Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Five Best Trailers of 2012

Now that I've discussed in varying degrees of seriousness my five least favorite trailers of 2012, I thought it was only appropriate to post my five favorite trailers of the year, which if you ask me was one of the better years for trailers that I can remember.  One point of note: in this list I am referring to very specific trailers of the films I have listed, no teasers or lazy TV spots will be found here.  I linked to the specific trailer I'm referring to with each one, so check out the links I have posted.  

#5: Zero Dark Thirty

Ever climbing the charts on my most anticipated list, this trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Best Picture winning The Hurt Locker is heart-racing, hard-boiled, sleek and bad-ass.   Starting off with a great piece of dialogue near the beginning about the dire straits the CIA was in during their hunt for Bin-Laden, we see a few shots a few shots of Jessica Chastain, who is the lead in the film but is ingeniously is not heard speaking anywhere in this trailer, giving her an air of mystery to play in the viewer’s mind while they wait on pins and needles for the film to be released (Just me??). 

#4: The Dark Knight Rises

This is the first of two trailers on my list that feature Anne Hathaway, yet still somehow made my list.  My love of Nolan’s Batman trilogy is well-documented around these parts, so it probably comes as no surprise that the trailer for this film would end up on my list.  My anticipation for the film was obviously quite high before it was released, but that aside, this is actually a very well-executed trailer.  The ominous, faint piano accents from Hans Zimmer accompanying the shots of various acts of terrorism by Bane give us a feeling of general discomfort, and this leads into Bruce Wayne’s capture and torture.  We don’t know if or when he is coming back.  

“Hope is Lost,” but then the bass line drops in Zimmer’s music as we see a shot of Catwoman riding out on to the streets of Gotham under gorgeous green lighting (at 1:19), and then everything begins boiling up to an emotional peak that is undeniably well-executed.  For such a mainstream franchise, this trailer is a level of artistic achievement not normally expected. Well done, Warner Bros.  

#3: Les Miserables

The second trailer on my list featuring Anne Hathaway! I don’t know how this happened! (Why do I hate Anne Hathaway?) 

In all honesty though, this is a pretty great trailer.  Accompanied by Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream,” the trailer introduces us to all the various characters of this beloved musical, and gives us a preview of the gorgeous cinematography, production design, and other craftsmanship we can expect to see on Christmas Day when the film is released.  Many cinephiles dismiss director Tom Hooper’s odd use of his camera, but to me some of the shots we see here are pretty irresistible, from the tracking shot of the children running toward the camera at 0:17, to the shot on the ceiling at 0:23, to the floor level angle of Jackman in the church at 0:28.

There is a subsequent trailer which displayed the singing of some of the other actors like Jackman, Crowe, Redmayne and Seyfriend, but to me I really enjoy this first trailer’s focus on Hathaway’s song, which really sets the emotional and thematic stage for what we can expect in the film.  Very moving. 

#2: The Master

Everyone’s probably tired of me talking about The Master, but this is probably the last time I’ll bring it up, at least until my Top 10 Films of 2012 column comes along. The story of this particular trailer is very interesting to me, simply because a lot of the shots and dialogue we see here didn’t even make it to the final cut of the film (for instance, the scene in the jail cell where Joaquin Phoenix shouts “just tell me something that’s true!”).

The snippets of various beautiful on-location shots, the sleek late 1940’s aesthetic, the general malaise due to Johnny Greenwood’s amazing original music, and an excellent preview of Joaquin Phoenix’s craziness and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s manipulation all add up to an excellent piece of work here.  

#1: Prometheus

One of the biggest disparities for me ever between how I felt about a trailer versus the actual movie was Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the reach-for-the-stars intergalactic summer blockbuster which sought to deliver an interesting theory about the origins of life on planet earth, but really only delivered a beautiful looking pile of horse crap. The trailer, however, featured unique and gorgeous photography, and was constructed so well that I was naïve to all of the many problems the film ended up having. Here’s a breakdown of how great the trailer was compared to the film:

In the Trailer: References to mythology and archaeology that promised some sort of revelatory thoughts on the originations of life on earth.

