And the Oscar goes to…
So Mr. Ang Lee managed to sneak past the rest of the challengers and get his hands once again on Oscar – the Academy Award trophy for Best Director of 2013 for his movie Life of Pi… Despite the fact that this movie has several Indian connections, I wasn’t particularly rooting for it. It is not one of my favorite movies of 2013. It is normal to have a big disconnect between popular and award winning cinema, but these days the choice of award sometime even surprises the movie critics. The movie also won Oscar for Best Music and Best Cinematography.
But some of my favorite movies and the performance within them were acknowledged as the best for 2012, e.g. Deniel Day Lewis, everytime I will think of Lincoln, the image that will come to my mind would be the one which was portrayed by Deniel Day Lewis, he got the Oscar for Best Actor in Lincoln. He has become the only actor so far to have won the Academy Award for Best Actor three times – first time he won the Oscar was in 1990 for his portrayals of Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989), and his second Oscar was in 2008 for her performance as Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood (2007) and now as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) he has created history in Oscars 2013.
This was a good year for Ben Afleck and he was rightly thrilled to accept the Best Director Oscar for his superb direction of Argo, not only his direction was superb, I liked him in the lead role in this movie as well. I remembered the story from my childhood, one of my uncle used to tell me about the clever operation of American spy agency CIA to get American citizens out of Iran after the revolution. I used to cross the residence of Iranian Ambassador to India regularly as it was in the neighborhood and witnessed a lot of protest and processions there in the 80’s against the non-democratic government there post the revolution.
Silver Lining Playbook was a nice, less hyped movie of the year, for which, well deserving, Jennifer Lawrence got the Best Actress Oscar – she looked gorgeous in the movie and gave a strong performance in a movie which had many big names like Robert De Niro & Bradley Cooper. . . Silver Lining Playbook too had an Indian connection as Indian Actor Anupam Kher had a small role as the Dr. Cliff Patel, the jovial Psychiatrist in the movie.
One of my all time favorite director Tarantino got the Oscar for Best Original Scrip for Django Unchained, Christopher Walts won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his intelligent portrayal of German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. If it was upto me, the movie would have got even more awards, I loved the movie, like all other movies of Tarantino and can watch is again and again.
Zero Dark Thirty, the movie based on the most historic man-hunt so far, the search and killing of Osama Bin Laden, the most high profile terrorist of the world till now, is another one which I loved for the pace and direction by Kathryn Bigelow (Ex-wife of James Cameron), her previous movie The Hurt Locker based on the background of US Army in Iraq also won few Oscars and was loved by the critics.
- Winner at 2013 academy awards
|Award Category||Winner for 2013|
|Best Actor||Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln|
|Best Actress||Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Lining Playbook|
|Actor in a Supporting Role||Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained|
|Actress in a Supporting Role||Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables|
|Best Director||Ang Lee – Life of Pi|
|Short Film – Animated||Paperman|
|Best Animated Feature||Brave|
|Cinematography||Life of Pi|
|Visual Effects||Life of Pi|
|Costume Design||Anna Karenina|
|Makeup And Hairstyling||Les Miserables|
|Short Documentary Film||Inocente|
|Best Documentary Feature||Searching for Sugar Man|
|Foreign Language Film||Amour|
|Sound Mixing||Les Miserables|
|Sound Editing||Zero Dark Thirty, Skyfall|
|Best Original Score||Life of Pi|
|Best Original Song||Skyfall|
|Writing – Original Screenplay||Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained|
- My favorite movies of 2012
1. Lincoln (9/10) : Political/Historic Drama (Based on true historical events)
Lincoln recounts President Abraham Lincoln‘s efforts, during January 1865, to obtain passage for the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in the United States House of Representatives, which would formally abolish slavery in the country. Expecting the Civil War to end within a month but concerned that his 1863 Emancipation Proclamation may be discarded by the courts once the war has concluded and the 13th Amendment defeated by the returning slave states, Lincoln feels it is imperative to pass the amendment by the end of January, thus removing any possibility that slaves who have already been freed may be re-enslaved. The Radical Republicans fear the amendment will merely be defeated by some who wish to delay its passage; the support of the amendment by Republicans in the border states is not yet assured either, since they prioritize the issue of ending the war. Even if all of them are ultimately brought on board, the amendment will still require the support of several Democratic congressmen if it is to pass. With dozens of Democrats having just become lame ducks after losing their re-election campaigns in the fall of 1864, some of Lincoln’s advisors believe that he should wait until the new Republican-heavy Congress is seated, presumably giving the amendment an easier road to passage. Lincoln, however, remains adamant about having the amendment in place and the issue of slavery settled before the war is concluded and the southern states readmitted into the Union.
Lincoln’s hopes for passage of the amendment rely upon the support of the Republican Party founder Francis Preston Blair, the only one whose influence can ensure that all members of the western and border state conservative Republican faction will back the amendment. With Union victory in the Civil War seeming highly likely and greatly anticipated, but not yet a fully accomplished fact, Blair is keen to end the hostilities as soon as possible. Therefore, in return for his support, Blair insists that Lincoln allow him to immediately engage the Confederate government in peace negotiations. This is a complication to Lincoln’s amendment efforts since he knows that a significant portion of the support he has garnered for the amendment is from the Radical Republican faction for whom a negotiated peace that leaves slavery intact is anathema. If there seems to be a realistic possibility of ending the war even without guaranteeing the end of slavery, the needed support for the amendment from the more conservative wing (which does not favor abolition) will certainly fall away. Unable to proceed without Blair’s support, however, Lincoln reluctantly authorizes Blair’s mission.
