Holiday Movie Preview 2012: Drama

Drama: the bread and butter of the holidays. The buzz builds to fever pitch for possible Oscar contenders as adults looking for an easy way to spend time around Thanksgiving and Christmas scout out what they’ve heard is supposed to be excellent. Well, here are the highlights and a breakdown of which are the good films and which are the must-sees


Lincoln (Now Playing)

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Tony Kushner, Doris Kearns (book)
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Summary: After his reelection, President Lincoln determines the time has come to push for the 13th Amendment, or the abolishment of slavery. He and the other Republicans must convince (and grease) a lot of Democrats in the house to make it finally happen.

The Word: With an excellent 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, Spielberg looks like he’s in top form. Or is it just Day-Lewis carrying this film with another knock-out performance sure to clean up at the Oscars? Let’s hope it’s a little of both. This politically driven drama ought to teach you a thing or two about history to say the least.

My Thoughts: This is just one of those towering Oscar bait films that you can’t help but want to see. Day-Lewis should give nothing but an incredible performance and the filmmaking pedigree suggests this one ought to feel quite Oscar-worthy too. It’s long at two and a half hours, but it should be something to behold.



Hitchcock (Nov. 23 – Limited)

Directed by Sacha Gervasi
Written by John J. McLaughlin, Stephen Rebello (book)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy

Summary: The story of how the great suspense director Alfred Hitchcock (Hopkins) endeavored to make “Psycho,” widely regarded as his masterpiece, and how it nearly bankrupted him and caused a riff between him and his wife (Mirren).

The Word: This one is a cinephile’s dream. Sir Anthony Hopkins in a fat suit along with the incomparable Dame Helen Mirren in a story about the making of one of the greatest movies of all time. There’s a very light tone to this one based on the trailer and director Sacha Gervasi’s credits, which include the documentary “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” and the script of “The Terminal.”

My Thoughts: If you love old movies (me) and the magic behind them (me), you’ll have a hard time not seeing this movie eventually (me too), even though it’s not poised to make a big dent in the very crowded Oscar conversation this year thanks to its more playful tone and period atmosphere. A nod for makeup seems likely but it’s an extremely outside chance for Hopkins and Mirren.


Rust and Bone (Nov. 23 – Limited)

Directed by Jacques Audiard
Written by Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Craig Davidson
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts

Summary: Alain (Schoenaerts) moves to Southeastern France to become the sole guardian of his 5-year-old son where he meets Stephanie, a killer whale trainer. After a horrible accident leaves her unable to use her legs, the two form a deep connection.

The Word: Audiard’s follow-up to his Oscar nominated and highly praised crime drama “A Prophet” won Best Film and the London Film Festival and was nominated for the Palm d’Or. Some believe given there’s no clear frontrunner in the Best Actress race that Marion Cotillard, who already won an Oscar in that category in a French film, could score at least a nomination for her performance.

My Thoughts: I haven’t seen “A Prophet” and tend to let the Oscar nominations dictate which foreign films I see, but considering “Rust and Bone” will not be nominated for Best Foreign Film (France selected the wildly popular non-fiction tale “The Intouchables” as its submission to the Academy, which coincidentally tells a story of a quadriplegic), it might be unwise to let this one slip through the cracks.


Hyde Park on Hudson (Dec. 7 – Limited)

Directed by Roger Michell
Written by Richard Nelson
Starring: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams

Summary: President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Murray) invites his distant cousin Margaret to spend time with him at his home in Hyde Park, a getaway from presidential duties. As they become close, the King George and Queen Elizabeth pay their first visit to the United States.

The Word: Bill Murray as FDR? Bill Murray as FDR. That’s the big sell here, but this one is quite different from that other presidential biopic we talked about earlier. Especially light in tone and its period aesthetic, “Hyde Park on Hudson” has the most detractors of any film on this list. It might even belong as a comedy. The word is generally positive for the performances, but otherwise it’s described as mostly setting. Outside Oscar nomination chance for Murray given the transformative nature of this kind of role (and characters who can’t use their legs have taken this year’s awards race by storm).

My Thoughts: There might not much meat on this one’s bones, but the performances ought to be worth a watch if you’re not that into heavy dramas anyway but still like period stuff. Not every presidential movie affair has to be a tour-de-force. That said, given how crowded the season is (and with quality too), it looks like this one is a very easy one to pass on in theaters.


Amour (Dec. 19 – Limited)

Written and Directed by Michael Haneke
Starring: Jean-Louis Tritignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert

Summary: George and Anne are retired music teachers in their 80s whose love faces its greatest (and probably final) test, and it begins to affect their children.

The Word: Critics love German filmmaker Michael Haneke, whose films are almost always as disturbing as they are beautiful. This French-language film won the Palm d’Or at Cannes and has been widely praised ever since. It will most certainly be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (for Austria) given the clout that comes with winning that prize.

My Thoughts: As people I know have pointed out, this is kind of what “The Notebook” would have looked like if it were only made up of the scenes featuring the old people. Obviously, this will be better, but there’s no denying it’s a tough sell to a younger crowd.


The Impossible (Dec. 21 – Limited)

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona
Written by Sergio G. Sánchez
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts

Summary: Set during the events of the devastating 2004 Tsunami, a family is physically torn apart during the disaster and must fight not only to survive, but to find each other.

The Word: An unusual choice in subject for the writer and director of lauded Spanish horror film “The Orphanage,” but much praise has been heaped on “The Impossible” since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (and it has already opened overseas in some markets).

My Thoughts: This looks like a genuinely powerful and moving disaster movie, even if it’s not the type of film that will get a fair shake from the Academy. It’s uncertain how wide it will expand before the year’s end, but it could be a great film for slightly older families (it’s PG-13) to go see around Christmas.


Les Misérables (Dec. 25)

Directed by Tom Hooper
Written by William Nicholson (screenplay), Claude-Michel Schönberg & Alain Boublil (stage book), Herbert Kretzmer (lyrics), Victor Hugo (novel)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne

Summary: Imprisoned for 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread for his family, Jean Valjean (Jackman) is freed but violates his parole by setting off to start life anew. Sought by Inspector Javert (Crowe), he finds himself swept into a story of revolution.

The Word: Movie musicals have a long and proud history at the Oscars, and in the hands of Best Director winner Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”), “Les Mis” could be the next big milestone for the genre. One of the most beloved musicals of all time (featuring some of the most powerful songs ever written for the stage) and packing a venerable cast in Jackman, Crowe and Hathaway, along with colorful supporting figures Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, this one could seriously cloud the Oscar picture when it arrives on Christmas.

My Thoughts: One thing we already know about this movie: the material it’s based on is about as rock-solid as it gets. Most musical adaptations struggle to fully transition from the stage to the screen, but that should be incredibly easy for such a cinematic story. The fact that the songs were performed on set should be eerily effective and a host of technical nominations will be the very least of its acclaim.



You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment