Category Archives: Lists

My 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012


1. Django Unchained

Tarantino. DiCaprio. Levitt. What more could you want?

2. Lincoln

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is poised to have a fucking fantastic year in 2012. Add to that a big role in Spielberg’s next epic, Lincoln. Playing Robert Todd to Daniel Day-Lewis’ Abraham, this could be the role that finally gets Levitt some serious Oscar attention. Oh, and the film also features John Hawkes, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Hayley, Michael Stuhlbarg, and David Strathairn, among many others? That’s cool, I guess.

3. The Master

Man, these first three movies are all very exciting to me. It’s Paul Thomas Anderson’s first movie since There Will Be Blood and it’s also Joaquin Phoenix’s first movie since his…social experiment (or whatever you want to call all that). Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, and Jesse Plemons (Friday Night Lights alumni alert!) also star. The subject matter maybe isn’t the most interesting to me (it’s based around a charismatic scientology-like leader), but then again, I would have said the same thing about There Will Be Blood.

4. Wettest Country

Director John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road) reteams with Guy Pearce, and also brings Shia LaBouef, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Mia Wasikowska along for the ride in this crime drama about a Depression-era bootlegging gang. Any movie with that cast is going to grab my attention, and with Hillcoat at the helm, you know it’ll be gritty.

5. Prometheus

I’ve been avoiding the promotional stuff for this film (and most upcoming films, actually), but the cast is enough to get me very interested. Michael Fassbender and Guy Pearce are the at the top of my favourite actors list, and Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Idris Elba, and Noomi Rapace ain’t bad, either.

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I absolutely love the book, and I love that the author (Stephen Chbosky) is also writing and directing the movie adaptation. And let’s talk about the young cast here. It’s like they took every young up-and-coming actor that I love and put them all in one movie. You’ve got Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Johnny Simmons, Reece Thompson, Nicholas Braun, and Mae Whitman. Nice. And Paul Rudd and Melanie Lynskey, too? Extra nice.

7. The Dark Knight Rises

Since it’s #7 on my list in a year full of interesting movies, obviously I’m excited (like the rest of the world). But I’m also nervous. Maybe they should have gone out on a high with The Dark Knight?

8. Liberal Arts

Josh Radnor’s college dramedy was one of the more buzzed-about films at Sundance this year, and it stars Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Zac Efron, and Richard Jenkins. Radnor’s directorial debut Happythankyoumoreplease got mixed reviews, but I was rather fond of it, so I’m excited to see what he’ll do next. I could see this film being a bit of a breakout hit this year.

9. Seven Psychopaths

I would be excited for any new film by In Bruges director Martin McDonagh, so the fact that this one features Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Abbie Cornish and revolves around dognapping is just icing on the cake.

10. Anna Karenina

Joe Wright is a bit of a hit-or-miss director for me (loved Pride & Prejudice, didn’t care for Atonement), but he has definitely proven that he knows how to make a period piece look great. Re-teaming with Keira Knightley, his adaptation of the classic Tolstoy novel also stars Jude Law, Emily Watson, Kelly Macdonald, Aaron Johnson, and Olivia Williams. Awesome.

Up-and-Coming Actors to Watch: August 2011

With the fall movie season fast approaching, here’s a look at 10 rising actors to watch out for in the fall and beyond.

For more of my picks for up-and-coming actors, be sure to check the archive.

Ezra Miller

Age: 18

Miller got his start playing a troubled, internet-addicted teen in 2008’s Afterschool. He’s since appeared in a couple of ensemble indie films, including City Island and Every Day, where he played the gay son of Helen Hunt and Liev Schreiber.  He’s also appeared on the TV show Californication. His unusual screen presence in these early roles earned him the notice of many critics.

But what really seems to have people excited is his upcoming work. Miller will appear as Tilda Swinton’s disturbed son in the highly-anticipated film, We Need to Talk About Kevin. The movie earned major attention at Cannes, and it will be heading to TIFF this fall. Though the film looks harrowing, Miller’s work looks very promising, judging by early trailers and clips. First, though, he’ll take the titular role as a rogue high school journalist in the intriguing-sounding comedy Beware the Gonzo (which also stars Zoe Kravitz and…um…Jesse McCartney). Miller also has a major role in next year’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which will likely introduce him to a much wider audience. It could be his breakout role.

