The Fall of Man

Hollywood's trotting out the beef this autumn.

“Oscar” is usually Hollywood's favorite male name between the blockbusters of summer and the more artistic offerings of the Christmas season. This fall, though, he takes a back seat to Brad. And Harrison. And Viggo. And Will. And Leo and Russell together. And maybe even the lightweight likes of Jim and Adam. And they're just the tip of the guys-berg.

The industry has always been dominated by men in front of and behind the camera. But this season, almost any week brings a film whose selling point is its testosterone-fueled star. For each distaff-driven movie such as “The Women” (Sept. 12), two pictures hitch themselves to XY chromosomes. Some will contend for awards; others will muscle to the top of the box office. It'll be reigning men, either way.

If you want a break from machismo, see my list of more-diverse films in the story on Page 3E. Or if you prefer to sing “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” celebrate these:


03: "APPALOOSA": You'll get a double dose of Viggo Mortensen. He and Ed Harris team up to clean up a small town under the thumb of domineering rancher Jeremy Irons. Then he leads Kodi Smit-McPhee toward safety across an apocalyptic wilderness in "THE ROAD" (Nov. 26).

10: "BODY OF LIES": Leonardo DiCaprio is the wounded ex-journalist, Russel Crowe the shady CIA official who sends him after an al-Qaida killer in Jordan.

17 "MAX PAYNE": Mark Wahlberg is the mega-butch DEA agent whose family is wiped out in a criminal conspiracy; he teams up with assassin Mila Kunis to get revenge.

17 "W.": OK, our prez isn't a hunk now, but maybe as a young fella? Josh Brolin plays him from youth to -- er, maturity, in Oliver Stone's no-doubt-critical film biography.

28 "CROSSING OVER": Harrison Ford, Sean Penn and Ray Liotta split the manliness factor as agents trying to enforce immigration law in the southwestern U.S.


07 "QUANTUM OF SOLACE": Daniel Craig headlines the first James Bond sequel, seeking the people who led his beloved into double agentry in "Casino Royale." He'll also be a Jewish freedom fighter in World War II in "Defiance" (Dec. 12).

21 "THE SOLOIST": Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. share acting honors as a mentally disturbed, homeless classical musician and the reporter who discovers him in L.A.


12 "SEVEN POUNDS": A tender Will Smith profoundly affects seven strangers, one at a time. Director Gabriele Muccino teamed with him on "The Pursuit of Happyness."

19 "YES MAN": Jim Carrey turns his life around by saying "yes" to everything for one year -- including buying a Persian wife online -- in this absurd comedy.

25 "BEDTIME STORIES": Speaking of absurd comedies, Adam Sandler plays a hotel handyman whose fantastic stories to his niece and nephew begin to come true.

25 "THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON": This version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's story stars Brad Pitt as a chap who ages backward, from an old man to infancy.

26 "VALKYRIE": Tom Cruise plays Col. Claus von Stauffenberg in this drama about a plot to assassinate Hitler during World War II. No suspense, I guess, but lots of heat.

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