Julianne Hough as a mysterious woman who takes up with a hunky widower (Josh Duhamel).
One Time Only
Die Hard Marathon: All five films. Yes, that's right, five, because it culminates at 10 p.m. with the new one, A Good Day to Die Hard. Starts at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at AMC Mission Valley and ArcLight La Jolla.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Quite possibly the most quoted movie of all time, by geeks. It's only a flesh wound, after all. Screens at around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park.
Say Anything: What guy hasn't wanted to be Lloyd Dobler, holding up the boombox playing Peter Gabriel? And what girl hasn't wanted her man to be Lloyd Dobler, holding up the boombox playing Peter Gabriel? It's screening twice on Wednesday, Feb. 13—at 7:30 p.m. at ArcLight La Jolla and 8 p.m. at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Breakfast at Tiffany's: In Truman Capote's short novel, the narrator was gay. In Blake Edwards' movie, he's hetero George Peppard, who somehow ends up with Audrey Hepburn's lovely Holly Golightly. Screens at noon and 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Moulin Rouge!: Baz Luhrmann's romantic musical is perfect for Valentine's Day. Ewan McGregor is a struggling poet who falls for courtesan Nicole Kidman, who is, naturally, adored by a nasty duke (Richard Roxburgh). Presented by FilmOut, it screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Now, Voyager: She's got Bette Davis eyes—Bette Davis, that is, playing a spinster who finds true love after getting out from under the thumb of her domineering mother and seeing a shrink. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Drive-By Cinema: Pacific Arts Movement, which produces the San Diego Asian Film Festival, debuts its new project at the location of the old State Theater in City Heights. It starts at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15.
The Heart and the Sea: Nathan Oldfield's latest surf film was three years in the making. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
Corpo Celeste: The Public Library teams up with Film Movement, the monthly film club, to present this feature about a 13-year-old girl who returns to Italy after living in Switzerland for a decade and runs smack dab into the intractable Catholic Church. Screens at noon on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Central Library, Downtown.
The Deer Hunter: Michael Cimino's Vietnam horror drama earned scads of Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Walken. Masterful. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, and Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
The Son of the Sheik: Organist Russ Peck accompanies the 1926 Rudolph Valentino silent film at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at Copley Symphony Hall, Downtown.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Susan Sarandon! Tim Curry! Meat Loaf! And, yeah, Barry Bostwick. Screens at midnight on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Ken Cinema.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: The second film in the original trilogy is vastly underrated. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at ArcLight La Jolla.
The Greatest Show on Earth: Circus manager Charlton Heston hires trapeze hot shot Cornel Wilde, who saves his show but might end up stealing Heston's girlfriend, Betty Hutton, while he's at it. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
The Big Chill: Great ensemble. A group of college friends, like William Hurt, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Kline and Tom Berenger, get together for a weekend after the death of a friend. That friend, by the way, was played by Kevin Costner, whose scenes ended up on the cutting-room floor. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Dirty Dancing: Go ahead, have the time of your life at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Spike & Mike's Festival of Animation: Sure, they're better known for their sickand-twisted stuff, but this 30th-anniversary family-friendly greatest-hits set of films from the past four decades has some great stuff. Screens through March at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla.
San Diego Jewish Film Festival: This is one of SDJFF's best lineups ever, and it runs through Sunday, Feb. 17, at various theaters around town. Swing by sdjff.org for a list of films, showtimes and locations.
Identity Thief: Jason Bateman hits the road to find out who stole his identity. Not a spoiler: It's Melissa McCarthy.
Side Effects: This thriller is rumored to be Steven Soderbergh's final theatrical release. If so, he's going out on top with this one, about a woman (Rooney Mara) whose shrink (Jude Law) prescribes her anti-depressants that end up plunging both of them down a rabbit hole.
Special 26: Bollywood heist movie based on a real robbery that went down in Mumbai in 1987.
Top Gun 3D: The fighter-jet stuff is just fine. It's that Tom Cruise singing "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" bit that gets creepy in 3D.
The New Juarez: Documentarian Charlie Minn's latest film about the cartel wars in Mexico explores the recent changes in the border town often considered the murder capitol of the world.
Bullet to the Head: Sly Stallone is a hit man who teams up with a cop to find the guy who killed their partners—and shoot a bunch of guys along the way. It's Walter Hill's first film in a decade.
Oscar Nominated Short Films: All 10 Oscar-nominated short and live-action films move from the Ken Cinema to Hillcrest Cinemas on Friday, Feb. 15, and there are some real winners in this batch.
Sisterakas: Filipino comedy about a guy who hires his half-sister on the Internet to be a personal assistant, with the intention of making her life hell.
Stand Up Guys: Al Pacino gets out of the joint after almost 20 years and immediately hooks up with his old associates, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.
