Fall/Winter 2012 Preview: 12 Movies Not to Miss
With Oscar season just around the corner something magical is about to happen. Quality movies are gearing up to hit the theaters once again after a lackluster summer. With so many great films to look forward to this fall and winter you’re going to want to be at the theater as much as you can before the dreaded month of January where crap films get dumped. Here are twelve not to miss.
ARGO – October 12th
I’ll admit something up front… I was not as big a fan of The Town as everyone else. Something about that sappy closing scene with horrendous voice over killed it for me. However, if all I had from Ben Affleck as a director was Gone Baby Gone I’d be ready for Argo. Then you toss in a little Kyle Chandler (clear eyes, full hearts) and I will be the first in line opening day. Swoopy bangs, heavy beards and bell-bottoms galore leave no room for confusion, the year is 1979 and Affleck and his crew aim to rescue six U.S. diplomats from Tehran as they hide out.
Based on a true story, Argo tells the tale of Tony Mendez and his plan to rescue American hostages by pretending to make a movie requiring a Middle East climate. The cast is loaded with some amazing talent including some personal favorites. Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman to name a few. Chris Messina, who has been killing it this year also makes an appearance. As well, Scoot McNairy has been popping up just as much as Messina with the upcoming Killing Them Softly and Promised Land. Argo offers an interesting story, great actors and a promising director. I remember the days when everyone thought Matt Damon was the real breadwinner after the success of Bourne. However, Ben Affleck has proven and may do so again that he has real skill behind the camera and has come a long way since Forces of Nature, Pearl Harbor, Gigli, Surviving Christmas….and the list goes on.
SINISTER- October 12th
I had a dream about Bagul (the eater of children’s souls) a few days ago and I haven’t even seen this movie yet. Every time I see the trailer in the movie theater I notice one more thing that is bound to freak me out when the movie finally opens. From the mind of a film critic (C. Robert Cargill) comes a horror movie that utilizes found footage and stars Ethan Hawke as a novelist who becomes obsessed with a group of murders. I find that he is often the best thing of even a terrible movie.
With a veteran film critic as the writer and an experienced writer/director (Scott Derrickson) Sinister has something most other movies don’t with two perspectives on film making working together to form a cohesive unit. In an interview Cargill spoke of how his critical mind mixed with Derrickson’s attention to the audience would meet in the middle from opposite ends and work out perfectly. Anybody can have a decent idea for a horror movie but it’s the execution that is key. This duo have made Sinister a labor of love and I feel confident walking in opening day with high expectations only to have them fulfilled after 110 minutes. After being disappointed by The Possession and countless other horror movies in recent years, Sinister seems the safest best for something refreshing.
CLOUD ATLAS – October 26th
Early reviews have suggested that Cloud Atlas is something quite special. David Mitchell wrote the novel of the same name from which the screenplay is adapted and the story is told in non-traditional style that does not lend itself easily to film. There are six stories, each one in an entirely different world from the next. As if that wasn’t enough one half of each story is told in order (1 2 3 4 5 6) only to have the second half of each story told in the opposite order (6 5 4 3 2 1).
Clocking in at 164 minutes the minds behind the Matrix trilogy (Andy & Lana Wachowski) and director of Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer) seem to have worked out all the kinks and acquired a star studded cast. A five-minute trailer released a few months earlier seemed more than fitting for this sweeping epic. With the likes of Tom Hanks, Halle Barry and many more a wide audience is sure to pour in just to see what it’s all about. Although, I have heard the familiar faces act as a distraction since each actor plays multiple roles spanning across the different stories. From 1850 to a distant post-apocalyptic future and much more in between Cloud Atlas is pushing the boundaries of traditional filmmaking.
FLIGHT – November 2nd
What is it about the Flight trailer that gets me every time? Is it that there are countless moments where Denzel just totally out Denzel’s himself? Those quivering lips and glossy eyes bring back memories of old Denzel before he started mailing it in with the likes of Safe House. Robert Zemeckis is back and taking a break from his motion capture projects to give us a story about a pilot, William Whitaker, that is able to safely land a crashing plane and save everybody on board. However, upon investigating the incident it is revealed that he had alcohol in his system.
