Tag Archive: january


January sees the big Oscar contenders come to the UK. Many of these films have already been released over in the states to critical acclaim as you might expect.

 

The Impossible – 1st January

Based solely on the trailer, The Impossible is THE film to see this January. It is the first film to be released that uses the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami at the heart of it’s story, telling the tale of one family caught up with thousands of strangers in a horrible natural disaster. Featuring the brilliant Ewan McGregor and the incredible Naomi Watts.

 

Gangster Squad – 10th January

Finally, the all-star long awaited gangster flick will be arriving on UK screens. Delayed after the tragic shootings in Aurora, Gangster Squad is a film that many people have been looking forward to seeing and now you get your chance. Featuring a cast of Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone among others.

 

Les Miserables – 11th January

A new interpretation of the hit musical comes to the screen this year and if you’ve managed to avoid the adverts featuring Anne Hathaway singing then well done. I think Les Mis is bound to do well thanks to all it’s Oscar buzz and having already been nominated for 4 Golden Globes but it’s not that high on my list thanks to all of it’s competition.

 

Django Unchained – 18th January

And if Les Miserables thinks having 4 Golden Globe nominations is something to shout about then step aside for Django Unchained‘s 5. This is Quentin Tarantino’s first attempt at a full on Western and it certainly will not disappoint! It has been nominated for Best Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz both have nominations for Best Supporting Actor; Oscars are sure to follow.

 

Lincoln – 25th January

Now cynics may think that Lincoln has been made with the intention of winning awards rather than pleasing audiences… that is what I believe as well. This looks like Oscar-baiting in all it’s glory: a film about one of America’s most celebrated Presidents telling the story of a pivotal time in America history. If this isn’t Steven Spielberg shouting “GIVE ME OSCARS” I don’t know what is. It seems to be working though.

 

Zero Dark Thirty – 25th January

Back in 2010, The Hurt Locker surprised everyone to become one of the lowest grossing winners of the Best Picture Oscar ever. Zero Dark Thirty is director Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up film and tackles the events of the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden and his following death. I don’t think this one will do as well as The Hurt Locker but it should make for some interesting viewing at least.

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I’m back from my Christmas hiatus and in the past couple of weeks critics and fans alike have been compiling their lists of the ten best films of 2012 or twenty best or whatever you like, but I have decided to take a different approach to compiling my list and I will be looking at, month by month, what were the best releases. I’ll be using the UK release dates for films and, in doing it month by month there will be some big omissions and some surprise inclusions.

Will any of these films feature on the list?

 

January – The Grey

To be honest, if you look at what was released in January it doesn’t really fill you with enthusiasm for the rest of the year as there weren’t really many films worth noting released this month. I think that people were still more bothered about seeing the previous year’s Christmas releases (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) however there were a few films that stood out. You might think that We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame or War Horse might win this month but I decided to go for Liam Neeson’s The Grey. Neeson continued his rebirth as an action hero in 2012 and it was largely down to his enounter with wolves in the partially surprising hit: The Grey.

 

February – Chronicle

February brought a lot of very disappointing ventures to the cinema. Safe House was a blockbuster than lacked a punch, Man on a Ledge was a very boring ‘thriller’ and One For the Money is one of the most boring films I have ever seen! However, saying that I was really impressed by Woman in Black which seemed to reinstate Hammer Films at the forefront of the horror scene but for the best film of the month it fell short and I went for Chronicle. Chronicle was seen by many to be very refreshing to an overcrowded superhero genre. The characters that appear in this found footage film are not from the pages of comic books and, like The Grey, Chronicle was another surprise hit but worth of all it’s critical acclaim.

March – 21 Jump Street

If you think that 21 Jump Street is a strange and ridiculous choice to be on this list then I really do encourage you to look at films that were released in the UK in March this year. March saw releases from some very highly anticipated films that were subsequently big disappointments, none bigger than John Carter. Of course, March also brought us the beginning of a huge new franchise with the Jennifer Lawrence led The Hunger Games, however I enjoyed 21 Jump Street a lot more. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in the cinema, 21 Jump Street was a welcome injection of humour to an otherwise dull month.

 

April – Avengers Assemble

There was a clear winner for this month. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble became the third highest grossing film of all time, breaking no end of records on its way to this achievement. This was the event that film fans had been waiting for for 4 years and it did not disappoint, The Avengers (as it was known sensibly in other countries) provided big entertainment, big action, big characters and big laughs. The only real competition in this month came from another film with Joss Whedon’s name attached: Cabin in the Woods, which was seen to redefine the horror genre but really, nothing could top Avengers Assemble.

