Matt's Top & Bottom 10 Films Of 2012
It’s been another solid year of film-going and I’ve reviewed 191 films in total. That's a little down on prior years but it's due to a smaller number of films being released in Brisbane.
We discussed the lists below on my show on 612ABC and we took feedback from listeners on their own favourites. If you'd like to listen to the podcast, just click here.
WORST FILMS OF 2012
I do need to take care of one chore first. That is, I need to name and shame the worst 10 films of the year. Here they are in reverse order...
10. Taken 2 (released Oct 4) is yeah, um, not good. It should be classed as science-fiction given that Liam Neeson is some kind of clairvoyant. The way in which he reads every situation and eliminates the bad guys (who come complete with foreign accents) is laughable. The Austin Powers movies were more believable. Don't get me started on the dialogue.
9. Alex Cross (released Nov 8) is rubbish. A group of cops try to stop a psycho killer guy and nothing really makes any sense. It contains more holes than a donut shop.
8. The Lucky One (released Apr 19) is a dreadful movie. You should know what to expect from a Nicholas Sparks adaptation (The Notebook, Dear John, The Last Song) but this gives new meaning to the words "contrived" and "manipulative". I'm sorry but I didn't buy it for a second. Zac Efron has talent but someone needs to help him land better roles
7. One For The Money (released Feb 16) is a dreadful action-comedy-whatever starring Katherine Heigl as an unemployed woman who takes a job as a bounty hunter and goes after an ex-cop who skipped bail... and who just so happens to be her first boyfriend. The script is all over the place and I almost fell asleep due to the lack of laughs.
6. Kath & Kimderella (released Sep 6) is for people who have a sense of humour that is the opposite of my own. I based this on the fact that there were plenty of laughs from those around me in the cinema. Sadly, I thought the story was terrible and the jokes dismal.
5. Resident Evil: Retribution (released Sep 13) sucked the life out of me. It features tedious, FX-laden action and god-awful dialogue. This series is going nowhere and needs to be put to death.
4. This Means War (released Feb 16) is terrible. Two CIA agents fall in love with the same girl and use any means necessary to win her affections. Ok, I realise rom-coms aren't my favourite genre but this story is dumb and the characters are morons
3. StreetDance 2 (released Apr 19) was abominable. I've had dental appointments that were more entertaining. The acting was poor, the story was non-existent and the dance sequences do nothing to get the blood pumping
2. Housos Vs Authority (released Nov 1) is a movie spin off of the SBS TV show. I can't remember seeing a film with more F-bombs. Fans of the TV series (whoever you are) can check it out but everyone else can steer clear. Watching the two-minute trailer is bad enough.
1. The Door (released Jul 19) was awful. It stars Helen Mirren as a grumpy maid who lives a secretive, reclusive life. This is a boring story with horrendous supporting performances and bizarre flashback sequences. The year's worst!
BEST FILMS OF 2012
In terms of the best, honourable mentions go to The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Artist, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, Young Adult, Moonrise Kingdom, Looper, The Master, Skyfall, Argo and The Intouchables.
However, my top 10 films of 2012 in reverse order are…
10. Beasts Of The Southern Wild (released Sep 13) takes a little while to warm up (such a strange setting) but it develops in a moving story that explores the relationship between father and daughter in a remote community near New Orleans. In her first acting role, 8-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis is simply extraordinary.
9. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (released May 10) is a scrumptious documentary about an 85-year-old sushi maker from Japan and his unmatched dedication to the craft of sushi making. His restaurant has just 10 seats but has been awarded 3 Michelin stars. If this film doesn't make you hungry, nothing will.
8. The Avengers (released Apr 25) can be simply described as awesome! I don’t know how writer-director Joss Whedon squeezed so much material into the two and a half hour running time. Put simply, it’s one of the best superhero movies ever and excels in terms of three key genres – action, comedy and suspense.
7. The Descendants (released Jan 12) is a beautiful film. Director Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election) again proves his wizardry of mixing both comedy and drama to maximum effect. This is a touching story of a work-a-holic father who reconnects with his two daughters after their mother is badly injured in a boating accident.
6. Take This Waltz (released Jun 14) is a funny, sweet, emotional and real experience. We've seen many films about people cheating on their spouses and whether it's the right thing but I love this level headed perspective from director Sarah Polley. It features yet another amazing performance from Michelle Williams.