In the Film: Nothing even remotely revelatory about anything.

In the Trailer: The pulsating, tension-building screeching sound that made me want to watch the trailer over and over.

In the Film: Exactly one character that isn’t one-dimensional.

In the Trailer: Some shots of Noomi Rapace looking like a legit action star. 

In the Film: Perhaps the worst performance of Charlize Theron’s career.

In the Trailer:  Logan Marshall Green with a small speaking part.

In the Film: Logan Marshall Green with way too big of a speaking part.

In the Trailer: Some seriously stunning quick-cut editing in the final 30 seconds that made every male between the ages of 12-40 foam at the mouth a little bit.

In the Film: Characters doing things so incomprehensible that even cliché horror films wouldn’t even make their characters do.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Five Worst Trailers of 2012

Now that 2012 is one month shy of being in the books, and we’ve seen every trailer for films that are going to be released this year, I thought it was time I introduced two new columns I hope to write every year: The Five Worst Trailers of 2012, and the Five Best Trailers of 2012 (coming soon). 

By way of introduction, my set of criteria for the “worst” list is basically this: how terrible do I think the film will be, based on the trailer? For instance, the trailer for Gangster Squad is a pretty terrible trailer in and of itself, but I also know that it stars Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, and Emma Stone, and it is directed by the visionary man who gave us Zombieland, so it makes me think it won’t be a totally terrible film. 

And that’s pretty much the extent of it. Other than that, please be aware that I conducted way more research than was necessary here in order to give you the best possible list (I watched A LOT OF CRAPPY TRAILERS). Hope you enjoy.

#5: What to Expect When You’re Expecting 

It was a tough call at #5 between the two barrel-scraping ideas that somehow got made into feature motion pictures this year: this film, and Battleship.  I can imagine an old studio exec, fresh out of creative ideas, saying this: “Yeah, well...I do have a couple of ideas, but I think they’re kinda lame...see one is based on a hit board game in which you guess numbers to sink the other team’s boats...and the other, I don’t really know what it’s about but there’s this book everyone reads when they get pregnant and I think it would make a great, catchy title for a film...” 

And somehow, those are the two ideas that get made into films.

The trailer itself isn’t so offensive that it shocks the conscience, but the tired “get me the epidural!!” joke did nothing to win me over, nor did the obligatory playing of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa” as the group of husbands enter with strollers in tow.  Then when Glee’s Matthew Morrison made his appearance and a woman literally sneezed her baby out of her vagina, I didn’t feel like watching the rest of the trailer; but I’m assuming that one of the dads gets hit in the nuts at some point, or a toddler screams something really inappropriate (at which point the audience laughs uncontrollably), or Cameron Diaz does something that 35-year old women think is hilarious but everyone else is confused by this, or whatever.  Anyway, I don’t plan on catching up to this one anytime soon.

#4: Dark Shadows 

Hey, look everyone! Tim Burton made another film adapted from black comedic material! Whoa, hold on, is that...Johnny Depp in the lead role, playing some sort of idiosyncratic weirdo?! No way!! Wait wait wait, don’t tell me Helena Bonham Carter is in this also, playing some sort of freak with frizzy hair...that would just be unprecedented!

Seriously, Tim Burton’s paycheck could not be sticking any further out of his back pocket.  The guy has made two good movies in the last 10 years, Big Fish and Sweeney Todd (the latter mainly being because he left Sondheim’s musical mostly un-bastardized).  But he and Disney keep making bank, so why would anyone try to improve what they’re doing? He is the definition of mediocre.