 

May – The Raid: Redemption

May saw a lack of big releases as the prospect of going up against Marvel’s box office Goliath seemed a little bit daunting for many studios. And of course there is a bit of a lull in the cinema calender before the big summer smashes get released. The Raid was something that we don’t see nearly enough on this side of the Atlantic, a foreign release… and a successful one at that! The Raid is a brilliant, action packed, adrenaline fueled Indonesian martial arts film and it should come as no surprise that there are plans in America to do an English language remake.

 

June – Killer Joe

Now, June saw the second big release of the year: Prometheus. And don’t get me started on how over rated that was and what a bore fest it unfortunately turned out to be. Rock of Ages was a very very dull adaptation of the successful stage musical and The Five Year Engagement was about five years too long. Killer Joe proved that Matthew McConaughey could really act and it turned out to be a very gritty, gothic crime drama that also featured Emile Hirsch who is quietly going about proving what a good actor he is too.

 

July – The Dark Knight Rises

At the beginning of July The Amazing Spider-Man was released and was a very good attempt at reshaping Spider-Man’s origins; then on the 20th of July Christopher Nolan turned up to show everyone how it was done. Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with one of the greatest films of the year. Full stop. He brought an all star cast here and cranked up the tension, cranked up the stakes and people flocked to the cinema to see how the greatest superhero trilogy ever made would end. And it did not disappoint. Sure, it never quite reached the heights of The Dark Knight which preceded it but I thought that the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was one of the greatest and most satisfying endings I have ever seen.

 

August – Ted

Fans of controversial humour, outrageous humour and toilet humour were delivered an early Christmas present back in August when Seth MacFarlane made his feature film directorial debut in this story of a child’s teddy bear coming to life to become a sex-craved, pot smoking best friend (voiced by MacFarlane himself). I think Ted may suffer from a lack of rewatchability but all in all it was a very funny film with some great cameos and hilarious scenes. The “white trash girls names” scene is one of the best scenes of the year in itself!

 

September – Looper

There were some very popular films released in September: Anna Karenina, Dredd, The Sweeney and House at the End of the Street to name a few. Lawless, featuring wonderful performances from Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce among others was an incredible film and gives Looper a run for its money but when I saw Looper I knew I was watching something special. Looper is one of the best films that I have ever seen and has fast become one of my favourites. The time travel plot device that has long been a staple in the science fiction genre and Looper gave an alternate look while skirting around the edges of Rian Johnson’s own laws of time travel. Looper was incredible! My best film of the year.

 

October – Skyfall

2012 saw the return of James Bond to the big screen in Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. After a disappointing Quantum of Solace Bond returned in a flood of critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide in the critically lauded Skyfall. Skyfall delivered a more personal look at the characters in Bond’s world, including a small trip into Bond’s background, a more in-depth look at M and revealed a few dark secrets of MI6. Skyfall also brought back some famous characters in a new style, Q and Moneypenny. Skyfall was simply fantastic and should be an outside bet for a couple of Oscar nominations.

 

November – Argo

My heart longs to say that Rise of the Guardians was the best film released in November but my head says otherwise. November saw End of Watch and Silver Linings Playbook released as well but I think that Argo was a really really incredible achievement for Ben Affleck. Argo was crammed full of suspense and tension and had audiences chewing on their nails whilst sitting on the edge of their seats. A true story of a rescue attempt using the undercover story of being a film crew for a science fiction film seems almost unbelievable but Argo brings it to the screen with such perfect realism.

 

December – Life of Pi

Life of Pi was very hotly anticipated as soon as it was announced. Being a best-selling book Life of Pi already had a huge audience waiting to see how the adaptation would turn out. The story is of 16 year old Pi who suffers a ship wreck which kills his family and leaves Pi stranded with just a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It is a truly touching and emotional story and is already reaping the rewards of their hard work with Golden Globe nominations for Best Score, Best Drama and Best Director.

As we know, there is a trend of bringing fairy tales to the big screen at the minute. So far there have been Little Red Riding Hood, Mirror Mirror and Snow White & The Huntsman. There is a Beauty & the Beast film in the pipeline but here we have Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, which is not by the same people as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, although it sounds as though it could well be. When this update of the classic fairy tale was first announced it did worry me a little as the title sounded a little corny and the set photos didn’t inspire much confidence. However, now that the trailer has been released I have changed my mind completely.