5. The King Of Devil's Island (released May 3) is a powerful, affecting film that left me wishing I could jump from my seat and help its suffering characters. It is set in the early 20th Century on a remote island in Norway where a group of troubled boys are subjected a brutal disciplinary regime before being allowed to re-enter society. It's amazing.
4. Searching For Sugar Man (released Oct 4) is a wonderful documentary that looks at the way in which a unknown American musician became a huge star in South Africa in the 1970s. This is superbly told with a strong narrative. It teases you with mystery and then when all is revealed, you'll feel amazed, inspired.
3. Margin Call (released Mar 15) looks at 24 hours in the life of a major investment bank that is on the brink of collapse. Thankfully, the film does not demonise these characters - it portrays them as level-headed human beings who must decide whether to put their own interests ahead of others. The dialogue is superb and writer-director J.C. Chandor deserved his Oscar nomination for best original screenplay.
2. A Separation (released Mar 1) won the Oscar for best foreign language film and now I know why. An outsider could see these characters as deeply flawed. That’s not the reality however. Writer-director Asghar Farhadi slips us into their shoes and we appreciate each of their perspectives. Life is rarely clear-cut and you can’t always rely on a textbook when faced when a tough ethical dilemma.
1. Shame (released Feb 9) is the year’s best film. The story is fascinating in itself but it’s Steve McQueen’s careful direction that gives it a seductive, hypnotic edge. He takes us into the life of a sex addict and there’s very little respite. The lack of editing, curious camera angles and odd choice of music will leave many feeling uncomfortable. It's brilliant filmaking.
If you haven't seen any of the above films (well, excluding the "worst of" list) then make sure you check them out.
That closes the book on 2012 and I look forward to doing it again at this time next year!
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Interview - Rich Moore Talks Wreck-It-Ralph
You can down a quick 2 minute audio extract by clicking here.
Matt: “You were involved in the early days of The Simpsons, one of my favourite shows of all time, and now you’ve stepped up to the plate with this animated feature, Wreck-It-Ralph. What sort of changes in technology have you seen in animation over that time? Has it become easier or harder for you?
Rich: “I don’t know if it’s easier or harder but it’s very different. When I started on The Simpsons and began my career back in 1989, the show was being animated on paper, photocopied onto cell and then painted. It’s the same way they made Snow White back in 1937.
A lot of shows now, like The Simpsons, are drawn on a computer. They’re composited in a computer, there are no cells and there is no paint. It’s very, very different but… the goal is still the same – to tell a great story with great characters that takes place in a world that we believe in.
Once I got to know the animators at Disney who were computer-generated animators, we started to speak the same language and it was a simple transition for me to go from a show like The Simpsons to a film like Wreck-It-Ralph.”
Matt: “Let’s talk about Wreck-It-Ralph. It’s such a great concept for a movie with all these video game villains finally standing up for themselves. Where did this idea come from?”
Rich: “I am someone who always loved playing games. I started playing arcade games back when I was a kid. When I started at Disney, I had heard that they had always thought about making a movie about video game characters. This concept had existed in different shapes and forms for about 20 years. No one had been able to crack a story for the idea.
I jumped at the chance to be able to develop something around that concept because my love for that medium and form of entertainment. What I didn’t want to do what to do was make a movie about video games that was all based on action and adventure. I wanted there to be a very solid character at the core of the movie and a very solid dilemma with this character in his mind.
So I fell in love with this idea of taking a very simple character from an old game and putting a complex dilemma in his mind. What I was trying to get at was – what’s the meaning of life? Here the character is programmed to do one thing day-in, day-out. What if he didn’t like that? What if he wasn’t feeling fulfilled?
That simple concept of taking a Donkey Kong-esque guy and saddling him with this very profound existential crisis and setting it all in a video game world was the genesis of the idea.”
Matt: “How did the copyright work with all of these characters? Was it easy getting the rights from all the game manufacturers to get everyone you wanted?”
Rich: “It was simpler that you might think. We were told in the beginning that it might be very difficult but I knew going in that if we were going to make a movie about video games and the history of video games that I really wanted real game characters in it.
So I never tried to limit myself. I approached developing the movie as if we had them. When the time came to actually meet with the game companies, Clark Spencer (the film’s producer) and myself met them face-to-face and we would pitch the movie to them and describe how we would use their characters in the film.