#3: Stolen 

This wouldn’t be a respectable list of any sort if there weren’t a film starring Academy Award Winner Nick Cage!! (I just loved that they threw that in there). In apparently what was the rejected first script for the movie Taken, badass Cage is a former criminal (but the crime he committed was probably a misunderstanding and I’m sure he has a great heart) whose daughter is...wait for it...STOLEN...and he must steal $10 Mil for the ransom demanded by his former partner who probably should have spent a little longer in the makeup department finding a wig (while I’m at it, can we just stop for a moment to mourn the death of Josh Lucas’s promising career?).  What are the odds that a studio executive somewhere just goes all-out and develops the idea for a film in which Liam Neeson AND Nick Cage’s daughters are simultaneously kidnapped and then, in a shocking twist of events, the former criminal and the intelligence agent must work together to get them back? The film would obviously be called TAK3N: STOLEN YET AGAIN. 

#2: This Means War 

Two white, male, ultra good-looking CIA Agents (aren’t they all, in movies?)  discover they are dating the same hot white blonde and instead of being mad at her for being a cheating skank, try to screw with each other for the next hour and a half while you wonder how, exactly, your girlfriend dragged you into seeing this and whether or not she will still aptly reward you later if you are checking basketball scores throughout the movie.  Your interest level is unaffected when the two agents realize that they must work together to solve an imminent international crisis (after some crotchety old and/or probably black boss tells them he doesn’t care about their personal s*** because they have a job to do), and then probably have some witty back-and-forth bantering about the love triangle as they are being rapidly fired upon in their final mission.  

Also, there’s probably an explosion and somehow the white skank gets involved in the mission and put in harms way and one of the agents saves her. (I just made up that whole plot, but it sounds pretty plausible, right?)

#1: That’s My Boy

Film criticism of Adam Sandler movies has become a living organism all on it’s own, to the point where I think some critics go out of their way to apologize for his films in order to go against the grain; still, every time a Sandler film is released, the best part of my day is firing up the ole’ internet and reading every review I can get my hands on.  If I had done this column last year, there’s no doubt in my mind that Jack & Jill would have taken the top prize in this contest, what with its barrier-breaking commentary on cross-dressing and all (wait, no? oh). 

Anyway, whatever greatness Jack & Jill may have brought to the table, the trailer for That’s My Boy demonstrates Sandler’s uncompromising, stubborn determination to constantly improve upon himself with each passing film.  Where Jack & Jill gave us cross-dressing jokes, That’s My Boy gives us pedophilia humor*.  Al Pacino in a cameo? Psshh, we’ll give you Rex Ryan in a cameo!  Other things we’ll just throw in for free here: a chick catching a fly ball in her cleavage, tattooing your 8-year-old son’s back, ripping off your own drunk voice from your Billy Madison character, strip club after strip club, ripping off the “waaazzzzuuupppp!!!” voice from the decade-old Budweiser commercials, more strip clubs, and did I mention pedophilia humor? 


*As long as we are all aware that if this was a female student who was in a relationship with a male teacher, the public outcry would be deafening and all kidding aside this is a ridiculous double-standard being promoted here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Top 5 Alfred Hitchcock Films

Other than perhaps Steven Spielberg, no name is more synonymous with the word “director” in mainstream thought than Alfred Hitchcock.  The man had what I believe to be the most prolific career of any Hollywood director, past or present, with about 66 credits to his name spanning a 50-year career.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen all 66 of his films—I’m currently only at 25 (although I have seen all of his more highly regarded films).  Regardless, I felt that with two forthcoming films about Hitchcock (“Hitchcock” starring Anthony Hopkins, and HBO Movie “The Girl” starring Toby Jones), a top-5 list of my favorites of his filmography was in order.  Hope you enjoy.

5.  Psycho (1960)

The aforementioned film “Hitchcock” focuses on the story of the making of this film, which the director struggled to even get made, due to the nature of the source material.  Voted by AFI as the #1 horror film all time, the film follows a woman who skips town after stealing $40,000, and ends up at the eerie Bates Motel.  I won’t spoil it any further for those who may not have seen it, but everything that transpires is perhaps the genesis of the modern horror genre.  There are exactly four Hitchcock films that I believe to be better than this one, but Psycho will always be his most iconic. 

