Oscar Season Preview: Part 1
If there’s one aspect of fall that excites many people it’s the movie releases. Due to their close proximity to the awards show season, fall and winter are notorious for delivering the films most likely to get the attention of Oscar voters. Here are some of the most anticipated films of the season; you won’t want to miss them.
“The Master” (Sept. 14): From the mind of Paul Thomas Anderson, whose previous film “There Will Be Blood” is still hailed as an American masterpiece, comes the story of war veteran and loner Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). He drifts around the country until he stumbles upon Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a charismatic leader attempting to start a new faith-based organization. Freddie is eventually named Dodd’s right-hand man, but their relationship is tested as the group starts gaining cult status, and Freddie questions the teachings of his fearless leader. Still not convinced? A score by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead and the best cinematography seen in trailer footage should do the trick.
“Looper” (Sept. 28): From the mind of Rian Johnson (“Brick,” two episodes of “Breaking Bad”) comes a science-fiction thriller that appears to be this year’s “Inception.” Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose career has blown up this year, stars as a contractor hired by the mob to kill targets that they send to him from the future. In this way, there is no trail left behind. However, this all goes to hell when he recognizes a target as his future self (played by Bruce Willis). Sound confusing? It likely will be. Whether or not this film will actually receive Oscar attention is up for debate, but either way it will likely be the best science-fiction film since “Moon,” and that achievement on its own deserves recognition.
“Argo” (Oct. 12): Ben Affleck’s third go-round at directing is likely to be the film that cements him as one of the greats. Based on the partnership between the American and Canadian governments during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, “Argo” boasts a stellar cast (Affleck, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston) as well as a thrilling story revolving around a fake film crew sent to create a sci-fi picture in the Middle East while covertly freeing six U.S. agents in a 72-hour timeframe. Already receiving rave reviews from the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, this one is lining up to take home Oscar gold in multiple categories.
“Seven Psychopaths” (Oct. 12): Martin McDonough is the best writer in Hollywood right now. Yes, I am aware that Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Kaufman, Quentin Tarantino, etc., are all still alive and working. Doesn’t matter. Don’t take my word for it? See “In Bruges.” It’s possibly the best comedy of the past decade and should be on your list of films to watch. All right, I’m done ranting. Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken star in an ensemble comedy about a screenwriter (Farrell) trying to finish his story (titled “Seven Psychopaths”) when his two friends (Walken and Rockwell) kidnap the shih tzu of a crazed gangster (Harrelson) who is willing to kill anyone who stands between him and his beloved dog. Hilarity ensues.
“Flight” (Nov. 2): I will admit that this potential gem slipped through the cracks when I was gearing up for Oscar season over the summer. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I had no idea that this film even existed. One look at the trailer, though, and I knew I was in for something special. Denzel Washington stars as a pilot who saves a doomed aircraft in a situation similar to the Hudson Bay incident a few years back. After being proclaimed a national hero, sources report that there was alcohol in his blood while he was navigating the plane. Let the legal games begin! A film clearly set up to let Denzel show off his acting chops, the film also has John Goodman and Don Cheadle billed in strong supporting roles. The clincher: Robert Zemeckis directs his first live-action motion picture since “Cast Away.”