So Called “Oscar Season” at The End of a Decade

Well, it’s here: not just the final two months of 2009, but the end of another decade. Not that these films are necessarily Oscar contenders, but November and December are notorious for launching all the high profile, “good” movies of the year. While we’ve seen some great stuff over the past 10 months, here is a smattering of pictures being released wide in the final two months of the decade that we’re really looking forward to and anticipate much critical love for; including making several top ten lists. Sure there are more than just these titles that are anticipated, and we’d love you to mention them in the comment section, but there are enough here to keep you busy and these are probably the “must sees” for these final 60 days of the year…


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NOVEMBER:

antichrist_poster02Anti-Christ
Lars Von Trier
RowThree review
Trailer
The more I think about this film and the more times I see the trailer the more and more I absolutely love it and little by little it keeps climbing notches on my ten best of the year list. If Charlotte Gainsbourg isn’t nominated for a best actress statue then there is positively no justice in the world. Obviously not for everyone as the film is fantastically brutal and psychologically traumatic. But it is also gorgeous in every way a film can be gorgeous before punching you in the face with tennis racket made of lead.


Collapse
Chris Smith
RowThree review
Trailer
An early contender for a top spot in the year end list for at least one of our contributors at RowThree, Collapse looks to be a thought provoking and well made documentary that teeters on the brink of conspiratorial content but ultimately hard to argue with the facts presented. Like it or hate it, it’s a film that is certain to generate discussion.

Precious
Lee Daniels
RowThree review
Trailer
Look for Precious to be one of the sleepers emerging at this year’s Oscar ceremony. Getting fairly critically approving raves across the board along with a big audience choice win at TIFF already has this thing in the running. But when the lead’s name (Gabourey Sidibe) is mentioned in almost any article referring to early Oscar buzz, we’re guaranteed to see the name Precious popping up more and more. I for one can’t wait to see this hot contender.

The Box
Richard Kelly
Trailer
Video clip
Starting with the cult classic, Donnie Darko before graduating into the mess of nonsense that was Southland Tales, I think we’re more eager to see if Richard Kelly can pick himself back up or whether he simply pours salt in his proverbial wounded knees, rather than we are to actually see the film.

Men Who Stare at Goats
Grant Heslov
RowThree review
Trailer
A definite fan boy favorite at last year’s TIFF, Men Who Stare at Goats is a delicious romp that will have most everyone in the theater giggling like children at either the follies of these normally dashing actors or the constant Star Wars references from Obi-Wan Kenobi himself.

That Evening Sun
Scott Teems
Trailer
After Hal Holbrook’s stunning performance in last year’s Into the Wild, I can’t wait to rush the theater to see more. This looks like just the sort of sappy melodrama with an edge that the academy looks for year after year. And while that actually sounds like a negative swipe at the film, I have a feeling the actors keep it well within tolerable limits to create something really special. A “southern gothic” if you will.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson
Trailer
American auteur Wes Anderson breaks his mold a bit with a stop motion animated film that is getting nothing but props from almost unanimously everyone who’s seen it so far and the trailer only strengthens my belief that this is sure to be one of the best of the year. Like most of Anserson’s films it may take more than one viewing to completely get it, but once it’s had time to sink in, I think the potential for a masterpiece is at hand.

Uncertainty
David Siegel, Scott McGehee
Trailer
Looks like we might have a real roller coaster ride of an idea floating in the heads of directors Scott McGehee and David Siegelwas. Sure it looks like another version of Sliding Doors (starring Gwynneth Paltrow), but this appears to have a lot more action/adventure in it than just a simple drama piece. As big JG-L fans around here, though trying to keep the expectations at a minimum, we’re definitely interested.

Broken Embraces
Pedro Almodóvar
Trailer
RowThree review
You won’t find a director working today with a better eye for color theory and technique and it is equally doubtful you’ll find someone who is so obvious in their painstaking, meticulous attention to set detail and lighting than Pedro Almodóvar. But the beauty and brilliance of each and every shot (and I mean every shot) in his latest film, Broken Embraces just goes to show that a director can keep on doing what they do well and continue to amaze audiences without pandering or becoming a stale caricature of themselves. Fans of Almodóvar will be right at home here for yet another delicious operatic yarn of colorful drama.

The Road
John Hillcoat
RowThree review
Trailer
A beautiful tale of post apocalyptic goodness that seems to capture Cormac McCarthy’s written vision as closely as possible. While I don’t foresee any acting nods here, there is certainly some awards in store for The Road on the technical front. Movie goers that can stand to sit through something that is much quieter than the trailer likes to let on and enjoy an art film that is clearly defined into separable acts will find themselves in top ten heaven.


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DECEMBER:

Brothers
Jim Sheridan
Trailer
Admittedly this one probably isn’t going to get as much critical love as the others on this list (though who knows?), but the initial attraction to this picture was two fold: first, the rather striking one sheet and second, the ridiculous cast that includes the talent of Natalie Portman, Carey Mulligan (also likely an Oscar contender this year for her role in An Education), RowThree favorite Clifton Collins Jr and Jake Gyllenhaal. Once this trailer was released, we all collectively thought, “wtf?” – in other words, good enough to at least keep us intrigued.

Up in the Air
Jason Reitman
RowThree review
Trailer
Jason Reitman is back after the knock out success of Thank You for Smoking and the critical darling that was Juno, he returns with rabbit’s foot actor, George Clooney in Up in the Air; which RowThree contributor, Kurt, is already proclaiming as one of the three best pictures of the year. Clooney and Halfyard. Guess we have to check it out right?

