Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Critical Week: Let the race begin

Awards season officially kicked off this week with a flurry of accolades including the New York Film Critics and the British Independent Film Awards. I've been voting already, and have more to do in the coming weeks. In my last few days in California, I caught up with a few more contenders, including Angelina Jolie's biopic Unbroken, starring Jack O'Connell as Olympic runner Louie Zamperini, who later survived 47 days adrift at sea before being captured by the Japanese during WWII. It's a staggering story of resilience, made with unexpected subtlety. Tim Burton's Big Eyes is another gorgeously made biopic. It stars Amy Adams as Margaret Keane, who painted all of those sad-eyed children in the 60s and 70s while her husband (Christoph Waltz) took the credit. It may look sunnier than most of Burton's films, but it's just as gleefully deranged, and it carries a big emotional kick.

But of course the biggest film screened to the press this past week was Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, another enormous epic of a film, packed with lively characters, first-rate effects and huge, expertly staged action sequences. Frankly, until some engaging personal drama emerges in the second half, it's a bit exhausting. Somewhat smaller films included The Face of Love, a gimmicky, melodramatic romance starring Annette Bening and Ed Harris. And The Great Museum is a riveting fly-on-the-wall doc about the backstage workings of Vienna's national gallery.

Coming this week: Julianne Moore in Still Alice, Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Quevenzhane Wallis in a remake of the musical Annie, Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings, Aardman Animation's Shaun the Sheep Movie, the acclaimed Spanish anthology Wild Tales and the British drama Wasp. I'll also finally catch up with the sequel Dumb and Dumber To, although frankly I'd rather not.

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