The Artist–A unique offering, The Artist is “that silent movie” that has everyone talking. An homage to the early era of film, the tale follows silent screen star George Valentin and new comer Peppy Miller as “talkies” make George and his career obsolete, while Peppy becomes America’s sweetheart.
Carmen: “A charming tribute to an era when movies were still new and full of promises…But for me it didn’t work. Not totally. Will win Best Picture.”
Chrysa: “Beyond the silence, it was a sweet, sweet love story”
Mary Fran: “A complete delight. I loved it, from start to finish.”
The Descendants–An adult “coming of age” tale wherein Matt King (George Clooney) must become the father his two daughters desperately need after their mother is tragically injured. A true slice of life drama.
Carmen: “I cannot say I loved it…it is a realistic take on fatherhood and marriage and, after watching the trailer, I expected something lighter.”
Chrysa: “Not at all what I expected. Not my favorite role for George Clooney.”
Mary Fran: “Misrepresented by the marketing, it’s a true slice of life drama, not the comedy as which it was presented. Satisfying but not light entertainment. Will win Best Picture.”
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—The viewer joins young Oscar Schell, an odd, fearful, yet highly intelligent boy as he traverses New York City on a scavenger hunt to find the lock which fits a key he believes his father has left behind after Thomas Schell’s tragic death on 9/11. Oscar’s adventures reveal the pain and ultimately joy found in not only his own family, but in the strangers he meets along the way.
Mary Fran: “An extraordinary film. Intense, emotional and full of riveting performances by young Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max Von Sydow, who is rightly up for Best Supporting Actor, even though he utters not a word in the movie.”
The Help–The Southern “ladies” of the upper class are none-too-kindly portrayed in this film which tells the story of the “The Help”—the black women who raised Southern children, cleaned Southern homes and bore silent witness to the cruelties inflicted upon them by their employers. Until, that is, Skeeter Phelan, a young white woman, recruits Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, maids to her friends, to tell their stories, which are eventually published, sending shock waves through a community forced to see itself for what it really is.
Mary Fran: “A wonderful movie, by turns funny, moving and intense. Beautifully acted by Best Actress nominee Viola Davis and Supporting Actress nominee Octavia Spencer. Definitely worth seeing.”
Hugo–This tale of Hugo, an orphan boy who lives in a Paris train station in the 1930’s and keeps its clocks running, involves a thief, a mysterious old man, his god-daughter and a broken automatron found years before by Hugo’s deceased father. Their adventures bring to light surprising secrets and connections.
Carmen: “Hugo…is cinematographically a stunning achievement. The settings are gorgeous, from the amazingly detailed recreation of a train station in the 1930s to the streets of Paris, from the world behind the wall…to the silent movies stages…but I found the story itself seriously lacking.”
Chrysa: “Great cinematography. Somewhat dark.”
Midnight in Paris (Two takes on this film! Click Carmen’s and Mary Fran’s names to read their reviews.) The movie takes the viewer to the city of lights, both in its modern incarnation and that of Paris in the 20’s, as writer Gil Pender indulges his romantic fantasies while traveling with his most un-romantic fiancée.
Pat: “Mildly entertaining, really puzzling why Woody Allen is up for Best Original Screenplay when it would have been just fine as a TV movie.”
Carmen:“Midnight in Paris is enchanting. The magic of Paris works on the viewer as it does on the confused protagonist and I was happy to follow him and witness his falling in love…with the 20s, a girl from the past, and the city of Paris.”
Mary Fran: “A pleasant bit of fluff but hardly worthy of a Best Picture nomination. As usual, Woody Allen is over-rated.”
Moneyball — Oakland A’s baseball manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), is faced with the challenge of a tiny budget and the big dream of building a winning major league ball team. Turning his back on all conventional wisdom, Beane joins forces with a young math/computer wizard (Jonah Hill) to build a team based on statistics, introducing game changing thinking that influences all of baseball and also embarking on a personal journey of self-discovery.
Chrysa: “Interesting story about thinking outside of the box and Brad Pitt does the role justice.”
The Tree of Life –The movie follows Jack, eldest son of a Texas family from the 50’s as he tries to come to terms with his relationship with his mother, his father, the death of his brother and the meaning of life. Told in a non-linear fashion with dream sequences and flashbacks, The Tree of Life explores one man’s journey through all of the bits and pieces that combine to make a life.
Carmen: “If you want to…step in a world made out of memories and dreams…If you are ready to be moved and awed and inspired, then this movie is perfect for you. Should win Best Picture.”
War Horse–Young English lad, Albie, receives the gift of a comely horse from his ne’er do well father. Completely unsuited to life as a working horse, Joey nevertheless rises to the occasion, yet must be sold to support the family. Joey’s journey takes him through the horrors of World War I, pairing him with multiple owners and perils, as he tries to make his way back to Albie, who has embarked on his own search for his beloved horse.
Pat: “Glorious, noble, old-fashioned storytelling, with stunning cinematography. England never looked more wildly breathtaking.”
Mary Fran: “A beautifully told, though somewhat predictable, tale by Steven Spielberg. As my husband said, ‘My Friend Flicka, but with a war.’ Ultimately, though, a sweeping, uplifting saga.”