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I think I can almost assure you now that these two will certainly compete in the 2013 Oscar, and aside from the almost guaranteed technical award nods, quite possibly they will also compete in the Best Picture race.
We have two relatively young yet incredibly talented directors with us. Peter Jackson scored 3 Oscars in the 2003 Academy Awards for the directorial, writing, and producing work, for his extraordinary product and a classic to remember - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Christopher Nolan, on the other hand, has already received 3 Oscar nominations at 41, and I was totally astonished by his work in 2010's Inception.
They will probably continue their glory for their two coming films, and as I said, their films will probably also be in the Oscar Best Picture race.
For The Hobbit, I believe the reason is simply sufficient if you are aware that all of the previous three installments in The Lord of the Rings series were nominated for Best Picture.
The Dark Knight was considered a possibility for Best Picture back in 2008, but I believe next year its possibility will rise significantly. (Remember back in 2008 when there were only 5 nominees for Best Picture and now there can be 5-10)
It doesn't end here. There is Lincoln, the next Steven Spielberg film coming out next year. People who pay close attention to the Oscar can easily notice that the Academy has a thing for films set in the past and films with historical value, and a film about the sixteenth President of the United States will be most certainly loved by the Academy if nothing major goes wrong, not to mention Spielberg is a veteran and a favorite among the Academy members himself.
I'm not sure whether Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be nominated for his superb performance in 50/50 this year (that seems highly unlikely unfortunately), I'm hoping for him to score his first Best Actor nod in Spielberg's movie. He's going to play Robert Todd Lincoln, the President himself.
Last but the least, we have Les Misérables. It's been long since such a strong musical contender enters the Oscar race, right? I remember Chicago, and I also recall Johnny Deep's cold-blooded character in Sweeny Todd. I'm sure this movie definitely has the potential to be one of the Best Picture nominees. Les Misérables will be directed by Tom Hooper, the recent Oscar-winner for directing The King's Speech. And I'm sure I do not need to mention the amazing ensemble cast for this film.
I'm certain I've failed to cover the entire excitement of cinema in the year of 2012, but for now these are the four films that I think have a very strong chance in next year's Academy Awards.
I guess it's never too early to make Oscar predictions, though it does sound pretty funny that I'm making predictions for next year's Oscar even before the nominee announcement of this year's Oscar contenders.
Anyway, here's what I think.
Best Picture: Les Misérables Lincoln The Dark Knight Rises The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Best Director: Tom Hooper for Les Misérables Steven Spielberg for Lincoln Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises Peter Jackson for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
What It Lacks in Plot, It Compensates in Suspense and Philosophical Depth
It would be hard to compare this to Scott's introduction of the Alien species, but if I have to, I would say it lacks the kind of horror that Alien brought and its suspense falls flat, though not by much.
What it manages to do more than the first installment is that it adds a layer of philosophical, constantly in pursuit of the origins of mankind, and ultimately mortality. The visuals no doubt outmatched the original, thanks to modern technology, but the effects seem to be behind similarly foreign planets settings like Avatar.
The suspense is maintained since the arrival at the planet of our makers, and most would expect countless answers flooding in as the plot unfolds. That is not really the case. In fact, there are questions left unanswered. One thing is for sure, it is an enjoyment, though not the same kind when you are watching the original, and it seems to promise a sequel, which I will gladly watch should it come.
Big Miracle (2012)
Big Miracle: Culturally Rich, Adequately Emotional Despite the Occasional Clichés
A film that takes place in Alaska, and offers great insight into the local culture, that's what Big Miracle ends up being. It is also fairly edited into cut scenes of appropriate length and relevance, with the insertion of layers of sentiments undoubtedly sufficient to please viewers. The performances differ, from character to character, along with the fact that screen time is quite split on account of a diversity of characters with different personality, but interestingly united under a shared purpose, to save three whales in great danger. It is not what you call an epic adventure, but it wields that kind of sweetness and authenticity to appeal. Notwithstanding the clichés that happen here and there, the film still remains a solid family experience and a great in-depth coverage of an alternate landscape and an alternate lifestyle in the Alaskan culture.
Battleship: Heated Action Coupled with Disappointing Story
Another of Hollywood's great investment down the drain. A brief review is sufficient to sum up the entire movie.
There is no way one can deny the intense action and visuals going on, though the diversity of landscapes remains lacking, as most of the run-time displays a vast oceanic war between, well, battleships. Aliens' high-tech shape-shifting energy-emitting battleships versus the navy, to be precise. This is easily compared to recent The Avengers, which is definitely more story-driven and well-written, more commercially successful, and brings a higher degree and greater variety of action. Battleship falls flat in every single aspect in the match.
