Whitney Cyr

Managing Executive Editor


2012 has already seen some phenomenal films with many of the year’s most anticipated still on the horizon. Earlier in the year, Wes Anderson, director of “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” and “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” released “Moonrise Kingdom.” With a wonderful cast including Bruce Willis, Francis McDormand, Bill Murray and Edward Norton, the story centers on the love between two young children.

The film is completely endearing with amazingly nuanced performances from two newcomers in the lead roles as the two children experience puppy love for the very first time.

It is set off the coast of New England in the 1960s and when the two run away together, the tiny New England town mobilizes to find the young lovers. Francis McDormand and Bill Murray play the parents of Sam (Jared Gilman). Edward Norton plays the leader of the Boy Scout troop Sam absconds from and Bruce Willis plays the police captain involved in the search.

Anderson is well known for enlacing drama with quirky bits of comedy, and “Moonrise Kingdom” is another fine example in his repertoire of films that are always endearing without bordering on cliche.

Another great film that might have slipped by audiences this year is the highly entertaining film, “Argo.” Ben Affleck starred and directed “Argo,” proving once more that when he directs himself in his own films, it leads to a fantastic, entertaining and well-acted film. “Argo” centers around the dramatized true story of the Iranian hostage crisis in the early 1980s, when a joint CIA-Canadian operation worked together to extract six American diplomats from revolutionary Iran. Affleck directed “The Town” and it’s clear his ability to tell a story and control the pacing of his film is ever present in “Argo” as well.  Affleck’s cast includes Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Victor Garber and the lively Alan Arkin. The film centers around Affleck as Tony Mendez, a member of the CIA who organizes an operation pretending to be a film crew shooting a film in Iran in order to get the American diplomats out of the country.

The last scene of the film is beautifully paced, it keeps the audience’s stomachs in knots as the fake film crew tries  to safely escape the country.

Affleck makes something as simple as waiting in line at an airport into a scene where the characters and the actors feel like they’re walking on a tightrope. Expect this to be somewhat in the mix come Oscar time.

“Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a biopic about the last few months of President Lincoln’s life. Spielberg makes a vast and sprawling life story of Lincoln into an amazingly narrowed focus onto the man himself and his own struggles during one of the darkest times in American history. Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is begging for a Best Actor Oscar nomination, so it won’t be a surprise to see Day-Lewis accepting another Oscar for his tour-de-force performance as Abe Lincoln.

“Silver Linings Playbook” is a wonderfully balanced dramedy about some seriously unbalanced people. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Jackie Weaver all play flawed and neurotic characters that somehow make you believe they all deserve a happy ending by the film’s conclusion. Cooper and Lawrence play a man with bipolar disorder and a woman with depression who meet and begin to fall in love.

Cooper, whose acting chops have been less than impressive, puts in a great performance. “Silver Linings Playbook” takes a simple love story and adds in some interesting characters and solid chemistry between its two protagonists to create a film that will most likely see its share of award love come January, February and March next year. There are also some films that have yet to see their debuts at the box office that could contend for the best films of 2012. Kathryn Bigelow, the director behind 2010’s Best Picture winner, “The Hurt Locker,” tackles the story of Seal Team Six, the special mission unit responsible for killing Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

Bigelow reportedly began working on the script as soon as news broke that Bin Laden had been killed, and the result is the mysterious “Zero Dark Thirty,” set to release on Jan. 11, 2013. Jessica Chastain and Chris Pratt star in this drama chronicling the decade long manhunt for Bin Laden.

The film has already been hyped up as possibly being one of the year’s best, especially under the helm of Bigelow’s amazing eye for cinematography and direction. It seems as though Bigelow has found a place for herself as a female director of films primarily focusing around the military, an occupation which has  until recently been a traditionally male-dominated place. While his films have somehow been snubbed for Oscar glory, not to be overlooked this award season is Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” The trailers for “Django Unchained” have all the hallmarks of a Tarantino film–his signature panache for dialogue, career-defining performances, gratuitous violence and some classic Tarantino dark humor. “Inglourious Basterds” was Tarantino’s last outing, and “Django Unchained” is the director’s second take on a historical film, this time using the backdrop of slavery in America’s nineteenth century.

Jamie Foxx stars as a slave named Django who is freed by a German bounty hunter, played by Christoph Waltz. Leonardo DiCaprio is also in the film playing an evil, oppressive white slave owner who bought Django’s wife  and whom Waltz’s character is trying to hunt down. Nothing spurs Tarantino’s characters on quite like revenge, so expect Foxx to play a great role as a freed slave. Additionaly, DiCaprio looks to have had a devilish amount of fun in his role, baring his rotting teeth and viciously sly smile. “Django Unchained” reaches theaters on Christmas Day.

Also highly anticipated this coming season is Peter Jackson’s first installment of “The Hobbit.” Some initial reports of the film have had some audiences saying they were actually dizzy or having vomited after seeing it, a side effect from the film being shot at a higher frame rate than most films.

One of three films now, “The Hobbit” trilogy could hardly disappoint, with basically the same film crew as Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” triology. Returning cast members Ian McKellan and Cate Blanchett will anchor this film, along with Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins embarking on his epic journey from J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved literary classic. The question seems not be whether or not “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will be good, but whether or not it can live up to the incredible legacy of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Lastly, perhaps the most highly anticipated film this season is Tom Hooper’s ensemble cast in the musical “Les Miserables.” One of the most successful Broadway shows of all time, the film adaptation of “Les Miserables” has extremely high expectations.

The film is based on Victor Hugo’s staggeringly long novel, so it will be interesting to see how Hooper’s production condenses the lifetime-spanning film. The star-studded cast includes Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Hugh Jackman.

Jackman is the main character, Jean Valjean, who spends his life running away from the police after breaking parole.

His decision to take care of a woman, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her daughter Cosette sets off a chain reaction, changing all of their lives forever. Nothing screams “Academy Award” like a musical, especially one set in a historical time period such as nineteenth century France. Hooper is fresh off his win for Best Picture “The King’s Speech” in 2011, and with the highly talented cast, “Les Miserables” is projected as being one of the year’s best. “Les Miserables” also opens Christmas Day.

With most of the year’s films having already been released, December always brings a crop of some serious award contenders from some of the industry’s best. Some films have already lived up to high expectations like “Lincoln,” and many films have yet to have their debut but will most certainly have a high impact on this year’s Oscars.


 Whitney Cyr can be contacted at



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