Tag Archives: Star Wars

Actress Carrie Fisher dies at age 60

Carrie Fisher, who rose to fame as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” films, died on Tuesday aged 60, her family said.

Fisher, a mental health advocate who spoke about her own struggles with bipolar disorder and cocaine addiction, had suffered a heart attack on Friday as she flew into Los Angeles.

The daughter of actor Debbie Reynolds and the late singer Eddie Fisher had been returning from England where she was shooting the third season of the British sitcom “Catastrophe.”

“Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter,” Reynolds said on Facebook. “I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop.”

Fisher’s friend and former Star Wars’ co-star Mark Hamill, who played Leia’s brother Luke Skywalker, said in a tweet: “No words. #Devastated”

Fisher was met by paramedics and rushed to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after suffering the heart attack during the flight on Friday.

She made headlines last month when she disclosed that she had a three-month love affair with her “Star Wars” co-star Harrison Ford 40 years ago.

Fisher revealed the secret to People magazine while promoting her new memoir, “The Princess Diarist,” just before it went on sale. The book is based on Fisher’s diaries from her time working on the first “Star Wars” movie.

Harrison said in a statement Fisher was funny, emotionally fearless and one-of-a-kind. “She lived her life, bravely…We will all miss her.”

Fisher said the affair started and ended in 1976 during production on the blockbuster sci-fi adventure in which she first appeared as the intrepid Princess Leia. Ford played the maverick space pilot Han Solo.

“It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend,” Fisher told People. She was 19 and Ford was 33 at the time.

“How could you ask such a shining specimen of a man to be satisfied with the likes of me? I was so inexperienced, but I trusted something about him. He was kind,” she wrote of Ford in the memoir, the latest of several books Fisher authored.

Fisher reprised the role in two “Star Wars” sequels. She gained sex symbol status in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” when her Leia character wore a metallic gold bikini while enslaved by the diabolical Jabba the Hutt.

She returned last year in Disney’s reboot of the “Star Wars” franchise, “The Force Awakens,” appearing as the more matronly General Leia Organa, leader of the Resistance movement fighting the evil First Order.

Filming was completed in July on Fisher’s next appearance as Leia in “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” which is set to reach theaters in December 2017.

Fisher’s Princess Leia makes a surprise appearance at the end of “Rogue One,” the latest blockbuster, which opened this month, in the “Star Wars” series.

Shortly after news of her death was made public, her dog Gary, who has his own Twitter account, said goodbye: “Saddest tweets to tweet. Mommy is gone. I love you @carrieffisher.”

She is survived by her mother, Reynolds, her daughter, Billie Lourd, and her brother Todd Fisher.


Fisher also played a memorable supporting role in the 1989 hit film “When Harry Met Sally,” as a friend of Meg Ryan’s character who falls for and marries the best pal of Billy Crystal’s character.

More recently, Fisher played the American mother-in-law on “Catastrophe.”

Born in Beverly Hills, Carrie Fisher got her showbiz start at age 12 in her mother’s Las Vegas nightclub act. She made her film debut as a teenager in the 1975 comedy “Shampoo,” two years before her “Star Wars” breakthrough.

But her life was also at times mired in drug abuse, mental illness and tumultuous romances with other entertainment figures, all of which she laid bare in her books, interviews and a one-woman stage show titled “Wishful Drinking.”

She was once engaged to comic actor Dan Aykroyd, later married, then divorced, singer-songwriter Paul Simon, and had a daughter out of wedlock with Hollywood talent agent Brian Lourd.

After undergoing treatment in the mid-1980s for cocaine addition, she wrote the bestselling novel, “Postcards from the Edge,” about a drug-abusing actress forced to move back in with her mother. She later adapted the book into a film that starred Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

She told Reuters in a 2011 interview that tabloid exposure of her private life could be trying.

“‘Carrie Fisher’s tragic life.’ That was one that hurt,” she said, quoting a headline. “‘Hey, how about Carrie Fisher? She used to be so hot. Now she looks like Elton John.’ That hurt.”

