Trailers of the Week: The Perks of Being a Dark Horse

Before we move on to this week’s batch of trailers, just a quick note that the Contenders section has been updated for the 2012-2013 season. Right now I’m pretty much throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, but we’ll get a better idea as fall approaches. Right now even, the Venice and Telluride festivals have begun, with Toronto right after, after which we’ll have a clearer notion of which films and actors the studios will start pushing hard. Already, the buzz is huge around “The Master,” playing well as expected in Venice, and “Argo,” which is getting rave reviews out of a screening in Telluride and praise for Ben Affleck’s direction, William Goldenberg’s editing, and the large (male-driven) acting ensemble. Affleck hit the ground running when he stepped behind the camera, and both his previous efforts, “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” skirted the edge of major awards recognition. It looks like he might have finally struck real red carpet gold this time.

But anyway, let’s take a moment to look at a couple of dark horse contenders that might be able to snag a nomination or two on the edge.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This trailer has been kicking around for a couple of months now, but a recent post by Kris Tapley at In Contention indicated that Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his own popular novel is not necessarily the forgettable indie-teen-movie that it appears to be. At the moment that’s pretty much just Tapley’s opinion, but we all remember how well “Juno” played, so it’s certainly possible that “Perks” will break out of the young adult ghetto.

When I first saw this trailer, I was rather distracted by Emma Watson’s attempts to play American, which are a little dubious in this first look. But upon further consideration, I’m noticing that both Logan Lerman (“3:10 to Yuma,” “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”) and Ezra Miller (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) actually look pretty darn good (Miller in particular looks hysterically funny and worlds away from his terrifying performance in Lynne Ramsay’s film). We’ll see if Chbosky can manage to balance the teen emotions and humor at play here without descending into twee.

The Impossible

The 2004 tsunami has had dubious cinematic connotations since Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter,” but that would certainly be unfair to hold against this new film by Spanish director J.A. Bayona (“The Orphanage”). All the acting here looks quite stirring, and I’ve even read that Summit will be taking the unlikely path of campaigning young Tom Holland in lead and Ewan McGregor in supporting, despite the focus on McGregor in the trailer. We hardly ever see child actors get the due they deserve (see: Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”), so it’s nice that the studio is recognizing that Holland is apparently the true center of the film. I’m a little disappointed that Hollywood continues to make the ’04 tsunami be about white folks, but so it goes.

The Sapphires

This is digging real deep and “The Sapphires” might not actually make any impact at all in Toronto, but this looks like a fun story and boy do I love Chris O’Dowd. And I don’t think I’ve even seen an Australian movie since “The Proposition.” Who knew they made ’em?

The Iceman

Hey guess what? Michael Shannon’s playing a possibly psychotic guy again. What a surprise. But seriously, Shannon does these kinds of roles because no one else out there can so spectacularly push himself to the edge. After just missing an Oscar nomination for “Take Shelter” last year, Shannon should be on the radar again for this thriller. And look, James Franco probably gets shot! Fun for everyone.

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