MIDDLETOWN: AND THE OSCAR WENT TO…

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Sandra Bullock and George Clooney assess the GRAVITY of the situation, as Middletown Township Public Library hosts a month-of-Mondays worth of recent box office hits, Oscar nominees and critical faves.

While it doesn’t have the red-carpet, press-party glamour and cachet of the Academy Awards, the June series of free film screenings at Middletown Township Public Library does boast a lot of the same spotlight films from the last Oscar ceremony — with the possible added bonuses of NO celebrity selfies, NO celebrity-on-celebrity mispronunciation mayhem, and NO live mic handed to Matthew McConaughey.

The 2:30 pm events inside the library’s air-conditioned Community Room begin on Monday, June 2 with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in writer-director Alfonso Cuaron’s end-of-your-tether space suspenser Gravity, a seven-time winner at the 86th Oscars and a bonanza for box offices and Bullock alike.

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WEEKEND: LAUGHING ALL THE WAY

kylegroomsAbove: Standup guy Kyle Grooms is among the headliners taking part in Saturday’s annual Laugh Out Loud Comedy Show fundraiser for 180 Turning Lives Around. Below, it’s a triple-header of Jim Gaffigan shows at the Count Basie. 

A quadruple-whammy forecast of snow, ice, epic low temps and, uh, snow can put a klondike kibosh on the best-laid plans for the holiday-hangover weekend. But those willing to boldly go beyond home and hearth will find some  entertaining people who aim to make it worth the trip or slip. All served up with a smile and a laugh — and all, we feel compelled to add, subject to schedule changes.

jim-gaffigan copyFriday, January 3:

RED BANK: The chilly autumn landscapes of Nebraska and other Plains locales might appear downright tropical when you’re coming into Red Bank Bow Tie Cinemas from the Navesink riverside cold. But if you’re looking to defrost your extremities by the glow of a heartwarming father-son bonding scenario, you’ll need to do the hard miles with Alexander Payne’s comedy-drama road trip, through the kind of quirky relationship dynamics that the writer-director mastered in Sideways and The Descendants. 1960s Hollywood rebel Bruce Dern has his best role in decades as a drinky, distant deadfish of a dad who’s convinced that a direct-mail sweepstakes prize awaits him in Lincoln, NE — and he’s fortified by a strong cast that includes Will (SNL) Forte, Bob (Breaking Bad) Odenkirk and fellow codger contrarian Stacy Keach. At times broadly silly and bracingly sad, Nebraska nurtures a warm ember of humanity at its heart — and it’s playing on White Street with Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers’ seriocomic sojourn of an ambitious folkie adrift in the crashpads and coffeehouses of Camelot-era America. Take it here for showtimes throughout the weekend.

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