She also acknowledged being briefly hospitalized in 2013 due to a bout with bipolar disorder.

However, Fisher told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview published last month she was happier than she had ever been.

“I’ve been through a lot, and I could go through more, but I hope I don’t have to,” she said. “But if I did, I’d be able to do it. I’m not going to enjoy dying but there’s not much prep for that.”

Summing up the showbiz legacy she expected to leave behind in her 2011 memoir “Shockaholic,” Fisher wrote in self-deprecating style: “What you’ll have of me after I journey to that great Death Star in the sky is an extremely accomplished daughter, a few books, and a picture of a stern-looking girl wearing some kind of metal bikini lounging on a giant drooling squid, behind a newscaster informing you of the passing of Princess Leia after a long battle with her head.”

10 things to look for at this year’s fall movies

Out with the summer, in with the fall movies. Please hurry.

After a bruising three months when moviegoers often had to strain to find something good to see, the fall movies this year like an oasis. It’s about to get better at the multiplex. Here are 10 movies, performances and story lines that AP film writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle are most looking forward to, come autumn:

"Manchester by the Sea"
“Manchester by the Sea”

LONERGAN-MANIA: Little is settled about this fall’s coming awards season except for this: Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea (Nov. 18) is one of the best films of the year. Already celebrated at its Sundance premiere, it’s the third film from the acclaimed New York playwright following the wonderful You Can Count on Me and the criminally underseen Margaret. Casey Affleck excels as a small-town New Englander haunted by tragedy. Lonergan’s naturalistic touch and deft feel for the rhythms and details of life remain unmatched. — Jake Coyle

ANG LEE, INNOVATOR: Ang Lee is continually pushing cinema to new technological heights, and his adaptation of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Nov. 11) is no less ambitious than bringing a hyper realistic CG Bengal tiger to the frames of Life of Pi. The first screening will be in 4K, 3D and 120 frames per second — essentially, hyper reality. Oh, and he also manages to meld all that tech talk with some extremely resonant stories. Take us there, Mr. Lee. — Lindsey Bahr

A MORE DIVERSE OSCARS: After two straight years of “OscarsSoWhite” blanketing a dishearteningly homogenous Academy Awards, a richly diverse array of possible nominees is lining up for this season. Though a rape case from the past is clouding the once-bright fortunes of Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, a revamped Academy of Motion Pictures may be hard pressed to ignore the likes of Denzel Washington’s Fences (Dec. 16), Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (Oct. 21), Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures (Dec. 25) and Jeff Nichols’ interracial marriage tale Loving (Nov. 4). — Coyle

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in "Fences"
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in “Fences”

FEMALE DIRECTORS TO (RE)DISCOVER: While the percentage of female directors remains dismal, there are a number of exciting projects from new and veteran talents this fall, like the feature debuts of Julia Hart (Miss Stevens, Sept. 16) and Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen, Nov. 18). Also coming are fall movies from exciting veterans like Jocelyn Moorehouse (The Dressmaker, Sept. 23), Andrea Arnold (American Honey, Sept. 30) and Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women, Oct. 14). — Bahr

EMMA STONE GETS A PROPER SHOWCASE: How do you come off of a dud like Aloha? By singing, dancing and romancing your way back into America’s hearts in what could be a career-defining performance in Damien Chazelle’s musical love story La La Land (Dec. 16) of course. Stone stars as Mia, a struggling actress in Los Angeles who falls for a moody musician in the form of Ryan Gosling. Looking like Singing in the Rain meets The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, La La Land — and Stone’s touching melodies and emotive almond eyes — promises to have audiences swooning and sobbing in no time. — Bahr

SMARTER SPECTACLES: Even the blockbusters among this year’s fall movies look more enticing than the summer’s. There’s Denzel in glorious cowboy-hero mode in The Magnificent Seven (Sept. 23), Peter Berg’s visceral true tale Deepwater Horizon (Sept. 30), the brainy smarts of Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange (Nov. 4), the mind-bending sci-fi of Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (Nov. 11) and the cozy fantasy of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Nov. 18). Oh, and another little Star Wars film is coming: Gareth Edwards’ spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Dec. 16). — Coyle