When I first saw the trailer, while I did love it I wondered if maybe it gave too much away. Like perhaps showing the amazing shot of how the plane actually crash lands. At this point I’ve seen it so many times that concern is a distant memory and I’m ready to hop in the flight deck with Mr. Washington. The writer of Flight is the man behind Coach Carter, Dreamer and Real Steel so it will be interesting to see how he handles some more dicey material given the R rating. William Whitaker seems to love the ladies and his booze. Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, John Goodman (who is another familiar face on a roll this year) and Melissa Leo round out the cast. A couple of Oscar winners and nominees with a seasoned director should prove promising this fall.
SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS – November 2nd
Colin Farrell and Martin McDonagh team up again to try and find the same magic they did with In Bruges. Add a little Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson and I think they just might do it. All seem to be working within a specific comfort zone and sometimes that’s all you need. The movie revolves around the theft of a gangsters dog and you guessed it hijinks ensue. From the trailer there seems to be just the right mix of quality actors and quirky humor.
I’m not entirely excited to see Abbie Cornish as she is usually a serious bore particularly in last years W.E. (Madonna’s latest attempt at filmmaking.) Although, she is finally washing away her typical fake American accent and doing her own much like Colin Farrell. It’s hard to stop giving Farrell so many chances because even with strange picks like Ondine or Total Recall he comes back with gems such as Fright Night and In Bruges where he nails it. With a supporting cast like this, especially Rockwell back on the wacky best friend train it’s hard to imagine anything but pure enjoyment.
ANNA KARENINA – November 9th
I can’t stop watching this damn trailer. But before I get to that you must accept a few things first. A majority of Kiera Knightley’s work are period pieces having her in fluffy dresses and speaking proper. It’s clearly where she is comfortable and while this gets to be old hat at times you must admit one thing: she is great at it. From the trailer Anna Karenina seems to be her best yet. The music in the trailer builds to a point where it almost breaks your heart. So many close up shots of beautiful symmetrical faces and flashes of scenes bound to sweep you off your feet. As for the director, he has made a career with a few period pieces save for The Soloist and Hanna.
Knightley and Wright are at their best when side by side and I have complete faith in them as a team. While Knightley and Wright appear to be right back in their comfort zone Anna Karenina offers something new in that almost the entire movie was shot on a single soundstage in a broken-down theater in London. This is evident from many shots in the trailer and I must say that it adds an incredibly intriguing element to this classic tale. Rather than your typical adaptation of a beloved novel Wright has chosen a different route that ultimately could be the downfall of the movie or could prove to be worth the risk. Anna Karenina is filled with favorites such as Aaron Johnson, Jude Law and Kelly Macdonald. Coming in at 130 minutes Anna Karenina clearly takes its time with such an important novel.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – November 21st
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence seem to have electric chemistry in the trailer for Silver Linings Playbook. Both play mentally troubled individuals that find comfort in the fact that they both have problems. Pat (Cooper) is fresh out of a mental institution trying to reconcile with his ex-wife but in moving back in with his parents meets Tiffany (Lawrence) who can relate to his troubled past. Sparks fly and that usually spells trouble.
Lawrence has already proven herself with movies like Winter’s Bone and X-Men: First Class, but Silver Linings Playbook gives her something more to work with. She adds a flare to her character that makes her lovable even with her flaws and Cooper does the same. David O. Russell the mind behind The Fighter and I Heart Huckabees tackles yet again a troubled family and I’m glad to see him back at it. The movie opens November 21 just in time to watch a dysfunctional family with your own dysfunctional family.
ZERO DARK THIRTY – December 19th
Why can’t they market Kathryn Bigelow films by boasting about Point Break instead of The Hurt Locker? As one of the few female directors working today Bigelow is back with the tale of how we got Osama bin Laden and Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton and Coach Taylor ehem..I mean Kyle Chandler want to join her. The trailer offers Inception type music to give it that extra spooky vibe and brief glimpses of recognizable faces hint at the star power within the film.
Bigelow seems to be comfortable in desert settings and while that usually makes me feel like I’ve got sand all over me while watching I’m interested to see how suspenseful she can keep this story. At this point the story is widely known on a base level and in an election year Zero Dark Thirty is ripe for controversy. Bigelow is back with the same producer and writer of The Hurt Locker Mark Boal aiming to see if they can strike lightning twice.
