Pasadena is privileged to have a lively film community. While other cities are still waiting for Oscar contenders to come out, many critics’ picks have already debuted here. Between the ArcLight and the Laemmle, there is no shortage of smaller independent films either. And even more arrive on Christmas Day! Here’s a look at some of the films that are most likely to receive Oscar nominations:
Spike Jonze doesn’t make films that don’t get you thinking and “Her” is no exception. Surprisingly human for its emphasis on the virtual world, it is one of those sci-fi films that is none-the-less accessible for other types of movie-goers as well. Perhaps it is the grounding in a likely reality not far off in the future or the remarkable talent of Joaquin Phoenix, but “Her” doesn’t seem as odd as it could.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Somehow having Justin Timberlake in a possible Oscar contender seems unlikely, despite the fact that his boy band days are far behind. Still, it’s hard to imagine anyone else singing the part of folk singer Llewyn Davis as the fictional fellow navigates his way through the quirky world set up by the Coen brothers. Having the very talented Carey Mulligan as a star also helps, as she is always a delight to watch.
Saving Mr. Banks
Some have criticized Saving Mr. Banks for being Disney propaganda about the wonderful world of Disney, and this is true to a certain extent. But its hard not to love the film as it takes you back to a childhood favorite and features wonderful performances by stars Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
Fruitvale Station is all the more shocking as the true story was ripped from headlines from just years ago, so the audience remembers the tragedy all the more clearly. Fruitvale Station begins optimistically, just as Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan, began his day, before being shot by officers on New Year’s Day in 2008 at the Fruitvale stop in the Bay Area. Octavia Spencer gives yet another amazing performance.
The Invisible Woman
The Invisible Woman recounts the story of Charles Dickens’ secret affair with a married woman during the later years of his life. Given that the author, played by Ralph Fiennes, is well known for his holiday tale, A Christmas Carol, it seems fitting that the movie arrives on Christmas Day.
American Hustle may not be the best movie of the year, but it certainly comes close. While it shows only a slice of life in the 1970s, the stellar cast that includes Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale makes it a lot of fun to watch. The costumes, the soundtrack and the casting are all spot on, so you don’t even notice that not everything is completely perfect at all times. The story of a con man and the Feds that eventually catch up to him, the film is nothing if not clever, if a little over the top at times.
photos courtesy of chicagonow.com and welivefilm.com
Oscar likenesses courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences