Bruce Willis is bored. The man who made his name first in comedy, then used the action movie to propel himself into super-stardom. Recently however, in an article with The Mirror newspaper (paraphrased by Slash Film) he expressed his thoughts on the genre.
So, 2012 is long over and as a whole it wasn’t the strongest year for movies in memory (though certainly better than 2011 was). With the 85th Oscars coming up this Sunday, we thought we’d share with you our favorite movies of the year. What follows is a list of 12 movies from last year that Scott Fraser, Chris Tansuche, and I came up with after much debate and slap fighting. These are the films we feel most deserve your viewing time. Now these aren’t the ones we expect to dominate the awards season, but rather the stuff we found to be most enjoyable. As well made as Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln were, repeat viewings in the near future aren’t likely. This is a list of the films that we deem are worth consideration of your hard-earned DVD/BluRay purchasing dollar…
Are you yearning for more time traveling tales, but found films like Looper a little bit too serious for your liking? Then you may be happy to hear that MGM (right back after almost suffering bankruptcy) have a sequel planned to their 2010 comedy Hot Tub Time Machine. Hollywood Reporter had this to say about the proposed film.
[box_light]The company is in what insiders characterize as “exploratory talks” with Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke to reprise their roles for the follow-up. Corddry could end up being involved in fashioning a script with Steve Pink, the director of the original who is in talks to return to direct the sequel. John Cusack, who also starred in the original, is not involved at this point.[/box_light]
While not much to go on at the moment, we do know that almost all the creators and stars of the first movie will be involved, meaning that the sequel will still have that nice mix of tragedy, tears, comedy and vomit we all loved seeing before. A shame about John Cusack’s supposed lack of involvement, but it is incredibly early and there is plenty of time for things to change. We do not even know yet if any of the supporting cast will return like Chevy Chase’s quirky handyman character.
The main question that needs to be asked is “Do we need a sequel at all?” The film did make a profit at the box office, with 50 million dollars made on a 36M budget, so it certainly has its fans. But the film was very self contained as it is and you may be wondering where is the tale going to go from here? Well, I have some ideas. The script could pull a Back to the Future 2 on us and have the guys travel forward in time to check to see if their lives are still great or to help out their kids in the future and then they find out that something is amiss. Alternatively they could go back to the 80’s, because of their actions in the first film they could have changed the present so much that it is on the verge of collapse and needs to be set straight again. At this point it could be anything. Though I am still not convinced that a sequel is actually needed, it is not going to stop me going to the cinema if it comes about. The original was a nice, quirky comedy that mixed adult humor with a glamorized view of the ’80s we all wish were true and had a great cast of characters that harked back to the days of Animal House and Police Academy. You never know, they may even get to pop Motley Crue in the film again which is never a bad thing.
We’ll keep you updated as the story develops.
So the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were released and admittedly, the one thing that I figured they could not mess up, they massively screw up. I’ll get to that in a second but let’s start off with who got the most nominations. Lincoln led the way with 12 nominations, with Life of Pi coming up with 11 nominations itself. Silver Linings Playbook managed to get nominations in all the acting categories, ending with 8 nominations. Argo also got 7 nominations but it should have been 8. Again I digress so before I drop into what I thought were true crimes, let’s go over which movies I thought deserved major props.
I am glad that Joaquin Phoenix did make the nominee list for best actor, despite his rant on hating the Oscar campaigning process and the idea of acting awards. Yeah it’s a political process that is kind of stupid and narcissistic but that should have no effect on how great he was in The Master. I still think he’ll lose to Daniel Day-Lewis in the end but, I mean seriously, who else can stop Lincoln‘s momentum after scoring 12 nominations? As for Best Actress, I’m happy that Jennifer Lawrence got her Oscar nomination because I thought she did a great job in Silver Linings Playbook on a role that could have gone south with any other actress. Ditto with Bradley Cooper getting his first nomination for his portrayal of the bi-polar protagonist. He’s come a pretty long way since we saw him The Wedding Crashers. Also, seeing 9 year old Quvenzhané Wallis and 85 year old Emmanuelle Riva nominated is pretty cool to see, considering it creates a record for the largest age gap in nominees in Oscar history. Supporting Actor made me happy with Alan Arkin and Robert De Niro being nominated for Argo and Silver Linings Playbook respectively. De Niro did a terrific job especially with his understated role as the father struggling to help and connect with his son.
