Skip to main content
Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 8 years ago

Season Standout films


The Academy Award’s most-nominated actor, Meryl Streep, takes on the role of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It’s a given she’ll nail the tough-as-nails broad. From the looks of it, Streep embodies Thatcher the way she did Julia Child. Let’s hope that she isn’t robbed of the Oscar that was due her in 2010 this time around. Jim Broadbent also stars; Phyllida Lloyd (“Mamma Mia”) directs.

The mucho-hyped and très controversial adaptation of the blockbuster crime novel finally hits theaters. David Fincher directs his version of Stieg Larsson’s disturbingly dark thriller. It features a killer cast, including the hot Daniel Craig, the cool Christopher Plummer and the brave Rooney Mara, just for starters.

Michael Fassbender gets naked in director Steve McQueen’s explicit expose on sex addiction. A New York businessman’s insatiable carnal appetite is threatened by the unexpected arrival of his troubled sister (the gifted Carey Mulligan). Their past hints at mutual abuse. Fassbender’s performance is rumored to be riveting and courageous. Rated NC-17, a shame in itself.

I’ve never before watched a trailer that brought tears to my eyes. Steven Spielberg’s World War I epic depicts “the horrors of combat” and “the relationship between a horse and every human being this horse touches and changes” (in his own words). John Williams’ score and the sumptuous cinematography are breathtaking. Starring Emily Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch and, of course, a horse.

 Michael Fassbender (“Shame”) gets carnal on a different level in David Cronenberg’s “understated passionate study” between Carl Jung (Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (the always sexy Viggo Mortensen). The two psychiatrists have a falling out when a beautiful but disturbed patient (Keira Knightely) comes between them. More clothing, less “shame.”

Ralph Fiennes has taken on the duplicitous, daunting task of starring in and directing a lesser-known Shakespearean tragedy about revenge. I assume it’s sweet, given the positive buzz. The always-astounding Vanessa Redgrave plays Coriolanus’ controlling mother, and Gerard Butler, the sworn enemy with whom Coriolanus must ally, forces to regain his reputation.

If Jeremy Renner’s in it, I’m on it. Another plus, the “Mission Impossible” franchise never fails to entertain — big time. Renner’s character teams up with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as they go underground after being accused of bombing the Kremlin. Sounds like Ruskie business. Brad Bird, once again, directs.

 This will be “a thriller on fire,” starring Woody Harrelson and directed by Oren Moverman (“The Messenger”). Renegade cop (Harrelson) gets caught on video beating a suspect. The act opens the rabbit hole for a devilish descent into hell. Loosely alluding to the L.A. Rampart police scandals in 1999, the film looks dark, depraved and delicious.

A semi-silent, black-and-white French film set in the 1920s. Wait ... it works — so much so it was the hot ticket at Cannes this year. Jean Dujardin’s character struggles to make the transition to talking films as he chases a rising starlet. Also stars some Yanks, including John Goodman and Penelope Ann Miller. Directed by Michael Hazanavicius.

John le Carre’s 1974 intellectual Cold War thriller makes it to the big screen with a plethora of great character actors. Veteran spy hero, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), is recruited to expose a mole within the highest echelons of the British Secret Intelligent Service. Also starring Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones and the wonderful Colin Firth. Director Tomas Alfredson manages to confuse audiences — in a good way.

Related Stories