 4.  Rope (1948)

Hitchcock shot this entire 80-minute film in ONE take, which is probably the thing it is most remembered for.  But the story itself is probably one of the most oddly-intense narratives of any of Hitchcock’s films, which seems like it’s right out of an Edgar Allen Poe volume of short stories: Two young men strangle their "inferior" classmate, hide his body inside a buffet table in their apartment, and invite his friends and family to a dinner party as a means to challenge the "perfection" of their crime.

Jimmy Stewart, one of Hitchcock’s go-to leading men, stars as the young mens’ former school-teacher, who begins to catch on to their stunt, and pieces together the clues.  His performance is rock-solid, as always, but the true revelation here is the psychotic, yet magnetic performance of John Dall, the mastermind of the entire plan.

3.  Rear Window (1954)

Oh, Grace.
Speaking of Jimmy Stewart, he plays the central role in what I think is the most directorially creative film on this list, and also partly the titular inspiration for this blog.  In Window, a temporarily wheelchair-bound photographer progressively pieces together a crime that is taking place in his apartment complex, which he does from his bedroom window, through binoculars. 

The apartment complex takes on a life of its own through Jeff’s binoculars, as he observes the somewhat odd behaviors of all his neighbors.  Hitchcock lets the audience experience the voyeurism as Jeff does, through the lens of his binoculars.  We don’t know any more about the characters he is witnessing than he does.  This makes the film so much fun to watch, and it provides the suspense necessary for any good Hitchcock film. 

Grace Kelly plays Jimmy Stewart’s love interest, and I can say without hesitation that it is the most stunningly beautiful that anyone has ever looked on celluloid (I checked with the wifey—she agrees with me, so no offense taken from her). 

2.  Rebecca (1940)

The only Hitchcock film to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, this flick based on Daphne Du Maurier’s novel of the same title uses one of Hitchcock’s ongoing themes in his films: the mysteriousness, and haunting nature of women (more on that in my #1 film).  This particular film concerns a young woman (Joan Fontaine) who marries a rich widower (Laurence Olivier, who’s great as always) and moves out to his mansion.  When she gets there, she finds that the memory and ghost of her husband’s dead wife is maintaining a strong and paranormal grip on the house and its servants.  The performance here that is normally singled out is Judith Anderson, who plays a creepy-as-hell housekeeper bent on making things a bit, shall we say, “difficult” for the new resident of the house.

1.  Vertigo (1958)

I have to admit bias at the outset for the coming gushing over this film, since it sits comfortably inside my personal top 10 of all time list at #8.  But there is much to gush over here.  In Jimmy Stewart’s all-time best performance, he plays Scottie, a former detective who is contracted to do some private investigation work, tracing the wife of an old schoolmate.  After saving her when she falls into the San Francisco Bay, he slowly begins to fall in love with her.  To give away much more of the plot would necessitate spoilers, but the story that ensues is one of passion, obsession, a bit of voyeurism, and even paranormal, and it is all packaged inside the box of one of Hitchcock’s standard thrillers. 

It’s not difficult to make the case for Vertigo being the #1 film on any Hitchcock list.  The plot, much like the title implies, is off-kilter and eccentric, which is probably why it was not well received at the time, and failed to make much money at the box office.  There is a fascinating and genius 20-minute sequence near the beginning of the film, in which Scottie follows his subject around San Francisco (gorgeously shot by Hitchock, of course), containing almost zero dialogue and using beautiful images, and a wide array of lighting and colors. 

The use of color and light continues throughout the film to capture the vibrancy of Judy, Scottie’s obsession.  The video below encapsulates this perfectly (which is not spoilery out of context) in one of my absolute favorite scenes in film history (check out the corresponding screenshot in my banner at the top of the blog).

