Archive for December, 2012

2012’s top 10 movies of the year

Posted: December 30, 2012 in Movies

It’s been an interesting year for movies, that’s for sure.  2012 was the biggest year ever recorded for the box office, with the like’s of The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

Here’s a look at my top 10 movies of the year – keep in mind, I’ll only include films I’ve seen.

10) Beasts of the Southern Wild

It’s very rare that a first time director and first time actors come together to create something magical, but Benh Zeitlin has done it with his debut film Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Starring Quvenzhané Wallis as a little girl taking care of her sick father in the bayou’s of Louisiana.  Having to care for her father while bracing for a hurricane all the while having the imagination necessary for a five year old, is no small feat.  It’s a heartfelt story filled with adventure, well worth your time.

9) Killer Joe

Matthew McConaughey rarely gets the due he’s deserved because, quite frankly, he often picks shitty movies to be a part of.  But 2012 was McConaughey’s year.  From Magic Mike to Bernie to Killer Mike, McConaughey killed every role he was in this year.  His role as the renegade Texas cop hired to kill a woman for her insurance money is perhaps his best role in years and completely strips off everything you know about the actor.  His psychotic episode that takes place at the end of the film is a must see simply because you’ve never seen Matthew McConaughey act like that.

8) Pitch Perfect

Did you see Pitch Perfect?  If not, why?  Pitch Perfect might be the funniest film of 2012 that doesn’t have an animated teddy bear in it.  Starring Anna Kendrick and Dane Cook’s doppelganger – Skylar Astin – as budding college a capella stars.  However it is Rebel Wilson’s “Fat Amy” character that is the true star of the show and may have propelled the actress to stardom.  It’s the best ensemble comedy since Bridesmaids and the best teenage comedy since Mean Girls.

7) Lincoln

Steven Spielberg has been on a role lately, no matter if you saw War Horse and The Adventures of Tin Tin, he’s been hammering out hits.  Lincoln is no exception.  The film, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the country’s 16th president, has made $132M domestically – which is huge for a biography.  Tommy Lee Jones is the true star of the film as Thaddeus Stevens, the most powerful Republican in the United States Congress at the time.  Lincoln is a fantastic character study, even though Daniel Day-Lewis’ Abraham Lincoln voice gets pretty annoying after a while.

6) The Dark Knight Rises

The conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is a massive treat for fans of the character.  While it’s not the best film of the trilogy it’s the largest and may include the best ensemble.  Tom Hardy’s turn as the terrorist Bane is fantastic (while his voice never gets old) and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman might be the best we’ve seen.  However, it’s the conclusion of the trilogy that really makes the film worth investing in.

5) Skyfall

When you think of best films of the year you rarely think of James Bond, but it was Skyfall that allowed the character to transcend into “best of” material.   The best grossing James Bond film to date wasn’t by accident.  Daniel Craig as the stripped down Bond with Javier Bardem giving his best chilling performance since No Country for Old Men allows Skyfall to be one of the best of 2012.

4) Looper

A small budget science-fiction film on the list of best of 2012?  Unheard of, right?  A lot of people didn’t like Looper simply because the film requires some imagination when it comes to time travel.  Not I though.  The better storyline here is how would you handle being tasked with killing your future self?  Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as the same character and director Rian Johnson takes some liberties with CGI to change Gordon-Levitt’s face to look more like Willis’.  It’s one of the best films, regardless of genre, of 2012.

3) Argo

When people think of Ben Affleck, they don’t often think about the fact that he may be the best director in Hollywood.  Yep, it’s true.  He’s only directed three feature films but they’ve been three of the best films of the past several years.  Gone Baby, Gone and The Town were both surprise hits but it’s his latest film Argo which set the film world on fire.  The story of the rescue and extraction of Americans from revolutionary Iran in the early 80’s is excellently told and acted.  The fact that it made tons of money doesn’t hurt either.

2) Rust and Bone

The French film that could!  Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts lay it all out in the open in brilliant performances as a crippled former whale trainer and a down-on-his-luck single father trying to make ends meet.  We already know how great of an actress Cotillard is but it’s Schoenaerts’ performance that is the real eye opener.  The ups and downs he goes through, throughout the film, are emotionally racking.

