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I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.

#50.  Tonight You’re Mine

tonight you're mine movie poster

He’s a famous rock star.  She’s the lead singer of a small-time female rock group.  They get handcuffed together at a rock festival, and hilarity (and maybe love?) ensues.  The premise is incredibly rom-commy, but the film’s direction is more indie rock documentary.  In my opinion, there’s way too much time spent on the festival and not enough on the story.  But it was taken at a real festival, with real artists (including the Proclaimers), which is interesting.

#49.  Bachelorette

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Had some very funny bits.  And was a lot darker than I was expecting.  It felt like the second of the film started to drag, and the characters weren’t developed as much as I might have liked.  If every movie had Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott, I’m not sure that would be the worst thing in the world.  While this movie may not have been made (or at least the distribution it got) without The Hangover, I would hesitate to make too much of the comparison.  Sure, they both involve bachelor/bachelorette parties, are funny, but tonally, this one isn’t nearly as light.  Or ridiculous.

#48.  Total Recall

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The original is one of my favoritest movies ever.  So it is difficult to judge this one with referring back.  And also, if I’m being honest, it probably means I bumped this one up a few spots because I like the premise so much.  I’m not fundamentally opposed to remakes or anything, but I’m not sure this one had too much to add to the original.  I liked the expanded role of Kate Beckinsale’s character.  And setting the film on a future Earth divided into two Have and Have-Not sections was a pretty interesting take on the theme.  By the end, though, the film had devolved into pretty much every other blockbuster, with large, loud explosions for seemingly no good reason.

#47.  Sound of My Voice

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It feels like Brit Marling watched a lot of Twilight Zone growing up, and I’m OK with that.  The vaguely mystery/sci-fi aspect of them film were fairly engrossing, and I think they did a good job sticking the ending.  I am not certain I loved the cult around Maggie as the entry point into the story.  I mean, I can see why, but I found the cult itself the least interesting aspect of the film.

#46.  Tai Chi Zero

Tai-Chi-Zero-2012-Movie-Poster

I saw a number of reviews compare this film to a martial arts movie by way of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.  I’m not sure I agree with that, necessarily, but I would go into this one expecting a sense of humor and a more modern take on the kung fu movie.  Though not as goofy as a Stephen Chow film.  I also love that people decided both that we needed a steampunk kung fu movie and to market this one as such.  They weren’t wrong, of course, but it makes me happy.

#45.  Gimme the Loot

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One of my favorite Spirit Award nominees, the film is fun, funny, and charming.  It focuses on a pair of teenage graffiti artists, a guy and a girl, obsessed with becoming well-known and respected within the tagging community, hatching a plan to tag the apple at Citifield (at least, it was the Mets stadium, I can’t remember if they were talking about Shea or not, apologies).  That’s not really a great description, though, it is more a few days in the life of a couple of teens living in New York in the summer.  It is about graffiti, sure, but it is also about growing up and first love, and innocence.

#44.  The Cabin in the Woods

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A fascinating film, certainly getting points for originality and creativity.  Got a little strange toward the end, but that’s part of its charm.  The cast was a ton of fun on both sides of the ball, with Chris Hemsworth being able to lead anything, Kristin Connolly (who I just realized is in House of Cards), Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, and Amy Acker.  I have a few thoughts on things I’d do differently, but I’m certainly not as qualified as Joss Whedon, so let me go in a different direction.  Why hasn’t this been made into a TV show yet?  Each season could be a different scary story, with a different set of beautiful and handsome fresh-faced actors and actresses to be killed off, but keeping the same cast of people downstairs working on the horror set up.  I see loads of possibilities.  The origin stories for the people downstairs could be worked in, we could do some time jumping to see how things worked across time.  I dunno, maybe it is just me, but I think it sounds like a winner.

43.  Seven Psychopaths

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Considering I had Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges near the top of my list along with his brother’s The Guard, I think this film’s placement has to be considered a huge disappointment, keeping in mind I started with crazy high expectations.  There were some funny moments, and the script could be clever at times.  But it didn’t seem nearly as clever as it thought it was, though it did get some points for originality.  And the actors are a ton of fun.  Although it is a little strange how little the women are in the movie, given their billing.