In the meantime, Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward work on the issue of securing the necessary Democratic votes for the amendment. Lincoln suggests that they concentrate on the lame duck Democrats, as they have already lost re-election and thus will feel free to vote as they please, rather than having to worry about how their vote will affect a future re-election campaign. Since those members also will soon be in need of employment and Lincoln will have many federal jobs to fill as he begins his second term, he sees this as a tool he can use to his advantage. Though Lincoln and Seward are unwilling to offer direct monetary bribes to the Democrats, they authorize agents to quietly go about contacting Democratic congressmen with offers of federal jobs in exchange for their voting in favor of the amendment.
With Confederate envoys ready to meet with Lincoln, he instructs them to be kept out of Washington, as the amendment approaches a vote on the House floor. At the moment of truth, Thaddeus Stevens decides to moderate his statements about racial equality to help the amendment’s chances of passage. A rumor circulates that there are Confederate representatives in Washington ready to discuss peace, prompting both Democrats and conservative Republicans to advocate postponing the vote on the amendment. Lincoln explicitly denies that such envoys are in or will be in the city — technically a truthful statement, since he had ordered them to be kept away — and the vote proceeds, narrowly passing by a margin of two votes. When Lincoln subsequently meets with the Confederates, he tells them that slavery cannot be restored as the North is united for ratification of the amendment, and that several of the southern states’ reconstructed legislatures would also vote to ratify.
After the amendment’s passage, the film’s narrative shifts forward two months, portraying Lincoln’s visit to the battlefield at Petersburg, Virginia, where he exchanges a few words with General Grant. Shortly thereafter, Grant receives General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln is in a late-night meeting with his cabinet, discussing possible future measures to enfranchise blacks, when he is reminded that Mrs. Lincoln is waiting to take them to their evening at Ford’s Theater.
That night, while Tad Lincoln is viewing Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp at Grover’s Theater a man announces that the President has been shot. The next morning his physician pronounces him dead. The film concludes with a flashback to Lincoln delivering his second inaugural address.
2. Django Unchained (9/10) Western Action (Fiction in the background of pre-slavery abolition America)
In 1858, several male slaves are chained and being transported after being purchased by the Speck Brothers, Ace and Dicky. Among the slaves is Django, who has been sold away from his wife, Broomhilda. The Speck brothers encounter Dr. King Schultz, a German immigrant dentist from Düsseldorf and a bounty hunter.
Schultz kills Ace after he points a rifle at Schultz, and shoots Dicky’s horse, crushing his leg under it. Schultz then buys Django by force and leaves Dicky at the mercy of remaining slaves who kills him as Dr. Shultz adn Django departs. Schultz reveals that he sought out Django to aid him in identifying the Brittle brothers, a trio of ruthless killers working for a plantation owner. The two come to an agreement: in exchange for helping locate and identify the Brittle brothers, Schultz will free Django from slavery and give him $75 and a horse. After they hunt down and kill the Brittle brothers, Schultz got to know the backstory of Django which he finds similar to the German folklore/ fairytale of Princess Broomhilda. He offers partnership to Django in his flourishing Bounty hunting profession until spring, at which time he will assist Django in tracking down and rescuing Broomhilda. Over the winter, Schultz trains Django in bounty hunting and mastering a sidearm.
One crucial moment in the movie is Django faltering before making a big bounty kill, Smitty Bacall, the boss of Smitty Bacall’s gang, as the guy was tending to his farm along with his young son. But Dr. Shultz pushes him to go ahead with the shot and also hands him the Bounty handbill, which saves his life in the end.
After collecting a number of bounties over the winter, Schultz and Django confirm that Broomhilda’s current owner is Calvin Candie, a charming but brutal plantation owner in Mississippi who forces his slaves to fight to the death in “Mandingo fights”. Schultz expects that Candie will demand an extortionate price for Broomhilda if they are forthright with their intentions, so they devise a ruse whereby they will pretend to seek the purchase of one of Candie’s prize fighters for a hefty sum, meanwhile purchase Broomhilda on-the-side for a more reasonable sum, then disappear before they finalize the bogus deal. Schultz and Django meet Candie at a club in Greenville and offer to buy one of his fighters for $12,000. His greed tickled, Candie invites them to his plantation. On the road, Schultz and Django witness Candie murder one of his Mandingo fighters, who fled due to not wanting to fight any more, by having him torn apart by dogs. At the plantation, Schultz secretly informs Broomhilda of the plot. At dinner, Schultz expresses an incidental interest in Broomhilda because she speaks German. Django raises the suspicions of Candie’s staunchly loyal senior house slave, Stephen, who correctly deduces that Django and Broomhilda know each other and that the sale of the Mandingo fighter is a ruse, and informs Candie in private. This enrages Candie, who, armed with this information, demands the $12,000 for Broomhilda instead, or he will kill her. Schultz agrees to buy her at this price in order to save her life. After the money is paid and the paperwork signed, Candie demands to shake hands with Schultz to finalize the deal, or Broomhilda will be shot. Schultz, in disgust, shoots and kills Candie point-blank with a concealed Derringer gun. Schultz is shot dead too, and a gun fight erupts. Django shoots many of Candie’s henchmen but has to surrender when Stephen threatens to have Broomhilda killed.
As punishment, Stephen and Candie’s sister Laura agree to send Django to a mine to be worked to death. Broomhilda, instead of being given her freedom, is locked in a cabin to be used as a sex slave. En route to the mine, Django convinces the slave drivers that he is a bounty hunter, shows them the handbill from his Smitty Bacall killing as evidence, and falsely informs them that there is a high-end bounty on some outlaws who have taken refuge back at Candie’s plantation. He offers them a cut of the bounty if they free him and ride with him. The moment they free him, he kills the slave drivers, takes their dynamite, and rides back to Candyland.