Dakota Johnson

Age: 21

The striking Dakota Johnson (who happens to be the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) made the most of her one scene as Justin Timberlake’s one-night stand in The Social Network last year. And her screen presence (and yeah, let’s face it, her butt) must have made a big impression on people, because she’s got a slew of upcoming projects.

Johnson already appeared in this year’s Beauty and Beast update, Beastly, and she has a major role in the upcoming fish-out-of-water indie film, Theo. She’ll also appear in the indie drama For Ellen, which stars Paul Dano as a musician looking for custody of his young daughter. But things get really big beyond that, because she’ll appear in comedies such as Goats (with Vera Farmiga, David Duchovny, Keri Russell, Minnie Driver, and Ty Burrell), The Five-Year Engagement (with Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, and Chris Pratt), and Gay Dude (with Nick Offerman, Megan Mullaly, and fellow up-and-comer Nicholas Braun). And she also has a role in the upcoming 21 Jump Street remake with Johnny Depp and Channing Tatum.

Nicholas Braun

Age: 23

Enthusiasts of the tween entertainment have probably had Braun on their radar for a while now. Not only did he appear in the Disney Channel Original movies The Princess Protection Program and Minutemen, but he also had a lead role on the ABC Family show adaptation of 10 Things I Hate About You (he played the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character). As well, he provided some genuine charm to Disney’s big-screen movie, Prom, this year (and if you read my review, you’ll see his performance was one of the major reasons that I somewhat enjoyed the film).

But for those of us who enjoy movies that are targeted towards people above the age of 12, there’s still a good reason to be aware of Braun. He’ll play one of the three teen leads (along with Michael Angarano and Kyle Gallner) in Kevin Smith’s much-discussed Red State, which opens this fall. And Kevin Smith likes Braun so much that he cast him as the star in his next (and final?) directorial project, Hit Somebody. In the film (which will apparently be split into two parts), Braun will play an aspiring hockey player whose true talent lies only in getting into fights. Braun will also play the non-gay half of a duo of friends in Gay Dude (which recently signed Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly for supporting roles). And as if all of THAT wasn’t enough, he also has a small role in next year’s adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a supporting role in Chalet Girl (which stars it-girl to-be Felicity Jones), a leading role as a “Jesus-freak” love interest in Before You Say Goodbye, and a major role in the TV movie Brave New World (which apparently is not Aldous Huxley-related). Whew.

Henry Cavill

Age: 28

Henry Cavill certainly doesn’t need my endorsement, but he’s probably the next Big Thing (or at least, the next Sam Worthington). Now, he’s popped up here and there with supporting roles in films such as The Count of Monte Cristo, Tristan + Isolde, Stardust, and Whatever Works. He was also a regular on The Tudors. He’s had a pretty respectable career already for such a young actor. But none of that holds a light to what’s on the horizon for Cavill.

First, he landed the lead in The Immortals, which is directed by Tarsem Singh (The Fall and The Cell). When you watch the trailers, it’s not at all surprising to hear that the film is by the producers of 300, and I imagine this film will be met with a similarly large audience. And as if one potential franchise wasn’t enough, he also got cast as gosh darn SUPERMAN in The Man of Steel. Since it’s directed by Zack Snyder (he of 300 fame and Sucker Punch, um…notoriety), it’s sure to be visually slick. And even though I’m tiring of superhero movies (didn’t we just have a Superman film?) the supporting cast includes Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon (yay!), and Laurence Fishbourn, so I have to be at least a bit excited. And as if two leading roles weren’t enough, Cavill will also star in an action/conspiracy thriller called The Cold Light of Day with Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver.

