Milk will earn more hype on the TV news shows than Extra or Access Hollywood, especially after a particularly controversial California ballot proposition banned gay marriage. The November surprise provides a telling comparison with late-1970s San Francisco, when Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) became the country's first openly gay elected official. The substantial role, focused so intently on Penn's performance, promises plenty of Oscar speculation, and takes the issue of gay rights to a societal level where a film like Brokeback Mountain worked on a more personal level. - Hank Brockett
The Mayor of Castro Street, $16 Barnes & Noble.
Movie biographies tend to follow a similar trajectory, one that Walk Hard lampooned effectively for the 10 people who saw it. But Cadillac Records features a different scope, with many more focal points and all kinds of known actors showing off in minor roles. The subject—the true story of a record label at the birth of rock 'n' roll—seems so divorced from the doom and gloom of music in the download age. The movie most likely will try to capitalize on this sense of nostalgia, as well as Beyonce Knowles' turn as Etta James. From what I've heard, her version of "At Last" still can't hold a candle to the original. Whether the rest of the movie does remains to be seen. - Hank Brockett
Etta James Rocks the House, Live, $12 at Amazon.com.