The Storm Warriors
Danny Pang, Oxide Pang
Trailer
I’ll be honest, this is one that sort of came out of nowhere as I was looking into these two last months of the decade. Yeah, it’s just martial arts, genre film making and simply isn’t going to be for everyone – least of all the academy. But as this type of film goes, you certainly could do a lot worse than The Pang Brothers, whose films rarely disappoint.

Nine
Rob Marshall
Trailer
Behind the scenes clip
We’ve talked about it a lot around here as of late (well, this narrator has anyway). With a brilliant cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sophia Loren and Kate Hudson, I think there are more past Oscar statues in that mix than I have fingers. So while musicals don’t always tickle our fancy, Chicago director (another Oscar winner), Rob Marshall, doing yet another of what he arguably does best, this is simply a film that cannot be overlooked.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Terry Gilliam
RowThree review
Trailer
Well the obvious draw here is clearly Heath Ledger’s final role. But beyond that, this is Terry Gilliam. Beyond that, this is Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Tom Waits, Christopher Plummer and Johnny Depp. Critical reception is a bit mixed thus far (which is actually something that we relish around here) but again, if that’s not enough to convince you, our own Kurt Halfyard came out of TIFF singing the praises of Gilliam and company for another job well done. I imagine this is one that few will miss.

A Single Man
Tom Ford
Trailer
I have to admit I know almost nothing about this film. I heard little of this or that coming out of TIFF and I don’t think anyone I know (in this circle) even saw it or talked about it. But the trailer is fairly staggering with gorgeous cinematography and sort of a Coen Brothers meets Hitchcock vibe to it. Of course it also showcases RowThree favorites Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. Even though this appears to be a writer/directorial debut, judging solely by the trailer, this thing has Oscar written all over its sleeve.

Invictus
Clint Eastwood
Trailer
You can’t really have an end of year list and not mention a Clint Eastwood film can you? No, you can’t, so we just did.

The Lovely Bones
Peter Jackson
Trailer
Based on the novel of the same name, The Lovely Bones boasts a really nice cast and The Fountain-esque visuals. Peter Jackson is no stranger to the red carpet in Holllywood and it’s quite possible he’ll be walking it again come Oscar night. Thank God he’s strayed from those conventional Hobbit movies and moved on to something a bit more heady.

The White Ribbon
Michael Haneke
RowThree review
Trailer
A little surprising that this was the Palme d’Or winner at last year’s Cannes film Fest… or is it? Having only seen the film one time I think it’s one that you can’t fully appreciate with only one viewing. The story is slow and a bit on the dull side but I think just under the surface is something sinister and fantastic wanting to boil up. The black and white cinematography maybe one of the most beautifully shot B&W films ever made and again, there’s more to this story and its subtext than first meets the eye. This just might be the film to see in 2009.

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Marina Antunes
Admin

Great list Andrew. Off the top of my head I can't think of any that you've missed but there are a few on the list which I won't bother with.

The two I'm most looking forward to at this point are THAT EVENING SUN (I can't believe I missed my opportunity to see it) and THE ROAD.

rot
Guest

Looking forward to AntiChrist, Up in the Air, and hell, even The Box.

Collapse is playing for one week in New York City starting Nov 6th at the Angelika cinema, New Yorkers go see it.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

It's going to be really interesting to see how the Oscar race goes this year, especially with ten nominees instead of just five. There have been a lot of great films this year already, but I haven't really seen that many that seem like obvious Oscar contenders. Although I wouldn't be surprised to see Invictus and The Lovely Bones up there even without knowing much about them.

The White Ribbon should be a shoo-in for Foreign Language, at least – I'm hoping the extra Best Picture nom spots will encourage more nominations from foreign and animated films (Up?), but I'm not really sure they won't use them for, like, Star Trek. Maybe there's room to go both more blockbuster and more arthouse. I guess we'll see.

Rusty James
Guest

I saw an early screening of Lovely Bones a few months ago and I thought it was pretty much a train wreck. It wasn't officially completed at the time. But the score was there and everything looked done. The guy said they were just adding better effects shots.
I don't know, it seemed pretty dismal. Most of the performances were awful; Stanley Tucci, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon. Siora Ronan was pretty good though. The audience seemed to like it enough.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

The audience seemed to like it enough.

That, plus Jackson's name, plus based on a critically-acclaimed best-seller is quite possibly enough to gain it an Oscar nom, even if it's not that good. Especially with ten slots.

kurt
Guest

I'm hoping that the Filmbuff channel on Youtube give a simultaneous online release of Collapse, I just finished Ruppert's massive PeakOil/911/CIA-Drugs book and am itching to see this doc which is as much about Rupert as it is about his certainties.

Mike Rot
Member

Apparently there is simultaneous video on demand with theatrical release, and theatrical release is Nov.6th in New York… still no details on what channels.

I read Ruppert's Presidential Energy Policy and it is a great, slimmer read. Toronto-based economist, former chief economist for CIBC World Markers, Jeff Rubin, also has a book that says virtually the same thing as Ruppert, and it is far more visible in the bookshops, called "Why You're World is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller". Its more intensive, less rhetorical, by the numbers look at the inevitability of peak oil reality, and its the book I would recommend to most open-minded people. Somehow he is able to paint an optimistic perspective out of this collapse of modern civilization, and I don't quite buy it, I think perhaps that makes it easier to sell books, easier to be heard, but I think Ruppert's description is more accurate, more akin to human nature.

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