The leaves are changing a golden hue, little trick-or-treaters will soon be ringing our bells, and the quality of films suddenly takes a huge leap after the September lull that always follows a summer of blockbusters. Yes, Oscar season is here, and we can’t wait to see some of the enticing films coming to theaters very soon or are already here. We each picked three we can’t wait to see.
BRIAN The Master Currently in limited release but I have not seen it yet. Director Paul Thomas Anderson is currently, in my opinion, the finest American director working today. This has a chance at a second, wider release, like last year’s best picture winner “The Artist.”
Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty) steps in to direct the new James Bond film. How could you not get excited?
Ben Affleck directs another thriller, and if his last two films are any indication, this will be fantastic.
Wreck It Ralph
It’s not too hard to predict that a Pixar film will be nominated for an Oscar, but this is the first one in a while I’ve been pumped for. It looks stocked full of video game nostalgia wrapped in a nice story.
Steven Spielberg has whiffed on a lot of movies over the last decade, but this ambitious period piece could just put him back on the map. Academy Award-winners Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sally Field round out an excellent cast.
Django Unchained Any time Quentin Terrantino makes a movie, the world sits up and pays attention. He has yet to win best film or director, but perhaps this is the one to do it. Academy Award-winners Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz star in Terrantino’s first western — a genre that feel made for him.
Nine tells the story of Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), a world famous film director as he confronts an epic mid-life crisis with both creative and personal problems. He must balance the many women of his life, including his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his film star muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer (Judi Dench), an American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson), the prostitute from his youth (Fergie) and his mother (Sophia Loren).
Matt Rating: 5 out of 10
Day-Lewis is engaging as the anxiety-ridden genius director who is on harder times after weak follow-ups to early success. He makes terrible decisions with women, sabotages any chance of happiness, seeks insight into religions and friends. The women who surround him are varied — strong, weak, wise — and the performances are strong.
The major problems with this film are the music and the storyline.
I couldn’t tell you one song from this musical, which is its biggest failure. The greatest musicals, like “Singin’ In the Rain” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” have songs that stay with us. They stand the test of time and stick in our heads like ticks on flesh. But this has weak music. The strongest musical performance is by Hudson, who seemed misplaced on the surface in this cast of Academy Award winners, but she gave a strong performance.
The story goes no where. We are given a compelling performance and character by Lewis — albiet a character we don’t empathize for or relate to — but the film fizzles from uninteresting musical numbers and a plot that takes us no where.