Tag Archives: The Sessions

My Year in Movies 2012 (Finally!)

Right before I saw The Muppets in November of 2011, I commented to my closest movie allies that starting with this Kermit and friends’ return to cinematic form from Disney, the next 12-14 months could be the best year (or a little over a year) of cinema that I have ever experienced.  After The Muppets, there was a new Mission Impossible opening in December of 2011 (Ghost Protocol ended up as my favorite movie of 2011), and then 2012 was to feature a new historical drama from Steven Spielberg starring the great Daniel Day-Lewis, a new Bond, two new Marvel movies, a new Bourne, lots of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a prequel to Alien from Ridley Scott, a movie version of one of my all-time favorite musicals, a promising new Pixar outing, Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-Earth, and of course, the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking Batman series.  Now, on the eve (or for many, morning) of the Oscars and the unofficial culmination of the 2012 year in cinema, despite some unfortunate disappointments (Middle-Earth did not feel so good in 2012), 2012 was as close to movie heaven as I could ask for.

What follows are my rankings, my designations, my Oscar votes (if I had them) in the six major categories, and some new awards that I have cooked up for 2012, an epic year of cinema:

2012 motion pictures: Lincoln

2012 movies that could have been motion pictures: The Dark Knight Rises, Zero Dark ThirtyThe Master

The best acting performance of 2012: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

Marvel movie that is probably a little bit overrated: The Avengers

Marvel movie that is probably a little bit underrated: The Amazing Spider-Man

5 most memorable sequences/scenes: The opening of The Dark Knight Rises, Silva’s single shot first scene in Skyfall, the hood scene from Django Unchainedthe tsunami attack in The Impossible, Georges’ pigeon pursuit in Amour

Best footage to be used in an acting master class: The entire performance of Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s interview scene with Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

Most unexpected narrative turn of events: The use of bears in The Brave

Ranking the Joseph Gordon-Levitt performances: 1. John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises  2. Playing a young Bruce Willis in Looper  3. Bike messenger in Premium Rush  4. A forgettable Robert Lincoln in Lincoln

Best performance by an animal: Richard Parker in Life of Pi

Worst performance by an animal: The wolves in The Grey

The movies that made me think the most after viewing: The Master, Looper, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, The Dark Knight Rises

The movies that made me think the least after viewing: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Flight, Savages

The most emotional movie experiences: The Impossible, Lincoln

The least emotional movie experiences: The Grey, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I just don’t get why people liked it: The Hunger Games, The Grey, Deep Blue Sea, 21 Jump Street

I just don’t get why people don’t like it more: The Bourne Legacy, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Impossible

Movies that could have been longer: The Dark Knight Rises, Lincoln, The Impossible

Movies that should have been shorter: The Master, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Django Unchained

Performances that needed to be longer to make more sense: Gloria Reuben in Lincoln, Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises

Best use of television actors from favorite TV shows in movies: Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) in Argo, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) in Argo, Jared Harris (Mad Men) in Lincoln, Victor Garber (Alias) in ArgoBradley Cooper (Alias) in Silver Linings Playbook, Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Office) in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Aidan Gillen (The Wire, Game of Thrones) in The Dark Knight Rises

Most distracting use of television actors from favorite TV shows in movies: Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) in Zero Dark Thirty, James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) in Zero Dark Thirty, Harold Perrineau (Lost) in Zero Dark Thirty

Movies that I saw because I like the actor, but the movie was not very good: Deep Blue Sea (Rachel Weisz), The Grey (Liam Neeson), Premium Rush (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

Best use of Jeremy Renner: The Bourne Legacy

Worst use of Jeremy Renner: The Avengers

Nominees for the “welcome back to the cinema” award: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, after the challenge that was War Horse – Steven Spielberg, Batman, James Bond, a Pixar movie not featuring cars

Movies where death is a struggle to watch: The Impossible, Amour

Movies where death seems too easy to watch: Django Unchained, Skyfall

Accents that worked the best: Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, John Hawkes in The Sessions

Accents that struggled the most: Helen Hunt in The Sessions, Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas

Best adaptation of a book into a movie: Lincoln (Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin)

Worst adaptation of a book into a movie: Cloud AtlasThe Hunger Games

Directors I am interested to see more from: Rian Johnson (Looper), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Directors I have seen enough from: Tom Hooper (Les Miserables)

When AFI picks the best movies of the 21st Century, the likely nominees from 2012 are: Lincoln, Argo

Best use of a one word title: Brave, Argo, Amour

Worst use of a one word title: FlightSavages

The “I want to see that again” award: The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Argo

The No Country For Old Men “I liked it, but I never want to see that movie again” award: The Impossible, Amour

The “a great movie to take a nap in” award: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Grey

My biggest disappointment: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

My most pleasant surprise: The Bourne Legacy, Django Unchained

Movies with the greatest number of moments that I had to turn away or close my eyes because it was so difficult to watch: Django Unchained, Amour, Prometheus

