Sunday, September 8, 2013

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films Fall 2013: No. 5-1

As I stated in the Part I of this post, I had a very difficult time narrowing this list down this year.  So this year I thought I would list a few honorable mentions that I just couldn't fine the room for, in no particular order:

Anchorman 2
Captain Phillips
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Monuments Men
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Now, here are the top 5 films I'm anticipating for the fall season:

(5) "American Hustle"

David O. Russell follows up the success of last year’s Silver Linings Playbook with a much different film, a true story about a con-artist in the 1970’s who was forced to work with a federal agent to bring down other cons, mobsters and politicians.  Russell is teaming here with mostly former cast members of his, with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner all adding to the fun. 

Also, can we all just take this moment to stand up and give a big round of applause to Amy Adams for all that she does for us?  Her recent Man of Steel performance aside, girl’s pretty much a national treasure. 

(4) "Gravity"

I sincerely hope that by now everyone has seen this trailer or any of the clips that have been released.  This film, directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of MenY Tu Mama Tambien) follows two astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) who become suspended in space after an accident leaves them stranded.  The trailer is absolutely horrifying, and I can only imagine how amazing this will look in IMAX 3D; however, I’m most intrigued by what interesting things will be done with the film’s script after this accident occurs.  It has already popped up at a couple of festivals recently and the raves are flooding in. 

(3) "12 Years a Slave"
Chiwetel Ejiofer stars as Solomon Northup, a fee black man in pre-Civil War era U.S. who is abducted and sold into slavery.  This true story is simply amazing, and I believe director Steve McQueen (one of the most intelligent filmmakers I’ve ever listened to) was the perfect choice for this film; he has the necessary elegance as a storyteller to pull it off in a way that won’t seem indulgent or self-important. 

(2) "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Yeah yeah, I know we’re all getting a little tired at this point of Scorsese-DiCaprio team-ups.  But this one feels different, doesn’t it?  For one thing, Scorsese is returning to form a little after his last two films (not that that’s a bad thing…Hugo was my favorite film of 2011, as you might recall).  The trailer just has the look and feel of someone who just felt relaxed and confident as hell while making a film.  For another thing, the source material that this is based on is apparently a complete riot, telling the story of early-90’s Wall Street brokers and journaling various misadventures in that world.  At the very least, there’s no way this isn’t one of the most entertaining films of the year, right?

(1) "Inside Llewyn Davis"
As my favorite directors both currently and in all of film history, Joel and Ethan Coen have a lifetime pass for this list.  Oscar Isaac portrays the titular character here, a New York folk-singer in the 1960’s trying to make his way in the folk scene of that era.  The Coens have taken on the film industry in the past with Barton Fink, and I’m interested to see what their take on the music industry will be here, and whether it relates in some way to either their careers or their personal lives, as many Coen Brothers’ movies do.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of Fall 2013: No. 10-6

Even though I'm mostly morally opposed to overly sweet "coffee" beverages containing some sort of faux-Italian moniker, I do admit that the Pumpkin Spice Latte has always been a chink in my otherwise coffee-snob armor.  Ever since I worked at Starbucks for 3 years during college, I've pretty much been a walking advertisement for the coffee giant, anyway.  My soul has been sold.

So, it's become a bit of a tradition of mine to grab one at the beginning of September (the earliest I can justify purchasing one) and sit down and write this column. Indeed, fall is my favorite time of year, and I get a little geeked-out at the thought of crisp fall air, football (both the real and fantasy variety), Colorado green chili, and...of course, good movies.  

In doing my research this year, I had a really hard time cutting my list down to 10.  I watched a lot of trailers, tried to read up on all the independent/foreign fare in addition to the studio offerings, and, as usual, read all the early Oscar prognostications.  I'm very happy with the way this list turned out, and can't wait to see them all.  Below are numbers 10-6, and I will release numbers 5-1 later this weekend.  Hope everyone enjoys, the way I am enjoying the pumpkin deliciousness right now.  Well, that actually might be too much enjoyment.

(10) "The Dallas Buyer’s Club"

You know, I was pretty tempted to throw Anchorman 2 in this slot, and I might have if this trailer hadn’t dropped early last week, promising one of McConaughey’s best performances to date (if not THE best).  I’m sure Google searches of the true story it is based on increased exponentially after the trailer hit: a Texas man who was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980’s begins illegally selling drugs produced in Mexico to patients in the U.S.   The trailer is full of energy which I hope is sustained throughout the film. 

(9) "Le Passé" (The Past)
Will you allow me one foreign film on my list? C’mon, just one, I promise! I swear I’m not trying to be a snob!

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi made one of my favorite films of 2011, A Separation (which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film) and he returns here with a similarly themed family drama about a divorced couple going through problems with their daughter. 

Alright, there’s my one foreign film.  Moving along…

(8) "All is Lost"
Robert Redford is already getting rave reviews out of the various film festivals this film has played so far.  A one-man show about a man lost at sea, this film is also virtually devoid of any dialogue, which makes it that much more intriguing from my standpoint.  I was a big fan of writer/director (and fellow Coloradan) J.C. Chandor’s rookie effort Margin Call, and it appears that he took a big swing here with his sophomore effort and hopefully it connects. 

(7) "Labor Day"
This is my bi-annual slot reserved in this column for whatever Jason Reitman film is coming out in that odd-numbered year.  His last two films, Young Adult (2011) and Up in the Air (2009) have each found their way inside of my year-end Top 10 list, although I was in the minority that felt that Young Adult was quite an improvement over Up in the Air.  I hope he can continue his streak of excellent films here, and with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin involved, I imagine I won’t be disappointed. 

(No trailer yet, unfortunately, so we'll have to go with this film still courtesy of Entertainment Weekly).

(6) "Her"
Director Spike Jonze teams up with Joaquin Phoenix in this hipster dramedy about a lonely writer who develops a relationship with his newly-purchased operating system that's designed to meet his every need.  It’s hard for me to believe that Phoenix could top his performance from last year’s The Master, but maybe the fact that he isn’t playing a brooding sociopath for the first time in a while will be a welcome change of pace at the very least.  I don’t know how this film will turn out, but it wouldn't surprise me if this one ends up being the best of the bunch as far as this list goes. 

Stay tuned for numbers 5-1 coming this weekend.