The casting for Hansel & Gretel does look very good, despite the big age difference between the actors playing the title characters even though they are both shown to be around the same age but we can overlook that. Jeremy Renner is the ‘it’ man around Hollywood right now and has recently given a restart to both the Mission: Impossible franchise and the Bourne franchise (I think he was a great replacement for Matt Damon) and he also played fan favourite Hawkeye in Marvel’s The Avengers. Alongside Renner as Hansel there is one of my favourite British actresses Gemma Arterton playing Gretel. Arterton has shown over the years how incredibly versatile she is and just how wonderful an actress she can be. Now we finally get a chance to see her kicking ass and in real fight scenes which is good news.

Unlike the previous adaptations of fairy tales what we have in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not a retelling of the original story. This is why I think it could be better than all other fairy tale films that have been recently. Whereas both Mirror Mirror and Snow White & the Huntsman both told the origin story of Snow White so people knew what was coming, however Hansel & Gretel takes place 15 years after the fairy tale, fifteen years on from when Hansel & Gretel were almost killed by an evil witch. This means that there is a lot of space to play with as there is no specific end in mind as there are with other fairy tale stories.

The trailer has filled me with excitement about this film. There is a voice over from Jeremy Renner which isn’t your ordinary emotionless narration that you often get in trailers. The whole film looks like it really has got it’s genre nailed on, the scenery looks fantastic and it visually is a treat for the eyes. The trailer is action packed and you can clearly tell how the event fifteen years prior to the film affected Hansel and Gretel and it is fantastic to get a taste of the fight scenes that will appear in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

 

 

How well Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters will do when it is released in January is difficult to estimate. I think that it could go either way but if marketed correctly it could go well, especially with Renner and Arterton in the main roles. Hopefully it will pick up the teenage audience which it appears to be aiming for but I know that I will be looking forward to it. I just hope it is as good as I want it to be!

Django Unchained is the upcoming western film from critically acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino. It is set for a Christmas release in the States and has a release date of January 18th 2013 here in the UK but so far, very little has been seen from the film. For a film that is already all but guaranteed success being a Tarantino film it is unusual that we have heard little of it; no trailer has been released and limited set photos and official photos have been seen but it is one of the films I am most looking forward to seeing in the next year and here is why:

The Story: Django Unchained is set in the deep south of America and follows Django, a freed slave who travels across America with dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Together, they try to retrieve Django’s wife from the charming but sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie and his band of ruthless slavers. It sounds like a good old revenge story, something which Quentin Tarantino has done excellently before with the wonderful Inglorious Basterds and possibly my favourite Tarantino film: Kill Bill.

The Genre: This is Tarantino’s first Western. Having dipped his toe in the action, crime, war and thriller genres he now turns his hand to this. The western is the oldest genre of film and cinema owes its heritage to the genre. However, recent westerns such as Appaloosa, The Assassination of Jesse James and 3:10 to Yuma haven’t been critical successes (despite the last two being brilliant films) and maybe the audience has grown tired with the genre as it offers nothing new really. Recently, sci-fi has taken over as the dominant genre of film in cinema but Tarantino obviously just sees that as a challenge.

 

The Cast: Regular Tarantino collaborator Samuel L. Jackson is on board (no surprises there) but in the main role is Jamie Foxx. Foxx seems to split opinion between film fans and it is obvious why, his back catalogue of films leaves a lot to be desired but he does have one Oscar win and another nomination to his name, proving that he does have the talent and Tarantino could easily get the best out of him.

Playing the villain of the piece is the phenomenal Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio started out as a young heartthrob but has developed into a fine actor and seems to get better and better with every film he makes; working with such a highly rated director could give DiCaprio the chance to win the Oscar he longs for. Playing the German bounty hunter is Christoph Waltz who, of course, won an Oscar for Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds where he put in a great performance and I think the same can be expected here. The supporting cast includes James Remar, Kerry Washington and James Russo, all well established actors themselves.

The Director: Everybody knows Quentin Tarantino and everybody on the planet should have seen at least one of his films during their lifetime. Ever since Tarantino made his directorial debut he has churned out success after success with Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. He is yet to falter in the world of film making and so that pretty much nails success to Django Unchained. Everything that he touches turns to gold and, as a big fan of the Western genre, I hope he has the same effect here. His very unique style and love for action, dialogue and story make his films a delight to watch and Django Unchained should be fantastic!

Django Unchained comes out in less than a year, spot on for Oscar contenders and you have to imagine that this would be a tactical move by Tarantino and the studio. In the build up to its release we can hope for a lot of trailers and more pictures to be revealed soon which will almost certainly raise the hype for Django Unchained.