For the most part, people were very receptive. Movies like Roger Rabbit and Toy Story have demonstrated what a movie like this can be. They were eager to be a part of it. We formed real partnerships with these game companies where we didn’t just use their characters but had them involved in making sure that their characters were represented correctly. We gave them approval over script pages, over design, over rough animations and I think it gave us really great performances from those characters that fans of those games have recognised as being authentic.”
Matt: “Moving to the movies, there’s a great cast here with John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch amongst others. How much time did you have to spend finding the right voices for these characters?”
Rich: “For a lot of the characters, before we even picked up a pencil and deciding what these worlds would look like, the writer Phil Johnston and I worked for 9 months developing these characters. Both of us like to work with these characters first – as if we’re going from the inside out.
We were very clear-minded in who these characters were, what their personalities were like and who we wanted to play them. We were able to then go into the process with a clear vision on who we wanted to cast.
We did something a little unusual for a Disney or Pixar film in that we did a table read for the first draft of the script with a lot of the people who we wanted to play the characters. We did this up at Pixar and it was in that moment, once people heard these actors playing these characters for the first time, that we had a clear vision about what this movie was going to be.
Matt: One of the challenges of an animated feature is something that can entertain both adults and kids. As a writer of this film as well, how do you know when you have that balance right?”
Rich: “That’s a good question. It’s something that comes with trial and error. What you’re describing is a type of entertainment that I’ve loved all my life. I’m talking about comedy movies and television shows that I could enjoy, my siblings could enjoy and my parents could enjoy. There’s something very special about those things where I felt like I was part of a bigger experience watching a show or movie.
I’ve always attempted to strive for that in my own career. I think The Simpsons was very much that type of show where we appealed to children, young people and adults. It was a really important factor of the show to Matt Groening that we were not excluding anyone from our audience – we had something for everyone.
Knowing when the balance is tricky. We remade this movie 7 times while it was in production, in a rough form. There are times when you watch it and you’ll watch it with your colleagues and other directors and you get a clear sense that the version played “a little young”. It feels like we’re insulting the intelligence of the adults. We need to “age it up” a little bit. Sometimes you’ll feel that a section is “too adult” and that we’re talking down to kids. We then try to make it more inclusive.
Having done it for a long time and trusting the opinions of my colleagues and friends, I ultimately get to a point where I feel like I’ve struck that balance.
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Pyongyang Party! Matt's Trip To North Korea
I’m back after my travels to North Korea and China! I’ve been busily catching up on movies and have seen a total of 9 in the past 4 days.
Since I’ve had so many people asking, I thought I’d use this week’s blog to talk about my trip to North Korea. It’s a country that so few people get to visit and I found it fascinating.
You can check out more photos on my Facbeook page by clicking here.
You can also listen to a podcast of myself and Jake (who I was traveling with) on ABC Radio where we discussed our holiday with Scott Spark. Just click here.
Here are a few observations from my trip…
They Are As Interested In Us As We Are In Them
I was traveling with a friend of mine (the insightful Jake Araullo) and it was just the two of us on the tour. You can do larger groups but we had arranged a private tour. It’s actually not that expensive – roughly $2,000 for the 4 nights including the flight from Beijing to Pyongyang and all accommodation and meals.
The benefit of the private tour is that we were able to spend a lot of time interacting with our two guides – one male and one female. We had a few long bus rides and we were able to build trust and ask a questions. For example, we found out that they learned their English not from a teacher but from watching Western movies and reading Western books. They have access to this as part of their university education. We spent a solid hour at one point going through our favourite films.
What surprised me was that they were just as interested in us as we were in them. North Koreans aren’t allowed to travel overseas and the guides were quick to ask about Australia. They also wanted to know how the world perceived North Korea and what drove us to visit.
On the last day, we visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea. Through the help of a translator, I had a Captain in the North Korean army ask about my life back home and my thoughts on the United States and Barrack Obama. It was a great conversation!
Standing In An Seemingly Endless Corridor
The International Friendship Exhibition is a ridiculously large museum that is housed in two buildings on Mount Myohyang (about two hours from Pyongyang). The museums house every gift that has been given to North Korea by a world leader, company representative or foreign dignitary. There’s a “leader board” in the main display room which shows that the current number of gifts exceeds 111,000.
I wasn’t able to take any photos inside but the place is huge! On entering the exhibition, I had to place a cover over my shoes and bow in front of a statue of Kim Il-Sung. We then had a welcoming guide show us a sample of the rooms. At one point, I was standing in a corridor that stretched 400m with huge wooden doors all the way along.