Returning to the plantation, Django discovers Schultz’s body. He takes the certificate of freedom that Candie signed for Broomhilda and reunites with her after freeing her from where she was being held. When Candie’s mourners return to the Candyland mansion from his funeral, Django reveals himself. He sends off the remaining slaves and kills everyone inside except Stephen, whom he shoots in the knees. Having set the dynamite inside the house, he lights the fuse and leaves. Django and Broomhilda watch from a distance as the house explodes, killing Stephen, and ride away.
3. Zero Dark Thirty (8/10) Thriller, Action & Adventure (Based on true story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden)
In 2003, Maya, a young CIA officer, has spent her entire brief career, since she graduated from high school, focusing solely on intelligence related to Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, following the terrorist organization’s September 11 attacks in the United States. She has just been reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to work with a fellow officer, Dan. During the first months of her assignment, Maya often accompanies Dan to a black site for his continuing interrogation of Ammar, a detainee with suspected links to several Saudi terrorists. Dan subjects the detainee to torture, including waterboarding, and humiliation. He and Maya eventually trick Ammar into divulging that an old acquaintance, who is using the alias Abu Ahmed, is working as a personal courier for bin Laden. Other detainees corroborate this, with some claiming Abu Ahmed delivers messages between bin Laden and a man referred to as Abu Faraj. In mid-2005, Abu Faraj is apprehended by the CIA and local police in Pakistan. Maya interrogates Abu Faraj under torture, but he continues to deny knowing a courier with such a name. Maya interprets this as an attempt by Abu Faraj’s to conceal the importance of Abu Ahmed.
Maya continues to sift through masses of data and information, using a variety of technology, hunches and sharing insights. Displaying the zeal and frustrations of a “single-tasker”, she concentrates on finding Abu Ahmed, determined to use him to find bin Laden. During a span of five years, she survives the 2008 Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing as well as being shot at in her car by armed men. Dan, departing on re-assignment, warns Maya about a possible change in politics, suggesting that the new administration may prosecute those officers who had been involved in torture. Maya’s fellow officer and friend Jessica is killed in the 2009 Camp Chapman attack. A Jordanian detainee claims the man previously identified as Abu Ahmed, from a photograph, is a man he personally buried in 2001. Several CIA officers – Maya’s seniors – conclude the target who could be Abu Ahmed is long dead, and that they have searched a false trail for nine years.
A fellow analyst researching Moroccan intelligence archives comes to Maya and suggests that Abu Ahmed is Ibrahim Sayeed. Maya agrees and contacts Dan, who is working at the CIA headquarters. Maya has found that Ibrahim Sayeed had a brother, Habib, and theorizes the CIA’s supposed photograph of Abu Ahmed was of Habib, as Habib bore a striking resemblance to Ibrahim, and was killed in Afghanistan.
Dan uses CIA funds to purchase a Lamborghini for a Kuwaiti prince in exchange for the telephone number of Sayeed’s mother. The CIA traces calls to the mother, and one caller’s persistent use of tradecraft to avoid detection leads Maya to conclude the caller is Abu Ahmed. At Maya’s behest and with the support of her supervisors, numerous CIA operatives are deployed to search for and identify Abu Ahmed. They locate him in his vehicle and eventually track him to a large urban compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the national military academy.
The CIA puts the compound under heavy surveillance for several months, using a variety of methods. Although they are confident from circumstantial evidence that bin Laden is there, they cannot prove this photographically. Meanwhile, the President’s National Security Advisor tasks the CIA with producing a plan to capture or kill bin Laden if it can be confirmed that he is in the compound. An agency team devises a plan to use two top-secret stealth helicopters (developed at Area 51) flown by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment to secretly enter Pakistan and insert a U.S. Navy SEAL team to raid the compound. Before briefing the President of the United States, the CIA Director holds a meeting of his top officials, who assess only a 60-80% chance that bin Laden is living in the compound, rather than another high-value target. Maya, also in attendance, insists the chances are 95-100%.
The raid is approved and is executed on May 2, 2011. Although execution is complicated by one of the helicopters crashing, the SEALs kill a number of people within the compound, among them a man on the compound’s top floor who is revealed to be bin Laden. They bring bin Laden’s body back to a U.S. base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where Maya visually confirms the identity of the corpse. Maya is last seen boarding a military transport to return to the US and sitting in its vast interior as its only passenger. The pilot asks her where she wants to go but she doesn’t reply and instead begins to weep quietly.
4. Argo (8/10) Thriller Drama (Inspired by the story of CIA operation in Iran)
Militants storm the United States embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, in retaliation for CIA involvements in Iran. More than 50 of the embassy staff are taken as hostages, but six escape and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). With the escapees’ situation kept secret, the US State Department begins to explore options for “exfiltrating” them from Iran. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA exfiltration specialist brought in for consultation, criticizes the proposals. He too is at a loss for an alternative until, inspired by watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes on the phone with his son, he plans to create a cover story that the escapees are Canadian filmmakers, scouting “exotic” locations in Iran for a similar science-fiction film.
Mendez and his supervisor Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston) contact John Chambers (John Goodman), a Hollywood make-up artist who has previously crafted disguises for the CIA. Chambers puts them in touch with film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin). Together they set up a phony film studio, publicize their plans, and successfully establish the pretense of developing Argo, a “science fantasy” in the style of Star Wars, to lend credibility to the cover story. Meanwhile, the escapees grow frantic inside the ambassador’s residence. The revolutionaries reassemble embassy papers shredded before the takeover and learn that some personnel have escaped.
Posing as a producer for Argo, Mendez enters Iran and links up with the six escapees. He provides them with Canadian passports and fake identities to prepare them to get through security at the airport. Although afraid to trust Mendez’s scheme, they reluctantly go along with it, knowing that he is risking his own life too. A “scouting” visit to the bazaar to maintain their cover story takes a bad turn, but their Iranian culture contact gets them away from the hostile crowd.