Vertigo recently toppled long-time champ Citizen Kane and claimed the #1 spot on the Sight & Sound Poll, what I think is the most prestigious film list out there, done once every ten years.  All hail the Hitch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Argo

Argo is the type of American film that Hollywood sorely needs right now.  Currently there are only a small handful of directors, including David O. Russell, Jason Reitman, Bennett Miller, and Tony Gilroy that are championing conventional, well-made adult dramas.  With Affleck’s first two films, he took on the crime genre, but with Argo I hope we can add him to the list of directors above.  Now don’t get me wrong, we all know I love auteurs like Malick, the Coens, and Tarantino, as much as anyone.  But in the new frontier of superhero franchises and animated 3D films, it’s nice to know that major studios will still throw a few dollars toward a down-the-middle political drama.  Maybe I’m being naïve, but I’d like to think there is a constituency of film-going adults out there that appreciate being catered to every once in a while.

Set during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1980, Argo is a declassified true subplot of that larger world event, in which six of the U.S. diplomats escaped the Iranians and found shelter at the home of the Canadian Ambassador.  This all takes place in the first scene of the film, and Affleck takes great care to make sure this movie starts off strong.  When the CIA finds out what has happened to the six Americans, operative Tony Mendez (Affleck) devises a plan to pretend to be a Canadian film crew scouting for locations in Iran, in order to retrieve the Americans.  This makes for an entertaining second act (Mendez engaging the help of Hollywood in order to make the film seem legitimate) and an intense third act (retrieving the Americans). 

The ensemble acting is probably the film’s best aspect.  Between all of the hostages, the various CIA and State Department employees, and the Hollywood producers, actors, etc. involved, this was a large cast to say the least.  The scenes with crowded rooms of political figures, intelligence operatives, or American diplomats had exactly the same smart, fast-talking aura of political films from the time period in which the film is set.

Alan Arkin and John Goodman get to ham it up as a big-time Tinseltown producer and makeup artist, respectively, and their performances are easily the best in the film.  Ben Affleck is serviceable, as he was in The Town, but I wouldn’t say it was a good performance.  I wouldn’t mind if he cast himself in a supporting role next go-around, as he has always been much better there than as a leading man throughout his acting career.

Where he does excel, however, is behind the camera.  The story is by no means full of “big” moments, and Affleck does not go out of his way to add any unnecessary bravado.  Rather, the film registers its impact in more organic ways.  It is extremely intense in the simplest ways—conversations in which Mendez must sell the legitimacy of the fake film to foreign officials is an arm-rest clutching tightrope act; ditto a scene where Mendez drives a VW bus through a rabid Iranian crowd in the streets of Tehran.  The final act of making it through customs under fake identities is similarly gripping, as well.

A great third effort for Affleck, and I think we can now say has made the transition from merely "promising" to someone in his directorial prime. 8.5/10.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review: The Master

“I have unlocked, and discovered, a secret. A secret to living in these bodies that we hold.”