Part of me is impressed that they have a way of displaying all the beautiful gifts. I can’t think of another place in the world like it. On the flip side, it does seem somewhat self-promoting. It’s as if they’re engaged in a contest to say “hey look, I have more gifts than you!”
No, I Didn’t Visit A Nuclear Site Or Labour Camp
The terms nuclear launch sites and labour camps are often thrown around when talking about North Korea. Both exist but I didn’t visit them and nor would I be allowed to.
People have made comments to me along the lines of “you realise you only visited the really nice parts of North Korea and didn’t see all the poverty and hardship”. That’s true… but isn’t that how overseas travel usually works? If I’m going to Paris, do I ask my tour guide to see the slums and prisons? Or do I ask to see the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Moulin Rouge?
North Korea does have food and power shortages. When we were travelling at night, we passed 30+ storey apartment buildings with no lights on. Our guides were happy to admit that yes, they do have power shortages in winter and the power is shared around as a result.
Kim Il-Sung And Kim Jong-Il Are Gods
The idolisation of former leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il is incredible. The billboards on the streets don’t feature advertising. Rather, they have huge paintings of these two guys which highlight their power and achievements. That’s not to mention the photos that appear in all major buildings and the giant bronze statues that can be found across the country.
The Mansudae Grand Monument is located in central Pyongyang and features a 60m bronze statue of both Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. Jake and I were required to buy flowers which we placed at the foot of the statue. We then had to stand in a line with our guides and bow. A security guard noticed that Jake was chewing gum and asked that he remove it from his mouth while paying his respects.
We were told during our trip that Kim Il-Sung wrote over 50,000 books and seemed to be responsible for every major development in North Korea. I knew this wasn’t true and it left me wondering if the North Korean people had similar doubts, even if they didn’t express them. I couldn’t quite get a sense of this from my guides.
That said, even if the North Koreas do treat their leaders as gods, is that such a bad thing? Isn’t that what all major religions are about? Raised as a Catholic, apparently God created the universe and he sent his son down 2,000 years ago who had the capability of turning water into wine. I’m not dissing religion but rather trying to highlight the fact that as humans, we like to use a gods and religion as a way of shaping our lives.
To try a different tact, the Queen Of England appears on every bank note and stamp in the United Kingdom. Her photo can be found hanging in numerous buildings. She’s not democratically elected, she lives in a palace in the middle of London and she’s a person that many people look up to. I realise she’s a lot friendlier than Kim Jong-Un (at least I think) but again, idolising a leader isn’t exactly new in our world. The difference is that North Korea does it on a much bigger scale.
Gasp! Shock! Horror! Some People Are Happy
When you walk the streets of Pyongyang, you’ll find that people look happy. I spent an hour in a packed bowling alley playing alongside a bunch of youngsters having fun. I drove past the newly opened ice-skating rink and roller-blading park where people were queuing up to get in. I passed through small towns where kids were playing on the street.
The world gets a very negative picture of North Korea but that’s because of their leadership. That doesn’t mean that everyone in the country walks around in dark clothing with their heads down. They’re not all depressed about the wonderful world outside of their borders that they aren’t able to enjoy.
Part of this could be the fact that they don’t realise what they’re missing out on… but still, many people seem ok with their life in North Korea. They have a strong family focus and not all of them want to travel overseas or read the latest Twilight novel. I always find it amusing that only 30% of Americans own a passport – many of them are content to stay within the realm of their home country.
While getting a tour of the Concrete Wall that separates North and South Korea, I met a 59-year-old Colonel in the North Korean army. He told me that the retirement age was 60 and he was looking forward to his upcoming retirement. His plan was to go fishing each day and spend time with his two grandchildren. I also found it interesting that women can get 1-2 years paid maternity leave if they have a baby.
I hinted at it above but one of the huge downsides of living in North Korea is their limited access to world news. They have 3 television channels and combined, they show just 30 minutes of “international news” on a weekly basis (which I’m sure is biased). I read an English version of The Pyongyang Times on the plane and it had plenty of stories showing how bad life was in South Korea.
At the hotel, we had access to a 24-hour BBC news station (which was great to watch in the evening) but this was only available in certain rooms – i.e. those rooms with international guests. Our tour guides stayed on a lower floor and only had the regular channels.