Brit Marling

Age: 27

The multi-talented Marling may have first made an impression as Brita’s “lesbian friend” in an episode of Community, but her ambitions clearly stretch far beyond sitcom guest star. Not only does she star in the Sundance hit Another Earth (which is currently playing in limited release), but she also co-wrote the film with director Mike Cahill. And while Another Earth garnered more attention, Marling also starred in and co-wrote another film from this year’s Sundance festival, Sound of My Voice. In that film, Marling plays the leader of a cult who is the target of two documentary filmmakers trying to expose her as a fraud.

After Sundance, Marling was quickly spotted by studio execs, and she’s become one of the most in-demand young actresses working (she was even forced to drop out of contention for the Tom Cruise vehicle One Shot due to scheduling conflicts). She’s set to join a top-notch cast for Robert Redford’s next project, The Company You Keep, which stars Shia LaBoeuf, Susan Sarandon, Redford, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, and Julie Christie. And she’ll appear with Sarandon once again in Arbitage, a financial thriller also starring Tim Roth and Richard Gere.

Miles Teller

Age: 24

Miles Teller made his big screen debut just last year in the critically acclaimed Rabbit Hole, and his aching, muted performance caught the attention of many viewers. He more than held his own alongside Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. And though he may not have a slew of huge projects coming up, Teller is certainly on his way up after that breakout performance.

His biggest (and most unexpected!) film on the horizon is the remake of Footloose, which will hit theatres this fall. Teller will play Willard, a tough-talking (but apparently light-footed) comrade of Ren. Teller also has a couple of smaller comedies in the works. Project X is a teen party comedy by first-time director Nima Nourizadeh, and 21 and Over tells the story straight-laced students who cuts loose (footloose?) on his 21st birthday.

Tom Hiddleston

Age: 30

British actor Tom Hiddleston is no stranger to UK television, but North American audiences got their first taste of his charm in this year’s mega-blockbuster Thor, where he played the brother of Chris Hemsworth. He was also very memorable as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris. And if appearing in two of the most talked-about films of the summer wasn’t enough of an introduction, Hiddleston has a few more chances to get people talking.

Hiddleston will star opposite Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea, which is set to play at TIFF this year. He’ll also take a supporting role in Spielberg’s buzzed-about holiday blockbuster, War Horse. He’ll also reprise his role of Loki from Thor for next year’s hugely anticipated superhero extravaganza, The Avengers. Hiddleston’s offbeat charm seems to be striking a chord with American audiences, and I expect to see a lot of him in years to come.

Kaya Scodelario

Age: 19

British actress Kaya Scodelario was a fan favourite as Effieon the teen soap Skins, and that notoriety started to turn into big screen promise when she landed small roles in Moon and Clash of the Titans. But while she’s still sticking mainly with smaller projects in the UK, it seems as though Scodelario is well on her way to building up an interesting career. She has some interesting projects on the horizon.

First (and most notably), she’s taking on a huge task by playing Catherine in the latest adaptation of Wuthering Heights. The film is directed by Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank), and I’m very interested to see her take on the classic story. Scodelario will also appear in the British thriller Twenty8k (which stars the underrated Stephen Dillane), a weepy drama about a girl with cancer called Now is Good (which stars Dakota Fanning, the underrated Olivia Williams, and the underrated Paddy Considine), a film about an Iraq veteran who fakes his own death called Invisible, and a teen drama called Stay With Me (where she’ll co-star with Cemetery Junction‘s quirky Tom Hughes). These seem like smart, diverse choices for a young actress, and I imagine that if she gives a worthy performance in Wuthering Heights that will be her ticket for big things.

Bailee Madison

Age: 11

Something is up when a 11-year-old has more IMDB acting credits than a lot of actors three times her age (she has 28 credits, which is more than anyone else on this list). But while Madison charmed her way through small roles in Bridge to Terabithia, Phoebe in Wonderland, and Conviction, it was her work in the 2009 drama Brothers, which struck a chord with most viewers. Playing the petulant daughter of Natalie Portman and Toby Maguire, Madison offered something so rare for a child actor – believability. Her acting was refreshingly natural, and it made for a magnetic performance. It was probably one of the best child performances I’ve seen, so it’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten more meaty projects since then. She shared the screen earlier this year with Adam Sandler in Just Go With It, which, though I haven’t seen it, probably didn’t give her much to work with. But she has at least one project that could be good coming up…

