Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Looking at the arthouse films for the coming months

Charles Ealy

Most of the arthouse movies for early 2012 in Austin will actually be films that were released on the East and West coasts in 2011 and are considered Oscar contenders.

"The Iron Lady," starring Meryl Streep as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, leads the charge on Jan. 13. Though Streep has earned nearly universal praise for her performance, the movie itself has received mixed reviews. Still, Streep, one of America's most honored actors, will probably be leading contender for an Oscar nomination on Jan. 24.

Also set for Jan. 13 is "Carnage," a film adaptation of the play "God of Carnage," which is currently being performed at Austin's Zach Theatre.

The entire movie takes place in a New York apartment, with two sets of parents arguing over a violent incident involving their two boys. Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly play host to the visiting couple, Chistoph Waltz and Kate Winslet, but it's not exactly a party atmosphere. The setup is reminiscent of "Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?" - the 1966 release based on the Edward Albee play.

Other arthouse movies scheduled to open on Jan. 13 are "Coriolanus," the update of the Shakespeare play, starring Ralph Fiennes; "Pariah," which deals with a Brooklyn teen's search for sexual expression; and "8 Murders a Day," a documentary about the Mexican drug war.

On Jan. 20, the big arthouse release is the 9/11 drama "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," starring Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks and Thomas Horn.

Critics have been sharply divided over the movie, which centers on a son who obsesses over a key that he finds in his father's closet after his dad dies in the World Trade Center attack.

The Austin-made documentary "Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission" also opens Jan. 20. Directed by Mike Woolf, it focuses on the space flight of Garriott, the Austin entrepreneur and gaming legend, in 2008.

The big three arthouse movies for Jan. 27 are "Albert Nobbs," starring Glenn Close as a male butler; "Pina," a Wim Wenders tribute to choreographer Pina Bausch; and "In the Land of Blood and Honey," a drama about the Bosnian war that's directed by Angelina Jolie.

Close has been getting Oscar buzz for her understated performance in "Nobbs," and "Pina" is the official German entry for the foreign-language Oscar.

Here's a look at the rest of the arthouse lineup through the first quarter, with opening dates subject to change:

Feb. 3

"OKA!" Lavinia Currier directs a drama about the life of Louis Sarno, an American ethno-musicologist.

Feb. 10

"A Separation." This foreign-language Oscar entry from Iran is getting great reviews. The drama, directed by Asghar Farhadi, focuses on a married couple trying to decide whether to move to another country in an effort to improve the life of their child. But the decision is complicated by a parent who has Alzheimer's.

Feb. 17

"Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow." Teaming up with the Austin Museum of Art, the Violet Crown will screen this documentary about German artist Anselm Kiefer's creative processes. "Undefeated." This documentary, which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival last year, looks at an underdog football team in Memphis as it gets a new coach.

March 9

"Jeff, Who Lives at Home." Jason Segal and Ed Helms star in a slacker comedy written and directed by former Austin residents Jay and Mark Duplass.

March 16

"Butter." A political satire set at a butter-carving contest.

March 23

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen." Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt star in the tale of a fisheries expert who tries to bring fly-fishing to the Yemeni desert.

cealy@statesman.com; 445-3931