Warm Bodies: In a world populated by both zombies and humans, one member of the walking dead (Nicholas Hoult) starts to have feelings for a real girl (Teresa Palmer).
Quartet: It's surprising that it took Dustin Hoffman this long to direct a movie. Quartet, about what happens when a faded opera singer (Maggie Smith) is forced to move into a home for retired musicians, including the rest of the quartet she left behind, is slight, but enjoyable.
56 Up: Every seven years since 1964, filmmakers have captured the lives of a group of British children who were just 7 when the process started. Director Michael Apted has spent a lot of time with these people, and it shows.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: Sure. Why not?
Movie 43: Three teenagers kick around the Internet, looking at nasty short films, which allows all kinds of big stars, like Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet and Emma Stone, to appear without making a huge commitment.
Parker: After his crew double-crosses him, Jason Statham teams up with Jennifer Lopez to get his revenge.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Wait, what? Didn't this micro-budget movie come out last summer before being nominated for a slew of Oscars last week? Yeah, that's why it's back in theaters, Sherlock.
Broken City: Ex-cop Mark Wahlberg finds himself immersed in scandal when he starts trailing Catherine Zeta-Jones, wife of New York Mayor Russell Crowe.
Cosmic Collisions: So, that asteroid that might smash into Earth in 20 years is much bigger than previously thought? Awesome. This new IMAX movie at the Reuben H. Fleet looks at what happens when things bash into each other in outer space. On the bright side, if we go the way of the dinosaurs, at least future species will have a new source of fossil fuels.
Mama: Fresh from Zero Dark Thirty, Jessica Chastain has to take care of her young nieces, who survived in the woods for five years. Also, there are ghosts or something.
Amour: Michael Haneke's Palm d'Or-winning drama, about an elderly couple facing declining health, is as terrifying as his movies about sadism, home invasions and fanaticism.
A Haunted House: Comedy-horror! Horror-comedy! Marlon Wayans (who co-wrote the script) and Essence Atkins move into a new house, where Atkins is quickly possessed by demon spawn. Hilarity ensues.
Gangster Squad: Hey, girl, Ryan Gosling is a spiffy L.A. cop shooting up mobster types like Sean Penn's Mickey Cohen in the new movie from Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer.
The Impossible: Biopic about a family, led by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, caught up in the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.
Zero Dark Thirty: Kathryn Bigelow's movie, about the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, is a masterwork of filmmaking, and the fact that it's inspiring debate about torture should be more tangential than anything else.
Django Unchained: Tarantino takes on yet another genre—the western—and blows it up and makes it fun again. Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave freed by German bounty hunter Christoph Waltz, off to rescue wife Kerry Washington from plantation owner Leonardo DiCaprio.
Les Miserables: Fans of the legendary musical will get their fix from this big-screen adaptation by King's Speech director Tom Hooper, who relies heavily on close-ups and, sadly, Russell Crowe, who isn't a trained singer. Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, dreams a nice dream as Fantine.
Parental Guidance: Billy Crystal and Bette Midler agree to look after their grandchildren. Hilarity for a certain demographic ensues.
This is 40: Judd Apatow returns to Knocked Up territory, though this sort-of sequel focuses on Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), who were supporting players in the earlier film.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth in the first of three films based on the book that came before Lord of the Rings.
Life of Pi: Ang Lee's adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning novel about a boy, a tiger and a lifeboat is this year's movie that you simply must see on a big screen and in 3-D. Really.
Silver Linings Playbook: Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar guy from Philly who's just out of the mental hospital, having lost his job, his home and his wife. He moves in with his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) in hopes of regaining his marriage, but things are thrown askew by Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has problems of her own.
Lincoln: It might as well have been called The 13th Amendment. Despite another spellbinding performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln's biopic is really about getting legislation through Congress.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2: The long national nightmare is over.
Tales of the Maya Skies: This IMAX movie explores the rich history of the Mayan people, just in time for the end of the world. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Wreck-It Ralph: The latest animated film from Disney stars John C. Reilly as Ralph, the bad guy in an old-school video game who desperately wants to be liked.
Argo: Ben Affleck directs and stars in this take on the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, and believe it or not, it's gonna be a Best Picture contender.
Flight of the Butterflies: It turns out Monarch butterflies are much like SDSU students—every year, thousands of them head to Mexico. This IMAX film captures their beautiful trip. The butterflies, that is.
Flying Monsters 3D: No, it's not a crappy studio blockbuster—this one is all about dinosaurs and was written and directed by Richard Attenborough, using Avatar-like technology, and plays the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
To the Arctic 3-D: Cute-animal-movie alert No. 2. Meryl Streep narrates this new IMAX movie about a mama polar bear and her two cubs.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.