#42.  Man on a Ledge

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Granted, I’m a little bit of a sucker for heisty/prove my innocence films, but this one wasn’t half bad, if not particularly memorable.  The setup was pretty decent, I thought.  But I’m not sure they nailed the ending.  In that they way they “proved” Ed Harris did the crime or whatever wouldn’t really stand up in a court run by twelve year olds.

#41.  Compliance

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Ann Dowd’s Oscar story was quite compelling last year, I just wish her performance was a little bit better here (which probably actually means I wish her character had a little bit more screen time) to justify it all.  It has been kind of fascinating watching Dreama Walker go from The Good Wife to this to Don’t Trust the B.  Partially because she/her character were pretty awful in The Good Wife, so it seems like something in clicking in the more recent projects.  This film did make me think, so well done, film.  It is harrowing, actually.  The ending felt a little bit off, though.

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The Oscars are quickly approaching. Because we’ve spent the time to see the nominees and because we’re really smart (and I, at least, have impeccable taste), we’re telling you what should win in all the categories.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:

  • Amy Adams, The Master
  • Sally Field, Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
  • Helen Hunt, The Sessions
  • Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Jared

I’m a big fan of Amy Adams. Watching Junebug (and her performance in it) was one of the reasons I started down this Oscar-obsessive path. She’s pretty much always fantastic, and one of the reasons I suggest people check out the underrated Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. That all said, there’s absolutely no good reason she was nominated for her role here. Sure, it was darker than she usually plays, and she was good. But it kinda seems like she got the nom for jacking off Philip Seymour Hoffman, which is maybe not the best reason ever to nominate someone.

It was surprising to me that Jacki Weaver hadn’t been receiving more Oscar buzz for her role, given she was a recent Oscar nominee and lots of people love Silver Linings Playbook. She’s actually pretty good as a character who is pretty much the complete opposite of her Oscar-nominated character in Animal Kingdom. But I don’t really get it. Especially considering Ann Dowd was in the mix this year as another middle-aged woman who struggles to keep things together while making a lot of food. Weaver and Adams’s nomination kinda make it seem like the Academy needs to get out and see more movies. Which is bad, since it is sort of their job to do that.

You know, I don’t quite get the love this year for Sally Field. As I mentioned earlier, I thought Kushner’s script had a little difficulty fitting the Lincoln family into the cast of thousands. Her scene with Tommy Lee Jones in the receiving line was fun, sure. And she does some good work in a bedroom scene. But in my mind there’s just not enough there to merit a nomination.

John and I both had Helen Hunt as the runner-up in our Spirit Awards picks, and we talk about her performance a little bit there. I’m not really a fan of the use of “brave” to describe acting, and the fact that Hunt got naked doesn’t really affect my opinion here. But how well she used her nakedness while portraying a sex therapist does. Nudity in movies often serves as a distraction (good or bad), and while it serviced the plot here, the impressive part was Hunt jumping into the character, almost teaching the audience to be comfortable with skin as she taught Hawkes the same. She also gets credit for the emotional scenes at home and in the car, even if I’m not sure they really added to the film.

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But, yeah, obviously it is Anne Hathaway in her Sinead O’Connor homage. I don’t really have anything new to the conversation here, so I’ll just say that I watched the pilot episode of Get Real, which starred Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, among others. It was actually pretty decent. And kind of a fascinating link from the television of the late 90s/early 2000s and the often hyper self-aware television of today.

Should have been here: Man, this is a really tough category. If you asked me right this second, I have Hunt and Hathaway in my top five, along with Samantha Barks, Les Miserables; Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister’s Sister; and Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. But a few seconds later I’d figure out a way to get Ann Dowd, Compliance; Emma Stone, The Amazing Spider-Man and/or Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect in there. And I’m leaving out a handful more performances I really want to mention. It was a great year for supporting actresses, if you are willing to think outside the box a little bit.

John

She really cleans up after she dies

She really cleans up after she dies

I’m a lemming and going with Anne Hathaway. She doesn’t have much screen time but she sure is memorable. She gets a little bit of derision since for “winning for one song,” but she does do at least a little more there. Not that it matters. Her “I Dreamed a Dream” is very powerful and instantly iconic.

