Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Muriels: The Game Plan

Hey folks. Sorry I haven’t updated this in forever, but I’ve been spending most of time online over at Facebook and Letterboxd. If you want to keep tabs on me, that’d be the place for it.

Anyhow, it just hit me that I only have about three months before Muriels ballots are due, and considering what a grind it is to finish my ballots on time every year, I’ve decided I need a game plan. So after looking at the list of movies I want to watch before the end of the year, I’ve decided to estimate how many movies, realistically speaking, I’ll make an effort to see before turning in my ballot.

In making this estimate, I’ve taken all the first-, second-, and third-tier priority movies from my huge “need to sees” list, paring away the ones that I’d like to see for some reason or other but which aren’t a huge priority. And to the list of keepers I’ve added the movies I plan on seeing with my family even if they’re not what I personally want to see, because that’s how it works when you’re married with a kid.

This brings me to 36 movies, or 12 per month. I can handle that. Of course, this game plan comes with some caveats:

1. It’s still October. So obviously, there’s plenty of year still ahead of me, and plenty of time for more releases to be announced later. These will be added to this list as I see fit.

2. I live in Ohio, not NYC or LA, so my access to the limited releases is limited. Columbus being Columbus, some arthouse titles might not make it here until weeks or months after they come out in the “major markets,” and who the hell knows if they’ll make it here before the Muriels deadline. Therefore, as I say every year, I’d be grateful if anyone could pass along screeners of any of these, especially the ones that aren’t currently scheduled to play Columbus and those that don’t have a DVD release date.

3. I prioritize mainly on the basis of three things- the director, advance or festival reviews from people I trust, and occasionally my feelings about the source material. The latter happens less frequently than the other two, but it does happen. For example, I’ve included Les Miserables on this list even if I’m not entirely sure about Tom Hooper as a filmmaker. But I’m willing to allow that my prioritization process isn’t perfect, and it could let some really good movies slip through the cracked. Therefore, if you feel like there are other titles on my full “need to see”list that you believe should be a higher priority for me, feel free to let me know in the comments section, either here or on Facebook or Letterboxd.

So here’s the list, which I’ve arranged by week of theatrical or home video release. The [number in brackets] denotes how much of a priority the movie is for me, unless of course it’s one of the previously-referenced see-it-with-family movies then never mind.

Now available via legal means:
- Goodbye First Love (Mia Hansen-Løve) [2] {now on DVD/Netflix}
Definitely a director to watch.
- I Wish (Hirokazu Kore-eda) [1] {now streaming on Netflix, 6 Nov on DVD}
Kore-eda’s never quite lived up to Maborosi and After Life, but he’s still pretty great.
- Looper (Rian Johnson) [2] {now in theatres, 31 Dec on DVD}
This + Moonrise Kingdom = Body of Work nomination for Bruce Willis, perhaps?
- Argo (Ben Affleck) [3] {now in theatres}
The Town was kind of a letdown, but I really liked Gone Baby Gone and it would probably be good to see this before it sweeps the Oscars, y’know?
- Cloud Atlas (The Wachowskis & Tom Tykwer) [2] {now in theatres}
When a movie gets reviews as polarized as this one, that makes it more interesting, don’t you find?
- Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh) [3] {now on DVD}
Because of the director, duh. Also Matthew McConaughey is having a good year, which may sound surprising to everyone who hasn’t seen him in Reign of Fire.

November 2-8:
- The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-soo) [3] {DVD}
- Flight (Robert Zemeckis) [3] {wide release}
So good to see Denzel doing some real acting again. When was the last time he really swung for the fences? It’s been eleven years since Training Day.
- Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton) [3] {DVD}
Don’t think I’ll get the wife to watch this with me, since Humpday practically gave her hives. Then again, she has a low tolerance for posturing-male jackassery, even if it’s being held up to scorn.
- Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore) [seeing this for the offspring] {wide release}
Although you gotta admit that John C. Reilly seems to be perfectly cast, especially if he plays Ralph as Principal Fitzgerald with huge biceps.

November 9-15:
- Holy Motors (Leos Carax) [1] {limited release/scheduled at Drexel}
Welcome back, Leos. We’ve missed you.
- Skyfall (Sam Mendes) [3] {wide release}
All right, this may not have much bearing my ballot, but Daniel Craig makes an awesome Bond so lay off OK?

November 16-20:
- The Loneliest Planet (Julia Loktev) [1] {limited release/scheduled at GFC}
Supposedly this is even better than Day Night Day Night. Works for me.
- Lincoln (Steven Spielberg) [3] {wide release}
“Mr. President, the Civil War is draining the Treasury!”
- Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard) [3] {limited release – no Columbus release date announced}
Marion Cotillard – rowr. Sony Pictures Classics – GAH.
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 (Bill Condon) [seeing this for the special lady] {wide release}
In her defense, she enjoys vampire stories so she’s read all the books, plus she loved Seven Psychopaths so don’t let’s hold this against her.