Mendez is told that the operation has been cancelled to avoid conflicting with a planned military rescue of the hostages. He pushes ahead, forcing O’Donnell to hastily re-obtain authorization for the mission to get tickets on a Swissair flight. Tension rises at the airport, where the escapees’ flight reservations are confirmed at the last minute, and a guard’s call to the supposed studio in Hollywood is answered at the last second. The group boards the plane just as the Iranian guards uncover the ruse and try to stop their plane from getting off the runway, but they are too late, as Mendez and the six successfully leave Iran.
To protect the hostages remaining in Tehran from retaliation, all US involvement in the rescue is suppressed, giving full credit to the Canadian government and its ambassador (who left Iran with his wife under their own credentials as the operation was underway; their Iranian housekeeper, who had known about the Americans and lied to the revolutionaries to protect them, escaped to Iraq). Mendez is awarded the Intelligence Star, but due to the classified nature of the mission, he would not be able to keep the medal until the details were made public in 1997. All the hostages were freed on January 20, 1981. The film ends with President Jimmy Carter’s speech about the Crisis and the Canadian Caper.
5. Silver Lining Notebook (8/10) : Comedy/Drama
Patrizio Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper), who has bipolar disorder, is released from a mental health facility into the care of his parents after eight months of treatment. During his time there, he forms a close friendship with a fellow patient, Danny (Chris Tucker), who is having legal disputes with the hospital which constantly prevents him from leaving. Pat soon learns that his wife, Nikki, has moved away and his father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), is out of work and resorting to bookmaking to earn money to start a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after the violent episode that sent him away.
While talking to his court-mandated therapist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher), Pat explains again why he was hospitalized. Coming home early from his high school teaching job, noticing clothes thrown on the floor and his wedding song Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” playing, he finds Nikki in the shower, with another man. Enraged, he nearly beats the man to death. Despite this, Pat doesn’t believe he needs medication to manage his condition.
At dinner with his friend Ronnie, he meets Ronnie’s sister-in-law, Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a recent widow who also just lost her job. Pat and Tiffany develop an odd friendship through their shared neuroses, and he sees an opportunity to communicate with Nikki through her. Tiffany offers to deliver a letter to Nikki, if in return he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. He reluctantly agrees and the two begin a rigorous practice regimen over the following weeks, with help from Danny, who is eventually released. Pat believes the competition will be a good way to show Nikki he has changed and become a better man. Tiffany gives Pat a typed reply from Nikki, in which she cautiously hints there may be a chance for a reconciliation between them.
Things go well for Pat until his father asks him to attend a Philadelphia Eagles game he has bet virtually all of his money on, as a “good-luck charm.” Pat skips practice with Tiffany to attend the game, but is dragged into a fight with racist thugs attacking Dr. Patel, and is hauled away by police. The Eagles lose the game and Pat Sr. is furious. Tiffany arrives, berates Pat, and points that the way she “reads the signs”, the Eagles do better when she and Pat are together, as they won every game they played on occasions when Pat and Tiffany spent time together. Pat Sr., now convinced that Pat being with Tiffany is actually good luck, makes a parlay with his gambling friend that if the Eagles win their game against Dallas, and if Pat and Tiffany score at least a 5 out of 10 in their dance competition, he will win back all the money he lost on the first bet. Pat is reluctant to participate in the dance contest under those conditions and re-reads Nikki’s letter. He notices that the phrase Tiffany had said earlier, “reading the signs,” appears in the letter supposedly written by Nikki. He shows up for the next dance practice with Tiffany ready to perfect their routine.
Pat, Tiffany, and everyone else arrive at the competition on the night of the football game. Tiffany is horrified to discover that Nikki has actually come to the dance competition, Ronnie and Veronica in tow. When Ronnie and Veronica come upstairs to wish Tiffany luck, Tiffany becomes hysterical, and claims that her sister and brother-in-law are “killing her”. They explain that this may be the chance for Pat and Nikki to get their marriage back on track, and Tiffany walks to the bar to get some vodka. Pat soon finds Tiffany, who has had two vodkas, and manages to coax her onto the dance floor, where they perform their routine. As they dance, the Eagles win their game and at the conclusion of their set, they score exactly 5 points—Pat and Tiffany are elated.
Amid cheers from his family and confused looks from the crowd, Pat leaves a victory hug from Tiffany to approach Nikki and speak quietly into her ear. Tiffany storms off, exits the building and walks into the night, sobbing. Pat leaves Nikki behind after only a short conversation, intent on finding Tiffany. Pat Sr. pulls Pat aside and tells him that he knows that Pat hasn’t listened to him, but to listen to him now. He explains that he doesn’t know if Nikki ever loved him, but he knows that Tiffany does love him. He tells him to go after her. Pat chases after Tiffany and tells her he knows she forged Nikki’s letter. He gives her a letter of his own, where he conveys his thoughts. Tiffany doesn’t deny it, although she gives him a knowing look. He confesses he has loved her from the moment he met her but has taken a long time to realize it and Tiffany asks him if he really loves her. After he tells her that he means it, she says, “Okay” and they kiss.
Its sort of a happy ending, like most movies, and unlike real life, as the end credit rolls, Pat and Tiffany become a couple and Pat Sr. opens a restaurant with the money he has won and the whole family is at home for the Sunday game.
6. Amour (8/10) Drama/ World Cinema (French Language)
A brigade of firemen break down the door of an apartment in Paris to find the corpse of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) lying on a bed, adorned with cut flowers.
Flashback several months. Anne and her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), both retired piano teachers in their eighties, attend a performance by one of Anne’s former pupils. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, Anne silently suffers a stroke. She sits in a catatonic state, not responding to Georges. She comes around as Georges is about to get help, but doesn’t remember anything that took place. Georges thinks she was playing a prank on him. Anne is unable to pour herself a drink.