1) Les Misérables

Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of perhaps the world’s most well known stage play is nothing less than a magnificent feat.  From his direction to the score to the film’s gritty performances, everything is magical.  You’ll cry no less than five times throughout, no lie.  Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway give perhaps the best performances of their careers, and that’s saying a lot.

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‘Les Misérables’ review

Posted: December 29, 2012 in Movies, Reviews

Once upon a time films were made to be spectacles, to be larger than life, to provide a sense of wonderment for the audience.  Once upon a time you went to the cinema to be swept off your feet with romance and amazement.  Think of The 10 Commandments, Ben Hur, and Casablanca.   Over the past several decades filmmakers have gotten away from the sprawling way of telling epic tales.  Nowadays we get intimate small films and films that make the unreal seem all too real.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with a director making or the audience enjoying a small budget affair that brings a personal tale with it.  However, a film such as Les Misérables has no chains and holds nothing back.  It’s grandeur at it’s finest.

Tom Hooper, fresh off his Academy award winning turn with The King’s Speech (a very intimate tale made on a small budget), brings us the best film adaptation of a musical the cinematic world has ever seen.  Sure the likes of West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and Chicago pioneered the genre but it’s that very same genre which has grown increasingly irrelevant over the past 20 years.  It’s an amazing feat unto itself that Hooper was able to wrestle up the star-studded cast for Les Mis considering the genre has been dead.

If you’re not familiar with the story of Les Misérables it centers around the character of Jean Valjean (played by the amazing Hugh Jackman – in his best performance of this year and his career) who steals a loaf of bread to feed his sister and nephew and is sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime.  Once he serves his 20 years he is paroled but marked for life by his crimes, after having his eyes opened by a priest he turns to a life of God and forsakes the name ‘Jean Valjean’.  While he’s busy forming his new life, he’s being hunted by the French police inspector Javert (miscast Russell Crowe) at every turn.   Nearly 10 years later we catch up with Valjean as he’s the mayor of a small town in France while also running many factories.  He stumbles across a sick/dying prostitute – who was fired from one of Valjean’s factory’s – Fantine (beautifully sung and acted by Anne Hathaway) – and vows to take care of Fantine’s daughter, Cosette (excellent performances by both Isabelle Allen and Amanda Seyfried), as his own.  Cosette falls in love with a young French revolutionist, Marius (convincingly played by Eddie Redmayne), but Javerts endless pursuit of Valjean does not allow for Cosette and Marius much time to explore their love.  The story has a climatic ending centering around the French revolutionists facing off against the French army.

Admittedly the film’s worst things – and there isn’t much to pick on – is the casting of Russell Crowe as Javert and the film’s second act.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a musical fan but I don’t know that much about the history of Javert’s character.  Crowe plays the character to a tee but he often seems too uptight and the tone of his voice doesn’t match my vision of the character.  Someone like Jeremy Irons would have suited this role better.  As far as the second act goes, the entire first hour of the film is fantastic, a real sight to behold but once the movie moves past Anne Hathaway’s character you can really spot the impact she had.  You might find yourself looking at your watch during the second act.  It’s nothing against Hooper or the actors, just a combination of remaining faithful to the source material and the character’s lines being sung.

For the good things, there’s about two hours and 20 minutes worth of them.  From the Tony winning performance by Jackman, to Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” being the defacto version of that song, all the way down to maybe the best sequence in the entire film headed up by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baren Cohen version of “Master of the House”.  The film is a real gem and should have no problem winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards in February.

Now, I know film critics have been picking at Les Mis and Tom Hooper’s direction due to all of the close-ups of the actor’s faces.  However, as close-up as it was, the choice to show the agony/dispair/happiness/anguish on the character’s faces was essential to the point of the film.  You can’t explain Fantine’s emotion from 12 feet away, you have to get right up on her as she’s wallowing in the fact that she’s been dead a long time and she’s only now feeling the effects.  The same goes for the shots of Jackman, you can’t accurately show Valjean’s guilt or the scared look on his face without getting so close.  It’s an effect that isn’t for everyone but really suits this film well.

