It kicks off this Friday, with the release of two great films. Colin Firth won critical plaudits last year for his performance in A Single Man. Word is that his work as King George VI in The King’s Speech is even better. It tells the true story of King George, who suffered from a speech impediment which nearly affected his rise to the Monarchy, and his relationship with his speech therapist. There has been much talk of award glory for Firth, and this week we can judge his performance for ourselves.
Also, this week sees the release of Danny Boyle’s latest film. Boyle has a had a great directing career, which reached its pinnacle two years ago when he won Best Director at the Academy Awards for Slumdog Millionaire. There was a lot of anticipation for what he would choose to make next. With the world his oyster, he chose to make a small, one man show based on the true story of Aron Ralston, who became trapped in a crevice when his arm was pinned by a boulder for 127 Hours. Lead James Franco has been generating a lot of buzz himself, and word is both director and actor have done a fantastic job.
The 21st January is the UK release date of the highly anticipated Black Swan. Director Darren Aronofsky has built a fantastic reputation for himself as a great dramatic director, and many are saying Black Swan is his best film to date. Natalie Portman plays a ballet dancer trying to discover her dark side in order to play the Black Swan, whilst Vincent Cassel plays her mentor in this psychological thriller. A very dark, and at times visceral film, it has won rave reviews from its US release as well as its screening at the London Film Festival. Black Swan is sounding like a must watch, and a cert for Best Picture contention.
The beginning of February brings with it The Fighter, directed by the at times controversial director David O. Russell. The Fighter tells the true tale of a mediocre boxer who struggles to overcome his family outside the ring just as he does his opponents inside the ring. Mark Wahlberg, who worked with O. Russell on Three Kings, plays the boxer Mickey Ward. It sounds as though he is being outshone, just like his character, by the others around him. Melissa Leo has received great plaudits for her role as Ward’s mother. Christian Bale, an outstanding actor who has seen his work take a back seat to his private life as of late, redeems himself with a big performance as Ward’s half-brother, reformed drug addict Dicky Eklund. Both Leo and Bale are being tipped for potential Oscar nods for their roles, and director O. Russell’s work is always interesting to behold.
A week later comes The Coen Brothers remake of John Wayne vehicle True Grit. True Grit promises an impressive cast, with Matt Damon, and last year’s Best Actor at the Oscars Jeff Bridges starring. The Coen’s modern day ‘western’ No Country For Old Men was nominated for Best Picture in 2008, and with True Grit they’ve gone for their own spin on the classic western, following the usual conventions but with their own quirky spin. No Country’s Josh Brolin is also in the cast, with both Damon and Bridges are said to be very good in their respective parts. Greater praise, however, is being heaped on 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld, and she is already being nominated for awards for her performance as Mattie Ross, the young girl who glues the story together. True Grit is another film that looks set for some Academy Award recognition.
Add in to all these the other potentially great films coming out in the next four weeks. We also get fact based legal drama Conviction starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell. Disney’s animated Rapunzel adaptation Tangled. The spiritual Biutiful, starring rising star Javier Bardem, and the adaptation of emotional play Rabbit Hole, starring talented duo Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman.
It’s going to be a great month at the movies here in the UK. Maybe too good. We may be being spoiled with these great films early on in the year, but the next few months do not look quite as rosy. There are some films to be excited about though, and Fluent in Film’s forthcoming Spring preview will be up in the next few weeks to tell you which future films you should be getting excited about.