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The past couple of years, I’ve posted ultra-early Oscar predictions (usually in March). I guess I was slacking a bit this year, but here is my first round of predictions.
If you’d like to see how my early stabs in the dark panned out in previous years, you can check them out here.
The Dark Knight Rises
Life of Pi
Other Possibilities: Moonrise Kingdom, The Great Gatsby, Inside Lllewyn Davis, Hyde Park on Hudson, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Zero Dark Thirty, Killing Them Softly, The Silver Lining Playbook, Gravity, Trouble With the Curve, The Place Beyond the Pines, Brave, Gangster Squad, Lawless, Six Sessions, Rust and Bone, Prometheus, Seven Psychopaths
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Michael Haneke, Amour
Peter Jackson, The Hobbit
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Stephen Spielberg, Lincoln
Other Possibilities: Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis), David O. Russell (The Silver Lining Playbook), Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom), Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly), Baz Luhrman (The Great Gatsby), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Ben Affleck (Argo), Roger Michell (Hyde Park on Hudson), David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis), Ridley Scott (Prometheus)
Clint Eastwood, Trouble with the Curve
This movie sounds like a crowd-pleasing heartstring-tugger, and also a great acting showcase.
John Hawkes, Six Sessions
Hawkes received massive buzz at Sundance for Six Sessions (then known as The Surrogate). He’s an actor whose had a huge breakthrough recently and has been making very smart role choices. I strongly think he will get his second nomination this year.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
I’m not sure how the Lead/Supporting split will go with Hoffman and Phoenix (I’ve seen it predicted both ways), but I imagine they’ll both be nominated. It’s about time for another PSH nomination, right?
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
If there’s one nomination I am almost positive will happen this year, this is it. Unless this turns out to be J. Edgar or something, it’ll happen. Not sure if DDL will get a third Oscar so quickly, but he’ll almost certainly be nominated.
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
I personally don’t think this movie will have the awards season sweep that a lot of people seem to be predicting (it sounds more Iron Lady than King’s Speech, to me), but it seems pretty likely that Bill Murray will be nominated for Best Actor. He might even win his first one.
Other Possibilities: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines), Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly), Ryan Gosling (Gangster Squad),
Amy Adams, Trouble With the Curve
Adams has three Supporting Actress nominations under her belt already, and this father/daughter drama could get her a Lead Actress nom. The Academy clearly loves her, so between this and The Master (which I am currently predicting her for, as well), it seems fairly likely she’ll get nominated again this year.
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Cotillard made big waves at Cannes this year for her apparently raw performance in this Jacques Audiard drama. It is a French-language performance, though, which could be a tough sell to the Academy.
Helen Hunt, Six Sessions
Since winning her Oscar for As Good as It Gets, Helen Hunt’s career hasn’t exactly been stellar. However, this Sundance hit could be the one to turn it around for her. John Hawkes might overshadow her, since it is his character’s story, but who knows?
Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
On paper, this sounds like a good bet. It’s the adaptation of a beloved classic novel directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley. That formula worked very well for Knightley with Pride & Prejudice. We’ll have to wait and see if this one works quite as well, though.
Elizabeth Olsen, Liberal Arts
Olsen established herself as a truly talented young actress with Martha Marcy May Marlene last year. And while Liberal Arts looks considerably lighter, she received raves at Sundance, with some critics calling it a star-making turn. Not sure if this is a lead or supporting performance, though.
Other Possibilities: Kristen Wiig (Imogene), Laura Linney (Hyde Park on Hudson), Viola Davis (Won’t Back Down), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed), Mia Wasikowska (Stoker), Maggie Smith (Qaurtet), Abbie Cornish (The Girl), Meryl Streep (Hope Springs)
Best Supporting Actor
Bradley Cooper, The Place Beyond the Pines
Maybe it’s wishful thinking or maybe it’s a hunch, but I have a feeling that Bradley Cooper will get serious Oscar consideration this year. I don’t know if the Academy would nominate him in the lead category yet (especially when it’s shaping up to be so competitive this year), but if this is a meaty role and he does it well, this could be the perfect “welcome to the club” nomination for him.