In other words, it is a Transformers-style effortless writing of a script that disappoints. Unoriginal and cheesy and a cookie-cutter action sci-fi, if you want to put it that away. If you are going to the cinema to watch this for the pure action, it may still be worth your money. However, if what you seek is something beyond, if what desire is a refreshing and creative plot-line, don't bother.
Iron Sky (2012)
Iron Sky: Journey to the Moon Packed with Action and Hilarious Moments
Boy, do we miss Mars Attacks!.
Iron Sky is a joint production from Finland, Australia and of course, Germany (The Nazis never get old in movies, sci-fi or not), a short journey to the dark surface of Earth's moon, a tale about a secret base constructed by the Nazis who fled to the Moon after losing the Second World War. There is no disappointment in the comedic aspect: it is a package comprising sidesplitting ideas, stereotyping-made-funny moments and sometimes comedy in pure action.
Mars Attacks! had a ridiculously stars-filled cast and criticism on acting is out of the picture, but Iron Sky proves that a well-written comedy may not need that. It is established as something equally funny and it has action - intense spaceship action on both our home planet and the frigid side of the moon.
In a comedic way, it also sets forth its message appropriately, and adequately in a way that it still maintains its nature of a light and action-packed comedy.
All in all, it is a great piece of science fiction filled with action and some silliness.
Notes from the Heart Healer (2012)
A Single Mother's Journey to Reflection and Reconciliation
Notes from the Heart Healer is a light family film that attempts to discuss family ties and relationships between total strangers. It is a small-scaled TV movie that describes the journey of a single mother in a moderate pace and an appropriate tone throughout. The film begins with a dilemma of a single mother whose husband is no longer around, and sets off a journey to ultimate reflection and reconciliation.
Violet is a desperate mother of very young age, sick and has just been terminated from her employment. She comes up with a difficult decision - leaving the infant with someone who can care for him - and it is one that drives the drama into motion. What follows is an intact combination of dramatic elements and a sentimental trip from loss to being found.
Peyton and King, a newly married couple, are given the characters of total strangers, yet they remain also two main backbone characters that move the film forward as they are left with the responsibility of temporarily taking care of the abandoned child. Peyton is also facing her dark past, and is herself in a dilemma no easier to extricate from than Violet.
Violet eventually meets with Peyton, and they together form another intriguing relationship as more is revealed about Violet's family and her husband who is not here to help take care of his own child. It also brings out the husband's father, and ergo it leads to another troubled relationship between him and Violet.
Notes from the Heart Healer is a movie made for TV that is both moving and mind-stimulating, devoid of unrelated silliness or a pace too slow, and, pulls itself together by its meaning and emotional effect despite the lack of top-class acting.
The Dictator (2012)
The Dictator: Nothing More...Nothing Less
Sacha Baron Cohen appears as the dictator Aladeen of his own dictated country, and as usual, it is a film similar to Borat, a successful comedy full of sidesplitting moments. It is the usual style of this writer-actor, translating the "wrong" ideas into constant laughter. Unfortunately it is a film that offers no clear message and seemingly over the journey of the entire film there is not much learned; the Dictator is still the same old Dictator, though he claims he understands more.
Anyway, it is still a pure comedy that shines with nicely written jokes, funny one-liners, and racism and sexism made laughable. To fully appreciate a film like this, all moral standards must exist, but it is a film that is asking you not temporarily care less about such rules.
There is no much in depth to say this film. It is a great comedy because it is funny. It is by no means a good drama not because it lacks the elements in its making, but because it wasn't intended for this to be a drama. So accept the fact that this is all comedy, and enjoy the fun that probably can only last through a one-time, yet worthwhile watch.
Me Again (2012)
Learning to Cherish the Things You Have
True, it is a story about a man learning a profound lesson through a trek of uncommon experiences. True, these experiences are somewhat supernatural and explained in the miracle-from-God cheesy style. And true, such experiences are by no means innovative and can be considered a fairy-tale enchantment. Still, it is a little gem that illuminates in a miniature yet successful way, thanks to its essential message, its gradual and managed delivery and its surprisingly good transition from what feels like misplaced pieces of chaos to a complete conclusion with an apt reflection.
