As it’s January, the major awards ceremonies have geared up and cast their retrospective over the previous years’ films. Little golden men are soon be handed out to a raft of teary actors and moviemakers who have rolled the dice on millions of dollars and come up trumps.
In my opinion 2012 was something of a mixed bag; many of the biggest films failed to fulfill their promises ‘The Hobbit‘ was a notable example, with its bloated editing and indulgent design, it couldn’t quite recapture for many, what The Lord Of The Rings had so easily achieved. The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus certainly collected the dollars, but there was a faint sense that neither of these films achieved the full potential promised by their slick, dark and emotive marketing campaigns.
Criticality The Master soared impressing with its towering performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but again watching it myself and talking with a number of other movie-buffs, the movie seemed to miss audiences emotively, and unfortunately for such a fine piece of screenwriting: financially too. Silver Linings Playbook certainly made people smile at the end, but it didn’t really seem to tread any new territory. Starting with a muted attempt to get to grips with Bi-Polar disorder, it then simply abandoned this more interesting narrative for a generic romantic comedy set-up. It’s impressive awards nominations indicates to me something of a wider realisation, that it was a bit of slow year for interesting stories among the bigger studios.
From the evidence of The Golden Globes and The Oscars, it looks like Steven Speilberg and Daniel Day Lewis can continue to manufacture their own trophies with a clear license, with their long awaited collaboration on Lincoln, tipped for awards before it was even written.
For me it took a six year old girl called Hushpuppy (played by Quvenzhane Wells) to bring story, cinematography and performance together in a dreamy but strikingly immediate, frayed-at-the-edge, child’s-eye view of life on the margins of America in the ram-shacked, but beautiful Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Another exceptional performance was that of Jean-Louis Trinitigent as a man who fights for what is left of his beloved wife in Amour was another standout moment. Amour was an unforgettable love story set at the close, as tragic and beautiful in its way as “Tristan und Isolde,”. A portrait of the impossible beauty and fragility of life that brought a new perspective of strength and resolve to cinematic depictions of old age.
And who didn’t enjoy the Hulk in Avengers Assemble?
So after that rather eclectic retrospective it’s time to take a look at what’s in the running for your hard earned time and money at your local cineplex in 2013:
Man Of Steel
Zac Synder ( Watchmen, 300) takes on the most iconic comic of them all, Superman. After widespread fan disappointment with Brian Singer’s sentimental Superman Returns, Warner Brothers brought on Batman messiah Christopher Nolan to produce and oversee a re-launch of Kypton’s lost son. Expect amped up action sequences and plenty of superhuman moral quandaries.
The Great Gatsby
A film that seemed to forget when it was being released, Gatsby finally hits our screens on May 17th. From early trailers, director Baz Luhrmann is, at the very least, heading in the polar opposite direction to the 1974 Robert Redford version, not least the latest news that the reason for its release delays have been down to the fact that Jay-Z has signed on to write the soundtrack. Oh, and it’s in 3D.
Only God Forgives
Scandinavia’s number one purveyor of hard man/soft heart cinema; Nicolas Winding Refn returns after the success of Drive with a tale of cops on the run, Triad gangs and the joys of Thai boxing as a some kind of moral crusade. Also in tow is his current collaborator and can-do-no-wrong-for-women-stalkers leading man; Ryan Gosling.
The Look Of Love
Steve Coogan reunites with long term collaborator; director Micheal Winterbottom with whom he made the fantastic A Cock and Bull Story and quasi-sequal The Trip. The Look of Love sees Coogan play Paul Raymond, the ‘King of Soho’, so dubbed by the press due to his huge club and property empire which, along with his porn business, amassed him a fortune of billions of pounds. Co starring Anna Friel, Imogene Poots (a personal favourite) and The Thick Of It’s Chris Addison, if their previous collaborations are anything to go by, Coogan and Wintterbotton should have a pretty fine film on their hands.
Richard Ayonde’s first foray into Directing; his adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s semi-autobiographical Submarine turned out one of 2011 damn near perfect films, charming, funny and sincere. Now he turns his practiced hands to adapting one of the most celebrated novels of all time Dostoevsky’s The Double. Ayoade has transposed the allegorical tale from period Russia to the modern day American workplace. Expect a quirky, heartfelt take on the timeless life-swapping tale.
Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Rene Saavedra, a man who works in advertising in Chile during the late 1980s. The action happens during the referendum in Chile in 1988, where the public were asked to vote on whether General ( ‘I drop people out of Helicopters for fun’) Pinochet should continue to rule the country. Bernal’s character is part of a group of advertisers who create a campaign trying to convince the public not to vote the dictator (‘ a charming old man’ – Margaret Thatcher) back into power, after 15 years of rule. There was also a ‘Yes’ campaign at the time, and each side had 15 minutes of airtime a night for 27 days. The film is based on the successful play El Plebiscito by Chilean writer Antonio Skarmeta. Directed by Pablo Larraín.
Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire) returns to his day job after pushing the Queen out of a helicopter (no relation to Pinochet) at the Olympic Opening Ceremony to bring us this high concept thriller which sees James McAvoy witness an art heist, square of against Vincent Cassel (officially the worlds coolest man, sorry Gosling) and then wind up in need of some hypnosis via Rosario Dawson to locate his lost memory.
The Worlds End
Do you remember where you where when you first saw Sean Of The Dead? The British film which for many remains a classic, followed by Hot Fuzz make up the first two parts of ‘The Three Colours Cornetto‘ trilogy. World’s End sees Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Bilbo Baggins embark on a pub crawl which may have implications for the fate of the human race. Keep an eye out for a mint Cornetto.
Ashton Kutcher straps on his acting chops in a bid to convince us that this biopic of visionary businessman and probable cult leader Steve Jobs isn’t Dude Where’s My IPhone? The film has already garnered some controversy over it’s inaccurate portrayal of relationships within the Apple empire. However director Michael Stern will be hoping some of ‘The Social Network’ effect may rub of on what is likely to be a compelling talkie of one man’s enigmatic ambition.
Directed by Park Chan-Wook, who brought us the incredible Korean revenge horror; Oldboy, Stoker sees Chan-Wook craft another curiously-titled fairy tale about a booze-addled widow (Nicole Kidman), her sexually charged daughter (Mia Wasikowska) and the strange goings on that occur when their not-sinister-at-all Uncle Charlie (A Single Man’s Matthew Goode) comes for a visit.
Robot & Frank
Set in the near future, Frank (the sublime Frank Langella, see Frost/Nixon ) is a retired cat burglar (as you are). Frank’s kids are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank’s son chooses a different option: against the old man’s wishes, he buys Frank a robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. What follows is a slightly odder take on the ‘buddy’ comedy genre.