Bryan Cranston, Argo
Affleck has had luck getting his supporting players nominated in the past. There are plenty of possible acting nominations for this film, but Cranston seems to have the right combination of critical respect (for his excellent work on Breaking Bad) and relevance (his many recent supporting roles) to maybe get some Oscar recognition, if the role is good.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
DiCaprio hasn’t been on the best terms with the Academy recently, and while I don’t think this nomination is a lock by any means, it seems like a pretty good bet. Tarantino always writes fascinating characters, and it should be interesting to see how DiCaprio does with that style.
Woody Harrelson, Seven Psychopaths
Admittedly, I’m at a bit of a loss with this category. Apparently, Harrelson has a very good part in Seven Psychopaths, and he’s had a few good years, so it could happen.
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Joaquin is back, and I think he’ll pick up right where he left off. And while a three-minute clip is hardly enough to go from, he looks fantastic in this movie.
Other Possibilities: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), David Straitharn (Lincoln), Robert De Niro (The Silver Lining Playbook), Justin Timberlake (Inside Llewyn Davis), Guy Pearce (Lawless), Tom Hardy (Lawless), Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Lincoln), Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths)
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
I have no idea what Adams’ or Dern’s parts are like (and maybe I’m just way too excited about The Master), but I could see both of them getting nominated. After all, if there’s a category where that could happen, it’s Supporting Actress (The Help! The Fighter! Up in the Air! Doubt! Two of which involved Amy Adams…)
Laura Dern, The Master
Dern has had a bit of a comeback with her work on the TV show Enlightened, and if her part is good, she could receive her first Oscar nomination is twenty years.
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Maybe I’m still sore about Hooper beating Fincher two years back, but for me, Les Miserables just has the faint scent of disaster. Now, if that turns out to be true, that doesn’t mean it’ll get shut out by the Oscars (hey, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Lovely Bones!). Hathaway seems like most likely candidate for a nomination.
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
I’m not sure if this movie will be Oscar’s thing, but Jennifer Lawrence is too big of a force to ignore right now. The Academy voters helped launch her by nominating her for Winter’s Bone, so they’ll probably want to follow that up with another nomination sometime soon.
Olivia Williams, Hyde Park on Hudson
Williams has been turning out fantastic, under-recognized work for many years. Maybe this glossy biopic will be what it takes to get her some attention. Playing Eleanor Roosevelt certainly can’t hurt.
Other Possibilities: Vanessa Redgrave (Song for Marion), Jessica Chastain (Lawless), Reece Witherspoon (Mud), Gemma Arterton (Song for Marion), Sally Field (Lincoln), Kerry Washington (Django Unchained), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jacki Weaver (The Silver Lining Playbook)
A few months back, I wrapped up my Best Performances of the Decade series. But while that list included a lot of familiar names and acclaimed performances, I’ve decided to take a look at some of the performances that not everyone has seen. This list contains no Oscar or Golden Globe nominated roles, and I’ve limited myself to performances that received little or no awards attention and were relatively overlooked by audiences (as much as I think that Jim Carrey, Peter Sarsgaard, and Rebecca Hall should’ve been nominated for Oscars, they did receive a considerable awards attention elsewhere for the roles in question, which disqualified them from the list). Here are ten unfairly under-recognized performances from the past decade, in alphabetical order.
Daniel Bruhl – Good Bye Lenin!
Inglourious Basterds may have introduced German actor Daniel Bruhl to a wider North American audience, but it’s 2003′s Good
Bye Lenin! that really showcases his skills. Bruhl’s charismatic performance carries the film, and he nails the sense of whimsy that permeates every scene. Heartbreaking at times and hilarious at others, Bruhl’s performance shows enough genuine charm to cross all language barriers.
Clifton Collins Jr. – Capote
Clifton Collins Jr. is a solid character actor who has lately been favouring tiny roles in big studio films (Star Trek, Brothers). But if there’s one film that proves why he should get bigger roles, it’s Capote. Playing one of the two murderers that Truman Capote investigated for In Cold Blood, Collins makes his character Perry disarmingly and chillingly sympathetic. Collins is every bit as good as lead Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the scenes that they share together are breathtakingly intimate.
Abbie Cornish – Bright Star
Abbie Cornish’s performance as Fanny Brawne, the young love interest of poet John Keats, is just as beautiful as the cinematography in Bright Star. She revels in Fanny’s feisty modernity, but also reflects the melancholy of her restrained life. As Fanny’s relationship with Keats evolves, so does Cornish’s performance – ranging from star-struck to distraught over the course of the film. It truly is a breath of fresh air.