Movies with the greatest number of moments that I did turn away because I didn’t care and looking up IMDB facts on my phone was more interesting: Flight, The Grey, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

After 2012, actors that I want to see more of: Jessica Chastain, Christoph Waltz, Quevenzhané Wallis, Daniel Day-Lewis

After 2012, actors I want to see less of: Halle Berry, Helen Hunt, Wes Bentley

The award for “highest quality funeral guest list”: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Dark Knight Rises

Movie that would have been great on stage: Lincoln

Movie that should have remained on stage: Les Misérables

My 5 least favorite movies of 2012: Deep Blue Sea, Savages, The Grey, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games

My 5 favorite movies 2012: The Dark Knight Rises, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, The Bourne Legacy

My favorite movie of 2012: The Dark Knight Rises

The best movie of 2012: Lincoln

 

Finally, if I had an Oscar vote, here are my selections in the six major categories (in order of voting):

BEST PICTURE:

Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, Django Unchained, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Silver Linings PlaybookLes Misérables, Life of Pi

BEST ACTOR:

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables), Denzel Washington (Flight)

BEST ACTRESS:

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Alan Arkin (Argo)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

BEST DIRECTOR:

Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Michael Haneke (Amour), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

ENJOY THE OSCARS!

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.  For more in depth opinions on movies, check out the “5 Things You Need To Know” page.

 

 

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW: THE SESSIONS

When I see a movie in theaters (or in this one case, as an iTunes rental), I will write the five things you need to know about it.  Additional note: I am working my way through the movies that are relevant to next month’s Academy Awards (nominated in one of the six major categories).  Stay tuned for AMOUR and LIFE OF PI before the February 24 Oscar telecast.

5 Things You Need to Know About… 

THE SESSIONS

1. The Sessions features an Academy Award nominated performance from Helen Hunt (Best Actress in a Supporting Role) as Cheryl, a sex surrogate therapist, and an Academy Award nomination “notable omission” performance from John Hawkes (“Yeah, we kind of messed that one up.” – the Academy to John Hawkes after he was robbed of a Best Actor nomination) as Mark O’Brien, a real-life poet and author whose below the head muscles were immobilized from a childhood bout with polio, and whose essay, “Seeing a Sex Surrogate,” was the basis for the movie.  Hawkes is sensational throughout the movie, and, although he expertly conveys the physical challenges O’Brien, it is his understanding of O’Brien’s humor and poetic sparkle that is the ultimate stand out of his performance.  Helen Hunt is nominated in a crowded field of woman vying for an unannounced second place finish (there is no way that Anne Hathaway loses this one) and she deserves to be here for her courageous physical and emotional vulnerability. 

2. One of the primary reasons The Sessions (and its lead performances for that matter) succeed is in its open and honest portrayal of the Hunt/Hawkes sex surrogate sessions.  Within the arbitrary and at times archaic MPAA R rating construct, director Ben Lewin does not hold too much back.  Helen Hunt (49!), in particular, seems completely comfortable naked (Rhea Perlman points this out later in the movie) and the movies most important scenes resonate consequently.

3. The Sessions makes important comments on how religion can have such a significant (and often negative) effect on our sexual being.  William H. Macy’s somewhat melancholy Father Brendan (crazy Shameless haircut and all) is expertly portrayed as an embodiment of the dichotomy between the Catholic Church message of sexual repression and guilt and his own human insight as an “off the priest record” friend.  Through some highly effective non-verbal scenes and expressions, Father Brendan struggles with his own turn at sexuality when he watches Hawkes’ Mark O’Brien improbably break out of his literal sexual iron box, knowing that his own sexual life remains constrained by the celibacy oath of priesthood.  Both Mark O’Brien and Cheryl at different developmental stages must remove the Catholicism (and its guilt ridden teachings) to fully realize their sexuality.  In a instance of clever ironic juxtaposition, Cheryl’s conversion to Judaism mikvah bath scene with a completely comfortable with nudity Rhea Pearlman as “Mikvah Lady” highlights how certain faiths have evolved more in areas of sexuality and the human body.

4. On a Boston accent execution scale from Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting (“How Do You Like Them Apples?”) authentic to Kevin Costner (movie after movie, a consistent master class in what not to do with an accent) horrendous in Thirteen Days,  John Hawkes is closer to Damon than Costner and Helen Hunt (her character is from Salem) is closer to Costner than Damon.

5. The Sessions is a movie that aspires to be a film whose candid and honest portrayal of the humanity of one man’s disability provides us a body awareness exercise for us to rework our own preconceptions about the awe-inspiring possibilities of love.

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.  He writes weekly TV columns on Afterbuzztv.com (currently, Fox’s “The Following”) and his weekly THE CHALLENGE: BATTLE OF THE SEASONS Power Rankings can be read on Derek Kosinski’s ultimatechallengeradio.com.