Our resident film critic, Michael Cresci, is transporting his (non) award-winning film review blog, “Cresci Reviews…” to its permanent new home, The Waiver Wire! You can also hear Michael Cresci and co-host Vinny Ginardi talk movies and television on their Waiver Wired podcast, “Short Commercial Break“. To read previous reviews click here! This week some fellow Waiver Wire contributors will be lending their own thoughts on the film.
With the summer of blockbuster fatigue and too many explosions to count in the rearview, the world of movies is about to get a whole lot more high brow. That’s right! Early Oscar season is upon us and from now until December a number of powerhouse directors, films and actors will be vying to provide us something memorable to argue about on Oscar night. The rest of 2013 is stone cold packed with really intriguing movies so as I do each year, I’m going to take a little time to talk about my most anticipated films remaining. Quick not:, this isn’t in any particular order and click on the titles for trailers. Without further ado:
WRITER’S NOTE: A few of these are already out and about but I haven’t seen them yet, so they made the list.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, and Rob Reiner.
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio? Sign me up. It looks like Scorsese may have crafted a funnier, wackier, 80’s-er Goodfellas and the cast looks like they’re all having a blast. This could be one of those films that needs to shave off 15 minutes (again…Goodfellas) but I’m expecting something truly memorable, and Scorsese’s track record along with the stellar trailer lead me to believe my expectations will be met. Maybe Leo can finally win a much deserved Oscar though at this point we should stop holding our breath. He must have desecrated an Indian burial ground or something because he seems to be cursed.
12 Years a Slave (November 1st)
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt
The true story of Solomon Northup is absolutely stunning and it looks like its adaptation to the silver screen is going to be every bit the powerhouse tale you would expect. The cast is the stuff of dreams from top to bottom, Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) is a phenomenal director and the subject of slavery makes for really powerful story telling when handled correctly. Despite a few recent exceptions, it’s a time period that inadequetly covered in film and all reports from the festival circuit are that McQueen’s nailed it with a moving, beautifull shot film. The Oscar buzz here is already defeaning for the performances of Ejiofor and Fassbender as well as for the film itself so lets hope it lives up to its lofty hype.
Captain Phillips (October 11th
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi
This true story about the hijacking of a cargo ship by pirates in 2009 has the look of a nailbiting film. Tom Hanks is the big draw here as the trailer looks like he may be delviering a really great performance and the premise couldn’t be more enticing. I’m not expecting some deep thematic work that changes my life, just a nailbiting thriller. Greengrass has an eye for action and has the ability to do alot with the true story underlying the film. I’m not 100% confident this film will be worthwhile the way I am with 12 Years and Wolf but it has me very intrigued.
I know, I know, this is already out but I don’t get paid for this gig. I’ll see it when I see it and until then it’s anticipated!
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johanssen, Tony Danza, Julianne Moore
I’m totally in the bag for JGL. I think he’s a fantastic actor and a really talented guy, so his directorial debut starring him and the mega-attractive, extremely talented Scar-Jo is a must see for me. The film seems to blend humor and drama while playinf off the “guido” archetype Jersey Shore made famous. I’m confident that Gordon-Levitt can avoid crafting a character who is nothing but an uninspired stereotype and the results could be a really unique film. The cast is another selling point. Don Jon had me hooked from the first trailer, and if the film’s tone matches its advertising then there’s a lot of potential here.
Writer’s Note: I saw this one during the editing process for this piece, review will be up soon!
Thor: The Dark World (October 22nd)
Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson
If you follow my writing you know I’m in the bag for superhero movies. I even reviewed and ranked every Batman film ever when I started at The Waiver Wire. So the first major Marvel film after Joss Whedon’s good time superhero bonanza, The Avengers, merits a mention here. The first Thor could have sunk the entire Avengers endeavor if the source material came across as overly goofy, but it turned out to be a decent film bolstered by fantastic casting. Hemsworth is a perfect Thor and Tom Hiddelston was good enough as Loki to ascend to the ranks of one of the major characters of Marvel’s movie universe so far. The sequel features Christopher Eccelston (the 9th Doctor!!!!) in some heavy duty makeup as the villain and looks like it’s going to spend a lot more time in Asgard, by far the most interesting part of the first film. The superhero genre has a strong track record for second films and my hopes are high that this one kicks off Marvel’s Phase Two with a win.