Robert Downey Jr. – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
A favourite performance among his fans, Robert Downey Jr.’s work in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang proves why so many people love him. He’s hilarious, bumbling, and sexy as our protagonist and snarky narrator. Always a scene-stealer, Downey is the epitome of charisma here.
Emile Hirsch – Into the Wild
Previously best known for his work in the teen sex romp The Girl Next Door, Emile Hirsch stunned audiences with his raw performance in Sean Penn’s directorial debut, Into the Wild. Playing a young man who gives up his material possessions and sets out for the Alaskan wilderness, Hirsch is often the only person on screen throughout the film’s 2.5 hour running time. Hirsch takes what could have been a purely preachy character and injects a sense of vulnerability that makes his optimism admirable. He’s entirely charismatic and compelling.
Jared Leto – Requiem for a Dream
Ellen Burstyn received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her work in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, but the unsung MVP of the film is Jared Leto. Leto’s strangely iconic turn as Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life coupled with his foray into emo music has made him something of a critical punching bag, but he proves what an amazing actor he can be here. Much like the film itself, Leto’s performance as Harry is dark and harrowing. It easily could have become caricature, but his performance as a drug-addled optimist cuts right to the bone.
Daniel Day-Lewis – The Ballad of Jack and Rose
As one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, it’s surprising to see how often Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in The Ballad and Jack and Rose is overlooked. It may not be as “big” as some of the other performances that he gave in the past decade, but Lewis’ work here is just as good as anything else he’s done. Playing a quietly desperate, confused man, Lewis’ performance is heartbreaking and unforgettable.
Guy Pearce – Factory Girl
Always a chameleon, Guy Pearce’s turn as the legendary Andy Warhol is uncanny. To me, the entire film is underrated, but Pearce’s performance is certainly the highlight of Factory Girl. The character is often downright unlikeable, and Pearce’s snarky screen presence is striking.
Sam Rockwell – Snow Angels
Sam Rockwell is an actor who is just starting to get the recognition that he deserves, and it’s easy to see why with a film like Snow Angels. David Gordon Green’s story of small-town tragedy is disturbingly beautiful, and Rockwell is stunning as a recovering-alcoholic-turned-evangelist. The film’s bombastic final moments are only amplified by the quiet, desperate journey that Rocwell’s performance takes us on.
Mark Ruffalo – You Can Count On Me
You Can Count on Me is a film that I recently caught up with, and while it provided my favourite Laura Linney performance to date, the real stand-out for me was Mark Ruffalo. His character is an insufferable screw-up, yet rather than making him a downbeat loser, Ruffalo revels in his messiness and makes him a purely charming, memorable guy. There are no big “cinematic” moments in the film, but this allows Ruffalo to give an all-around great performance, rather than relying on select scenes to stand out.
Samantha Morton – Control
Michael Angarno – Snow Angels
Ryan Gosling –The United States of Leland
Keri Russell – Waitress
Jason Bateman – Juno
Benicio Del Toro – Thing We Lost in the Fire
Current filmmakers on the brink of greatness – and those who’ve already achieved it
In the thirteen years since the release of Anderson’s breakthrough film, Boogie Nights, he’s quickly become one of the most acclaimed directors working today. His output is small, but each of his five feature films have earned a devout following in their own right.
And perhaps none of his projects has earned both as many follows and detractors as 1999′s Magnolia. With a top-notch cast including Tom Cruise (who garnered a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his bizarre, larger than life turn in the film), Magnolia could have been a crowd-pleaser. Instead, the film runs 188 minutes long (a full half hour longer than any of Anderson’s other already extended works) and boasts a climax completely with a rain storm of frogs. But to boil the film down to one surreal scene does a disservice to Anderson’s tightly-woven storytelling and soulful, quietly innovative camera work.
Mainstream fervour over this young director reached a fever pitch with the release of 2007′s There Will Be Blood. The film went up against (and eventually lost to) No Country for Old Men at the Oscars in a race that still has film fans debating the desired outcome. The film also earned star Daniel Day-Lewis an Oscar for his now iconic portrayal of Daniel Plainview, and gave Anderson his first Best Director nomination.
With so few films under his belt, Anderson’s canon feels far from complete. Yet, with each film, he takes his craft in new directions. His next project is rumoured to be a collaboration with Anderson favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman on a film concerning Scientology. Whatever the project may be, Anderson has a legion of fans waiting with baited breath.