                                                                                    -Lancaster Dodd, The Master
Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) sprints across a foggy cabbage patch, breathing heavily as he’s being chased, in a gorgeous tracking shot that reminded me I was in the hands of a director who knows his way around a camera. It isn’t totally clear how Freddie, a WWII Navy Veteran, ended up there in the first place, or why he is running. But it doesn’t matter. He’s running from himself as much as that particular situation. Over and over in The Master, director Paul Thomas Anderson returns to a shot of the wake behind a ship at sea, informing us of this aimlessness of character and narrative that we are viewing.
Skulking around on a pier somewhere, Freddie hops aboard a boat, and wakes up the next morning after apparently blacking out from his own brand of hooch. It is on board this vessel that he meets Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the charismatic leader of a group loosely based on Scientology but only referred to in the movie as “The Cause.” Dodd has clearly taken interest in Freddie, and subjects Freddie to an intense round of “processing,” an exercise in which Freddie is forced to answer a series of extremely personal questions without blinking, designed to force the subject into an intense self-examination.
Not really a spiritual group as much as a metaphysically and philosophically based group, The Cause is nevertheless used by Anderson as a treatise on religion (which, surprisingly, is not depicted nearly as poorly as one would imagine). Anderson has treaded religious ground before. In There Will Be Blood, his previous film, Anderson uses an oil tycoon and a rural church minister to explore both the competing and similar interests of American capitalism and religion. In The Master, there is a similar struggle between competing forces: man’s individuality and instinctual nature, versus his need for control and purpose.  Whereas in There Will Be Blood, the competing interests exploit each other to gain an advantage, here the two men both desperately want something that the other has.
It is this symbiotic give-and-take relationship upon which the film plants its flag and explores its themes. To that end, a quick word on the acting. This is, to me, the best all around acting in a film since...I don’t even know, probably Sideways in 2004 or even before that.  Joaquin Phoenix is the best he’s ever been, giving a performance that is threatening, physical, and altogether unpredictable.  Hoffman’s foil to Phoenix, however, is on a completely different level (for me).  This is the epitome of a controlled performance; yet he is also charismatic, gregarious, and just mysterious enough to make you question his motives.  This is a performance that will stick with me for a long time.  Amy Adams gives a similarly restrained performance as the woman behind the man, and she probably won’t receive much Oscar love for it, but it deserves to be rewarded nonetheless. 
The film never really explores what The Cause is really all about, and, although this is somewhat unsatisfying for the viewer, it is purposely left ambiguous.  For how often do our own religions, “causes” which we are knowledgeable of, leave us grasping for answers at times? One who claims to fully understand the metaphysical or spiritual realms of the universe we live in is either truly ignorant, or a fraud (like Dodd?).  This, then, is the irony in Dodd’s quote at the top and in many of his hollow methods and doctrines throughout the film.  
Nevertheless, there are a couple of scenes in particular that do go into detail about The Cause, containing excellent exchanges dialogue and debate. If I have one criticism of the film, it is that it the script is much sharper when it is exploring ideas rather than characters. But it is not meant to be sharp; it is meant to be visceral and raw, which it succeeds in mightily. This struggle is summed up in what is the most revealing line of dialogue in the film, as Dodd tells Freddie “If you figure out a way to live without a master, any master, be sure to let the rest of us know, for you would be the first in the history of the world.” Dodd, in a way, is right—no one has ever lived without a master. Could it be, though, the only Master we ever truly serve is our own selves? 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Top 10 Most Anticipated for Fall 2012

Kids around the country are back in school, I’ve had a few fantasy football drafts already, and soon enough the Pumpkin Spice Latte will be back, so I guess that means it’s time for me to write one of my favorite columns of the year: my Top-10 Most Anticipated Films for the Fall.  
10.  Argo (dir. Ben Affleck)
This was a last-minute addition to the list, as it is starting to play the festival circuit and already reeling in rave reviews.  Ben Affleck’s first two films (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) were the work of someone who really knows his way around the camera, and with each film he makes it’s becoming clear that he will be around for awhile, improving upon himself with his work.  Perhaps his best strength as a filmmaker, though, is his interest in telling great stories.  This true story about the Iranian hostage crisis looks to be as intense as it will be fun, and between the plotline and the supporting cast, I have no doubt this will be entertaining.   

9. Amour (dir. Michael Haneke)

(No Trailer Yet)
Okay, this list in general is surprisingly devoid of art-house films that none of my readers will end up seeing, so I had to throw at least one in here.  Bonus points for me, also, as this is a foreign film.  My relationship with Michael Haneke’s films is an odd one—no other director in the business can make me say “What the *bleep* am I watching right now?” more than he does.  They are not in any way “enjoyable” films.  Yet, his last film, The White Ribbon, is a recent example of a director who is in complete control of his work, showing the perfect balance of restraint and flair.  I look forward to seeing what he can do in this film—a relationship drama. 

8. Looper (dir. Rian Johnson)
If all I told you about this film is that the words “Bruce Willis,” “Joseph Gordon-Levitt,” and “time-travel” are involved, wouldn’t that be enough to make you want to see it?  In all seriousness, the plot and trailer alone for this film didn’t really put it on my most anticipated radar, but I keep reading things about how the script is amazing, and the actors all say it’s the best project they’ve EVER been a part of, and things like that.   Additionally, it’s by the director of Brick, one of the most criminally underrated movies of last decade (which also starred Levitt), so this one definitely has my curiosity piqued. 

