I love movies, and in my opinion (which is shared by many film geeks), this is the best time of year for a cinephile. Screw summer blockbusters, give me my fall/winter pretentious art films.
The big studios are releasing their Oscar Bait films right now, which often means a bunch of well-acted but ultimately schmaltzy films are unleashed on the viewing public. Plenty of middling works get the official pass as “Important Films” by the likes of Entertainment Weekly so that year after year we get a whole herd of by-the-numbers movies that hit all the right notes for the Oscar voters (read: old people).
Right now, you might be wondering, “I thought you just said this was the best time of year for a cinephile, so why are you hating on the films that come out now?”
Because, the truth is, the Oscar Bait films are actually pretty good – technically – they just aren’t as profoundly excellent as many of the smaller or less obviously prestigious films that get released at this time of year. “The King’s Speech” was a fine film, but fairly cliché (carried on the weight of fine performances), and certainly not better than “The Social Network,” “Black Swan” or (in my opinion), “127 Hours.”
I do realize there is a lot of politics in determining what film wins the Best Picture Oscar, but even among the general layman, I think there is a tendency to think “Period British Film” is always more sophisticated than a more current film. But, frankly, the craft and talent displayed in “The Social Network” (across the board) was unparalleled last year.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that I love this time of year because the crop of films released right now is so good, I can nitpick a film as well-crafted as “The King’s Speech.” Good, but not great.
I don’t get out to movie theaters all that frequently (both because of the cost and because nothing annoys me more than people talking during a film), so most of the films that get released at this time of year I don’t actually see until their DVD release. But I make a point of seeing at least a couple of my more anticipated films before Oscar time comes around.
These next few films are the ones I want to see most, and hopefully at least two or three of them I’ll actually see on a big screen.
Lyttleton’s Hastily Put-Together List of Most Anticipated Films of the Winter
1. The Descendants
It stars George Clooney. I would watch George Clooney eat a BLT. Considering that the director, Alexander Payne, also directed “Sideways,” I feel fairly confident in believing this will be one of my favorites of the year.
2. A Dangerous Method
David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortenson working together is gold. Michael Fassbender is getting a lot of love lately, though the only thing I’ve seen him in was “X-Men: First Class” (quite enjoyable), so I can’t pretend to have any particular fondness for him. Still, I tend to trust my fellow film nerds, so I expect him to shine in this.
3. We Need to Talk About Kevin
The uproarious amount of critical praise for this film (and the central performances) has put this on my radar. This may already be out in the US (it is in the UK), but I’m guessing it’ll be a slow burn, so hopefully it’ll be around long enough for me to catch.
4. We Bought a Zoo
Matt Damon, like Clooney, is someone I will watch in anything. Cameron Crowe is hit or miss, but when he’s hit best (“Almost Famous,” obviously), it’s been the best thing for miles. Even a Scrooge like me can enjoy an uplifting film, when it’s done right. Hopefully this is.
Lars Von Trier is both controversial and hated by a great many people. And, yes, “Antichrist” was hard to watch. But, no matter what, his films are unquestionably works of art (you don’t always have to like art). Will I see this in theaters? Probably not, but if the opportunity arises, I’d take it.
6. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
I haven’t read any of Larsson’s books, so I have no opinion on them (and little interest). But David Fincher hasn’t made a bad film. That is a fact, like gravity or evolution. If you want to say, “What about…” just stop. You’re wrong. So, essentially, what I’m saying is, attach Fincher to a film that I otherwise would have no interest in, and it becomes a must-see. (Plus, Karen O singing Led Zeppelin in that trailer makes me almost drool.)
7. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Here is where I prove I’m not entirely adverse to blockbusters. I am of the not-entirely-unique opinion that Sherlock Holmes is the greatest fictional character ever created (hence, my love for House M.D.). To my eyes, this looks like slow-motion-explosive balls of fun. I’m in.
An adapted children’s book shot in 3D? Couldn’t care less. Then you tell me that this is directed by Scorsese and is apparently a love-letter to film history, and you’ve got my attention. I haven’t seen a single film in 3D, but I might break my third-dimension cherry with this one.
9. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
I enjoy spy films and absolutely love films with twists and double turns (I own all three Ocean’s movies), so this definitely looks up my alley. Again, I can imagine not getting around to seeing this in theaters, but if I got the chance, I wouldn’t argue.
10. The Muppets
Bet you didn’t see this coming. But, yes, I’m a sucker for the Muppets, and the kind of tongue-in-cheek humor they specialize in. I mean, singing chickens? Yes.
These are by no means the only films I’m interested in seeing (I still need to see “Drive”; hoping it sticks in theaters a bit longer), and I don’t imagine that all of them will be as good as I hope. But, whether it’s in theaters or as a rental, I fully expect to see all of these movies sooner or later.
Let me know if there are other films you think I’m missing (I know I am). And, hey, maybe join me for a movie night?
But turn off your goddamn cellphone or I will f&%#ing kill you!