They have a mobile phone network but it only operates within the country. Tourists can’t bring in their own phones (or any other device with GPS capabilities) so I had to leave my iPhone with a friend in Beijing. It’s a strange sensation to feel so isolated.
There’s no internet either. There’s an “intranet” but I don’t think you’ll be finding too much information on it about the Western world. When Jake and I mentioned the term “Twitter”, our guides responded with a blank stare of confusion.
There’s No Traffic!
Most people get around Pyongyang via buses and the picturesque subway system. As a result, there are very few cars on the road and it’s easy to get around. There’s certainly no peak hour rush.
There’s a catch though. The roads are in dreadful condition. It’s as if they were built 20 years ago and not a single ounce of maintenance work has been performed. They’re lumpy, they’re bumpy and there are huge potholes. Sleeping on the mini-bus was impossible as it felt like we were riding a horse!
We had some lengthy drives on our mini-bus and our skilled driver had to keep a close eye on the road the entire time. We often drove on the wrong side of the road (don’t worry, there’s no traffic) just because of the smoother surface. He well and truly earned his salary over the 5 days.
Alice In Wonderland
Late one afternoon, we visited the Mangyongdae School Children’s Palace in central Pyongyang. I said to Jake at the time that it felt like we had gone down the rabbit hole and were part of Alice In Wonderland.
We were escorted around the school by an over-excited 14-year-old girl and as we entered each room, the kids would drop everything and put on a musical show for us. Some of the children couldn’t have been much older than 7 or 8 but they were extremely talented. They spend hours after school each day perfecting their musical instruments. It culminated with a 45 minute show where some of the best students performed on a stage in front of all the tourists.
Rightly or wrongly, this highlights the strong work ethic that exists not only in North Korea but in other Asian countries. These kids have been identified as “gifted” and they spend hours after school each day perfecting their talents. Some might believe that these kids have no life and that they’re missing out on a fun childhood. Others might see an opposite view and be impressed that these children are showing such dedication at a young age.
It’s left me with plenty to think about. Do Australian kids have a strong enough work ethic today? Is there a risk that our country will drop a few rungs in the world order if other countries place a greater emphasis on education?
North Korea Has A Film Industry
I spent an hour or so visiting a film studio just outside of Pyongyang and was surprised to learn that North Korea produces about 30 films a year. That makes it similar to Australia. No Western movies screen in the country but there's enough home-grown product to play in movie theatres (every major town has one) and be shown on television.
As filmmakers can’t travel overseas, the studio had a mix of locations including China, South Korea and Europe. I strolled around the set for a while and enjoyed a cool coffee shop that was hidden away in one of the buildings.
I didn’t get a chance to see any movies while in North Korea (not that it would have helped given they have no English subtitles) but I’d like to be able to track one down and cast my critical eye over it.
A few other quick things that I have to throw in…
Mount Myonyang was beautiful and it was fun to trek through the snow covered mountains. It’s only the second time in my life that I’ve experienced snow.
There are food shortages in North Korea but as international guests, we were well fed. I enjoyed trying some of their local dishes and tasting Kimchi.
It was great to visit the site where the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953. It has inspired me to read more about the Korean War and the involvement of other nations.
I got to fly on Air Koryo – the world’s only one star airline. Based on the taste of the hamburger on the return flight, I can now see why.
I’ll finish up by recommending North Korea as a great place to visit. If you’re sick of the same old, same old holiday destinations, I can’t think of a better choice!
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Sizing Up The 2012 Oscar Contenders
Every year in mid-November, I prepare a blog on the season’s major Oscars contenders. Everyone wants to get their hands on the coveted gold statuette but only one film will be considered “worthy” enough by the Academy. The winners over the past 5 years have been The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country For Old Men.
Those new to the Oscars game but wonder how the Oscars are so easy to predict. The reason is that it’s a race very much run like a election. Some heavy-handed campaigning is already underway and it’s only going to become more intense over the next few months. The Academy hosts screenings of many films for its members and the stars/directors turn up to answer questions and put on a good show – to “wow” Academy members even more.
There can be between anywhere between 5 and 10 nominations for best picture at the Oscars. Put simply, if 5% of a Academy members (there are roughly 5,000 of them) give a film their number 1 preference, it’ll earn a best picture nomination.
In last year’s blog (see here), I named 10 films (assuming the Academy would nominate that many). They only nominated 9 and they consisted of my own top 9 predictions. I also named 3 of the 4 acting winners. I’ve mentioned this before but I don’t say this to gloat. There are Oscar pundits who are wiser than myself. I only make the statement to illustrate the often predictable nature of the awards.