This list is clearly skewed young, but here are ten actors (plus a few honourable mentions and rising stars) that I love watching onscreen. Feel free to discuss my choices or share you own lists in the comments!
1. Robert Downey Jr.
Essential Filmography: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Tropic Thunder (2008), Chaplin (1992), Zodiac (2007)
Underappreciated Work: Wonderboys (2000)
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman
Essential Filmography: Capote (2005), Magnolia (1999), Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Underappreciated Work: Almost Famous (2000)
3. Daniel Day-Lewis
Essential Filmography: There Will Be Blood (2007), My Left Foot (1989), Gangs of New York (2002)
Underappreciated Work: The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)
4. Ryan Gosling
Essential Filmography: Half Nelson (2006), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), The Believer (2001)
Underappreciated Work: The United States of Leland (2003)
5. Casey Affleck
Essential Filmography: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Underappreciated Work: Lonesome Jim (2006)
6. Leonardo DiCaprio
Essential Filmography: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1992), The Departed (2006), The Aviator (2002), Titanic (1997)
Underappreciated Work: Romeo + Juliet (1996)
7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Essential Filmography: Mysterious Skin (2004), 500 Days of Summer (2009), Brick (2006)
Underappreciated Work: The Lookout (2007)
8. Ethan Hawke
Essential Filmography: Before Sunrise (1995), Dead Poets Society (1989), Training Day (2001)
Underappreciated Work: Reality Bites (1995)
9. Joaquin Phoenix
Essential Filmography: Walk the Line (2005), Gladiator (2000), Two Lovers (2009)
Underappreciated Work: Signs (2002)
10. Colin Firth
Essential Filmography: A Single Man (2009), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Underappreciated Work: Girl With a Pearl Earring(2003)
Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking)
Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon)
Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass)
Benicio Del Toro (Things We Lost in the Fire)
Edward Norton (The Score)
Guy Pearce (Memento)
Sam Rockwell (Snow Angels)
5 Promising Newcomers
Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Milk)
Ben Whishaw (Bright Star)
Sam Riley (Control)
Michael Angarano (Snow Angels)
Logan Lerman (3:10 to Yuma)
Here’s the much-belated fourth installment of my “Favourite Performances of the Decade” series. I’ve seen a few more amazing performances since I compiled my original list, so I’ll likely be posting another five performances soon.
Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There (2007)
Tilda Swinton was quite good in Michael Clayton, but I was shocked when she won the award for Best Supporting Actress at the 2008 Oscars, over Cate Blanchett. Blanchett was one of six actors to portray Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, and though she was the only female in the cast, her performance was hands-down the most captivating and convincing performance of the bunch. Playing “Jude” (each of the six actors has a separate storyline, all of which show different facets of Dylan’s life) Blanchet loped, squinted, and mumbled her way to a pitch-perfect Dylan impersonation. She had this great aura of cool in her gender-bending performance, which made her segment of the story infinitely captivating.
Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood (2007)
He’s one of the best working actors, but Daniel Day-Lewis took his career to new heights with his unforgettable role in P.T. Anderson’s 2007 masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. Over the top in the truest sense of the phrase, Day-Lewis’ performance is amazingly fun to watch. Plainview is already a bit of a caricature, and Day-Lewis’ performance – though hammy – is perfectly demented, and really draws the audience in. Other actors might have looked foolish when reciting lines like, “I…drink…your…milkshake! I DRINK IT UP!” (which became 2007′s most unlikely cinematic catchphrase), but Day-Lewis brings just the right tone to it. The movie staggers around in this kind of surreal, woozy state of semi-consciousness, and as Plainview makes bloody blows and sells whatever is left of his soul, Daniel Day-Lewis slips into his character wholeheartedly.
Amy Adams – Junebug (2005)
Amy Adams shines as the eternally optimistic Ashley in Junebug. Stuck in a dead-end Southern town with a husband who seems to resent her presence, Ashley is still bubbly and excitable. When her brother-in-law visits with his new wife from the city, Ashley finds herself eager to please. Adams plays the demonstrative young mother-to-be with a sparkle in her eye that feels like a giant breath of fresh air. Her genuine performance is at times hilarious, melancholy, and heartbreaking. Adams has since gone on to bigger roles, and she always brings wonderful poise to the screen, but her breakthrough performance in Junebug is unforgettable.