Take a box of Kleenex with you when you go as you’re bound to shed tears a handful of times.  Be on the look out for Daniel Huttlestone in the future, kids has an extremely bright future ahead of him.

Dreamworks is in a bit of a lull right now.  Their last big budget production (and what movie do they do isn’t a big budget production) Rise of the Guardians – while being a pretty fantastic film in its own right – was a gigantic flop considering the budget for the film was near $200M.   That’s why the animation company is banking on their 2013 lineup of The Croods and Turbo to put them back in the swing of things.

While we’ve already seen what The Croods has to offer – and it looks magestic – now we’ve got our first look at their ‘little snail that could’ racing title Turbo.  Starring the voice talents of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Jenkins, among others.  A film about a snail who desperately wants to win the Indianapolis 500 but a recent accident might put his dreams in jeopardy.

The film is out in July 2013.

The first trailer for Ryan Gosling’s The Place Beyond the Pines has arrived and looks like Drive but with motorcycles.  The movie centers around a stunt motorcycle driver who contemplates a life of crime in order to support for his family.  His crimes soon attract the attention with a former cop who is running for public office.

The movie also stars Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes with Dane Dehaan and is directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine).  It’s out on March 20, 2013.

Focus Features have released the second new trailer for the Tina Fey and Paul Rudd upcoming comedy, Admission.  The film revolves around Fey’s character – Portia Nathan – who gives up a child she has had for adoption.  She’s working at the Princeton’s admission office when she encounters a student who believes is her grown child.

Classic comedy of get-pregnant-give-up-child-for-adoption-encounter-child-at-a-later-date-hilarity-ensues.  I mean, think about it.  Who doesn’t love Paul Rudd?

It’s out on March 8, 2013.

‘Pain & Gain’ trailer

Posted: December 23, 2012 in Movies, Trailers

Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson star in Pain & Gain, this Michael Bay directed film about two bodybuilders living in Florida that get caught up in kidnapping gone wrong.  Anthony Mackie, Rebel Wilson, Ed Harris, Ken Jeong, Rob Corddry, and Tony Shalhoub all co-star in the comdey-action film.

Don’t hold your breath on this one though.  I’d rather Bay have given us Bad Boys III than this, but hey, who knows.   The movie is out in April 2013.

For the second consecutive weekend, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has failed to impress at the box office.  It’s certainly not because it’s a bad film – because it isn’t – I think it mainly has to do with people don’t want to sit in a theater for three hours and listen to half a movie of dialogue.  It could also be that some people are just put off by extreme fantasy films – which this is.

Either way, The Hobbit fell nearly 57% over the weekend bringing in $36.7M on a pre-Christmas weekend that will see stiff competition come Tuesday (Les Miserables, Django Unchained).

Second this weekend at the box office was Tom Cruise’s kick ass film, Jack Reacher, which is basically Cruise going around and killing everyone.  The film is based off of a series of books, so you can bet that if this film does well over time, we’ll see definitely see other adaptations.  Jack Reacher made a very modest $15.6M this weekend.  Not impressive at all considering the movie had a budget of $60M.

Third this weekend was Judd Appatow’s not-so-sequel to Knocked Up, This is 40.  Starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as they play characters struggling with marriage in their 40’s.  From the reviews I’ve read the movie means well and is pretty funny over all, it just doesn’t really serve a purpose.  The film made $12M at the box office this weekend.

Rounding out the top 5 this weekend was the Dreamworks holiday animated film Rise of the Guardians and Steven Spielberg’s historical biography Lincoln.  The films made $5.9M and $5M respectively.

Here’s the full top 10:

*Numbers in millions* (TOTALS)

1) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure – $36.7 ($149.8)

2) Jack Reacher – $15.6 (NEW)

3) This is 40 – $12 (NEW)

4) Rise of the Guardians – $5.9 ($79.6)

5) Lincoln – $5.6 ($116.7)

6) The Guilt Trip – $5.3 (NEW)

7) Monsters, Inc. (3D) – $5 (NEW)

8) Skyfall – $4.7 ($279.9)

9) Life of Pi – $3.8 ($76.1)

10) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 – $2.6 ($281.6)

 

Via Box Office Mojo