7. Skyfall (dir. Sam Mendes)
I have very few hard and fast rules in life, but one of those is that I see every movie starring Javier Bardem.  Bonus points if he’s a villain and has a terrible haircut in the movie.  But seriously, I’m really excited for this next installment in the Daniel Craig-era Bond franchise.  Quantum of Solace was a massive disappointment to me after the success of Casino Royale, but the trailer for this film is stunning, Sam Mendes is directing it, and again, Javier Bardem is involved. 

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (dir. Peter Jackson)
Between The Dark Knight RisesThe AvengersSpidermanThe Hunger Games, and the upcoming ending to the Twilight series (FINALLY), this was definitely a banner year for fanboy films, and the The Hobbit should be a nice way to cap off all of this madness at the end of the year.  I would be lying if I said I was as excited for this film as I was for all of the Lord of the Rings films, only because The Hobbit seems kind of anticlimactic story-wise compared to the former, and it will be hard to make it feel like it’s not something we’ve already seen.  However, I do have faith that Peter Jackson has a few tricks left up his sleeve, and I will be there front and center and ready to be thoroughly entertained when this film is released on December 14th.  Oh, and I just found out that an actor named Adam Brown is playing one of the dwarves in the film, so yeah, badass.

5. The Place Beyond the Pines (dir. Derek Cianfrance)
(No Trailer Yet)
Ryan Gosling should be in all the movies.  He continually improves upon his craft, while attaching himself to interesting and out-of-the-ordinary projects.  This film, from the director of 2010’s Blue Valentine, stars Gosling as a “motorcycle stunt driver who considers committing a crime to provide for his wife and family.”  Sounds a lot like another recent Gosling film...Drive.  But hey, what could be bad about that? 

 4. Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
This film would probably be higher on my list, if A) Terrence Malick wasn’t making a movie this year, and B) I hadn’t heard so much about the production hell that this film went through.  Casting changes left and right, even during shooting, can’t possibly be good for a film.  But hey, it’s Tarantino.  His worst movie is better than most, and his best movie is better than almost every movie.  So I have no trouble looking forward to a western in which Leonardo DiCaprio is a theatrical villain. 

3. Lincoln (dir. Steven Spielberg)
(No Trailer Yet)
Putting this at #3 is somewhat a leap of faith for me, and I’m really holding out hope that Daniel Day Lewis starring as the titular 16th POTUS will at the very least make a run-of-the-mill film into a very good one.  The ceiling for this film, on the other hand, is unlimited.   

2. To the Wonder (dir. Terrence Malick)
(No Trailer Yet)
I’ve spoken of my love affair with Terrence Malick on the blog before, and though he released another film just last year (The Tree of Life), he has only made 6 films in 40 years counting this one, so it is still a very notable event when a new film from him is released.  Ben Affleck and Rachel MacAdams star as lovers in what we can only guess is a romantic drama, because as usual with his films, plot details are quite thin at the moment.  Malick’s directorial style is extremely suited to love stories, and the portions of his films that feature love stories are always some of my favorite aspects of his films.  To The Wonder is dropping in at the Venice Film Festival this week, so I’m sure we will know more details and perhaps have a trailer in the near future.    Oh, and once again, Javier Bardem.

1. The Master (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
I’m kind of going out on a semi-limb here, because as far as auteur directors go, PTA is certainly not one of my favorites, although I respect his work. I’m putting it as my #1 for several reasons.
(1) The cast is amazing, and Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman look stunning                 in the trailer.

(2) I’m getting more of the “incredibly unsettling” vibe from the trailer that I so much enjoyed in Anderson’s most recent film, There Will Be Blood.

(3)Musical score by Johnny Greenwood (of Radiohead)

(4) Intense religious subject matter

The last couple of years when I wrote this column, my #1 most-anticipated film didn't crack my top-10 list for the year, or even get close, really.  I hope Paul Thomas Anderson's film can break this cycle, and I look forward to finding out when The Master is released on September 21.