The start of the film is the end of the film, though nothing is revealed (nothing but the message that it is going to be a family film classified within the usual formula and that it will end happily). The lessons learned and the process are indeed experienced through watching the story that fills the gap. Rich starts as a disoriented mid-aged man who has lost his purpose in life and prays in the hopes of being someone else, anyone other than himself, and for your convenience, indeed, what he gets is what he wishes for. The twist is that it happens uncontrollably. Rich begins to be able to control different individual, some seemingly being predetermined, while others feel completely random. Through stepping into others' shoes and viewing with different eyes, Rich slowly learns and grasps the meaning in life, along with other significant messages about family and love, and his marriage most noticeably. He decidedly turns his disadvantage into determination and strives for a new life and a place back to his family whom he misses. As the transitions between different living beings increase and the randomness seems to set in, a sense of unconstrained chaos arises, causing the film to be slightly off its track, but it is ultimately satisfying to see a nice conclusion and relation and at least some degree of relevance in the things and ideas involved.
The performances are mediocre but in no way hinder the development of the plot line and the display of message. The closure has the ability to strengthen the film and reinforce ideas, and conclude in a satisfying style and in a proper tone. All in all, the story is organized well and everything has the closure it deserves. Amid the silliness there are quite a few heartfelt and hilarious moments that adds a foundation of sentiments to this well-developed indie production.
Big Fish (2003)
An Admirable Art Form
You can say Big Fish is a queer kind of theme for the great plot and little stories it comprises, but undeniably it is a genuine piece of art that continues to amaze viewers in personal ways for each individual. It is the kind of film that is distinctively moving, special, and special in different, varying ways for different people.
On the surface, it is a son's penetratingly emotional journey to reconcile with his father. It depicts a story that reconnects a parting relationships, and experiences that inspire. The tone is light and easily manages to pull the audience in, without the usual cheesy elements. The film starts and ends with a big fish, and in between are uncountable stories that are intriguingly touching and inspirational.
There are no easy words to describe such a vivid experience that can only be experienced first-hand through directly viewing the bittersweet journey of a man's life and the underlying reflections.
The Diary of Preston Plummer (2012)
Engaging Drama Set on a Truly Beautiful Island
The Diary of Preston Plummer was set on an island of great scenery and filled with the beauty of nature, gradually inserting elements of crime into what starts as a drama or romance.
Preston has just graduated high school, and meets Kate in a party. He takes her home and she asks for a favor - to drive her back home where her parents' hotel are - which he accepts. The true greatness of the countryside sets in, and at the same time we learn about Kate's family and her grandpa. Grandpa meets Preston, talks without making much sense, fills the conversation with seemingly inexplicable riddles and a plethora of unanswered questions. The story begins as develop, as both the romance and the secrets in this family are revealed. Preston becomes determined to look for the truth, and things come to a conclusion as the matters are settled.
This is an above average drama and delivers viewers a satisfying experience throughout. It is a love story, but one that has deeper layers, one that digs deeper into family secrets, which soon incorporate into the romantic relationship going on between the two young lovers. It is engaging enough to keep the audience attentive and entertained for a relatively short span of 80 minutes. But it is effective in bringing about its messages about greed and family relationships. On top of that, it is an unusual love story set in a different environment, which is refreshing with comforting music and the bless of nature.
Get the Gringo (2012)
Gibson Plays Hero in a Peculiar Prison
Mel Gibson returns as a hero, though not one as multilayer as in the ancient Braveheart. "Get the Gringo" takes place in a slum in Mexico, or as the film states, a prison, despite many unanswered questions concerning its origin or development over time. It does not really matter in a story that shines with interesting characters and well-crafted plot-lines.
It is a character unlike the army leader portrayed almost 20 years ago in the film that earned Gibson his two Academy Awards, for this time it is a hero that robs and kills, but not necessarily out of justice. Gibson handled the character well nevertheless, and this side is shown right at the beginning, in a scene during which police vehicles chase Gibson who has just stolen some random rich guy and tries to rush past the barricade which symbolizes the border. As the story unfolds, we get to know him better. The character Gibson is assuming is one of exceptional intelligence and immense patience. It is, however, unclear when it comes to his sentimental side until he meets a mother and her child in "jail", where he befriends them and understands the situation raging about and matters up to a more personal level.
The story is interesting and the excitement exists from the beginning to the end; it is truly hard to look through the entire film and find a single moment which is considered boring for me. The narrating is great, the performances good, and the emotions satisfactory. The corrupted moral values do not in any way degrade this nice little movie; after all, it is a crime thriller and revolves around a criminal whose hands are not forced. What perhaps could have made the film better is more depth on the emotions, which definitely constitutes a more profound experience for viewers.