It’s the first of the month, and starting today, I’ll be kicking off each month with a rundown of things to keep an eye out for that month.
December is full of activity as it always is – Oscar wannabes, smaller films looking for attention, and tons of awards…so let’s kick things off with the films.
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (Dec 7) – it was thought of as a major Oscar contender in late Summer, but a less than the expected adulation response at Telluride and Toronto have diminished its chances somewhat. Still, the trailer for this film is fantastic, and it is high on our “want to see” list for December. Casting Bill Murray as FDR is an interesting, risky choice, and he looks like he rose to the occasion with his usual style and panache.
JASON BECKER: NOT DEAD YET(Dec 14) – this
documentary about rock musician Jason Becker is a must see for anyone who has had a bad day, because after you see how Becker continues to be active despite being rendered paralyzed and unable to speak by ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, for the past two decades, you will never complain about YOUR life again. This looks like a surefire winner all the way around, and I’ve heard nothing but extraordinarily good word of mouth from those who have seen it on the festival circuit. Kino-Lorber opens the film in New York on the above date, with more cities to follow in January.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (Dec 14) – are you kidding? Of COURSE this is on the must see list! Peter Jackson is weaving the magic of JRR Tolkien again, this time in the story that preceded The Lord Of The Rings. Sir Ian McKellen is back as Gandalf, with Martin Donovan stepping into the younger Bilbo’s shoes.
AMOUR (Dec 19)- Michael Haneke’s Cannes Film Festival Palm d’Or winner about love in the twilight of life is getting set to premiere on US shores, and from the incredible word of mouth surrounding it should be a favorite on many critics’ year end lists. Nominated for five European Film Awards and a Spirit Award for Best International Film, this is going to be a indie darling in weeks ahead.
ZERO DARK THIRTY (Dec 19) – surprisingly I haven’t been bowled over by the trailers for this film, director Kathryn Bigalow’s followup to her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. The story of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound had considerable help from the Obama administration when it came to accuracy, with Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, and Mark Strong leading the more than able cast. Still, something isn’t quite jelling for me yet on this, but I have a feeling it won’t be anything to worry about when I see it, either…
NOT FADE AWAY (Dec 21) – one of the films that got good critical buzz at this year’s New York Film Festival may or may not connect with the movie-going public, as it currently has only a 5.5 fan score out of 10 on the iMDB. The film follows the efforts of a group of friends to get a band off the ground after being inspired by the success of the Rolling Stones circa 1964. With a mostly unknown cast anchored by James Gandolfini as the father of the band’s leader, I personally can’t wait to check it out.
ON THE ROAD (Dec 21) – the first adaptation of the classic Jack Kerouac novel has been extensively re-cut since it had its premiere at Cannes back in May. With perhaps the ultimate dream cast for an adaptation of this kind of classic – Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Steve Buscemi, Sam Riley, and Terrance Howard – and given the fact that should theoretically have a built-in audience, it should be well worth the wait.
DJANGO UNCHAINED (Christmas Day) – I’m sorry, but I’ve never cared much for Tarantino’s films. Quentin’s a great guy from all I’ve seen, but his films have always kind of left me flat. And I have thus far failed to be jazzed by any one of the several trailers produced thus far for this film, although to be fair, the idea of seeing Leonardo DiCaprio playing a bad guy really intrigues the hell out of me. Not to mention that I love Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in practically anything. And then there’s Jonah Hill, which to me throws even more cold water on my chances of liking this film. But Kim is really hyped on it – she generally loves Tarantino films – so we’ll go, and maybe I’ll end up charmed, who knows…
LES MISERABLES (Christmas Day)- THE film of the Christmas season, although I don’t buy the ad campaign’s “Most beloved musical of all time” line – IMO that belongs to at least a dozen shows before this one, most of them written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Still, I have been waiting with baited breath for this one. Again, the cast is stellar, headed up by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. It seems to already be a critical favorite, has the most fan anticipation of any film this season, and is a MAJOR Oscar contender as well. No matter what, I think they’ll have a winner on their hands here.
QUARTET (Dec 28) – Just squeaking in at the very tail end of the month, and the year, is this comedy-drama set in the world of retired opera singers. Yes, I can certainly see how this would be such an in-demand idea…what? Ok, ok, kidding aside, it’s got Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, and Michael Gambon in the leads, and first-time director Dustin Hoffman behind the camera. The pedigree alone among these five people make it worth seeing…and it doesn’t hurt that the trailer is hysterically funny, and moving as well.
Also hitting this month:
Any Day Now (Dec 14)
Stand Up Guys (Dec 14)
Monsters Inc 3D (Dec 19)
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (Dec 21)
Jack Reacher (Dec 21)
The Impossible (Dec 21)
This Is 40 (Dec 21)
Parental Guidance (Dec 25)
West Of Memphis (Dec 25)
Promised Land (Dec 28)
and about two dozen other indies throughout the month in theaters and on VOD.
Finally. We’re moving out of Oscar Prognostication season and into actual awards season! Over the next month, and spilling into January 2013, the various critics groups will begin to announce their choices as the top films of the year. France’s Cahiers du Cinema kicked things off a couple weeks ago, naming Cannes favorite Holy Motors as their best film. In the next week, several more critics groups will announce their choices, the Annie Awards and the IPA Satellite Award nominations will be announced, and things will really get rolling.
Popcorn N Roses will bring you all the action and announcements all month long as each organization and critics group announces their nominees and winners.
For our part, Popcorn N Roses will announce/post/release Kim’s Top Ten list and my Bakers’ Dozen lists for 2012 as part of our “Just ‘Cause We Can” awards – our silly nods to the year’s films – on Subject:CINEMA Friday, December 28th, and our serious, full winners of the year on the 8th Annual Poppies And Rosies Awards on Subject:CINEMA on Monday, December 31 as part of our annual New Years’ Eve show.
So that’s what’s happening in December. Feel free to drop a line or comment below about what you’re looking forward to during December!