That could very well be the tagline for Ridley Scott’s new “is it a prequel to Alien or what?”, and the answer — spoiler alert! — is yes, definitely. There was never any question that the film was aping Alien in its trailer, not to mention the overall look of the film. The production design and cinematography both clearly harken back to the 1979 sci-fi classic that put Scott on the map. But it remained a bit unclear how much of Prometheus‘ story would connect to the tale of the ill-fated Nostromo. In fact, it was pretty unclear what Prometheus was about at all, thanks to coy marketing. (Not that I’m complaining about that. The less I know a bit film walking into it, the better.) I went into Prometheus not knowing what to expect. What I got? Everything.
(Originally posted at FabApp.)
It’s that time of year again, folks! What I like to call “movie Christmas.” And like an actual holiday, the Academy Awards often end up as more of a disappointment than anything else — any Oscars handed out to not-so-great nominated films like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and The Iron Lady can be chalked up to the cinematic equivalent of “ugly sweaters from grandma we’ll throw in the back of the closet and never speak of again.” But it’s really the excitement leading up to the big show and the discussions of film it creates that make it all worthwhile.
So here’s where I like to make up for the Academy’s occasional lapses in good taste by recognizing the movies and performances that are really worthy of celebration. Because what has a group of thousands of filmmakers with decades of experience in the entertainment industry got on me?
Is it me, or were movies more united by theme this year than is usual? Nostalgia was the big one, with several titles capitalizing not just on our nostalgia of a past era, but of movies from a past era — from silent films to Spielberg blockbusters and everything in between. People have been in an awfully romantic mood of late — perhaps because the recession made the present so unappealing. Cinema has always been about escapism, and this year more than ever, it’s taking us backward rather than forward.
Best Actress is one of few categories this year in which there is much suspense about who the winner will be. This year’s Academy Award nominations went primarily for established actresses in material that received mixed reviews — The Iron Lady, My Week With Marilyn, The Help, and Albert Nobbs are all Oscar grab movies that underwhelmed the majority of critics overall, featuring performances from esteemed actresses that trumped the actual quality of the films. (Ingenue Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander, at least, was an exception to this rule — though there is a consensus that she, too, was the best thing about that movie.)
2011 is long gone — we’re a month into the new year, yet every movie I’ve seen this January is a 2011 release. By design. The studios always roll out way more movies than we could ever possibly see all at once, then let us scramble to catch them all in order to be caught up for the Oscars. (Leaving a dearth of enticing titles the other nine months of the year.)
Still, there is always a time to stop looking backward (for a few days, anyway) and start looking forward, and that time is now. So here it is. My first 2012 review.
Is it me, or were movies more united by theme this year than is usual? Nostalgia was the big one, with several titles capitalizing not just on our nostalgia of a past era, but of movies from a past era — from silent films to Spielberg blockbusters and everything in between. People have been in an awfully romantic mood of late — perhaps because the recession made the present so unappealing. Movies have always been about escapism, and this year more than ever, they’re taking us backward rather than forward.
And yet, people do it. I use the term “people” to refer to that small handful of folks like myself for whom the Oscars are like Christmas; meaning the Golden Globes are like Thanksgiving — basically the same thing, but ultimately meaningless and less rewarding. So predicting the Oscars is like warming up for the holiday season — getting a jump on shopping, putting the lights and tree up, and already exhausting the holiday playlist on iTunes before most people have started caring yet.
(Films discussed in this post: A Dangerous Method, 50/50, Cedar Rapids, Margin Call, The Perfect Host, The Guard, The Ides Of March, Horrible Bosses, Warrior.)
In my post on “The Chicks,” I reflected on the ups and downs for females in film last year, from the ribald shenanigans of Bridesmaids to the slightly-less-ribald racial politics of The Help.
Ladies first. Now here come the guys.
(Movies discussed in this post: War Horse, Attack The Block, X-Men: First Class, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Paul, Super 8, The Adventures Of Tintin.)
From The Artist to Midnight In Paris to Hugo and a number of others, 2011 is a big year for nostalgia for all sorts of mainly things — but mainly, for old movies. Hugo and The Artist display it most blatantly, but it’s everywhere — take the romanticized look at growing up in the 50′s (not to mention nostalgia for the creation of Earth) in The Tree Of Life, or the paranoid Towering-Inferno-meets-21st-century-paranoia star-killer Contagion, or the retro heroics of Captain America: The First Avenger, or the 80′s kitschiness evoked by Drive, or the surprising success of a prequel to a campy 60′s movie, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Even the latest Mission: Impossible embraced a silliness that felt borrowed from old spy TV series rather than John Woo-style theatrics.
And because of it, you can hear audiences breathing a collective sigh of relief: “Oh, thank God. We’re allowed to have fun at the movies again.”