OLD HOLLYWOOD THROUGH BEATTY’S LENS: The Golden Age of Hollywood holds a not-so-surprising allure for directors of a certain age, but perhaps none has seemed quite as suited to the task as Warren Beatty, coming off of a 15-year hiatus from acting and an 18-year break from directing with his long-time-coming Rules Don’t Apply (Nov. 23), once simply known as the Warren Beatty Howard Hughes pic. Beatty plays Hughes, but it looks to be more of a showcase for a youthful romance between an aspiring actress (Lily Collins) and her driver (young Han Solo himself, Alden Ehrenreich). — Bahr

Shia  LeBeouf in "American Honey"
Shia LeBeouf in “American Honey”

HAILEE STEINFELD GROWS UP: Steinfeld was just 13 when she made her Oscar-nominated breakout in the Coen brothers True Grit in 2010. In Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen (Nov. 18) — a coming-of-age tale in the John Hughes tradition — her maturation is self-evident. As a whip-smart but confidence-lacking high-schooler, Steinfeld navigates embarrassment after embarrassment with wit and spirit. — Coyle

THE UNDERSTATED MIKE MILLS: Director Mike Mills takes his time between projects, but each is a lovely, whispered little cinematic event, from the tender Thumbsucker to the achingly poignant Beginners. His latest, 20th Century Women (Dec. 21), takes him back in time to 1979 Santa Barbara, where three women (Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning) explore what love and freedom means in their time. — Bahr

A LEGITIMATELY GOOD SHIA LABEOUF: Performance-art theatrics have overshadowed the transformation Shia LaBeouf has undergone. He’s made it easy to not take him seriously in recent years, and maybe that’s been the point. But in Andrea Arnold’s Midwest teenage odyssey, American Honey (Sept. 30), LaBeouf and breakout star Sasha Lane are exceptional. This year’s fall movies offer your opportunity to 1) See why LaBeouf was sporting a rattail last year; 2) Watch him dance to Rihanna on a Walmart check-out counter; and 3) See the vibrant latest from one of the most interesting directors currently working. — Coyle


Thumbs up, thumbs down: The original 1977 reviews of ‘Star Wars’

When George Lucas’ “Star Wars” first landed in 1977, some critics were swept away, while others resisted the tide. A sampling:


“Star Wars’ is like getting a box of Cracker Jacks which is all prizes. This is the writer-director George Lucas’s own film, subject to no business interference, yet it’s a film that’s totally uninterested in anything that doesn’t connect with the mass audience. There’s no breather in the picture, no lyricism; the only attempt at beauty is in the double sunset. It’s enjoyable on its own terms, but it’s exhausting, too: like taking a pack of kids to the circus. … It’s an epic without a dream.” — Pauline Kael, The New Yorker.


“’Star Wars’ taps the pulp fantasies buried in our memories, and because it’s done so brilliantly, it reactivates old thrills, fears, and exhilarations we thought we’d abandoned when we read our last copy of Amazing Stories.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.


“Strip ‘Star Wars’ of its often striking images and its high-falutin scientific jargon, and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality, without even a “future” cast to them. Human beings, anthropoids, or robots, you could probably find them all, more or less like, that, in downtown Los Angeles today… O dull new world!” — John Simon, New York magazine.


“’Star Wars’ … is the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made. It’s both an apotheosis of ‘Flash Gordon’ serials and a witty critique that makes associations with a variety of literature that is nothing if not eclectic: ‘Quo Vadis?’ ‘Buck Rogers,’ ‘Ivanhoe,’ ‘Superman,’ ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew,’ the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. … One of Mr. Lucas’s particular achievements is the manner in which he is able to recall the tackiness of the old comic strips and serials he loves without making a movie that is, itself, tacky.” — Vincent Canby, New York Times.