Now to the major issues I have with the list. Number one? Why in the living crap is Ben Affleck not nominated for Best Director? This is the most mind-baffling thing in the world to see considering I thought that Argo was one of the best movies of the year. It did score 7 nominations but I felt it was massively due to the deft handling behind the camera by the actor/director. This honestly kept me in shock for a few minutes before I started writing this article. I can understand why Tom Hooper was not nominated for Les Miserables because people were either loving or hating his direction but Ben Affleck made Argo work and flow beautifully. Another surprise was that Kathryn Bigelow was not nominated for Best Director as well and that Zero Dark Thirty only scored 5 nominations. With that, I think we can predict that Lincoln will have a good chance to dominate the Oscars next month at this rate.
Also why the heck did Perks of a Being a Wallflower and Looper not get nominated for Adapted and Best Original Screenplay respectively? Looper was one of the most creative stories I’ve seen in a movie and it’s a crime that Rian Johnson did not get recognition from the Academy for this one. Stephen Chbosky, in adapting and directing his own novel, should have also got recognition for the great writing and translating to the screen. It kept the spirit of the novel and yet made it entertaining and movie ready so he deserved props for that. Also, why not nominate Skyfall or The Dark Knight Rises for Best Picture? In terms of The Dark Knight Rises, that movie gets better with every viewing and while not as strong as The Dark Knight, it should’ve gotten some sort of nomination, maybe getting Christopher Nolan on the board for Best Director. Again, that’s asking a bit much considering my earlier rant on the snubbed nominees. About Skyfall, I thought it was brilliant and deserved the recognition of being one of the smartest Bond, if not action, movies in a long while. Speaking of, why not even throw in Javier Bardem at least for his Bond villain portrayal? His stuff was great and he owned the screen. Maybe even Samuel L. Jackson or Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained but that Supporting Actor list is pretty solid so I can’t argue that too much. How about Ann Dowd in Compliance? I know it was an uphill battle but man, it would have been cool to see her make the list.
I could go on and on but I’m going to provide the list, thanks EW.com for getting it organized by the way, so you can argue with me on social media about it because…man, I’m a little annoyed with some of the movies and actors not getting their due. I guess we’ll find out on February 24th who the big winners will be. Although if Paperman doesn’t win Best Animated Short, I’m going to riot.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Original Screenplay
Amour, Michael Hanake
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Flight, John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal
Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo, Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin,
Life of Pi, David Magee
Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
Best Animated Feature:
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall, Roger Deakins
Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood
Best Documentary Feature
5 Broken Cameras
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man
Best Documentary Short
Mondays at Racine
Best Film Editing
Argo, William Goldenberg
Life of Pi, Tim Squyres
Lincoln, Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Best Foreign Language Film
A Royal Affair, Denmark
War Witch, Canada
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Best Original Score
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
Lincoln, John Williams
Skyfall, Thomas Newman
Best Original Song
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice, music and lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted, music by Walter Murphy; lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi, music by Mychael Danna; lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from Skyfall, music and lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Best Production Design
Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
Les Misérables, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Best Animated Short
Adam and Dog
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
Best Live Action Short
Death of a Shadow
Best Sound Editing
Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson
Best Sound Mixing
Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Best Visual Effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
There’s a moment in the beginning of the movie when the old Tri-Star logo popped up on-screen. Upon viewing that, (along with the approval head nod of Kronner who was sitting next to me), I knew this was going to be a satisfying experience. The hype machine has been building on the Rian Johnson written and directed flick starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, so it could have been a giant letdown after what seemed to be a lackluster summer in terms of enjoyable movies with substance. Luckily, the 118 minute time bender is exactly what the doctor ordered. This movie kicked my ass (in a good way) and all I want is another go around in order to get that wondrous feeling back again.