Renee Zelwegger – Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Though I may not be a huge fan of Zelwegger, but her motor-mouthed turn as the chain-smoking Bridget Jones was irresistible. Armed with a spot-on British accent and loads of charm, Zelwegger made the romantically unlucky thirty-something relatable, and provided many laughs throughout the film. Bridget Jones was a top-notch romantic comedy, and Zelwegger helped to elevate it beyond the usual fare. She had great chemistry with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, and whether she was flubbing a public speaking engagement or her own dinner party, she was frothy, light, and hilarious. Forget Chicago, and try this infinitely watchable film, instead.
Joquin Phoenix – Walk the Line (2005)
In an ingenious bit of casting, Phoenix portrayed The Man in Black (aka Johnny Cash) in 2005′s Walk the Line. The dark edge to Phoenix is perfectly suited to the troubled country star, and his brooding acting style fits the tone of the film to a tee. Though Walk the Line is a fairly by-the-numbers biopic, Phoenix’s performance helps to elevate it. He makes the best of clichéd material and embodies the musical legend so believably. The musical numbers are a treat to watch (who knew Phoenix had such a great voice?), and whether he’s falling in love with his wife-to-be (played by Reese Witherspoon) or having a meltdown, Phoenix’s presence is undeniable.
Often considered the precursor to the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes announced their nominees at the crack of dawn this morning. I made some predictions for the major film categories beforehand, and I was surprised to see that my predictions were 100% correct for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy, and Best Supporting Actress. I haven’t seen many of the big Oscar contenders yet (like, basically, I’ve only seen Julie & Julia), but I’ve been following this awards season fairly closely. I might post some predictions for Globe winners, or Oscar nominees later on.
Here are some quick reactions to the nominations.
- I was thrilled to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt nominated for (500) Days of Summer, and for the film to be nominated in the Best Musical/Comedy category. It’s my favourite film of the year so far, and I’m glad that people haven’t forgotten about it in the deluge of big Oscar movies.
- The biggest surprise, for me, in the film categories was probably Tobey Maguire’s nomination for Brothers. I’m sure he’s good in it, but I’ve heard very little talk of awards for his performance. The iffy critical reviews didn’t seem to help his chances, either. I would have expected to see Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker (who I had predicted), Viggo Mortensen for The Road, or Johnny Depp for Public Enemies in the fifth spot of the category (Clooney, Firth, Bridges, and Freeman were obvious nominees) long before Maguire. But I like when the awards shows keep things interesting with some surprise nominees.
- Sandra Bullock, Matt Damon, and Meryl Streep got double nominations (and in Streep’s case, it was two nominations in the same category!) And even though I’d been expecting it, I’m really confused as to why Bullock got nominated for The Proposal (I haven’t seen The Blind Side, so I can’t judge the validity of that nomination). She was fine in it, but I thought that category had so many other stronger contenders. I would have rather seen Amy Adams (for Sunshine Cleaning, or even Julie & Julia), Zooey Deschanel (though she was the weaker of the duo in 500 Days of Summer, she was still good in it), or Maya Rudolph (Away We Go) nominated instead.
- Though I haven’t seen their performances yet, I’m still glad to see these actors nominated, just because I like them J: Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Homes), Daniel Day-Lewis (Nine), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria – wasn’t expecting that one!), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Julianne Moore (A Single Man)
- I don’t follow the Television awards too closely, but I was really happy to see Glee nominated for Best Comedy, and to see Lea Michelle, Matthew Morrison, and Jane Lynch all nominated! Pretty good for a show in its first season.
- When did it become a rule that Julia Roberts has to be nominated for a Globe for every film that she makes?
- I think that the Best Picture – Musical or Comedy category is a lot of fun. I like Julie and Julia, really liked The Hangover, and loved (500) Days of Summer. I have no idea who’s going to win this category, since early reviews of It’s Complicated and Nine seem a bit mixed.
- Could this be the year that a woman finally wins Best Director at the Oscars? I think Kathryn Bigelow has a good shot for The Hurt Locker. I’m sure she’ll get nominated, but she’ll have tough competition in Jason Reitman, James Cameron (who also happens to be her ex-husband), and even Clint Eastwood. It should be an interesting race.
To read the full list of Golden Globe nominees, click here.