“The only way that ‘Star Wars’ could have been interesting was through its visual imagination and special effects. Both are unexceptional. … I kept looking for an ‘edge,’ to peer around the corny, solemn comic-book strophes; he was facing them frontally and full. This picture was made for those (particularly males) who carry a portable shrine within them of their adolescence, a chalice of a Self that was Better Then, before the world’s affairs or — in any complex way — sex intruded.” — Stanley Kauffmann, the New Republic.


“‘Star Wars’ is Buck Rogers with a doctoral degree but not a trace of neuroticism or cynicism, a slam-bang, rip-roaring gallop through a distantly future world full of exotic vocabularies, creatures and customs, existing cheek by cowl with the boy and girl next door and a couple of friendly leftovers from the planet of the apes and possibly one from Oz (a Tin Woodman robot who may have got a gold-plating as a graduation present).” — Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times.

The Fed awakens: U.S. to raise interest rates

After years of waiting, it’s finally here. No, not the new “Star Wars” movie: Fed week.

Barring a shock, the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates this week for the first time since June 2006, a full year before the global financial crisis began.

Data releases will meanwhile give clues to the robustness of other economies, some of which are seen as vulnerable to investment outflows as higher interest rates make U.S. assets more attractive. Especially in emerging markets, where currencies and other assets have plunged in value this year, that process has already started.

Forecast-beating numbers on Saturday showing Chinese industrial output growth picked up to a five-month high of 6.2 percent in November signaled that stimulus measures from Beijing may be steadying the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s wobble has been a major uncertainty for the global outlook, so better fixed-asset investment and retail sales growth last month should offer investors and policymakers some reassurance.

Sunday’s second-round French regional elections saw far-right first-round victor Marine le Pen’s National Front defeated by tactical voting while attracting a record number of votes. Attention now turns to Spain’s general election on Dec. 20, which polls suggest no party will win outright.

The Bank of Japan’s tankan survey on Monday showed business sentiment among big manufacturers holding steady, although they expected conditions to worsen in the next three months as sluggish emerging market demand weighs on exports.

After unexpectedly strong readings in November, the monthly Ifo and ZEW surveys are expected to show German business and economic morale remain relatively robust although they may fall short of last month.

The Ifo jumped to 109 in November, its highest since June 2014, shrugging off China’s woes, the Volkswagen emissions scandal and despite the Islamist attacks in Paris, while the ZEW rose for the first time in seven months.

“Weaker growth in the emerging markets and easing tailwinds from the FX market will weigh on business sentiment. Thus, the Ifo business climate and the Purchasing Managers’ Indices for the euro zone probably fell in December,” said Commerzbank analysts in a note.

Flash PMIs for France, Germany and the euro zone are due on Wednesday, hours before the Fed announces its decision.

Thursday’s survey of French business sentiment will be the first taken in the euro zone’s second-largest economy since the attacks that killed 130 people in its capital on Nov. 13.

Wednesday also brings the final reading of November euro zone inflation, after an initial release on Dec. 3 showed annual price growth at a lower than expected 0.1 percent and core inflation — excluding volatile energy — unexpectedly slowing.

That helped prompt further stimulus measures from the European Central Bank last week, one of 43 central banks which in contrast to the Fed have loosened monetary policy this year to help spur inflation and growth.


The coming week sees rate decisions from central banks in Japan, Uganda, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt and Chile, some of which are already battling to support currencies hit by expectations of a U.S. hike.

Franklin Templeton’s star bond investor Michael Hasenstab said recently that higher U.S. rates would magnify differences between emerging market economies in 2016, although he said concerns about a “systemic crisis” were exaggerated.

Hasenstab said stronger economic fundamentals should make countries like South Korea, Mexico and Malaysia resilient but that weaker Turkey and South Africa, both of which have hefty current account deficits, could be more negatively affected.

South Africa’s rand slumped to an all-time low on Friday following the finance minister’s sacking, prompting speculation the Reserve Bank might call an emergency meeting to increase interest rates for the second time in two months.

The currency rebounded on Monday after a U-turn by President Jacob Zuma saw Pravin Gordhan installed as the country’s third finance minister in a week — his second time in the post.

