Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Flicks Flashforward - "2011 Oscar Hopefuls"

December is a big month for movies looking for Oscar glory. To increase their chances, a number of films are released in a limited amount of theaters and then slowly expanded out throughout the month.  Since the release date will vary nationally, this entire first edition of the "Flicks Flashforward" will be just about those movies.

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella & Phillip Baker Hall
Directed by Andrew Jarecki for distribution by Magnolia Pictures

The Plot: Based on one of the most notorious unsolved mysteries of New York City, the movie recounts the story of a real estate mogul (Gosling), who was suspected but never charged with the murder of his wife (Dunst).
The Final Word: Gosling and Dunst still remain on the fringes of the A-list, namely because of their continued turns in these art-house independent films. Both have proven they can handle mainstream roles, but this is the genre where they thrive.

Starring: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis,
Barbara Hershey & Winona Ryder
Directed by Darren Aronofsky for distribution by Fox Searchlight

The Plot: Two ballerinas (Portman & Kunis) vie for the lead spot in the New York City ballet’s production of "Swan Lake," only to find themselves spiraling out of control as a result.
The Final Word: Darren Aronofsky is known for dark edgy style and this drama will no doubt have plenty of both.  It will also have a lot of awards buzz, at least for the film’s leads Portman and Kunis. While Aronofsky is one of the most talented young directors on the scene, he’s always been shut out of the Academy Awards.

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel
John Doman & Maryann Plunkett.
Directed by Derek Cianfrance for distribution by The Weinstein Company


The Plot: After seeing their marriage begin to fall apart (Gosling & Williams), a young couple use one night to relieve the romance in hope of saving their relationship.
The Final Word: Told as a combination of flashbacks and present time, the movie is being billed as an honest look at one relationship. Although the movie is being looked at more closely because of its surprising NC-17 rating, which is especially puzzling given the lack of violence or nudity that is usually associated with that box-office killing label.  Knowing the Weinstein Company, they will find a way to get the rating lowered and in the end that attention could actually draw in viewers.

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston & Jon Lovitz.
Directed by George Hickenlooper for distribution by ATO Pictures.

The Plot: The rise and fall of one-time Washington D.C. lobbyist Jack Abarmoff (Spacey) is spotlighted in this new drama.
The Final Word: The Abramoff scandal was one that was literally begging to be told on the big screen and two time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey will definitely do the film justice.  Unfortunately the film’s release will be marked by a somber note as the film’s director George Hickenlooper just recently and unexpectedly passed away.

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund & Leighton Meester.
Directed by Shana Feste for distribution by Screen Gems (Sony)

The Plot: A rising singer/songwriter (Hedlund) teams up with a fallen country star (Paltrow) fresh out of rehab, for a cross country tour, but begin to have problems when old demons start to surface courtesy of her husband/manager (McGraw) and the beauty queen turned singer that serves as their opening act (Meester).
The Final Word: Aside from the “Iron Man” movies, Gwyneth Paltrow has shied away from the limelight in recent years to raise her family. Now the Academy Award winning actress returns to the big screen in a movie that will remind audiences that not only can she act, but she can sing!

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo & Jack McGee
Directed by David O. Russell for distribution by Paramount Pictures

The Plot: The true story of “Irish” Mickey Ward, a boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts who rose to fame after a rocky early career.
The Final Word: Traditionally boxing movies do extremely well during the awards season and Wahlberg has become an early odds on favorite to win big. Bale and Adams who play Wahlberg’s volatile brother and love interest (respectively) are also picking up early buzz which could land Paramount’s tentpole a TKO on Oscar night.

Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Man & Rodrigo Santoro
Directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa for distribution by Roadside Attractions

The Plot: A married man (Carrey) emerges from a severe car accident with a realization that he’s going to live life to the fullest, which prompts him to come out to wife, become a con-man and eventually pursue a relationship with a man (McGregor) after he’s jailed.
The Final Word: Hollywood has tried to kill this movie a number of different ways and every time it keeps pushing its way back to the forefront. Now with a December release date and an awards campaign being mounted behind it, this comedy could finally see the light of day. Although the next question is will people come to see it?

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest & Sandra Oh
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell for distribution by Lionsgate

The Plot: A couple (Kidman, Eckhart) tries to reclaim a sense of normalcy after the unexpected and tragic loss of their only child.
The Final Word: Kidman and Weist have already heard their names called on Oscar night and honestly it won’t be long before Eckhart and Oh experience the same thrill. This is a talented group of actors and Lionsgate does a great job in promoting its award contenders.  While the dark subject will only enhance the move in the eyes of the voters, it could also cause the public to shy away.

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter,
Guy Pearce & Michael Gambon.
Directed by Tom Hooper for distribution by The Weinstein Company

The Plot: The true story of how King George VI (Firth) found his voice courtesy of a Lionel Logue (Rush), a maverick speech therapist called in to help him overcome a stutter.
The Final Word: If early critics lists are to be believed, this year’s “Best Picture” race is over and “The King’s Speech” is the winner. Breaking it down further, the movie does have everything voters love and with the Weinstein’s guiding the PR ship, it should be a smooth ride across the award season waters.

Starring: Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming
Reeve Carney, Tom Conti & David Stratharin
Directed by Julie Taymor for distribution by Touchstone (Disney)

The Plot: When a sorceress (Mirren) is unfairly exiled to a remote island along with her young daughter, she uses her powers to protect her new home, but soon develops another enemy.
The Final Word: The famed Shakespearean tale gets the big screen treatment with “Across The Universe’s” Julie Taymor at the helm. Many also remember Taymor from Broadway’s “The Lion King,” and those who do know exactly what she’s capable of, which bodes well for this adaptation.  Although purists may balk at Taymor for changing the role of the sorcerer Prospero to a female sorceress named Prospera , they have to agree the Bard’s work has always been subject to different interpretations and this will definitely be a different interpretation.