My Five Most Anticipated Films for Awards Season
Predicting the movies that you will like is (let’s be honest) really, really fun. You take little details that you know about a movie and you find yourself excited beyond logic. Here are the upcoming films that have me most excited.
The Master: Paul Thomas Anderson’s follow-up to There Will Be Blood opens in New York and LA today. Described by some as a fictional look at something like Scientology, it centers on a prophet, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), whose beliefs start to catch on in the 1950s. It is seen through his interaction with his new right-hand man, Freddie Sutton (Joaquin Phoenix). Taking on any subject as complicated as religion, especially one as divisive as Scientology, could be seen as worrisome, but after hearing that it was coming from Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the most eclectic filmmakers, my first reaction was simply “when can I see what he is doing?” Initial responses have already been very encouraging (though there were a few mixed reactions out of the Toronto Film Festival last week). A cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams is just more reason to be intrigued.
The Sessions: Besides Beasts of the Southern Wild, there was no film I heard more praise about coming from the last Sundance Film Festival than The Sessions. Considering how much I liked Beasts, trusting that praise alone would make it worth a look—but there is more. Seeing John Hawkes as a lead in anything is exciting, especially after seeing his great work in supporting roles in Winter’s Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene. But having him in the lead of a comedy, as a man in an iron lung trying to lose his virginity while getting advice from a priest played by the great William H. Macy? Yeah, I am on board!
Amour: Winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes is usually enough to get me interested in a movie, but this one has me more excited than usual. Michael Haneke is a director whom I have admired more than liked. He usually takes simply character stories or situations and uses them to discuss larger world issues. Here he is taking on a character study of an elderly couple still in love and trying to cope when the wife, Anna, has a stroke. That Haneke stepped out of his comfort zone and did an intimate character study about love, and did this straight out, is encouraging—so much so that even while watching the award ceremony at Cannes, I found myself rooting for his film without any real knowledge beyond the early praise. Cannes’s love has been a good indicator for films I have loved in the past, and here’s hoping that the trend continues.
The Silver Linings Playbook: Systematically over the last three years, almost every director who has a cult following that I have never understood has finally made a movie that I have loved. But David O. Russell has yet to do so for me. Yet, for some reason, his new project jumped out at me, and I’m not exactly certain why. It stars Bradley Cooper (an actor I have no strong feelings about), as a man getting out of an institution and back living with his parents. He is trying to cope with his illness, and his interactions with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), another damaged individual, look fascinating. It is also a comedy. Perhaps it is the absurdness of the idea or the enjoyment I get from quirky comedies or the fact that Jennifer Lawrence brings a presence on screen that I have enjoyed even if the film disappoints, but for whatever reason, this has gotten my attention.
Django Unchained: It is Quentin Tarantino. The man has made too many films that I have loved for me to ever ignore him. Here, he has taken on one of his favorite genres, the western, and it’s supposedly the last of the ideas he has had percolating for years, so let’s hope it delivers. Tarantino is known for his bold characters and dialogue with huge scenes of violence, and early scenes show that this trend is continuing with Django. A bounty hunter, King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), takes a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), under his wing to hunt down some slave traders, while promising to help Django get his wife back from slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). I am especially excited to see DiCaprio step out of his comfort zone of slightly depressed or disturbed characters to take on a full-on villain role—and what a showy role it looks like, as well. He is a southern dandy who takes to watching his slaves fight. If it is even close to what Tarantino got out of Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds, it will be worth seeing.
So, these are the films that are exciting me this fall, and I can’t wait to see which ones deliver. What’s causing you anticipation?