Anne undergoes surgery on a blocked carotid artery, but the surgery goes wrong, leaving her paralyzed on her right side and confined to a wheelchair. She makes Georges promise not to send her back to the hospital or go into a nursing home. Georges becomes Anne’s dutiful, though slightly irritated, caretaker. One day, Anne tells Georges that she doesn’t want to continue to live.
The pupil whose performance they attended stops by and Anne gets dressed up and carries on a lively conversation during the visit, giving Georges hope that her complaint was a passing fancy. However, she soon suffers a second stroke that leaves her demented and incapable of sound speech. Georges continues to look after Anne, despite the strain it puts on him. Georges begins employing a nurse three days a week. Their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), wants her mother to go into care, but Georges says he will not break the promise he made to his wife.
Georges employs a second nurse to help care for Anne, but he fires her after he discovers her mistreatment of his wife. One day, Georges sits next to Anne’s bedside and tells her a story of his childhood, which calms her, and as it reaches the conclusion, he grabs the pillow on the bed and smothers her to death.
Georges returns home with bundles of flowers in his hands, which he proceeds to wash and cut. He picks out a dress from Anne’s wardrobe and writes a long letter. He tapes the bedroom door shut and catches a pigeon which has flown in from the window. In the letter, Georges explains that he has released the pigeon. Georges hallucinates Anne washing dishes in the kitchen and, speechless, he gazes at Anne as she cleans up and prepares to leave the house. Anne calls for Georges to bring a coat, and he complies, following her out the door.
The film concludes after the opening scene, with Eva seated in the living room, after wandering around the now-empty home.
7. Dark Knight Rises (8/10) Superhero – 3rd in the latest Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie series
Eight years after Harvey Dent’s death, the Dent Act grants the Gotham City Police Department powers which nearly eradicate organized crime. Feeling guilty for covering up Dent’s crimes, Police Commissioner James Gordon writes a resignation speech confessing the truth, but decides not to use it. Batman has disappeared; Bruce Wayne has become a recluse. Cat burglar Selina Kyle obtains Bruce’s fingerprints from his home, kidnaps a congressman, then disappears. Selina hands Bruce’s fingerprints to Phillip Stryver, an assistant to Bruce’s business rival John Daggett, in hope of having her criminal record erased. Stryver double-crosses Selina, but she uses the congressman’s stolen phone to alert the police to their location. Gordon and the police arrive to find the congressman, then pursue Stryver’s men into the sewers while Selina flees. A masked man called Bane captures Gordon. Gordon escapes and is found by John Blake, a once-orphaned patrol officer who has deduced Batman’s true identity from their similar backgrounds. Gordon promotes Blake to detective, with Blake reporting directly to him.
Wayne Enterprises is unprofitable after Bruce discontinued his fusion reactor project when he learned that the core could be weaponized. Later, Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange, using Bruce’s fingerprints in a transaction that bankrupts Wayne. Alfred Pennyworth, concerned that Bruce has not moved on from being Batman, reveals to him that Rachel Dawes had intended to marry Dent before she died, and resigns in an attempt to dissuade him. Fearing that Daggett, Bane’s employer, would gain access to the reactor, Bruce asks Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate to take over his company. Bane later kills Daggett. After being promised the software to erase her criminal record, Kyle agrees to take Batman to Bane, but instead leads him into a trap. Bane appears and reveals that he intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s mission to destroy Gotham with the League of Shadows remnant. He delivers a crippling blow to Batman’s back, then takes him to a foreign, well-like prison where escape is virtually impossible. The inmates tell Bruce the story of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping, the only prisoner to have ever done so; Bruce assumes the child to be Bane.
Meanwhile, Bane lures Gotham police underground and collapses the exits. He kills Mayor Anthony Garcia and forces an abducted physicist, Dr. Leonid Pavel, to convert the reactor core into a nuclear bomb before killing him. Bane uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the world. Using Gordon’s stolen speech, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent’s crimes and releases the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary, initiating a revolution. The wealthy and powerful have their property expropriated, are dragged from their homes, and given show trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane, where any sentence means likely death with exile forcing the defendants to walk across the frozen bay to get to the other side.
After months of recovery and re-training, Bruce escapes from the prison and enlists Kyle, Blake, Tate, Gordon, and Lucius Fox to help stop the bomb’s detonation. While the police and Bane’s force clash, Batman defeats Bane, but Tate intervenes and stabs Batman revealing herself to be Talia al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul’s child who escaped the prison aided by her fellow prisoner Bane. She plans to complete her father’s work by detonating the bomb and destroying Gotham, but Gordon blocks her signal, preventing remote detonation; Talia leaves to find the bomb. Bane prepares to kill Batman, but Kyle kills Bane using the Batpod. Batman pursues Talia with the The Bat, an aircraft developed by Fox, to bring the bomb back to the reactor, where it can be stabilized. Talia’s truck crashes, but she remotely destroys the reactor before dying. With no way to stop the detonation, Batman uses The Bat to haul the bomb over the bay, where it detonates.
In the aftermath, Batman is presumed dead and is honored as a hero. With Bruce also presumed dead, Wayne Manor is left to the city to become an orphanage, and Wayne’s remaining estate is left to Alfred. Fox discovers that Bruce had fixed The Bat’s autopilot, and Gordon finds the Bat-Signal refurbished. While visiting Florence, Alfred witnesses Bruce and Selina together. Blake resigns from the police force and inherits the Batcave.