The Fed remains the week’s star attraction, however, even if after 2-1/2 years of speculation about policy tightening and several false starts, most recently in September, its first, modest hike is unlikely to cause any major ripples.

Ninety percent of economists in a recent Reuters poll predicted the federal funds rate would be raised by quarter of a percent point on Dec. 16, taking it to 0.25-0.5 percent.

The same poll saw a very gradual pace of subsequent increases, with the rate rising to between 1 and 1.25 percent by the end of next year and to 2.25 percent by end-2017.

From food to makeup, ‘Star Wars’ stuff is out of this world

Right now, in a store not too far away, there is a galaxy of new merchandise connected to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Beyond the usual action figures and apparel, the seventh installment in the space franchise (and the first from merchandise-driven Disney) boasts a broader array of branded products than ever before: from Chewbacca Coffee-Mate creamer (Wookiees drink coffee?) and “Star Wars” mascara to $400 designer Death Star shoes and a $4,000 Millennium Falcon bed.

“It’s wider and broader and deeper and covers more age ranges and is less gender specific than anything I have ever seen for ‘Star Wars,”” said Steve Sansweet, Lucasfilm’s former director of fan relations and Guinness world record holder for the largest collection of “Star Wars” memorabilia.

Expanding the universe of “Star Wars” merchandise internationally was part of Disney’s original vision when it acquired Lucasfilm, he said: “It was very clear from the front, and they have followed their game plan.”

The result is an amazingly diverse range of products, from the unexpected (light-up lightsaber chopsticks) to the unbelievable (haute couture Stormtrooper wear). International offerings have grown in scope and distinction, too, with local licensees and artisans interpreting the iconic characters for their cultures.

Sansweet recently added some Japanese items to his collection, including soy sauce plates and “little kokeshi dolls, which are typical of a small community in Japan,” he said. “They’re usually carved in traditional format of samurai or geisha or something like that, and now there’s a whole series of ‘Star Wars’ (characters).”

Retired from Lucasfilm, Sansweet now shares his “Star Wars” collection with the public through his nonprofit Rancho Obi-Wan museum in Petaluma, California, where he offers educational tours and hosts private events, including two weddings.

Here’s a look at some of the more unusual items keyed to “The Force Awakens,” some of which Sansweet has already added to his collection:

FOOD: Chewbacca isn’t the only one with his own Coffee-Mate creamer. Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Boba Fett also got the creamer treatment, and each is a different flavor. (Chewie is spiced latte.) New York’s Ample Hills Creamery introduced two new flavors in “Star Wars” packaging: The Light Side is marshmallow ice cream with crispy clusters, and The Dark Side is dark chocolate with espresso fudge brownies.

Other branded food items include special General Mills cereal boxes (one shows the Trix rabbit as Princess Leia) with plastic “droid viewers” inside and Kraft macaroni and cheese with pasta in “Star Wars shapes.”

“I’m chasing around trying to find bags of Darth Vader apples,” Sansweet said. “It’s crazy! But it’s fun-crazy.”

MAKEUP: CoverGirl’s limited-edition “Star Wars” collection includes nail polish, mascara and lipstick in such shades as Droid, Jedi and Dark Apprentice.

CLOTHING: Beyond the typical T-shirts and PJs, there are one-of-a-kind designer outfits based on “The Force Awakens” characters, such as Halston’s gown inspired by villain Kylo Ren, up for auction this month (www.charitybuzz.com ) to benefit the Child Mind Institute. American watch maker Devon has a limited-edition “Star Wars” model available for $28,500. The outrageous “Star Wars” collection from British footwear company Irregular Choice is more affordable but may be harder to wear. The C-3PO flats are cute and low-key, but the Death Star platform booties with the Stormtrooper- and Darth Vader-shaped heels are out of this world.

LIFESTYLE: Adult collectors might covet Pottery Barn Kids’ Millennium Falcon bed, modeled after the legendary starship (and only available in twin size). American Tourister has a line of “Star Wars” luggage, and the Disney Store has a backpack shaped like a Stormtrooper helmet. There’s a Darth Vader toaster that brands your breakfast bread with the “Star Wars” logo and the aforementioned light-up lightsaber chopsticks, plus an X-Wing knife block and many other household items.

Is there anything that can’t be branded “Star Wars?”

“There are limits,” Sansweet said. “I’m not sure we’ve seen the end of the limits yet.”

Star Wars attractions opening at Disney

The Force is awakening a little early at Walt Disney World.

The Florida-based theme park resort has unveiled new “Star Wars” entertainment weeks ahead of the much-anticipated release of the movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Some of the Star Wars attractions opened last week at the resort’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.

Those include a courtyard filled with all-things “Star Wars,” a video game center, a movie theater showing abridged versions of the “Star Wars” movies and a motion simulator showing “Star Wars” locales and characters.

Later this month, visitors also will get to see a “Star Wars”-themed fireworks show.

Both Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California are planning Star Wars-themed lands in the near future.

Toy trends

1. The Force is strong. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has awakened a new enthusiasm for Star Wars toys for children and adults, according to ToyInsider.com, which reviews and recommends toys. The site has published holiday toy reviews and lists, including top tech and STEM toys.

 2. Communication craze. Kids have always talked to their toys, but now their interactive toys — Play All Day Elma, Hello Barbie, Clever Keet — are talking back. 

 3. Cooking up fun. Kids are cooking sweet and serving savory with Girl Scouts Cookie Oven, Yummy Nummies, Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven and Number Lovin’ Oven.

4. Construction with function. Toys to build vehicles, structures, people — Kids First Aircraft Engineer, Super Copter, Mighty Makers: Fun on the Ferris Wheel — now feature lots of moving parts.

5. Content creation. Digital games and app-enhanced toys — Super Mario Maker, Disney Infinity 3.0 Toy Box, Stikbot and Crayola Easy Animation Studio — allow kids to create animated videos and customize content and stories.

This season’s hottest films, from big to small

The Blockbusters


Opens Nov. 6, wide release

The latest James Bond film — and, possibly, the last for Daniel Craig — brings back the villainous organization Spectre, previously vanquished by a combination of Sean Connery and complex copyright litigation (don’t ask). Post-Casino Royale reboot, the organization is masterminding a global conspiracy that threatens MI6 and Bond will have to stop its scheme by defeating an enemy tied to his past (Christoph Waltz).

‘The Hunger Games:
Mockingjay – Part 2’

Opens Nov. 20, wide release

The biggest fantasy franchise since Harry Potter takes its last shot this November, bringing Jennifer Lawrence’s time as Katniss Everdeen to an end. Finishing the story begun in the series’ third film last year, Katniss will lead a full-scale revolution, storming the Capitol to assassinate the leader of her corrupt dystopia (Donald Sutherland).

‘Star Wars: Episode VII –
The Force Awakens’

Opens Dec. 18, wide release

They’ve promised us that this time, the new trilogy won’t suck. Set decades after the overthrow of the Empire in a galaxy still ravaged by war, old allies (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill) will encounter both new heroes (John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac) and new adversaries (Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie).

The Contenders


Currently screening, wide release

All 5-year-old Jack knows is “Room,” the small space where he’s lived since he was born and his mother’s lived since she was kidnapped seven years earlier. This haunting tale of a mother’s struggle to keep herself and her son alive (adapted by its original novelist Emma Donoghue) is a shoe-in for nominations, both as a whole and for Brie Larson, the rising star who anchors the film. It’s also sure to be a disturbing yet moving experience.


Opens Nov. 6, wide release

The Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal can be tracked back to charges against five priests in Boston and journalists at The Boston Globe who weren’t content to let that be the end of the story. Led by a star-studded cast (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Lieve Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci), Spotlight has perhaps the strongest Oscar buzz so far.

