Our Favorite Performances of 2012

072712-the-master

1. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)- There must be something about Paul Thomas Anderson that gets such raw, elemental performances for his movies.  Phoenix, after his faux crazy odyssey, gives The Master such ferocious, filthy life that he managed to beat all the other fantastic roles this year, including the great Daniel Day-Lewis (who also gave Anderson an immortal performance in There Will Be Blood).

Day-Lewis_Lincoln_trailer.png.CROP.rectangle3-large

2. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)- Though Lincoln is an ensemble drama, it is built from the ground up around a character that needed to be reigned in and humanized.  Day-Lewis is not larger than life as our 16th president because that would’ve added layers of cheese to a movie that was already scored by John Williams.  His take on Lincoln often appears exhausted, both physically and emotionally, as he should be while overseeing the Civil War while trying to push through the 13th amendment to ban slavery and contend with family drama.

Emmanuelle+Riva+Amour

3.  Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)- The slow, ruthless decline of Anne during Michael Haneke’s Amour is essential to the movie’s success.  From her first, silent stroke at the breakfast table to her crippled, mangled body by the end, this is a performance that required great emotional honesty without overdoing it.  She gives one of the most wrenching depictions of hopeless, helpless illness ever.

Continue reading

REVIEW: The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy
Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Written by: Tony Gilroy & Dan Gilroy (screenplay), Tony Gilroy (story), Robert Ludlum (series)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Stacy Keach

The Bourne Legacy isn’t another installment in the shaky cam spy series as much as it is a thrown together money grab that uses the world.  It takes place largely during the events The Bourne Ultimatum, where the U.S. government apparently was eliminating other super agents like Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne while also trying to track him down.  Damon appears only as a mug shot, though, and the screen time largely belongs to Jeremy Renner.

Renner was a good choice to play Aaron Cross even if the movie, directed and co-written by Tony Gilroy, is way too long for what it’s trying to show.  The biggest draw of the other Bourne films was how the filmmaking techniques were as efficient and fast-paced as its main character.  In this movie’s almost two-and-a-half hour run time, there are long, unnecessary stretches that add nothing.

Continue reading

ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Fountain

The Fountain
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Darren Aronofsky (screenplay), Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel (story)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, and Sean Patrick Thomas

There are many movies that are so beautifully filmed that you could take almost any still-frame from it and hang it in your house.  Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain is one of these movies.  In fact, it may have been better off as individual frames in an art gallery instead of a movie.

This is a film where the filmmaking technique is serving a story that is almost as ambitious but not nearly as realized.  It follows Tommy (Hugh Jackman) a doctor who is trying to cure his terminally ill wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz).  That is the barebones of a story that dips back to ancient Spanish culture as well as travels hundreds of years into the future.  You’ll come to learn that Izzi wrote a book about Spanish conquistadors and the Tree of Life, and when Tommy starts reading it he envisions himself as one who is pursuing the Tree so that he can live forever with the queen (also played by Weisz).

Continue reading