Inside Llewelyn Davis (December 6th)
Director: The Coen Brothers
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake
Set in New York during the bitter winter of 1961, Inside Llewlyn Davis follows its titular character’s attempts to navigate the NYC folk music scene of the time and break out as a musician. I don’t know much more than that and I don’t need to. Joel and Ethan Coen make a movie and I go see it. Those are the rules. This looks like it could be in the vain of some of their more symbolically heavy work like A Serious Man and the must watch weird fest, Barton Fink, with a dash of Fargo‘s tone thrown in. Will it be great? Who knows. Will it be interesting? That’s all but guranteed. The Coen’s are among the most important filmmakers going and if it sounds like I haven’t made much effort to learn about the film and make a compelling case, well I haven’t. Like Scorses and Leo earlier on this list, the name on the poster is good enough for me.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (December 20th)
Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate
If I need to sell you on a sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy then we are very different people. By that I mean I’m the fun sociable type that people like and you live under a bridge. I can, and do, quote the first film from beginning to end so there’s no question I’ll be in a theater on December 20th primed for some mustached/jazz flute/sex panther/pleated pants/pleasuretown action. There’s a very good chance a sequel like this will do nothing but disappoint and maybe even tarnish the classic original but the whole cast is back so I’m keeping my hopes high that they can keep the quality, and quotability, at least 75% as high as the first go around. You stay classy, Waiver Wire readers.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (December 13th)
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving
I really enjoyed the first Hobbit film because I enjoy Middle Earth, Peter Jackson, Ian Mckellan and the brilliant casting of Martin Freeman. Still, I’m skeptical of the decision to turn one short book into a triology. Take it from a nerd who read these things in 5th grade when the movies were still a pipe dream: the first Hobbit stretched itself really thin, turning every scene into a marathon. Conversely, it featured my favorite scene in all of the Rings movies so far, the game of riddles between Bilbo and Gollum. Still, The Lord of the Rings did one movie per book, so three per book feels like a lot. All that said Peter Jackson has a knack for finding what makes Tolkiens works so timeless and the design of Smaug is leftover from when Guillermo Del Toro was attached to direct so the mix of CGI and creativity that will bring the dragon to life should be something to behold. I may have my reservations about the number of movies but I don’t have any reservations about seeing The Hobbit realized on the big screen.
American Hustle (December 13th)
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence
David O. Russell is quickly ascending into the ranks of “Directors who earn an automatic watch” with recent critical/box office darlings, Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter and older gems like I Heart Huckabees and Three Kings. Throw in an awesome cast and a trailer that hints at a movie with some Goodfellas’ sprawling style and I’m on board. At the very least this film seems like it’s going to deliver some amazing hair performances by curly Bradley Cooper, sleazy Christian Bale, and “Married with Children” Jennifer Lawrence all doing it up. I’m not totally clear on the plot but it looks to be a crime drama set in the late 70’s/early 80’s and the period looks perfectly realized.
I’m keeping my eye on a few different things here. 1.) Is Russell going to become an essential American filmmaker? The trailer is selling this as the next American classic in the vein of the aforementioned Goodfellas or Boogie Nights. 2.) Can Jennifer Lawrence keep up her emergence as a bona fide star by delivering a really memorable performance in what looks like a showy role? 3.) How underrated is Christian Bale? The best Batman is a friggen chameleon who kills just about every role he’s given. Rewatch The Prestige. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Okay. See what I mean? Then watch a Batman flick or The Fighter or even this trailer and a picture starts to form of a really special actor who melts into each role. And 4.) As with many movies on this list, if it is as good as advertised what are the Oscar implications? I’m ready to find out.
Her (November 20th)
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson
Spike Jonze is making another movie? Consider me intrigued. It’s set in the near future and is a philosophically tinged love story about a lonely man who falls in love with the artificial intelligence system installed in his home? Consider me very intrigued. There’s a common misconception that science fiction is about blowing up aliens and lots of CGI but the genre is actually at its best when it’s using a sci-fi concept to openly explore real human issues. It’s the most varied genre with the ability to tell literally any kind of story. In this case I have to imagine that a thoughtful, creative guy like Jonze is going to explore our relationship with technology in an increasingly tech-heavy world and take a look at a scenario that may not actually be very far off. This sort of film has the potential to be weird and meandering but it also has the potential to explore the human desire to connect with other people and the ways technology enhances and limits those connections. The cast is there. The director is there. The concept is there. Here’s to hoping the pieces add up to something great.
Movies That Would Be on This List but I’ve Already Seen Them: Gravity (must see in IMAX 3D!)
Interested but not sold: 47 Ronin, The Counselor, Oldboy (Ammerican remake of the insane Korean masterpiece), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Out of the Furnace, Carrie (remake), The Monuments Men, Nebraska