‘The Danish Girl’

Opens Nov. 27, wide release

Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables follow-up couldn’t be more different. The Danish Girl tracks Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), one of the first-known recipients of sex reassignment surgery, and her wife Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) as they navigate Lili’s transition. The film’s casting has come under some scrutiny — with many criticizing the choice of Redmayne, a cisgender man, to play a trans woman — but its story is undeniably groundbreaking. 

The Indies

‘Beasts of No Nation’

Currently screening, Netflix and limited release

Cary Fukunaga is clearly winning the break-up with True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto. His follow-up, about a young boy who becomes a child soldier in West Africa, is receiving lots of early buzz despite a boycott from the country’s theater chains due to its simultaneous release on Netflix and in theaters. It’s their loss. Limiting it to small, intimate houses — potentially including your own — will increase the impact of this sobering, stunning film.

‘James White’

Opens Nov. 13, limited release

Perhaps the most truly independent film of these three, James White offers us Girls’ Christopher Abbott as the aimless, troubled 20-something of the film’s title. Over a scant, tight 85 minutes, we watch as he’s forced to either grow up or face the consequences, as his cancer-stricken mother (Cynthia Nixon) faces her final days.


Opens Nov. 20, limited release; Dec. 18, wide release

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara form a powerful duo in Carol, as an older, married woman and a young photographer/department store clerk in the 1950s who are romantically drawn to each other. With the two of them leading the way, the film was expected to be powerful, but it’s received a festival response well in excess of what even its artistic team expected.

Rush to book ‘The Force Awakens’ tickets crashes online site

“Star Wars” fans were given the longest look yet at the upcoming “The Force Awakens” film on Oct. 19, in an action-packed trailer which became the top trending topic on Twitter and sparked a rush of bookings which crashed a U.S. online ticket seller.

The two-and-a-half minute trailer, which debuted during halftime of ESPN’s National Football League game, quickly attracted more than 17,000 tweets per minute, according to Twitter. It was viewed on YouTube more than 220,000 times within the first 20 minutes.

Tickets for the film’s U.S. release on Dec. 18 went on pre-sale at the same time as the trailer, with U.S. ticket seller Fandango crashing temporarily.

The trailer, which featured franchise veterans Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher alongside a cast of newcomers, kicked off with lead character Rey (Daisy Ridley) as a scavenger presumed to be the daughter of Princess Leia (Fisher) and Han Solo (Ford).

Fisher makes her trailer debut as Leia, along with the character’s trademark hair buns, as she is embraced by Han Solo. Leia is heard saying “The Force, it’s calling to you. Just let it in.” Notably missing was Mark Hamill, who reprised his role as Luke Skywalker but is yet to be seen in character.

The trailer for the film, directed by J.J. Abrams, provided the vast scope the new film will be taking and the challenges that its leading characters will face.

Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper on the run, says “I was raised to do one thing, but I’ve got nothing to fight for,” and is later seen battling villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Kylo Ren is shown alongside the charred mask of Darth Vader, saying “Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started.”

Fans have until now only seen two teasers: November’s 88-second trailer and April’s 2-minute trailer, in which Han Solo and Chewbacca made their first appearance.

Ahead of the trailer release, Abrams tweeted a note, saying “We cannot wait to share the trailer with you tonight. I don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, Jawa, Wookie, Jedi or Sith. I just hope you like it.”

The film is expected to gross about $100 million in North America on its opening weekend, Rentrak’s senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said, adding that it could earn over $2 billion globally.

“This is maybe the most anticipated movie of the last 10 years,” Dergarabedian said.

“Star Wars,” created by filmmaker George Lucas, has grossed more than $4.4 billion globally since 1977 with six films. “The Force Awakens” is the first of three new “Star Wars” movies being produced by Disney since it purchased the Lucasfilm franchise in 2012 for $4.05 billion.

Earlier Monday, British “Star Wars” fans snapped up tens of thousands of tickets for “The Force Awakens,” with movie theater chains reporting record business for advance tickets.

Cinema chain Odeon said Monday was “our busiest day ever for online bookings,” while Vue Entertainment said it had sold 10,000 tickets within the first 90 minutes. Both said some customers faced delays purchasing online.