November 21-29 (includes Thanksgiving weekend):
- The Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell) [2] {wide release}
I love Three Kings and all, but Russell’s always felt most at home making nervy, hyper-verbal comedies, so this should be fun. But can he actually persuade DeNiro and Chris Tucker (!!!) to put forth an effort? Stay tuned!
- Life of Pi (Ang Lee) [3] {wide release}
Could go either way, honestly.
- Rise of the Guardians (Peter Ramsey) [seeing it for the offspring] {wide release}
The offspring has complained that the title makes it sound like a ripoff of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, which is one of his favorites. But I don’t think that’s a deal breaker or anything.

November 30-December 6:
- Alps (Yorgos Lanthimos) [2] {DVD}
Reviews haven’t been great, but Lanthimos!
- Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin) [3] {DVD}
Honestly, this is the one I probably feel least strongly about. For every rave I read, I come across another review that makes this sound really over-hyped. Still, it feels like the kind of movie I should probably have an opinion on, I’d say.
- Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik) [3] {wide release}
I’m just hoping it’s a lousy trailer that doesn’t do the movie justice, because… well, it’s a lousy trailer.

December 7-13:
Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

December 14-20:
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson) [2] {wide release}
People who complain about Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth movies being too long are like people who complain when baseball games go into extra innings in my opinion. You’re getting extra goodness for free, so why whine about it?

December 21-27 (includes Christmas Day releases):
- Amour (Michael Haneke) [1] {limited release – no Columbus release date announced}
Sony Pictures Classics strikes again. The White Ribbon didn’t come to town until the weekend after ballots were due. D’oh.
- Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino) [1] {wide release}
I’m always a little nervous whenever Tarantino puts out a new movie that maybe this time he’s tried to work his magic on a genre that will be immune to it. But then, I’ve worried about this since Jackie Brown, so who knows if it’ll ever happen?
- Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow) [2] {wide release}
Bigelow tackles another recent American military story. Can lightning strike twice?
- Killer Joe (William Friedkin) [3] {DVD}
See above, re: McConaughey. But that still doesn’t make we want to see The Paperboy.
- Les Miserables (Tom Hooper) [3] {wide release}
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers is sort of brilliant casting.

- Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg) [2] {2 Jan on DVD}
Cronenberg’s last few have been disappointing for me, but the dude is still David effing Cronenberg. Besides, nobody can adapt tricky literary works quite like he does.
- Barbara (Christian Petzold) [3] {limited release – scheduled for 11 Jan @ GFC}
Reviews out of TIFF were enthusiastic, especially for leading lady Nina Hoss. If there’s something my ballot can always use more of, it’s great female lead performances.

Columbus release after Muriels deadline:
- Sister (Ursula Meier) [3] {limited release – scheduled for 8 Feb @ Wex}
Home is awesome, y’all.

No DVD release date announced so I won’t hold my breath:
- Almayer’s Folly (Chantal Akerman) [2]
Jeanne Dielman, baby!
- Crazy Horse (Frederick Wiseman) [3]
Then again, Wiseman’s pretty sparsely represented on DVD, so I’m not expecting this to happen or anything.
- Oki’s Movie (Hong Sang-soo) [3]
Although if I only end up seeing one Hong drunken-buffoonery-fest before I cast my ballot, I suppose I can live with that.
- Photographic Memory (Ross McElwee) [3]
Where’s the buzz on this one?
- To Rome With Love (Woody Allen) [3]
Supposedly the release date will be announced sometime in November, so that’s cool I guess.

Additionally, in the event that I don’t have access to a higher-priority title, here are some possible backups I might watch. Call them [4a]s if you’d like:
- Anna Karenina (Joe Wright) {16 Nov in theatres}
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden) {now on DVD}
- Compliance (Craig Zobel) {8 Jan on DVD}
- The Imposter (Bart Layton) {22 Jan on DVD}
- Keep the Lights On (Ira Sachs) {TBA on DVD}
- Last Ride (Glendyn Ivin) [4] {now on DVD}
- Lawless (John Hillcoat) [4] {27 Nov on DVD}
- Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendonça Filho) [4] {TBA on DVD}
- Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier) [4] {now on DVD/streaming}
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky) [4] {TBA on DVD}
- Red Hook Summer (Spike Lee) [4] {26 Dec on DVD}
- Samsara (Ron Fricke) [4] {8 Jan on DVD}
- Searching for Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul) [4] {TBA on DVD}
- Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley) [4] {now on DVD}
- We Have a Pope (Nanni Moretti) [4] {now on DVD/Netflix}
- Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold) [4] {7 Dec @ GFC}

Finally, if I have time I’d like to watch the following again:
- Bernie (Richard Linklater) {now on DVD}
My frontrunner for best ensemble performance right now. OK, so Shirley MacLaine’s nothing to write home about, but some of those interview subjects are priceless.
- The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies) {now on DVD}
Wish I could have seen this one in theatres, but I was busy moving.
- The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan) {4 Dec on DVD}
Nolan’s films tend to reward multiple viewings, so maybe this will reveal something once the initial disappointment has worn away.
- It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt) {now on DVD}
So stoked that this is Muriel-eligible this year. Go Hertzfeldt go! Seriously guys, you should see this.
- The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson) {now in theatres}
Particularly if it hits DVD before the deadline. If not oh well.
- Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson) {now on DVD}
As prickly in its way as LIFE AQUATIC, this is one that should improve on second viewing.
- The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr) {now on DVD/streaming}
It’s not that I think I missed something. I just want to drink in the good parts again.

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