8. Secret World of Arrietty (8/10) Japanese Anime by Ghilbi Studio based on story of The Borrowers
A boy named Sho/Shawn tells the audience he still remembers the week in summer he spent at his mother’s childhood home with his maternal great aunt, Sadako/Jessica, and the house maid, Haru. When Sho/Shawn arrives at the house on the first day, he sees a cat, Niya/Nina, trying to attack something in the bushes but it soon gives up after it is attacked by a crow. Shawn then discovers Arrietty, a Borrower, emerging from the bushes and returning to her home through an underground air vent. Later at night, Arrietty’s father, Pod, takes Arrietty on her first “borrowing” mission above the floorboards to show her how he “borrows” sugar and tissue. After obtaining a sugar cube from the kitchen, they walk within a wall to reach a beautifully intricate dollhouse (with working electric lights and kitchen utilities) in Sho/Shawn’s bedroom, to get tissue. However, Arrietty is spotted by Sho/Shawn while retrieving a piece of tissue from a tissue box and loses the sugar cube. Sho/Shawn asks her not to leave and although Arrietty hesitates, she still leaves the room with her father.
The next day, Sho/Shawn leaves the dropped sugar cube beside the underground air vent where he first saw Arrietty. Pod warns Arrietty not to take it because their existence must be kept secret from humans, but his daughter nevertheless sneaks out to visit Sho/Shawn in his bedroom. She drops the sugar cube he left on the floor, letting him know that she is there. Without revealing herself otherwise, she tells Sho/Shawn to leave her family alone and that they do not need his help. On her return, Arrietty is intercepted by her father. Realizing they have been detected, Pod and his wife Homily decide that they must move out of the house. Sho/Shawn learns from Sadako/Jessica that some of his ancestors had seen Borrowers in the house, and had the dollhouse custom-built in the hopes that Borrowers would use it. The Borrowers had not been seen since, however, and the dollhouse stayed in Sho/Shawn’s room.
Pod returns injured from a borrowing mission and is helped home by Spiller, a Borrower boy he met on the way. He informs them that there are other places the Borrowers could move to. While Pod is recovering, Sho/Shawn removes the floorboard concealing the Borrower household and replaces their kitchen with the kitchen from the dollhouse, in hopes the Borrowers would be more accepting of his knowledge of their existence. However, the Borrowers are frightened by this and instead speed up their moving process.
After Pod recovers, he goes to explore some of the places Spiller has suggested. Arrietty goes to bid farewell to Sho/Shawn, but in the course of conversation he suggests to her that the Borrowers are becoming extinct. Realizing that he has upset his small friend, Sho/Shawn reveals he has had a heart condition since birth and will have an operation in a few days. The operation does not have a good chance of success. He believes that there is nothing he can do about it, saying that eventually every living thing dies. Arrietty convinces Sho/Shawn that he will fight for the life he has now nevertheless.
Meanwhile, Haru notices the floorboards have been disturbed. Sadako/Jessica is out and Sho/Shawn is still in the garden speaking with Arrietty. Haru unearths the Borrowers’ house and captures Homily. Alerted by her mother’s screams, Arrietty leaves Sho/Shawn in the garden and goes to investigate. Saddened by her departure, Sho/Shawn returns to his room. Haru locks him in and calls a pest removal company to capture the other Borrowers alive. With the help of Sho/Shawn, Arrietty rescues Homily. Sadako returns soon after the pest removal company’s arrival and sends them away. Haru and Sadako/Jessica discover that the Borrowers have left, and that Sho/Shawn has destroyed any trace of their presence.
The Borrowers stop for dinner during their move, and Sho/Shawn’s cat, Niya/Nina, spots Arrietty. Niya/Nina leads Sho/Shawn to Arrietty. He gives her a sugar cube, and tells her the Borrowers’ fight for survival has given him hope to live through the operation. Arrietty gives Sho/Shawn her hair clip as a token of remembrance and they go their separate ways. Arrietty, Pod, and Homily leave in a teapot with Spiller. Spiller comforts Arrietty by giving her a red berry after she joins him on the teapot’s top.
9. Beast of Southern Wild (7.5/10) Fantasy
As a relentless storm approaches a southern Louisiana bayou community called the “Bathtub” (a community cut off from the rest of the world by a levee), five-year-old Hushpuppy and her unhealthy, hot-tempered father, Wink, are optimistic about their life and their future. The children in school are being taught by Miss Bathsheba about nature and the release of prehistoric creatures called “Aurochs” from the melting ice caps. At home, Hushpuppy fends for herself while her father is missing. When he returns, they argue and Hushpuppy sets her house on fire. A chase ensues between the two, and she ends up getting slapped by Wink. When she retaliates by punching him in the chest, Wink collapses. Hushpuppy, realizing the damage she has caused, runs for help only to find her father missing when she returns.
Meanwhile, in the Arctic, the frozen Aurochs in an ice shelf start drifting into the ocean. Many of the Bathtub residents start fleeing due to the threat of the oncoming storm. Wink reappears staggering along the side of the road and finds and drags Hushpuppy home to start barricading before the storm hits the town. In an effort to make his daughter feel better Wink attempts to scare off the storm by firing a shotgun at the clouds. The next day, the two tour the devastation and connect with the surviving residents. The Bathtub residents celebrate and make plans to rebuild their community, but everything begins to die because of the salt water brought in by the storm surge. Wink hatches a plan to drain the water away by destroying the levee. A little dynamite does the trick, the water recedes but it doesn’t matter, and it brings the authorities who force the mandatory evacuation order, removing the inhabitants of the Bathtub to an emergency shelter. There, Dr. Maloney performs surgery on Wink, but it doesn’t restore Wink’s health. At the first opportunity, the evacuees storm out and escape back to their homes.