Hunt is my second choice. The Sessions walks a fine line. It needs to be sympathetic to its subjects – it finds humor in the situation without ever mocking – but doesn’t want to stray into maudlin territory. The performance are a big reason why it succeeds.

Twice now in the short history of this site I’ve discussed that I like Amy Adams but that she was swept to an undeserved nomination as part of an acting showcase. Jared makes the same argument above because here she is again for a film that also landed nominations for two other actors. This time, though, I’m totally fine with it. Its hard to not be dominated by the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix in a film, but she manages to be memorable in her own right.

Finally, not to disparage their work, but Field and Weaver made very little impact on me.

Who should have been here? You have to think that Ann Dowd finished 6th or 7th in the voting for Compliance and she would have been a favorite for me in the category. Compliance is a film that requires all its characters to continually do stupid things at the behest of a prankster. Through Dowd’s character we can at least understand how a well-meaning person could be duped so much. At least she got our Independent Spirit vote. Jared says it was a good year for this category but I disagree. Even his outside of the box suggestions do very little for me.

Oscar nominations come out on the 10th.  I’m looking at the state of the race in the big eight categories.  This time: Supporting Actress

VIRTUAL LOCK

  • Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
  • Sally Field, Lincoln

Say what you will about Hooper’s direction (and I did), but Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” may well have been the quintessential Oscar scene.  She has one prior nomination, for Rachel Getting Married.  In my mind, Sally Field’s Mary Todd Lincoln wouldn’t have been enough if the rest of the movie had turned out to not be very good.  As is, the two time Oscar winner (Norma Rae and Places in the Heart) should be through just fine.

GOOD BET

LIKELY IN

  • Helen Hunt, The Sessions

The only thing dropping Hunt down to this section is that The Sessions just hasn’t been in the Oscar conversation as much as I would have expected.  But she gets naked, and it is Meaningful, so the Academy should eat it up.  Hunt won an Oscar for As Good as It Gets.

ON THE BUBBLE

  • Amy Adams, The Master
  • Samantha Barks, Les Miserables
  • Judi Dench, Skyfall
  • Ann Dowd, Compliance
  • Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
  • Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Still haven’t seen The Master, but Amy Adams is supposed to be solid and in a role unlike most of her others.  She suffers from being a movie that appears to be losing ground in the Oscar race, though she does have three prior noms (JunebugDoubt, and The Fighter).  I thought Barks was quite good, but she is facing a movie with sharply divided reviews and is overshadowed by Hathway, plus she has no Oscar history.  Judi Dench has five Oscar noms (Mrs. BrownChocolat, IrisMrs. Henderson PresentsNotes on a Scandal) and a win (the infamous Shakespeare in Love), all since 1998.  Her role isn’t terribly showy, but it is a meaningful one in the Bond canon, and Skyfall‘s PGA nom may suggest support for the film.  I just figured out that Ann Down played Busy Philipps’s mom on Freaks and Geeks.  I haven’t seen Compliance yet, but Dowd is the easy to root for underdog, as the veteran character actress is self-financing her campaign.  The Paperboy is supposed to be dreadful, which would be entirely consistent with seemingly 90% of the films Nicole Kidman picks.  She’s picked up steam lately, and has past noms for Moulin Rouge! and Rabbit Hole, along with a win for The Hours.  I don’t understand the love for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  The characters really weren’t any fun at all, but Smith’s is the only one who shows even mild signs of development.  She has prior noms for OthelloTravels with My Aunt, A Room with a View, and Gosford Park along with wins for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and California Suite.

DARK HORSES

  • Emily Blunt, Looper
  • Jennifer Ehle, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Kelly Reilly, Flight
  • Amanda Seyfried, Les Miserables
  • Kerry Washington, Django Unchained
  • Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

I don’t really think any of these actresses have much of a shot, you basically have to believe in the wave theory of nominations and that the Academy really liked each respective film.

SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED

  • Emily Blunt, Your Sister’s Sister
  • Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister’s Sister
  • Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises
  • Taraji P. Henson, Think Like a Man
  • Emma Stone, The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Charlize Theron, Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect
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