Seeing movies in the theater has always been the best way to enjoy the medium of film; trouble is, movie prices are getting so pricey now that it's difficult to ascertain which films might be worth watching. The following is the first part of a list of movies to be released within the next year that we at By Way of Beauty are looking forward to seeing.
Please stay tuned for the second and third parts of this article, The Dramatic & The Epic, and The Whimsical & The Whacked-Out, to be posted on the site shortly.
For Greater Glory
In Mexico in the mid 1920's, during a time when the Catholic religion was so vehemently outlawed that priests and laity caught practicing the religion were often punished by death, an army of peasants and farmers raised arms to fight for the freedom to practice their faith. Calling themselves "The Cristiada," which they took from their battle cry "Vivo el Cristo Rey!" or "Long Live Christ the King!", theirs was a historic rebellion which the Mexican government has since refused to acknowledge. Directed by first-time director but long-time visual effects artist Dean Wright, this film promises to shine a light on the courage of many poor and under privileged men and women who risked and lost their lives for the fight for religious freedom. Andy Garcia stars as Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, a reluctant general who ultimately decided to lead the Cristeros rebellion, with Eva Longoria, Oscar Isaac, Peter O'Toole and Catalina Sandino Moreno rounding out the cast.
Steven Spielberg's project about Lincoln's Civil War Presidency had been in development for years, with Liam Neeson attached to play Honest Abe. When Neeson finally had to drop, Spielberg brought on method actor extraordinaire Daniel Day Lewis to don the iconic beard and stove-pipe hat. With a script by playwright Tony Kushner adapted from the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the film also stars Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Joseph Gordon Levitt as their eldest son, and Robert and Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, and James Spader as members of Lincoln's cabinet. Although many found Spielberg's last two cinematic efforts to be underwhelming, Lincoln is anticipated to be a sure-fire front-runner during next year's award season, and is slated for release in December.
Hyde Park and Hudson
After Bill Murray came mighty close to Oscar glory with his beautifully understated performance in Lost in Translation, it looks like he has positioned himself to run another Oscar Race by portraying Franklin D. Roosevelt in this film. The film also stars class-act Laura Linney (who herself should be touting Oscar gold by now) as Roosevelt's distant cousin with whom FDR apparently had a love affair. The action of the movie takes place at the Roosevelt's estate in Hyde Park one summer weekend in 1939 during a diplomatic visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who we last saw portrayed by Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech. While this movie looks as if it may tread into the same thematic waters as The King's Speech, judging from Murray's performance in the trailer, it looks like it will definitely be a worthy watch. Release Date: December 7th, 2012.
To the Wonder
Following up last year's The Tree of Life, which Roger Ebert has recently deemed one of the ten best movies ever made, suddenly prolific filmmaker Terrence Malick's next movie is said to be a painful love story and just as personal a film as his previous effort. Ben Affleck stars as a man who, while living in Paris, gets into a steamy relationship with a European woman, played by recent Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko. The couple returns together to the states and end up marrying primarily for visa reasons. As their relationship begins to flounder, Ben Affleck reconnects with an old friend from his home town, played by Rachel McAdams, with whom he's had a long and involved history. Javier Bardem and Barry Pepper round out the cast playing Catholic priests who advise Affleck's character on his dilemma. To the Wonder is expected to have a late 2012 release date.
On The Road
Jack Kerouac's classic recounting of when he and his hopped-up and free-wheeling friends made their way cross-country several times has long been headed for the silver screen. In 1957, Kerouac himself wrote a letter to Marlon Brando, asking him to adapt his book into a movie in which Brando would play Dean Moriarity, and he would play his own alter ego, Sal Paradise. Brando never wrote him back. In 1980, it was Francis Ford Coppola who eventually acquired the rights to Kerouac's novel. Now, thirty-two years later, after several failed attempts, the film has finally been made. Directed by Walter Salles (Motorcycle Diaries), it features Sam Riley (Brighton Rock) as Sal and Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) as Dean with Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams all playing supporting roles. On The Road recently premiered at Cannes Film Festival and is expected to be released in the states sometime this fall.
Considerations: Word from Cannes is that the movie is very faithful to the book, but like the book, is sexually explicit at parts and may even earn an NC-17 unless a few scenes are trimmed - this may not be the kind of movie you would want to bring your ninth grade English class to.
Life of Pi
Yann Martel's book about a young Indian boy stranded at sea who must share his lifeboat with a Zebra, an Orangutan, a Hyena, and a Tiger immediately captured the world's imagination and made its way onto summer reading lists everywhere. With a new-aged and worldly perspective about the nature of God and the role of religion, as well as containing a surprise twist at its conclusion, Hollywood became immediately interested in making the book into a movie. Since its rights were optioned ten years ago, many directors have been attached to the project including M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) and Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) - but it was Ang Lee, the versatile director of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, who ultimately was charged with the task. Although originally planned for a Christmas release, Life of Pi's release date was recently bumped up for a Thanksgiving opening.