Daniel Day-Lewis is an actor who seems to pick his roles carefully, and everything he does usually gets lots of attention. So when I checked his IMDB page a few months ago, I was a little bit surprised to hear that he’d made a movie from just a few years ago that I had never heard of. Since I’m a fan of what I’ve seen from Day-Lewis, I tracked down The Ballad of Jack and Rose. It’s a very small, quiet film, and it’s not especially accessible, so the fact that it hasn’t found a large audience is understandable. But I do think that is a shame, because, as you would expect, Daniel Day-Lewis is exceptional here.
Day-Lewis plays Jack, while Camilla Belle plays his teenage daughter, Rose. Rose has had a very isolated, unconventional upbringing. She and Jack live on an old commune on a small island off the coast of the United States. Jack spends much of the film trying to prevent a housing development from ruining the island. Since he’s in poor health, he invites his girlfriend, Kathleen (played by Catherine Keener), and her two sons (Paul Dano and Ryan McDonald) to come live with him and Rose. Rose isn’t used to any kind of guests at her house, let alone the permanent kind, so things go predictably awry almost as soon as they arrive.
The film is odd, to say the least. The relationship between Jack and Rose is set up to challenge the audience from the start. That being said, I think their “unconventional” relationship is handled well, and the questionable aspects of it really take a backburner throughout much of the story. The environmental aspect of the story is surprisingly well done. It’s not preachy. I questioned a lot of Jack’s actions to “protect” the island from the housing developments, but I was still fascinated by his passion and willingness to fight. Kathleen and her sons also provide a nice contrast to Rose and Jack’s isolated life, though they turn out to be nearly as messed up as our protagonists.
The acting is superb, for the most part. For such a small film, it has a pretty well-known, reliable cast. Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most magnetic actors to watch on screen, and he’s amazing here, as usual. Jack’s certainly not a black and white character, and Day-Lewis plays every shade of grey perfectly. There are a couple of big, emotional scenes for him to work with, and he always strikes the perfect chord. It never feels melodramatic, which this film could have easily been. Catherine Keener also does a really nice job with a character that while being predictable, still brings a lot to the film. Ryan McDonald was one of the few unfamiliar faces here for me, and I found his performance very captivating. He plays the older of Kathleen’s sons. Rodney. He wants to be a woman’s hair dresser, and he’s a really fascinating character. He’s also the only remotely likeable person in the Jack/Kathleen makeshift family (though he is not perfect, by any means), and McDonald brings a lot of warmth, humour, and heart to the role. Jason Lee (yes, from My Name is Earl) even pops up in a tiny role as a plant delivery man, and I thought he gave an unexpectedly great performance, as tiny as it may have been. Camilla Belle was my one question mark in the cast. She gets points just because she managed to pull of the role. It’s tough material, and she’s sharing virtually every scene with Daniel Day-Lewis. That cannot be easy. I don’t think her acting was as great as it could have been if they’d gotten someone more at Ellen Page’s level, but Belle did an okay job.
The Ballad of Jack and Rose is not a perfect film. At times it feels a bit over-the-top (a scene involving an acid pad gets a bit ridiculous), and I would’ve liked to know more about some of the supporting characters. For example, Paul Dano’s character is a pretty messed up guy. I was expecting to learn more about him, but we never really do. Also, as previously mentioned, the characters aren’t very likeable. I’m all for some crazy, despicable characters, but most of these characters just felt blandly unpleasant. But I thought director Rebecca Miller (wife of Daniel Day-Lewis) definitely averted disaster. The relationship between Jack and Rose is clearly abnormal, and it gets into some sensitive areas. Some people might find some of the material a little squirmy, but the film does manage to keep that to a minimum, and never seems to exploit it. This film is certainly worth watching, if not just for Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance. Also, it’s a very nice film to look at. The scenery is lovely, and Miller takes great advantage of it. She captures that dreamy kind of world that hippies would have chosen to build their commune in. It’s a controversial film, in a way, but I found enough to like, and I thought it ultimately made a poignant statement.
I have a few half-finished blog entries floating around on my hard drive, but after seeing a few rather interesting movie trailers at Julie & Julia the other night, I figured that instead of actually finishing anything, I’d share some of the movies that I’m looking forward to most this year.
