Director Wes Anderson is known (and loved/hated) for his quirky visual style and humorous offbeat dramas (Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums, Darjeeling Ltd.) He has dabbled with animation before, but this time Anderson revives the long-dead art of stop-motion animation for a feature-length adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s tale. Longing for his salad days as a rambunctious chicken-stealing youngster, Mr Fox decides to pull off another heist just for kicks. The victims of his crime spree, three nasty farmers, come up with a cunning plan to snuff out the menace, but face an enemy far more sly than they imagine.

In another award-season highlight, author Nick Hornby adapts journalist Lynn Barber’s memoirs into an entertaining coming-of-age drama that doubles as a retelling of the arch myth of modern popular culture. Set in 1960s London, the film details a 16-year-old middle-class girl’s eye-opening journey from all-class-and-no-sass into a burgeoning beatnik. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) dreams of studying at Oxford, until she meets 36-year-old charmer David (Peter Sarsgaard), who exposes her to a more intriguing side of life. All of a sudden a life of academia sounds less appealing. Both Mulligan and Horny are up for Oscars.



In Harlem, 1987, Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a 16-year-old African-American girl whose prospects are rather bleak. Betrayed by the public school system she is illiterate and ashamed of it, she is pregnant for the second time and has to wait hand and foot on her tyrant of a mother (Mo’Nique). Of course there must be a way out of this inner-city hell, but it will take facing up to some pretty deep, dark demons. Based on a novel written by the pseudonym Sapphire, this gruelling slice of ghetto life has been cleaning tables at award galas. It’s a well-meaning film, even if gluttons for squalor are likely to have their appetites sated.

The ever-charming George Clooney plays a maverick who makes his living travelling around the US firing unexpecting employees. Faced with the risk of being grounded to by a video conferencing desk, he takes a young go-getter on board to show her the ropes of corporate downsizing. He learns a little something himself instead and eventually has to face the drawbacks of his life choices. Dealing with themes of joblessness and loneliness, the humorous yet touching story is an enjoyable and thought-provoking watch. With sharp social commentary, indie wunderkind Jason Reitman tops his peers in this oh-so-trendy genre of warm-hearted drama comedies. V-MP

This neo-noir crime drama by temperamental German auteur Werner Herzog borrows the title of a classic 90s sleaze-fest, but that’s about it for the similarities. Herzog’s tale of a disintegrating lawman is set in beautifully shot post-Katrina New Orleans. With a loose-cannon cop, a prostitute love interest and botched drug deals, the story is hardly the height of originality. But luckily leading man Nicholas Cage is in top form. Known for his extensive collaboration with famed loony Klaus Kinski, Herzog is an old hand at coaxing riveting performances out of actors. Melancholy and manic in equal measure, Cage rampages through the city in ruins like a broken wind-up doll. PREMIERE 15 JAN.