With 2010 about to fade into our rearview, it's time to pay our respects to a year that produced its share of very good movies, but precious few great ones. It was a year dominated by memorable performances in supporting roles – Christian Bale as a crack-addicted burnout in The Fighter, John Hawkes as a rough-and-tumble hillbilly in Winter's Bone, Jacki Weaver as an insidious matriarch in the overlooked Australian import Animal Kingdom – and the visual bravura of Inception, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and TRON: Legacy.
The last time Melissa Leo was nominated for an Academy Award, in 2009 for the blue-collar drama Frozen River, she was perhaps a sentimental favorite among critics but a decided longshot to beat out Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and eventual winner Kate Winslet.
Anything could happen between now and February’s Oscar telecast, but Leo, 50, is already earning accolades for her supporting role in The Fighter, David O. Russell’s biography of hard-knocks Lowell, Mass., brawler Micky Ward. (The San Francisco Film Critics Circle ranked her nuanced portrayal of a domineering mother as among the year’s best.)
Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians series may not have risen to the heights of world-conquering success that J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books did, but to young, adventure-loving readers and fans of Greek mythology, the San Antonio-born author’s page-turners are indispensable. That they would eventually land on the big screen seemed a no-brainer.
It's a tradition older than The Land Before Time II – building direct-to-DVD franchises on the foundations laid by popular originals, including blockbuster titles like Home Alone, Ace Ventura and Bambi.
At 67, Werner Herzog shows no sign of slowing down. If anything, the famously feisty German auteur, an Oscar nominee for Encounters at the End of the World, his 2008 documentary about Antarctica’s rarely seen landscape, is doing his best impression of a workaholic.
Since its opening on May 27, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge has been targeted by a power-hungry Silicon Valley entrepreneur (in the 1985 Bond adventure A View to a Kill), a super-villain bent on world domination (Lex Luthor, in 1978’s Superman: The Movie), and even an oversized octopus (in the 1955 camp classic It Came from Beneath the Sea).
Terminator Salvation holds the rare distinction of being both a prequel and a sequel, set 34 years after James Cameron’s 1984 original, whose backstory it seeks to explain, and picking up more or less where Jonathan Mostow’s underappreciated Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines left off.
If you’re already scratching your head, don’t worry. Salvation, which chronicles man’s struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world governed by malicious super-computers, isn’t a movie to be understood so much as experienced.
Recently, the Sun – the London-based tabloid that seems to pride itself on movie-related misinformation – reported that Eddie Murphy and Shia LaBeouf would be joining Christian Bale and rumored Catwoman Rachel Weisz in Christopher Nolan’s next Batman sequel, tentatively titled Gotham.
Though the rumor has been categorically (and convincingly) denied, I believe Murphy could make a fine Riddler, provided he muted his act to suit the dark tone of the material, as Robin Williams did for another Nolan production, Insomnia. But LaBeouf as Robin? Spare us.