Aware of her father’s condition, Hushpuppy leaves in search of her mother. She and her friends swim to a boat which takes them to a floating bar. Hushpuppy meets a waitress who may be her mother, though the woman doesn’t recognize her. She wants to stay but the waitress tells her she can’t take care of her, although Hushpuppy whispers to her inaudibly. Hushpuppy and her friends return home, where she confronts the Aurochs freed from the ice caps and recognizes the animals as friends. As the Aurochs leave, Hushpuppy enters her home and says her last goodbyes to the dying Wink, listening to his last heartbeat. She sets his funeral pyre ablaze, standing in solidarity along with the remaining residents of the Bathtub.
10. Brave (7.5/10) Animation from Pixar Studios
In Scotland, King Fergus of Clan Dunbroch presents his young daughter Merida with a bow for her birthday. While practicing, Merida encounters a will-o’-the-wisp. Soon afterwards, Mor’du, a giant demon bear, attacks the family. Merida escapes along with her mother Queen Elinor while Fergus fights off the bear at the cost of his left leg. Years later, Merida has become a free-spirited 16-year-old and an older sister of identical triplets: Hamish, Harris and Hubert. Elinor informs her that she is to be betrothed to one of her father’s allied clans. Reminding Merida of a legend about a prince who ruined his own kingdom, Elinor warns her that failure to marry could harm Dunbroch, but Merida is dissatisfied with the arrangement.
The clans of Macintosh, MacGuffin and Dingwall arrive with their first-born sons to compete in Highland Games for Merida’s hand. Merida announces she is eligible to compete for her own hand as the first-born of Clan Dunbroch and defeats each of her suitors in an archery contest. After a falling out with Elinor, Merida runs into the forest and comes across the will-o’-the-wisps. They lead her to the hut of an elderly witch posing as a wood carver. After some bargaining, the witch agrees to give Merida a spell to change her mother in the form of a cake.
Merida returns to the castle and gives Elinor the cake, but much to the surprise of both of them, instead of changing her mind about the marriage, it transforms her into a large brown bear. Realizing she has made matters worse for herself, with the help of her brothers, Merida and Elinor return to the witch’s now deserted cottage where they discover that the spell will be permanent unless undone by the second sunrise. The witch leaves Merida a riddle, mentioning that she must “mend the bond torn by pride.” Merida and Elinor begin to reconcile their relationship while Merida observes that the spell is slowly becoming permanent, as Elinor often loses control and acts more like a wild bear. After encountering the wisps again, the two follow them to ancient ruins and encounter Mor’du, who they discover was once the prince in Elinor’s legend who received a similar spell from the witch. Merida promises her mother that she will not become a wild animal like Mor’du. She theorizes that she can reverse the spell by repairing her family tapestry since Merida had torn a hole between herself and her mother on the tapestry and their family bond.
At the castle, the clans are on the verge of war, but the princess quells their fighting. With the encouragement of her mother who, unseen by the others, uses charades to guide Merida through a speech, the princess declares that the children should be allowed to get married in their own time to whomever they choose. Merida then sneaks into the tapestry room with Elinor, who is losing control of her human self. Fergus enters the bed chamber and is attacked by Elinor until she regains human consciousness and races out of the castle in desperation. Fergus gives chase. With the help of her brothers, who have transformed into bear cubs by eating the cake, Merida rides after her father while sewing up the tapestry. The clan members and Fergus capture Elinor, but Merida intervenes just before Mor’du attacks. Just as Mor’du is about to swallow Merida whole, Elinor saves her and a menhir crashes down on Mor’du, flattening the monster and releasing the prince’s spirit.
After Merida places the tapestry over Elinor, she realizes the true meaning of the witch’s riddle and reconciles with Elinor. The queen is transformed back along with the triplets, and the family is reunited. A few days later, the clans depart for their respective lands, and Merida and Elinor ride their horses together, their bond finally restored.
In a post-credits scene, the witch’s crow asks a castle guard to sign for a delivery of wooden carvings that Merida bought simultaneously with the spell.
11. Avengers (7/10) Superhero
The Asgardian Loki encounters the Other, the leader of an extraterrestrial race known as the Chitauri. In exchange for retrieving the Tesseract,2 a powerful energy source of unknown potential, the Other promises Loki a Chitauri army with which he can subjugate the Earth. Nick Fury, director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and his lieutenant Agent Maria Hill arrive at a remote research facility during an evacuation, where physicist Dr. Erik Selvig is leading a research team experimenting on the Tesseract. Agent Phil Coulson explains that the object has begun radiating an unusual form of energy. The Tesseract suddenly activates and opens a portal, allowing Loki to reach Earth. Loki takes the Tesseract and uses his scepter to enslave Selvig and several agents, including Clint Barton, to aid him in his getaway.
In response to the attack, Fury reactivates the “Avengers Initiative”. Agent Natasha Romanoff is sent to Calcutta to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner to trace the Tesseract through its gamma radiation emissions. Coulson visits Tony Stark to have him review Selvig’s research, and Fury approaches Steve Rogers with an assignment to retrieve the Tesseract. While Barton steals iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract’s power, Loki causes a distraction in Stuttgart leading to a confrontation with Rogers, Stark, and Romanoff that ends with Loki’s surrender. While Loki is being escorted to S.H.I.E.L.D., Thor, his adoptive brother, arrives and frees him hoping to convince him to abandon his plan and return to Asgard. After a confrontation with Stark and Rogers, Thor agrees to take Loki to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s flying aircraft carrier, the Helicarrier. There Loki is imprisoned while scientists Banner and Stark attempt to locate the Tesseract.
