Probably Sundance’s second biggest critical hit after “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “The Sessions” (formerly “The Surrogate,” then “Six Sessions,” the latter of which I still think is the best title) looks primarily like an actor’s vehicle. John Hawkes is on a serious roll after scoring an Oscar nod for “Winter’s Bone” a couple years ago and narrowly missing another for “Martha Marcy May Marlene” this last season. Now he’s basically been handed a less trippy, more pleasant and sexy version of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” The Academy will eat that up. It is good to see Helen Hunt back in some quality material, considering she mostly disappeared from the spotlight after her 1997 Best Actress win for “As Good As It Gets.”
Red Hook Summer
It’s been a while since Spike Lee has been on home turf: not since movies like “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Do the Right Thing,” “Jungle Fever” and “Crooklyn” has Lee explored the charged atmosphere of Brooklyn in the summer. But very few other directors have had such a keen eye for the specific tensions of urban African-American communities (or, indeed, even bothered to portray them at all). It’s hard to say whether “Red Hook Summer” will be any good, but I’m already sympathetic to the effort of creating some diversity on screen.
Hyde Park on Hudson
Getting a little bit of an unfortunate “My Week with Marilyn” vibe from the Laura Linney narrator here; but then again, “My Week with Marilyn” still scored two acting nominations at the Oscars, so that might just be a sign that this FDR biopic is right in the Academy’s wheelhouse. I’m digging Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt, which makes me even madder that they’ve cast Linney as one of FDR’s extramarital love interests – FDR was an asshole when it came to his relationship with Eleanor, and I don’t particularly want a film that tries to make me sympathize with him on that front. Anyway, what’s up with George VI being in movies all the time now? And were Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter not available? They could’ve just sold this as a sequel and watched the trophies pile up.
Silver Linings Playbook
“Jennifer Lawrence! You’ve been nominated for an Oscar and are possibly the only profitable female action star in Hollywood. And you’re only 21! What are you going to do now?”
“I’M GOING TO BE A MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL!!!!”
But seriously, gag me. David O. Russell’s follow-up to “The Fighter” is not doing itself any favors in my book by advertising itself like every single other quirky indie romantic comedy of the past decade. Bradley Cooper? I admit that he seems somehow different than I would’ve expected in this trailer, but I can’t decide if it’s a good different or just a different different. And is Robert De Niro even physically capable of not phoning in a performance anymore?