- Co-writer/ producer Rosie O’Donnell plays a therapist working with a 17-year-old (Philip Johnson) who’d been taken from his crack-addicted mother, only to spend 11 years lost in the foster care system.
- Adapted from a novel by social worker E.R. Frank, pic was directed by Emmy winner Yves Simoneau (“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”).
Variety review: “The finished product succeeds in delivering a stark portrait of a failing, overburdened system, but not quite a fully realized story.”
- Both the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and the Screen Actors Guild nominated Shirley MacLaine for her turn as the French couturiere.
- MacLaine got there first, but she isn’t the only thesp to step into Chanel’s shoes. Audrey Tautou and Anna Mouglalis play the fashion designer in separate theatrical features.
Variety review: “… has less to do with haute couture than high melodrama, recounting a life story so insanely frothy and pulpy that those who don’t cry will be laughing their eyelashes off.”
GIFTED HANDS: THE BEN CARSON STORY
- Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a neurosurgeon (facing a daunting procedure — separating twins conjoined at the head) who rose to prominence from rocky origins in this incredible story of self-made success.
- Co-star Kimberly Elise earned strong notices for her turn as Carson’s illiterate, yet supportive, mother, prominently featured in the pic’s extensive flashbacks.
Variety review: “Reasonably well made, the pic proves that not every uplifting story readily lends itself to such an adaptation.”
INTO THE STORM
- This sequel to 2002’s Emmy-lauded “The Gathering Storm” follows Winston Churchill as the prime minister’s mettle is tested by World War II.
- Brendan Gleeson assumes the role that won Albert Finney an Emmy, transforming both his voice and physical appearance to become the stolid world leader in this HBO-BBC co-production.
Variety review: “Brendan Gleeson assaults the role with full-throated vigor … it’s a satisfying and timely addition that gets stronger as it steadfastly marches on.”
JESSE STONE: THIN ICE
- Tom Selleck has now played small-town Massachusetts police chief Jesse Stone five times. In “Thin Ice,” he butts heads with the town council after being caught in a public shoot-out.
- Selleck has received seven Emmy noms over his career, including one for his perf in 2007’s “Jesse Stone: Sea Change.”
Variety review: “… maintains the bluesy, breezy tone established by this crisp series of movies. … Dark, busy and disarmingly funny.”
WALLANDER: ONE STEP BEHIND
- “Masterpiece Mystery!” produced three stand-alone cases featuring the surly Swedish detective, based on the Henning Mankell novels and played by Kenneth Branagh.
- Though Branagh is best known for his stage and bigscreen credentials, the thesp has received three previous Emmy noms, the most recent being for 2005’s “Warm Springs.”
Variety review: “The franchise bears a resemblance to CBS’ ‘Jesse Stone.’ … More than worthy of its ‘Masterpiece’ imprimatur.”