Cold Mountain

  • Directors: Anthony Minghella
  • Producers: Albert Berger, William Horberg, Sydney Pollack, Ron Yerxa
  • Writers: Anthony Minghella, Charles Frazier
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, War
  • Actors: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Eileen Atkins, Kathy Baker, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Hunnam, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, Donald Sutherland, James Gammon, Jack White, Ethan Suplee

At the film’s inception Jude Law plays a young man named W. P. Inman at a provincial North Carolina town. He meets Ada (Nicole Kidman) and is at the fledgling stages of a relationship with her when he marches off to war as a Confederate soldier.

The film opens early in the morning of July 30, 1864. Confederate troops are entrenched outside Petersburg during its siege. The teenaged Oakley (Lucas Black) is handing out clothes from a wheelbarrow while Inman reads letters from Ada. The soldiers are tired and bored. Most are seasoned veterans who have been fighting for over three years. But meanwhile Union engineers are filling a mine under the Confederate trenches with gunpowder barrels while above, hundreds Union troops are waiting to attack. Suddenly back at the Confederate siege works, a rabbit hops into the trench. Just as one of the men is about to capture it the ground rises from under him and there is a huge explosion. The Union lit the barrels and most of the trench exploded. As Inman and Oakley get up dazed from the blast they see Union troops charging at them. As the Union charge they run right into the crater where the trench used to be and are trapped in a kill zone. The Confederates fire down at them but the fighting becomes hand to hand and Oakley is pulled down in by a Union soldier and Inman goes after him. Before Inman can reach him Oakley is bayoneted but survives. Inman shoots the Union soldier with a LeMat revolver he finds and pulls Oakley out of the chaos. The battle ends with a huge Union defeat. As the Confederates are cleaning up after the battle, Inman comforts Oakley as he is pulled to the hospital on a cart. Later that day Oakley dies in the hospital with Inman and Stobrod Thewes (Brendan Gleeson) beside him.

The film ends several years later with Ada, Ruby and their families celebrating Easter. Ruby has married Georgia, and the two have an infant child. Her father Stobrod is revealed to have survived, and it is revealed that Ada’s night with Inman had given her a child, Grace Inman.

Little Miss Sunshine

  • Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
  • Producers: Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, David T Friendly
  • Writers: Michael Arndt
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin

Sheryl Hoover (Toni Collette) is an overworked mother of two children, who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her brother, Frank (Steve Carell), is a homosexual scholar of French author Marcel Proust, temporarily living at home with the family after having attempted suicide. Sheryl’s husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) has a Type A personality, and is striving to build a career as a motivational speaker and life coach. Dwayne (Paul Dano), Sheryl’s son from a previous marriage, is a Nietzsche-reading troubled teenager who has taken a vow of silence until he can accomplish his dream of becoming a test pilot. Richard’s foulmouthed father Edwin (Alan Arkin), recently evicted from a retirement home for snorting heroin, lives with the family; he is close to his seven-year-old granddaughter Olive (Abigail Breslin).

Olive learns she has qualified for the “Little Miss Sunshine” beauty pageant that is being held in Redondo Beach, California in two days. Her parents and Edwin, who has been coaching her, want to support her, and Frank and Dwayne cannot be left alone, so the whole family goes. Because they have little money, they go on an 800-mile (1,287-km) road trip in their yellow Volkswagen T2 Microbus.

The family is next seen outside the hotel’s security office where a police officer gives them their freedom in return for a promise never to enter a beauty pageant in the state of California again. Piling into the van with the horn still honking, they happily smash through the barrier of the hotel’s toll booth and head back to their home in Albuquerque.