Weekend Movie Preview: October 17, 2014

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The weekend movie preview this week feels we've got a couple of easy Oscar contenders for Best Picture hitting theaters.

There's David Ayer's Fury (Best Picture contender) and the Michael Keaton-starring Birdman (easily a Best Picture nod and a Best Actor nod -- perhaps a win). Also, look for the animated The Book of Life to easily score a Best Animated Feature nod. Oh, and there's the latest from Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me.

Fury: Ayer has done it again. After riveting us with End of Watch, he returns with a World War II thriller about a tank crew led by Brad Pitt who is deep in enemy territory. They are fighting for their lives in the most extreme of circumstances and the film also has an ensemble cast that has never been better, including Michael Pena, Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman.

As our Fury review said, Ayer's attention to detail is uncanny, even his capturing of the colors of machine gun fire tracers to featuring a German "Tiger" tank that has never before been seen in a movie. The star of this flick may be Pitt, but the actor who most impresses is Lerman, as it is his journey that is our eyes and ears showcasing the horrors of war. 

The Book of Life: Guillermo del Toro produced this animated gem that is equally about the Mexican Day of the Dead as it is a full-on affirmation of life. Channing Tatum, Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana play the three points of a love triangle that spans decades, life and death. 

Our The Book of Life review was blown away by the vibrant colors and performances, but what really stood out above all else: One, the message of the film that will be one to cherish by families, and two, the score that includes some of our favorite songs done by mariachi bands as well as two original songs that are also likely to join the film itself in the Oscar nod department with a nomination for Best Original Song.

The Best of Me: Sparks is back at making audiences swoon at romance again and as we reported in our The Best of Me review, this is his best film since The Notebook.

Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato star as the younger versions of James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as they team up to tell a story of first love that spans decades and asks and answers the question: Can you get a second chance at first love? 

Birdman: Michael Keaton gives the best acting performance not only of his career, but that we've seen this year from anyone. He is a washed-up actor who is best known for playing a blockbuster movie superhero decades prior to when our film takes place. He is throwing everything he has at a Broadway production as it is his last chance at "doing something great."

The film astounds on so many levels. We cannot recommend this movie enough. For more, check out our Birdman review.

Feel like staying in this weekend? We've got some great titles arriving on digital download. Watch Sleeping Beauty online with its hi-def upgrade of the Disney classic and see Jon Hamm hit a home run in the amazing true story seen when you watch Million Dollar Arm online

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