LIFE OF PI- December 21st
The international trailer for Life of Pi offers a much more in depth look at what exactly the movie has to offer. I prefer the ambiguity of the original trailer that was released. Having not the read the book I have no idea what I’m in for and part of me likes it that way. Much like the Cloud Atlas trailer there are things with Life of Pi that don’t completely compute with my brain visually just yet. A Bengal tiger, reflective water and a giant glowing sea animal. What in the world? I’m ready to jump right into the story of a boy that gets shipwrecked with a lifeboat and a few animals.
From what I’ve heard Life of Pi is another one of those books that many suggest may not be quite right for the likes of film but that hasn’t stopped Ang Lee from trying. Lee’s filmography varies greatly with such diversity ranging from Hulk to Brokeback Mountain you’re never really sure what he will produce next. Life of Pi is also the only movie on this list that does not have a slew of familiar faces to intrigue a basic audiences. The book may be much-loved but will that love translate to box office gold or maybe even a little golden statue?
THIS IS 40 – December 21st
It is pretty clear at this point that Judd Apatow really loves to direct his wife (Leslie Mann) along with their kids. When I heard about the “sort of sequel” to Knocked Up involving his family I wasn’t sure I could get on board yet again. However, the trailer for This is 40 has so many laughs and is so endearing I can’t help myself. Paul Rudd! He is so damn charming it oozes off the screen. Leslie Mann is doing her wife thing again but it seems like this is the best she has been yet. A theme for this fall/winter seems to be actors in roles that they have done time and time again but mastered the art of.
There is something about the family that Apatow has created in This is 40 that feels so realistic. Mann’s wacky concerns of waking up old and Rudd’s obsession with cupcakes feels like it could be a member of a real family, perhaps even your own. I’m a fan of all the Apatow movies he writes and directs but I have a feeling that This is 40 will prove to be the best yet. We Bought a Zoo tried last year to be the family hit of Christmas through sentimental charm but even with its R-rating This is 40 might be the family movie we all need.
DJANGO UNCHAINED – December 25th
You had me at Christoph Waltz. Oh and Quentin Tarantino too? Django Unchained may prove to be the perfect little gift to us all on Christmas day. Tarantino is back with all the same tricks. Not to mention he has brought along Leonardo DiCaprio on this adventure. You are either a Tarantino fan and it’s not too hard to sell you on anything he does or you completely hate the man. Make no mistake about it Tarantino is a master at getting memorable performances from every actor he works with.
Django Unchained tells the story of Dr.King Schultz who buys the freedom of Django, a slave in the deep south. As Django is trained to be a bounty hunter like Schultz he is really on mission to find his wife who is in the hands of a cutthroat plantation owner. Waltz destroyed a strudel in Inglorious Basterds and proved his pastry genius again in Carnage so the question remains…can he do it a third time? It would be my dream.
LES MISERABLES – December 25th
I didn’t take AP English so when these movies come out based on “one of the greatest novels” I often have no interest aside from things on a movie level. Tack on the musical aspect and I’ve almost walked away. But again, we have a trailer that completely knocks your socks off. This is a prime example of how the art of trailers is something that can never be lost. Anne Hathaway sings with such grace yet you can hear every bit of pain behind each word. It’s clear that the movie looks absolutely fantastic in terms of visual style and also has a cast that many will flock to. Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried all share the screen and flaunt their vocal chops.
Tom Hooper who you might know from a little movie called The King’s Speech is back again this year to wow us. This movie has so much to live up to with actors as singers and Hopper winning the coveted Best Director Oscar last year. With such a widely known and beloved story Hopper has his work cut out for him and come Christmas time we will see if he can please a general audience and those that hold Les Misérables so dear.
LINCOLN – November 9th
I love Daniel Day Lewis and I’m sure he will do nothing but impress, but biopics are often too much of the same thing.
SKYFALL – November 9th
I’m not the biggest 007 fan but with Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) directing I might have to check it out.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY – November 30th
Something about this one just doesn’t have me yet. Even with the likes of Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins I’m not sold yet. At least we know why Pitt started with that long hair.
THE HOBBIT – December 14th
So Peter Jackson just does this sort of thing now right? Ever since the announcement of three films I’ve just been over The Hobbit. I had my time obsessed with Frodo and his amigos. After The Lovely Bones I can’t even stomach Peter Jackson for at least a few more years.
**Looper and The Master would have definitely made the list had this been posted prior to their release dates. Check out my review The Master and check back for my review of Looper later this week.