Though we hope for incredible films all year round, we ultimately have to face the facts that in mainstream cinema there are two “seasons” when the silver screen truly comes to life: There is the summer season where the big bad blockbusters come out to play and the awards season (December, January and February) when the films that carry the biggest artistic and emotional punches come to fruition.
With December now upon us it’s time to look to the latter of the above mentioned periods and the films that will most likely be fighting it out for a golden statue early next year.
The truly amazing thing is that the sheer size of the award-worthy-films crop is enormous. With each new week it seems that another potential ‘Best Film’ candidate is placed on the release slate. That is great news for us film lovers and for cinema in general; proof that contrary to some critics’ beliefs, the Hollywood system is still hugely concerned with films that matter.
With all this in mind I thought it worthwhile to put a list together of the ones to watch over the coming months. So make sure to add a cinema voucher to your Christmas list, as you’ll need it to get through all of these incredible offerings.
Spike Jonze is one of the most unique filmmakers working today. His abstract world view and erudite understanding of the human condition have given us some genuinely affecting movies over the years. Where The Wild Things Are was a pitch perfect study of childhood and now with ‘Her’ it seems Jonze has crafted as powerful a study of what it means to love.
It’s incredible to think that director Steve McQueen stepped on to a movie set for the first time when making Hunger in 2008. Since then his hugely acclaimed study of sex addiction, Shame, saw him raise his game in a way that most filmmakers would take a decade to achieve. Now an industry recognised wunderkind he brings what is already being hailed as a classic to the table. A stunning cast, incredible cinematography and a brave story to tackle make this a surefire Oscar contender.
Like Steve McQueen, David O. Russell is a director in the prime of his career. His films over the last few years have gone from strength to strength; all defying convention and all being recognised at awards season. I doubt that after The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook it is going to be difficult to convince audiences to go see American Hustle. But the above trailer, which has a great vintage Scorsese feel, should do the trick.
And just like that we segue perfectly into the latest film from the master himself. Scorsese proves with just a two minute trailer why he is still the greatest living director. It is ironic that it takes one of cinema’s longest serving icons to show us something that looks totally new and fresh. But that’s the perk of being a genius; you’re always a few steps ahead of the competition.
I’ve always thought Ben Stiller underrated as a director. The Cable Guy was way ahead of its time in terms of both comedy and the way it dissects modern relationships that are based on obsessions and possessions, and Tropic Thunder was a great assassination of the film world as a whole. Now with Walter Mitty it seems that Stiller has developed to the point where he is bringing cinema full circle from the Golden Age. Many of the early reviews of this film cite that it carries a sincerity not seen since the likes of Jimmy Stewart and Humphrey Bogart graced the screen. It will be difficult to see if this works with modern, cynical audiences but I have high hopes that it will strike the right chords with me.
The Coen Brothers are an example of what incomparable talent can do when allowed to flourish. Just to hear the names of films like Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Millers Crossing, Raising Arizona, No Country For Old Men et al. is to be reminded that the Coens have been consistently great filmmakers for over 25 years. They are totally original, totally irreverent and totally committed to delivering genuine pieces of art. With Inside Llewyn Davies they have produced another visually beautiful, funny and emotionally arresting piece of cinema that I know will be the highlight of many people’s film year.
Given the tragic news of Nelson Mandela’s passing, this film will now carry more of an emotional punch than ever imagined. This study of a man who quite literally changed the world rests on its central performance. It is fortunate then that Mandela has been played by the always stunning Idris Elba. There is a weight behind the performance and line delivery in the above trailer that is beyond the reach of the majority of actors. I only hope that the finished film matches up to the powerful two and a half minutes provided thus far.
Well at this point its tough to even guess. Given that the academy must also consider the rest of 2013, including stellar offerings like Gravity, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, The Butler, Philomena, Blue Jasmine and Prisoners it really could be anyone’s prize at this point.
The popular press opinion is that it will fall between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, but with all of the above to consider I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a lot more tightly run than currently suspected.