The release of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is just a couple of weeks away, and though it looks like a fairly standard horror flick, there are some promising elements. As well as Madison, it stars Guy Pearce, who almost always makes good movie choices (and is good in everything he picks). It was also co-written by Guillermo Del Toro (who is also a producer), so that should add a bit of zest to it all. Madison’s name even makes it onto the poster, so she’ll probably have the chance to show off some acting here. Beyond that, she’ll be in the comedy Dance of the Mirlitons with Kristen Bell, Chloe Moretz, and Jackie Earle Haley (which might be the most random cast ever), the Corbin Bernsen-directed family drama (huh?) 25 Hill, and Cowgirls n’ Angels (which is not a sequel to Cowboys & Aliens, and sounds…well, awful).

Luke Evans

Age: 32

This guy has 10 upcoming films (and a lot of them are big ones), so let’s get down to it. He’s a Welsh actor who’s done extensive theatre work and appeared in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Robin Hood, Tamara Drewe, and Clash of the Titans. And that’s literally it. No British telelvision. Nothing else.

But that’s about to change. Let’s get the small ones out of the way first. He’s in a Jason Statham action flick called Blitz that’s going straight to DVD in North America, a strange-looking film called Flutter with Joe Anderson, a horror film called No One Lives, a British drama called Ashes with Jim Sturgess, Lesley Manville, and Ray Winstone (which actually sound good), and a leading role in the action film The Amateur American (though production was recently pushed back). BUT first up, this fall he’ll appear as Aramis in The Three Musketeers. Soon after, he’ll play Zeus himself in The Immortals. In 2012, he’ll play a detective in the Poe film The Raven, and he’ll also appear in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as Bard (now I wish I’d finished that book so I knew who “Bard” is). And in 2013, of course he has the sequel, The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

So there’s my latest batch of actors to watch. For previous lists of up-and-comers, click here. If you have any suggestions for actors you’d like to see featured, feel free to leave a comment!

Five Favourite Performances: Luke Wilson

To me, Luke Wilson is an underrated actor. Because even though he rarely gets showy roles, he’s good in everything that he does get. Be it comedy or drama, he can do it. And even though his brother Owen is the more charismatic and popular actor, Luke has an understated presence that I always enjoy. It’s a shame that he’s been relegated to TV commercials recently.

Here’s a look at my five favourite performances of Mr. Wilson’s. I plan to make this into a regular feature about different actors.


1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

As Richie Tenenbaum, a failed tennis prodigy, Wilson is put through the ringer in what is arguably Wes Anderson’s most beloved film. And he nails every bizarre, twisted emotion perfectly. To me, Richie is the heart of this film. While sister Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the most overtly morose and brother Chas (Ben Stiller) is the most overtly neurotic, Richie is a beaten-down, strangely sympathetic character. Wilson also provides the film’s emotional climax with a particular memorable scene taking place in the bathroom.

2. Henry Poole is Here (2008)

This is not an especially great film, but Wilson is quite good in it, I think. His character is very repressed (some would say mopey), and Wilson brings the perfect combination of depression and guarded hopefulness to this quietly desperate character. Some of the other characters descend into caricature, but Wilson keep his Henry Poole grounded. He’s the only thing I remember about the film, to be honest (well, him and the impossibly cute little girl).

3. Bottle Rocket (1996)

Though I liked Bottle Rocket, I didn’t love it quite as much I wanted to. But for me, the real reason to watch it, rather than story or direction (sorry, Wes Anderson) is to see the Wilson brothers in their very first feature film roles. Once again playing a repressed foil to Owen’s vivacious charmer, Luke plays a man recovering from a nervous breakdown. However, Bottle Rocket is less heavy-handed than the first two films on this list. Director Wes Anderson’s signature “quirky” style was already very present in this first film of his, and the Wilson brothers both play off it very well.


