The Oscar countdown has begun. The 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony will be televised starting at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC. So that leaves you less than 48 hours to catch up on your movies. If you haven’t seen any of the nine films nominated for best picture, let us help. Here’s a guide to many of the places where you can see the films and a refresher on what our critics had to say.
Cast: Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Isabelle Huppert and Alexandre Tharaud.
Director: Michael Haneke.
Story: A devoted elderly couple faces the terrifying consequences of mortality.
Capsule review: “Devastating. One of the unquestionably great films of 2012 but also one of its most surprising. Who would expect such heart-rending empathy from the Austrian film director who has put some of the most contemptible movies of the past decade on screen? If you have a heart – or ever had one – this film will tear it apart.” ∆∆∆∆ (Jeff Simon)
Now playing: Dipson Amherst, Eastern Hills.
Cast: Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin.
Director: Ben Affleck.
Story: Based on the true story of Americans smuggled out of Iran during the Iran hostage crisis by CIA operatives posing as a film crew.
Capsule review: “You may want to applaud some of this. Or pump a fist in residual patriotism (which depends on neither party or aesthetics). It’s that exciting, suspenseful and even witty at times. It’s also that well-made by an actor – Affleck – proving himself to be every bit as capable a director as the Clooneys, Redfords, Beattys and De Niros of this world. It’s a terrific evening for grown-ups at the movies. But for all that you may want something more from a star and director who was, perhaps, so eager to be true to those his story is about that he passed up some rich movie possibilities.” ∆∆∆ø (Jeff Simon)
Now playing: North Park, Regal Quaker Crossing, Transit Regal and Walden Galleria. Also for sale on DVD and Blu-ray, plus for rent or sale through Time Warner, DirectTV, FiOS, iTunes, Amazon Instant.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Cast: Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry.
Director: Benh Zeitlin.
Story: Magic realist fable about a 6-year-old in an impoverished Louisiana area whose ailing father tries to toughen her up for life without him.
Capsule review: “It isn’t a heartbreaker, it’s a heart-wrecker. Once Wallis insinuates her adorable self into your affections, you’re toast. The movie will have its way with you and her plight will make a soggy hash of the sympathies of any parent in the audience. An enormous number of tiny-budgeted indie movies like this are made in America. It’s our good fortune when one escapes the festival circuit into audience love, the way this one has.” ∆∆∆ø (Jeff Simon)
Now playing: Available on DVD and Blu-ray; also through Netflix, Redbox and Amazon Instant. On demand at Time Warner, DirectTV, Dish and FiOS.
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson.
Director: Quentin Tarantino.
Story: A freed slave joins with a bounty hunter to track down his wife, who is owned by a brutal plantation owner.
Capsule review: “Tarantino’s long-awaited slavery epic is a disaster and a waste of time, talent and money that is not just the larger-than-life director’s worst feature, but 2012’s most crushing cinematic disappointment. The cast is fine, but the 165-minute film gets old and dull, and it adds nothing to our understanding of slavery. Tarantino is a masterful filmmaker – one of the world’s finest – but falls victim to his worst tendencies.” ∆∆ (Christopher Schobert)
Now playing: Regal Quaker Crossing, Transit Regal and Walden Galleria.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried.
Director: Tom Hooper
The story: Huge adaptation of the international smash-hit musical based on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece about suffering, penance and guilt in post-Revolutionary France.
Capsule: “How much prestige can a poor film carry and still remain standing? You find out soon enough in Hooper’s hugely awaited film from the international smash-hit musical version of Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Misérables.’ Somewhere around the first hour, I began to think ‘you know, this might have been a terrific film without all the bloody singing.’ Which, of course, isn’t the point at all.” ∆∆ø (Jeff Simon)
Now playing: Regal Quaker Crossing and Transit Regal.
“Life of Pi”
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain.
Director: Ang Lee.
Story: A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery.
Capsule review: “However tempting it is to fling words like ‘miracle’ and ‘awe’ around, let’s stick with ‘visionary masterpiece’ and see where that gets us as cinema develops in the next few years. It is, in the most literal and complete sense, wonderful, i.e. full of wonders. For the littler ones, though, such a crash course in the cruelties of nature’s ‘food chain’ may be awfully rough.” ∆∆∆∆ (Jeff Simon)
Now playing: Elmwood Regal, Regal Quaker Crossing and Transit Regal. Available to buy via iTunes.
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, James Spader and Gloria Reuben.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Story: Acclaimed film about the 16th president’s final struggles to pass a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.
Capsule review: “Seldom do movies yearn for greatness more openly than this one. Seldom, too, do they have the ingredients for greatness so openly within them. Spielberg’s film comes within a whisker of its ambitions. Day-Lewis, though, as Lincoln, fulfills them completely. A great film performance likely to remain in people’s heads.” ∆∆∆ø (Jeff Simon)
Now playing: Quaker Crossing and Transit Regal.
“Silver Linings Playbook”
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro.
Director: David O. Russell
Story: After a stint in a mental institution, a former teacher moves back in with his parents and meets a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
Capsule: “It may not sound particularly sensitive but in the world of director Russell, screwball comedy has to involve real screwballs. So both halves of the unusual couple who get together here after their own breakdowns and experiences with pharmacological maintenance are woefully unstable until they find each other. It’s Lawrence’s film, as good as Cooper is. More charming and lovable than annoying but still annoying as can be at times.” ∆∆∆ (Jeff Simon)
Now playing: Aurora Theatre, Dipson Amherst, Elmwood Regal, Flix, Hamburg Palace Theatre, Market Arcade, Regal Quaker Crossing, Transit Regal and Walden Galleria.
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton and Jason Clarke.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow.
Story: Controversial tale of the 10-year struggle of a CIA analyst to find Osama bin Laden.
Capsule: “Not only the most important film of 2012, but a unique film in American film history, in which we, in our theater seats, are by far the film’s most important character. All our customary moral high ground has been taken away in this riveting thriller. Which means scenes of torture and apparently gratuitous ‘collateral damage’ are disturbing in a unique way. Ultimately, it’s a great film even in the highest film company.” ∆∆∆∆ (Jeff Simon)
Now playing: Elmwood Regal, Regal Quaker Crossing and Transit Regal.