Anyway, most Oscar-calibre releases are saved for the end of the year but a few have already been released in cinemas. These include Argo, The Master, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises, Moonrise Kingdom and The Sessions.
There are heaps of films still to come though and here are those (in order of release) that will have a crack at a best picture slot…
Release Date In Australia: 22 November 2012
Director: Sam Mendes (American Beauty)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
Release Date In Australia: 26 December 2012
Director: Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter
Plot Overview Per IMDB: An adaptation of the successful stage musical based on Victor Hugo's classic novel set in 19th-century France, in which a paroled prisoner named Jean Valjean seeks redemption.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Release Date In Australia: 26 December 2012
Director: Peter Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings trilogy)
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving
Plot Overview: A curious Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of Dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug.
Life Of Pi
Release Date In Australia: 1 January 2013
Director: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Gerard Depardieu, Suraj Sharma, Rafe Spall
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor ... a fearsome Bengal tiger.
Release Date In Australia: 10 January 2013
Director: Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story Of Anvil)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.
Release Date In Australia: 17 January 2013
Director: Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List)
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Plot Overview Per IMDB: As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.
Release Date In Australia: 17 January 2013
Director: Joe Wright (Atonement)
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky.
Release Date In Australia: 24 January 2013
Director: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill
Plot Overview Per IMDB: With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Silver Linings Playbook
Release Date In Australia: 31 January 2013
Director: David O. Russell (The Fighter)
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
Plot Overview Per IMDB: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
Release Date In Australia: 7 February 2012
Director: Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman
Plot Overview Per IMDB: An airline pilot saves a flight from crashing, but an investigation into the malfunctions reveals something troubling.
Zero Dark Thirty
Release Date In Australia: TBA
Director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Mark Duplass, Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler
Plot Overview Per IMDB: A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy SEAL Team 6 in May, 2011.
Release Date In Australia: TBA
Director: Michael Haneke (Hidden)
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintiqnant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
Plot Overview Per IMDB: Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple's bond of love is severely tested.
The buzz is that there are four very strong contenders – Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Misérables and Lincoln.
Based on everything I’ve read, my tips in order at this stage would be:
1. Les Misérables, 2. Argo, 3. Lincoln, 4. Silver Linings Playbook, 5. Zero Dark Thirty, 6. The Master, 7. Life Of Pi, 8. Beasts Of The Southern Wild, 9. Flight, 10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Les Misérables is the only one of the “big 4” that is yet to be seen by any critics (well, not that I know of) but I know Hollywood loves a good musical and the trailer gives it the feel of a gorgeously shot epic. Argo is the early favourite with bookmakers based on terrific word of mouth from the public and it’ll be interesting to see if it can hang on.
For best actor, my pick is Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln. His major danger is Joaquin Phoenix in The Master but I think the status of Day-Lewis and the fact that he can make history (by becoming the first 3-time best actor winner) will get him the votes required.
For best actress, I’d love to see Quvenzhane Wallis (who was just 6 years old at the time of shooting) get nominated for Beasts Of The Southern Wild. A win would be truly special. It’s a wide open race this year but the buzz is with the Hollywood “it” girl, Jenifer Lawrence, for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. She can do no wrong at the moment and an Oscar could be her next achievement.
For best supporting actor, it’s another wide open race. Names being tossed around include Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook), Alan Arkin (Argo) and Russell Crowe (Les Miserables). The thing is that ALL of these people have won before. Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained) is the only non-winner to feature in the markets. I’d love to see DiCaprio take home an Oscar but I have to lean towards Philip Seymour Hoffman at this stage.
For best supporting actress, Anne Hathaway is in the driver’s seat and has my vote. She has a beautiful voice and seems perfectly cast in Les Misérables. Names like Helen Hunt, Amy Adams and Sally Field have been thrown into the ring but Hathaway looks the goods.
The Oscars will be held on 24 February 2013 with the nominees revealed on 10 January 2013. We’ll get a better indication of the race though when the nominations for the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards are revealed in mid December. May the best film win… for once!
That’s it from me. There’ll be no blog from be next week as I’ll be on holidays in North Korea and China. I’ll miss a few media previews while I’m away (including The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and Les Misérables) but will be catching up quickly on my return.
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All Rights Reserved. Matthew Toomey. 2012.