Expect drama at the 2013 Academy Awards
Some years, predicting the Academy Awards winners is a sure thing; there's a clear front-runner like The Artist last year, or The King's Speech the year before that. But 2013 is not one of those years. Expect drama, when the stately odds-on favorite a month ago squares off against a plucky little upstart that's been raking in the pre-Oscar accolades; when an actress in a quirky comedy has a chance to edge out the female lead in a serious drama; in a directors' free-for-all where the winner of the Directors Guild of America award—usually the instant Oscar front-runner—wasn't even nominated by the Academy.
Mood-altering pills power nifty thriller 'Side Effects'
Obfuscation is the name of the game in Steven Soderbergh's intricate new thriller Side Effects. The kind of tense drama for which the words "taut" and "twisty" are usually strung together in a sentence, this dark tale of sex, lies, and pharmaceutical skullduggery is a masterpiece of misdirection, artfully calibrated so that the viewer—like the film's overly medicated characters—often has no idea what may or may not be going on. In retrospect, even the preview trailer (which has been playing around town for weeks) fools around with our expectations, so that the film itself is still full of nifty surprises.
Veteran stars worth the ride in entertaining 'Stand Up Guys'
You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and why should you, when the old tricks work as well as they do in Stand Up Guys? The pleasure of watching three veteran actors do what they do best is its own reward in this wistful crime comedy from director Fisher Stevens. Plotwise, it may look like nothing special, but the combined one-two-three punch of co-stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin turn it into an entertaining, funny, and surprisingly moving morality play on aging, friendship, and what it means to do the right thing.
Iconic stars, fearless performances, in brave aging drama ‘Amour'
You don't go to a Michael Haneke film to find comfort and joy. His is a chilly, clear-eyed worldview of human nature and consequences that turns an apparent genre thriller like Cache into a study of moral imperatives, or a historical drama like The White Ribbon into a haunted horror movie of deep-seated psychoses. As usual, Haneke's excellent new film, Amour, is not for the faint-hearted; it may look like a domestic drama about a long-married couple rattling around their tiny Paris apartment, but it packs a wallop as Haneke confronts his most ferocious and devastating themes to date—the inevitability of aging, and the nature of commitment.
Wounded souls navigate life, each other, in dynamic ‘Rust and Bone’
French-born filmmaker Jacques Audiard is best known for his stylish thrillers. His last film was the Oscar nominee A Prophet, a jazzy, yet often brutal crime melodrama about a young Muslim man coming of age inside a French prison. But Audiard’s engrossing new film, Rust and Bone, is a departure. While it percolates with suspense, even dread, it’s not exactly a thriller, and the love story that slowly wends its way to the surface avoids the trappings of conventional romance for something darker, deeper, and ultimately more satisfying.