Looper follows Joe (JGL) as a hitman/junkie trying to save up his money and skip town to live it up in France. He’s good at this job, but he knows there are certain…expectations when it comes to his future. You see kids, in the future, time travel is used by the mob to dispose of bodies. They send the targets/victims to the past where the Loopers, the hitmen from the past, shoot them as soon as they appear. The Loopers also collect their fair share of silver for each of these hits. Not bad for loitering in a random spot waiting for a target to appear out of nowhere to shoot at. However, because of the danger in the future of what these Loopers know, there comes a point and time where the Loopers will have their loop “closed”. Basically that means that once your contract is up, you have 30 years before your future self is sent back to be blunder-bussed as well. It’s a harsh price to pay but at least they pay you handsomely in gold and drugs so you can get over it quite quickly. Unless you’re Bruce Willis of course.
That’s right, Bruce Willis shows up and he’s the older version of Joe. When Young Joe sees Old Joe, he ends up making the fatal mistake of letting his ‘Loop’ escape. Old Joe doesn’t want to die and he’s on the mission to take down the guy closing the loops in the future: The Rainmaker. Young Joe is more like, eff that, I want my life in France (or China, depending on whose advice he takes), so now he’s charged with making sure his life proceeds as scheduled instead of be ruined by his future self. Still following? Hopefully I did an okay job because reading that back gave me a headache. Let’s just break it down by saying the story is great and it makes sense enough when you watch it all unfold on-screen as opposed to having some reviewer telling it to you secondhand. It does remind of Inception (starring JGL as well) in terms of the levels/timelines that it juggles, but the writing still keeps the pacing good without being bogged down by exposition. It does not insult the viewer, nor does it baby them at the same time.
It also might seem like familiar ground because it terms of the look, the style of writing and plot, it reminds me a lot like Brick. Obviously it should because it had both JGL and Rian Johnson behind that awesome movie. But the way that the camera moves and pans, it’s such a beautiful motion and nothing seems forced. The director throws small details in each shot that caught my attention, yet without distracting the viewer from the main action. He also does a terrific job of showing off his vision of this future while still allowing his actors to take their moments to shine, thus showing a trust between the director and his actors that one wouldn’t expect from a time travel/sci-fi flick. On that note, the look reminds more of an indie flick than a big budget action one. The movie does share special effects and lens flare (which apparently is a must for Sci-Fi flicks nowadays) but it builds as more a character drama, in everyone finding their ambitions and the true nature of what drives them. There are a few wonderful images of tantrums gone wrong that come off as frightening involving a kid that stuck with me. The build up and pacing is amazing and I can’t gush anymore about Johnson’s eye and creativity. As a lower budget flick, there are a few moments where the effects struggle to match up to what we are used to coming from these types of movies, but that is such a minor point, it really only bears mentioning considering the glut of 200 million dollar action flicks that have zero watchability because the story sucks underneath the guise of pretty effects.
The cast is superb and it begins with JGL. Effin’. Amazing. It’s to the point where if Premium Rush came out now, I would go check it out. The fact that he shows up as a different character each time and is able to inhabit different personalities and emotional aspects to where he cannot be pigeonholed into any stereotype really shows how much he has grown and matured into one of the better actors of our generation. Obviously, everyone wants to talk about how he looks like Bruce Willis. Well folks, he doesn’t just look like Bruce Willis, he IS Bruce Willis.
They manage make him look like a younger clone of him and it is not distracting to the viewer. JGL melts into Joe to where it never becomes an issue and you fully buy into him looking a bit like his older counterpart. Bruce Willis is also great as Old Joe as he still has that punk mentality that JGL shows yet is a damaged man trying to find a remedy to his sins, sometimes by the committing the most foul means possible. Emily Blunt is great as a woman protecting her interests that takes Young Joe in when they cross paths. Jeff Daniels is awesome as Abe, the boss of the Loopers in the current time, who is from the future who deals out orders and comments to his soldiers to make sure it sticks in his subjects’ (and the audience’s) minds. Everyone’s wonderful more or less.
My advice: Watch it. I loved the movie and I’m curious what Rian Johnson will be involved with next. He is able to build a story that does not patronize his audience and yet gives it weight in order to have it linger on their minds well after leaving the theater. JGL is also a movie star now. Give him whatever he wants, he can not do wrong. Unless he’s dressing up as a girl on an SNL sketch. That I could’ve lived without.