I’d vaguely heard of Daniel Day-Lewis’ next film a while ago, but I saw the trailer for the first time at Julie & Julia. All I can say is WOW. I’m not exactly sure why I am so excited for this movie. I wasn’t all that crazy about Chicago (which was done by the same director), and while I appreciated the inventiveness of Moulin Rouge!, it didn’t quite do it for me, either. I’m not even entirely sure what this movie is about. Maybe it’s Daniel Day-Lewis, or the incredibly flashy trailer, but something about Nine has just totally captured my curiosity. It looks provocative, over-the-top and just plain exciting, which is refreshing. It’s got an all-star cast (which can sometimes spell disaster, but in this case looks promising), and with Kidman, Cotillard, Cruz, and Day-Lewis, I think it’s going to be good.
Officially released this Friday (and probably never coming to a theatre near me), Ang Lee’s take on the true story of a young man whose property became the site of the legendary Woodstock festival looks like it’ll be right up my alley. The reviews are mixed so far, but I looove Demetri Martin’s stand-up (and I’ve heard that he’s quite good in the movie). The whole 60′s/Woodstock thing has fascinated me for a while (though I do believe that it has all been majorly romanticized), and the movie looks like a wonderful, vibrant coming-of-age story.
Where The Wild Things Are
Excitement levels have been through the roof since the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are hit the internet months ago, and I hopped on the bandwagon right along with everyone else. I love all of Spike Jonze’s work (Being John Malkovich! Adaptation! So many seminal 90′s music videos!), and it looks like he might have topped himself with this fanciful take on the classic children’s book (I’m sure it was read to me at some point in my life…) Whimsical and warm, if the trailer is any indication of what’s to come, count me in.
Well, come on! Robert Downey Jr. is proving himself to be one of the most bankable stars of the late 00′s thanks to his massive comeback in Iron Man, and Sherlock Holmes (set for a holiday release) looks like it could be another huge hit for the guy. I was initially slightly confused by the casting, but after seeing the trailer, I get it. It looks fun, charming, and exciting, and I’m definitely excited for Downey’s performance as Holmes himself. It’s directed by Guy Ritchie and co-stars Jude Law and Rachel McAdams.
Ellen Page is awesome, so of course I’m looking forward to this one. It’s Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, but after being in movie’s all of her life and producing Donnie Darko, she clearly knows how a movie is made. This roller-derby story looks fun and surprisingly heart warming, and I’m glad to see Kristen Wiig getting more film work (even if it is still a supporting role). And whoever that guy is who’s with Ellen Page in the trailer, I’m keeping my eye on him!
Okay, so this one might turn out to be terrible. But for now, I will at least say that I’m “optimistic” about this remake of the 1980 classic dance film. The trailer looked good, and it feels like this is a good time for the Fame remake to be released. With the success of the High School Musical franchise and shows like So You Think You Can Dance, they’re smart to strike while the iron is hot. Fame looks a grittier and more authentic than High School Musical, and seems to feature genuinely talented teens. (Although I just found out that Fame’s only going to be rated PG? Maybe it will be lame after all…)
Jake Gyllenhall and Natalie Portman are two of the most talented young actors around. And even though the plot kind of sounds like a ridiculous soap opera, I’m still hopeful about this project. Somebody finally thought to cast Gyllenhall and Tobey Maguire as brothers, and judging by the trailer, everyone’s chemistry seems good. To me, Brothers looks like it will be tense and brooding, in a good way.
I don’t know much about it, but this adaptation of the acclaimed Cormac McCarthy (author of No Country For Old Men) novel looks exciting and horrifying. Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron are great, and this post-apocalyptic world looks legitimately interesting, unlike some of the big-budget action movies that try to portray a similar world.
The Lovely Bones
I liked the book, so I’m curious to see what they do with the movie. To start with, it’s got a great cast. Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon and Mark Wahlberg are all top-notch actors. While My Sister’s Keeper and The Time Traveller’s Wife apparently fell flat when put to the big screen (though I haven’t read either book or seen the movies), I think that this one could succeed. I’m a bit iffy on the trailer (I think they’re trying to make it look exciting by focussing more on the killing than the Salmon family dealing with the death, which is more what the book was about), but I’ll still definitely be checking out The Lovely Bones.
Okay, so it looks a little sappy/conventional, but I don’t think that there are two better actors out there to pull off a this kind of big, Hollywood romance. I love Aaron Eckhart, and I think that Jennifer Aniston deserves more credit than she usually gets. And any movie that has Judy Greer as the sassy, tells-it-like-it-is friend clearly has some redeeming qualities. Love Happens looks like the kind of movie that I would typically avoid, but I guess I’m just drawn to this one.