Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Flicks Flashforward - "2012 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: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave,
Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain & James Nesbitt
Directed by Ralph Finnes for distribution by The Weinstein Company

The Plot: A feared and revered Roman emperor teams up with his nemesis with to extract revenge on the city that spurned and then banished him.

The Final Word: This should be interesting to say the least. Perianal Academy Award contender Ralph Finnes not only stars in the picture but it will serve as his directorial debut. Looking back at the plot, this really would seem to be a Finnes type picture. Backed by a strong supporting cast including Gerald Butlet, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox, it will draw notice from Oscar voters, but some wonder if it can top some of this year’s strong competitors.

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale
Directed by Steve McQueen for distribution by Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Plot: A New Yorker’s sexual addiction is challenged when his sister drops by for a unannounced visit.

The Final Word: Movies are all about feeling a connection to the characters and honestly based on the plot and poster, that feeling is “dirty;” which ironically is an Academy Award staple. Like “Shame’s” star Michael Fassbender, the movie’s director Steve McQueen has had a break-through year. His movie  “Drive” is also garnering significant buzz for his unflinching style of filmmaking and “Shame” is going to garner the same time of headlines.

Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt & Elizabeth Reaser
Directed by Jason Reitman for distribution by Paramount

The Plot: Following a divorce, a writer returns to her small Minnesota hometown on a mission to re-kindle a relationship with her ex-boyfriend; who just happens to now be married with kids.

The Final Word: Jason Reitman has had a lot of success with in recent years with “Juno” and “Up In The Air,” but to be able to re-team with Diablo Cody on this new comedic drama can only help make him more successful. The same goes for Theron who has not had a real major hit since winning the Oscar for “Monster,” and with the streak of films she had lined up for 2012 and beyond, don’t be shocked if this is the one turns things around for her.

Starring: Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, Sasha Grey,
Zander Eckhouse, Abhi Sinha & Arielle Kebbel
Directed by Mark Pellington for distribution by Magnolia Pictures

The Plot: Four 40-something college friends meet for their yearly reunion only to find a pact they made as young men come back to haunt them and send their lives into a spiral.

The Final Word: When you are looking to cast four slightly older actors to play four men with a seriously messed up past you’d be hard pressed to find a better group than that consisting of Thomas Jane (“Hung”), Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”) and Rob Lowe.  Not sure you really need to know more than that…

Starring: Abbie Cornish, Oscar Isaac, James D'Arcy, Andrea Riseborough,
Natalie Dormer, Richard Coyle, James Fox & Laurence Fox
Directed by Madonna for distribution by The Weinstein Company

The Plot: A look at marriage and divorce as seen through the eyes of two couples including King Edward VIII and the woman that caused him to abdicate the thrown.

The Final Word: Ever wonder what happened to King Edward following the events of “The King’s Speech?” Well, Madonna has you covered….and yes “that” Madonna.” The controversial material girl returns for second time behind the camera in this drama loaded with a cast dripping with Oscar-bait. Based on the success of the Best Picture winning “Speech,” this could be a sleeper.

Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Directed by Lynne Ramsay for distribution by Oscilloscope Laboratories

The Plot: After her son goes on a murderous shooting spree at his school, his mother is forced to deal with her grief and feelings of guilt over the event.

The Final Word: Tilda Swinton already has one Oscar and she could easily pick up another based on the early buzz about this drama. Joining her as a solid contender is John C. Riley, who is one of the most under-valued actors in the industry. Directed by Lynne Ramsey (in her third and most high profile film to date), “Kevin” is going to be the topic of much conversation this award season.

Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly
Directed by Roman Polanski for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics

The Plot: Two very different sets of parents meet to talk about an playground incident between their sons.

The Final Word: Based on the Tony award winning play “God of Carnage,” the movie has been adapted and extended to fit the silver screen courtesy of original author Yasmina Reza and director Roman Polanski (whose son plays one of the two boys at the center of the plot). Audiences who were unable to get to New York to see the Broadway version will be very excited to see this film version as it boasts just as strong of a cast of actors as the ones that appeared on stage.

Starring: Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, Brendan Gleeson,
Janet McTeer, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Pauline Collins & Brenda Fricker
Directed by Rodrigo Garcia for distribution by Roadside Attraction

The Plot: Desperate for a job, a woman poses as a man to take a job as the butler to an influential family only to find herself trapped leading a double life thirty years later.

The Final Word: Many critics have this year’s Best Actress race as a dead heat between Close and Meryl Streep, but that could also actually work against the pair as they could easily also split the vote.

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Alexandra Roach, Harry Lloy,
Olivia Colman, Nicholas Farrell, Susan Brown, Roger Allam & Anthony Head
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd for distribution by The Weinstein Company

The Plot: The story of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the cost she paid for her historic rise to power.

The Final Word: Again, many critics have this year’s Best Actress race as a neck and neck race between Streep and Close. Although based on past voting patterns, Streep has an advantage as she’s portraying a real person, which is something Oscar voters always seem to love.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, James Gandolfini,
Zoe Caldwell, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright & Max von Sydow
Directed by Stephen Daldry for distribution by Warner Brothers

The Plot: A nine year old searches the streets of New York for the lock that fits a key his late father gave him prior to 9/11.

The Final Word: How’s this for a stat? Stephen Daldry has directed three major motion pictures in his career and he’s netted an Oscar nomination for each one (“Billy Elliot,” “The Hours,” & “The Reader”). It looks like he’ll get a fourth and in the process secure another nod for former winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, while also introducing the world to “Jeopardy” teen tournament winner Thomas Horn. Yeah, this one has Oscar bait written all over it.

Previewed next week: New Year's Eve, The Sitter & Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy