Grit Blogs > The Open Book

It’s Oscar Time

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor

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Jean Teller(1)It's Oscar time, and I’m wondering where all the good movies are hiding. The last time we talked movies was in November – and I have to admit, I have not been to the theater much in the last few months.

November turned out to be a better movie month than expected. A friend and I rented The Joneses and Kick-Ass (don’t bother with either one), and I saw in the theater Morning Glory (good), Unstoppable (a good rental) and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (very good, and the cast is all grown up!).

The Tourist stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. 

December brought The Tourist to the big screen – I enjoyed it, a fairly quiet film, more character driven than action, and definitely worth the payoff. I also started off the new year with a December release as I saw True Grit on New Year’s Day (I enjoyed it, by the way). And that’s been all for January, so far. I am hoping to catch up with The King’s Speech and Black Swan this weekend, and possibly The Mechanic.

True Grit stars Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld and Matt Damon. 

Black Swan stars Natalie Portman, right, as a veteran ballerina on the brink, and Mila Kunis, left, as the newcomer. 

The Mechanic stars Jason Statham and Ben Foster. 

 The Oscar nominations were led by The King’s Speech, with 12 nominations. The Best Picture nominees are Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.

127 Hours stars James Franco as a mountain climber who has to go to the extreme to return home. 

Toy Story 3 takes the toys on another adventure in 3D. 

Of the 10 nominees, I’ve seen three so far: The Kids Are All Right, True Grit and Inception. I would recommend all three, although I'm not sure why The Kids is a Best Picture nominee. And if things go according to plan, I’ll add The King’s Speech and Black Swan to that list.

UPDATE: I went to the theater to see The King's Speech and Black Swan, and I've rented Winter's Bone, Toy Story 3 and The Social Network. My Oscar choice? The King's Speech, hands down (and I'm rooting for Colin Firth to win Best Actor). Black Swan and Winter's Bone are well done, with great acting and wonderful cinematography for Winter's Bone; they are, however, both very difficult/uncomfortable to watch. And I didn't particularly enjoy the jittery camera work and extreme closeups of Black Swan. Toy Story 3 is a terrific addition to the franchise; I cried, but not sure it's really Best Picture material. And it might be my age, but I found The Social Network to be rather boring, and I'm definitely not a fan of movies that glorify spoiled brats.

Not sure if I'll ever see 127 Hours, though I hear the really gruesome part is only a few minutes long. I'll probably rent The Fighter at some point. Wow, I've seen eight of the 10 - best I've done in several years.

Oh, I also rented The Town, and while Jeremy Renner does a fine job (and actually I think this is one of Ben Affleck's better performances), I think I'll root for John Hawkes for his role in Winter's Bone as Best Supporting Actor.

Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page. 

So what’s in store for February? (Programming note: The 83rd Annual Academy Awards will air at 7 CST February 27 on ABC.)

Fans of the horror genre can look forward to Sanctum (opens February 4), as a crisis hits a dive team exploring a cave system; to The Roommate (opens February 4) as a college student struggles to stay alive when she’s assigned a new roommate; to Vanishing on 7th Street (opens in limited release February 18), when a city’s residents disappear during a blackout and the few remaining people struggle to survive as darkness falls; or to Drive Angry (in 3D, opens February 25), as Nicolas Cage comes back from hell to rescue his granddaughter.

Sanctum is a new thriller from producer James Cameron. 

Comedy fans can look forward to Just Go With It (opens February 11) starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker; Gnomeo & Juliet (in 3D, opens February 11), an animated re-telling of Shakespeare’s tale as James McAvoy and Emily Blunt voice the star-crossed lovers from rival garden gnome families; Cedar Rapids (opens in limited release February 11) stars Ed Helms, John C. Reilly and Anne Heche, attendees of an annual insurance convention in the titular town; Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (opens February 18) in which Martin Lawrence and his nephew (Brandon T. Jackson) go undercover at an all-girls school; and Hall Pass (opens February 25) starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as married men given permission to have affairs, although they get upset when their wives starting having fun too.

Just Go With It stars Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. 

Gnomeo and Juliet is an animated retelling of Shakespeare's tale, and stars the voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt. 

Drama fans have The Eagle (opens February 11), a period piece set in 140 AD and starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland; I Am Number Four (opens February 18), a science fiction thriller starring Alex Pettyfer as the title character, an alien teen who, along with eight others, discovers his race’s ancient enemy is on Earth; and Unknown (opens February 18), which stars Liam Neeson as a man who awakens from a coma only to discover that no one knows him, even his wife.

The Eagle stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland. 

I Am Number Four stars Alex Pettyfer as an alien teen. 

And I guess I should mention the documentary arriving on the big screen February 11 titled Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.

Looks like I have four to see this month: Gnomeo & Juliet, The Eagle, I Am Number Four and Unknown.

For March, keep an eye on Rango (animated fun starring the voices of Johnny Depp and Timothy Olyphant), The Adjustment Bureau (dizzying thriller starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt), Red Riding Hood (thriller starring Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas and Gary Oldman), and The Lincoln Lawyer (Matthew McConaughey in the big screen version of Michael Connelly’s novel).

The Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. 

What’s on your to-see list? Any recommendations? And what are your Oscar favorites?

See ya at the movies!