The Avengers become divided, both over how to approach Loki and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to harness the Tesseract to develop weapons as a deterrent against hostile extra-terrestrials. As the group argues, Barton and Loki’s other possessed agents attack the Helicarrier, disabling its engines in flight and causing Banner to transform into the Hulk. Stark and Rogers try to restart the damaged engine, and Thor attempts to stop the Hulk’s rampage. Romanoff fights Barton, and knocks him unconscious, breaking Loki’s mind control. Loki escapes after killing Coulson and ejecting Thor from the airship, while the Hulk falls to the ground after attacking a S.H.I.E.L.D. fighter jet. Fury uses Coulson’s death to motivate the Avengers into working as a team. Stark and Rogers realize that simply defeating them will not be enough for Loki; he needs to overpower them publicly to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Loki uses the Tesseract, in conjunction with a device Selvig built, to open a portal above Stark Tower to the Chitauri fleet in space, launching his invasion.
The Avengers rally in defense of New York City, the portal’s location, but quickly realize they will be overwhelmed as wave after wave of Chitauri descend upon Earth. Rogers, Stark, and Thor evacuate civilians with assistance from Barton, while Banner transforms back into the Hulk and goes after Loki, eventually beating him into submission. Romanoff makes her way to the portal, where Selvig, freed of Loki’s control, reveals that Loki’s scepter can be used to close the portal. Meanwhile, Fury’s superiors attempt to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile at Manhattan. Stark intercepts the missile and takes it through the portal toward the Chitauri fleet. The missile detonates, destroying the invaders’ mothership and leaving their forces disabled on Earth. Stark’s suit runs out of power and he falls back through the portal, but the Hulk saves him from crashing to the ground. Romanoff deactivates the portal to prevent further invasion. In the aftermath, Thor returns Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard. Fury expresses confidence that the Avengers will return if and when they are needed.
In the first of two post-credits scenes, the Other confers with his master3 about the attack on Earth and humanity’s resistance; in the second, the Avengers eat in silence at a shawarma restaurant.
12. Les Miserable (7/10) Based on the historical novel of the same name by Victor Hugo
In 1815, convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released on parole by prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe) after serving a nineteen-year sentence. Valjean is driven out of every town, because of his paroled status. He is offered food and shelter by the Bishop of Digne (Colm Wilkinson), but steals his silver during the night. He is caught by the authorities, but the Bishop informs them that the silver was given as a gift, then gives him even more, securing Valjean’s release. Moved by the Bishop’s grace, Valjean breaks his parole, vowing to start an honest life helping others under a new identity. Javert swears he will bring the escaped convict to justice.
Eight years later, Valjean has become a factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Fantine (Anne Hathaway), one of his workers, is discovered to be sending money to her illegitimate daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen), who lives with the unscrupulous Thénardiers (Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen) and their daughter Éponine (Natalya Angel Wallace), and is dismissed by the foreman. In a desperate attempt to support her daughter, Fantine becomes a prostitute. She is arrested by Javert after she attacks an abusive man, but is saved by Valjean, who has her hospitalised. Later, Valjean learns that a man believed to be him has been arrested. Unable to accept that an innocent man is condemned, Valjean reveals his identity to the court before departing for the hospital. There he promises a dying Fantine that he will look after her daughter. After a brief confrontation with Javert, Valjean finds Cosette and pays the Thénardiers to allow him to take her, and promises to be like a father to her.
Nine years later, Jean Maximilien Lamarque, the only government official sympathetic toward the poor, is nearing death. Students Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne) and Enjolras (Aaron Tveit), together with street urchin Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone), discuss revolution. Marius later catches a glimpse of Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), now a young woman, and instantly falls in love with her. Meanwhile, despite Cosette’s questioning, Valjean refuses to tell her about his past or her mother.
At a café, Enjolras organises a group of idealistic students as Lamarque’s death is announced. Meanwhile, Éponine (Samantha Barks), Marius’s friend, leads him to Cosette, where the two profess their love for one another. Lamenting that her secret love for Marius will never be reciprocated, Éponine fatalistically decides to join the revolution. When a gang led by Thenardier attempts to capture Valjean for ransom from Javert, Éponine screams to warn Valjean and Cosette; Valjean decides to flee despite Cosette’s desire for Marius. As they leave, Enjolras rallies the Parisians to revolt, and Marius sends a farewell letter to Cosette. The next day, the students interrupt Lamarque’s funeral procession and begin their revolt. Javert poses as a rebel in order to spy on them, but is quickly exposed by Gavroche and captured. During the ensuing gunfight, Éponine saves Marius at the cost of her own life, professing her love to him before she dies in his arms. Valjean, intercepting the letter from Marius to Cosette, goes to the barricade to protect Marius. After saving Enjolras from snipers, he is allowed to execute Javert. However, when the two are alone, Valjean frees Javert, telling him to run.
With the Parisians not joining the revolution as the students expected, they resolve to fight to the death. Everyone is killed but Marius, who is saved when Valjean drags his unconscious body into the sewers. Thénardier, scavenging the dead bodies, steals Marius’s ring. Valjean recovers and escapes the sewers carrying Marius, but is confronted at the exit by Javert. Javert threatens to shoot Valjean if he refuses to surrender, but Valjean ignores him. Unable to reconcile the conflict between his civil and moral duties, two things which he always considered the same, Javert commits suicide by plunging himself into the Seine.
Later, Marius mourns for his friends but Cosette comforts him. Revealing his past to Marius, Valjean tells him he must leave because his presence endangers Cosette, and makes Marius promise never to tell her. Marius and Cosette marry; the Thénardiers crash the reception and testify that they saw Valjean carrying a murdered corpse through the sewers. Thénardier unwittingly shows Marius the ring that he stole from him as “proof.” Recognising the ring, Marius realises that it was Valjean who saved his life. Being told Valjean’s location by Thénardier, Marius and Cosette depart to find him.
As Valjean sits dying in a local convent, he perceives the spirit of Fantine appearing to take him to Heaven. Cosette and Marius rush in to bid farewell. Valjean hands Cosette his confession of his past life, and joins the spirits of Fantine, the Bishop, Enjolras, Éponine, Gavroche, and the other rebels at the barricade.
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