OSCARS AND ACTION

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015

An Oscar frontrunner, or so the Hollywood prognosticators would have us believe, is "Selma," which opens today. Also on tap is Liam Neeson's third go-round of his "Taken" franchise — which will never win any Oscars but is poised to run away with the biggest box-office bucks of the weekend.

Sunday we'll know about the box-office tallies and next Thursday (Jan. 15) we'll know the Oscar nominees.

"Selma" (PG-13) is about the 1960s Civil Rights movement — and specifically the 1965 march on Selma, Alabama, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., played in the film by David Oyelowo, who is being touted as a probable Oscar nominee. Also on hand are Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon Johnson and Tim Roth as Gov. George Wallace.

"Taken 3" (PG-13). After his ex-wife is killed, former government operative Bryan Mills … who has a special set of skills … is accused of killing her. This entry in the franchise apparently eschews kidnapping for a revenge/mystery plot with Liam Neeson once again taking on the bad guys in lone-wolf fashion. Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace return, and Forest Whitaker is the cop chasing Neeson, "Fugitive"-style.

"Inherent Vice" (R). With Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood," "The Master") at the helm and a Thomas Pynchon novel providing inspiration, this film noir thriller is bound to be eccentric. Oh, and did I mention that it stars Joaquin Phoenix as a private eye? Co-stars include Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio del Toro and …wait for it … Martin Short.

"The Search for General Tso" (not rated). Comic documentary running a scant 71 minutes explains the name of the popular Chinese chicken dish of the title but also explores the Chinese food industry that is such a mainstay of American eateries, while offering a brief history lesson of Chinese culture. Exclusively at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City.