4. The Family Stone (2005)

Luke Wilson is often good at elevating the material of his films, which is lucky, considering a lot of the questionable movies he’s appeared in. One of these was The Family Stone. Mind you, I did not dislike this movie as much as a lot of people did, but it was a pretty rote rom-com, with one of those annoyingly high-profile casts. But while some seemed to be phoning it in (Dermot Mulroney, Diane Keaton), Wilson made the best of the trite material and turned in a highly charming performance as the goofy slacker Ben.


5. Legally Blonde (2001)

Wilson plays the straight man to Reece Witherspoon’s bubbly Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and he does it very well. He is low-key enough to let Witherspoon shine (since it is her movie, after all), but he also brings enough charm to prevent his character from becoming completely flat. There’s nothing wrong with a suave, likeable leading man in a romantic comedy sometimes, and Wilson does the job beautifully.

Yet to See: Idocracy, The Wendell Baker Story, Old School, Middle Men, Vacancy

The 10 Best Recent Movies That No One Has Seen

10 Movies Starring My Favourite Actors That I am Afraid to Watch

I’ve lived a relatively sheltered life. My parents were very careful about what I watched as a child and generally adhered to MPAA movie ratings. This is ultimately probably a good thing. But it also means that instead of slowly becoming desensitized to onscreen sex and gore over many years, I kind of just threw myself into it once I had more say in what I watched. And a bit more preparation probably would’ve been helpful before watching Requiem for a Dream in order to celebrate my movie-watching liberation.

That said, I’m up for most movies. I don’t think I’m especially squeamish, and I like it when filmmakers challenge the audience. But there are still a few movies out there that I’m hesitant to watch, even though they feature some of my favourite actors. And 127 Hours (opening today in limited release), which has caused a slew of fainting at screenings, is one of these films. I’m excited for it, and I’m definitely planning to watch it (but perhaps on the small screen, where I can pass out in the privacy of my own home, if need be). But I’m sure it won’t always be an easy experience. So in honour of this, I’m listing 10 films that I’m still too afraid to watch. I’m curious about all of them, and with the talent involved, maybe this will inspire me to finally bite the bullet and give them a try.

(Names in brackets are the actors that draw me to the project)


Hunger (Michael Fassbender)

From first-time director Steve McQueen, 2008’s Hunger tells the story of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender, who earned raves for his gritty performance). The film itself (which recently got a Criterion re-release) is said to be meditative, grim, and unflinchingly realistic. Not a fun time at the movies, but probably very worthwhile.

Mysterious Skin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

After hearing so much about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s searing performance, I watched the first few minutes on YouTube. The film starts with flashbacks to the young boys being lured by a supposedly trusted little league coach. I hope to revisit the film soon (and I suspect that first part may be the most disturbing portion of the movie), but onscreen child abuse is always gruelling.


Hard Candy (Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson)

I’m always very nervous towards films about pedophilia, because that subject is often used simply for shock value. However, I’ve heard great things about this film, and I like both of the lead actors quite a bit. And the idea of the victim turning the tables on her captor is interesting.


Antichrist (Charlotte Gainsbourg)

Gainsbourg has impressed me in I’m Not Here and The Science of Sleep, but to be honest, I’m in no hurry to see this film.


The Killer Inside Me (Casey Affleck)

I love me some Casey Affleck, and it looks like he’s chillingly great here. The big controversy is the violence against women displayed on screen. It only got a 14A rating in Canada, though (as opposed to our “R” equivalent of 18A), so it must not be that bad…right?


Leap Year (Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott)

I’m just scared that it will make me hate Matthew Goode.


Funny Games (Michael Pitt, Naomi Watts)

AND


American Psycho (Christian Bale)

Both films are slick satire, and I’m all for some sharp social commentary. I’m a bit weary of the brutality, but I’m not one of those people who’s ignorant enough to think that films like these and Fight Club (which I loved) are advocating senseless violence.


Savage Grace (Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne)

I’ve read some details about the plot, and honestly, it just sounds fucked up. Incest isn’t my jam. But Eddie Redmayne is. What to do?


Se7en (Brad Pitt)

Director David Fincher doesn’t pull his punches (see the lakeside killing in Zodiac). And a film revolving around a killer who is inspired by the seven deadly sins has all sorts of potential to disturb.