CHICAGO – Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible” captures what its title implies. It transports us to an unimaginable situation, into an absolute nightmare in which air is replaced by rushing water, families are ripped apart, and people’s lives hang in the balance. It is a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a film that is at times devastating, at times emotional, at times inspirational, and always riveting. It’s one of the best films of 2012.
CHICAGO – Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible,” starring Tom Holland, Naomi Watts, and Ewan McGregor, is one of the most emotionally wrenching films in years (and my #7 film of 2012). The movie recreates the devastating 2004 tsunami through the true story of a family that was there when it happened.
CHICAGO – I worked my way through the best supporting performances of 2012 earlier today and I’m back with the much-stronger array of actors and actresses who challenged themselves with great leading performances in film this year.
CHICAGO – I have a certain begrudging affection for Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of Hideo Nakata’s 1998 thriller, “Ringu,” despite the fact that I know in my heart of hearts that it doesn’t really work. Verbinski’s film falters precisely when it should be at its scariest, and yet it still has enough memorably eerie moments to inspire at least a couple sleepless nights.
CHICAGO – With all due respect to Damián Bichir, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman and Brad Pitt, I believe that the three best lead performances by an actor in 2011 were entirely overlooked by the Academy. None of the five Oscar nominees quite managed to top Michael Shannon in “Take Shelter,” Michael Fassbender in “Shame” or Leonardo DiCaprio in “J. Edgar.”
CHICAGO – Much of history is determined by the petty quirks and strange psychosis of “great leaders.” J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director for 48 years, worked hard to hide his very nature by squelching the nature of others – enemies, friends and perceived enemies. Leonardo DiCaprio is Hoover in “J. Edgar.”
CHICAGO – Mixing three actors with great reputations – Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts – with Jim Sheridan, a six time Oscar nominated director, would assume to yield some fruitful results. But with “Dream House,” the artifice is indistinct and ill-defined, ultimately much ado about nothing.
CHICAGO – Two of the best living actors shine in Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” the (mostly) true story of Joe and Valerie Plame Wilson, two people who became symbols of the abuse of power of the Bush administration just as public opinion was turning on the war in Iraq. If you don’t know the name Scooter Libby, “Fair Game” will be educational. If you do know everything about the Wilson case already, it may be a little dry and inconsistent but strong performances still make it worth a rental.
CHICAGO – “My relationship with death remains the same. I’m strongly against it,” mused Woody Allen at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, during the press conference for his latest London-set comedy. The quote was quintessential Allen, though it had a particular poignance in light of his disappointing yet diverting offering, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.”
CHICAGO – No director treasures silence more than Rodrigo García. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of the audience’s connection with his characters and the extraordinary actors who play them. With the invaluable assistance of cinematographer Xavier Pérez Grobet and composer Ed Shearmur, García has made some of the most brilliant and probing character studies in recent memory.