'Apocalypto': A year ago, I would've confidently predicted that Mel Gibson's action-historical epic -- about a peaceful Mayan who's captured by ruthless warriors and marched off to be sacrificed -- would dominate the box office. But after the public bloodbath Gibson's endured over the last six months, I'm not so sure. And speaking of blood, you may have guessed this already, but 'Apocalypto' is violent. Really violent. If you're in the mood for decapitations and scenes where people's still-beating hearts are ripped from their chests, then this is your movie. (I never saw 'The Passion of the Christ,' but apparently this movie's less violent than that one, so take that for whatever it's worth.)
There's every possibility that audiences will take said bloodiness into consideration -- along with the fact that the film is entirely in Mayan and directed by Gibson -- and give 'Apocalypto' a pass. On the other hand, I have to hand it to Mel: He does know how to make a movie. 'Apocalypto' is getting strong reviews, and justifiably so, as there are few directors who could take a film about an ancient civilization, featuring entirely unknown actors, and make it commercial. And as they say in Hollywood and everywhere else, no publicity is bad publicity, right? It'll be interesting to see whether the curiosity factor and positive word of mouth are enough to drive 'Apocalypto' to the top.
'Blood Diamond': I guess we're going with blood as a theme this week, as 'Apocalypto' gets its chief competition in the action/thriller/big-movie category from this film about civil war in Sierra Leone. Leonardo DiCaprio is Danny Archer, a diamond smuggler who hears of a ginormous stone that was found by Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounso), a fisherman forced to work in the mines. Archer wants to steal the diamond and leave Africa for good, whereas Vandy just wants to rescue his son, who was kidnapped and brainwashed by rebels. Violence in this film: kids having their hands amputated, people being shot in the head, and one rebel losing his eye to a bullet. Good times. The issue that 'Blood Diamond' brings to the fore -- the devasting effect that the diamond business has on countries like Sierra Leone -- is an important one, but the resulting movie is something of an awkward marriage between political statement and action-adventure flick. Still, DiCaprio (who gives another fine performance) is a draw, as are explosions; and if this movie opens people's eyes just a little bit, I'm all for it.
'The Holiday': So bloodshed isn't your thing? You'll probably head instead for this Nancy Meyers ('Something's Gotta Give') romantic comedy about two lovelorn women (Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet) who trade houses for two weeks. Surely I'm not giving away the ending when I say that they end up finding love -- Diaz with Jude Law, and Winslet with Jack Black. (The characters, not the actors, silly.) 'The
'Unaccompanied Minors': Kids! Running loose! At the airport! On Christmas! That's pretty much what this movie's about. (It must've been an easy film to pitch to the studios.) Wilmer Valderrama is the biggest star here, as a flight attendant who's tasked with trying to keep the munchkins in check. Will this be the family film to topple 'Happy Feet'? It's possible, but I have my doubts. Wilmer's popular with the ladies, apparently, but he hasn't yet reached the status of his 'That 70s Show' co-star, Ashton Kutcher. And I'm guessing that when given the choice between animated penguins and a bunch of juvenile delinquents, most parents will opt for penguins. Sorry, Fez.
So there you have it: blood, blood, romance and kids. The only thing I know for sure is that when the dust settles, we'll have a new No. 1 movie at the box office -- but what that will be is anyone's guess. Go on, take a whack at it, and please note the deadline below.
NOTE: Prediction entries must be submitted by midnight (Pacific time) on Saturday, and you may only post one prediction. Ready, set ... predict.