Of Statues and Spies

event9852Yeah, dammit, Oscar showed no love to Stories We Tell. I take solace in the thought that the Documentary Feature category was strong enough that five other worthy films made the cut, including Joshua Oppenheim’s exceptional The Act of Killing — and that the Academy showed good sense in a few other categories, refusing to shower pap like Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Saving Mr. Banks with awards.

Still, they could have shown a little love to Inside Llewyn Davis. I mean, Cinematography and Sound Mixing are nice and all, but what about Picture, Actor, Director(s), Original Screenplay and maybe Film Editing? It’s bad enough that the magnificent “Please, Mr. Kennedy” wasn’t submitted in the Original Song category.

But life goes on and more movies emerge … so let’s get to those, shall we?

Arctic Defenders: John Walker’s documentary explores a little-known corner of Canadian history — well, little-known unless you live in Nunavut.

Big Bad Wolves: The guys who made the surprisingly solid Israeli horror picture Rabies return with a far less impressive thriller about a grieving father, an obsessed detective and a suspected child murderer who all end up in the same murder basement. Guess what happens next.

The Invisible Woman: Bumped from release last week, Ralph Fiennes’ incisive biopic follows the tension between Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan, who would become the author’s mistress. Fiennes and Felicity Jones are terrific together, and I’m kind of disappointed that Joanna Scanlan — who’s positively electric as Dickens’ fuming, powerless wife – – didn’t edge her way into yesterday’s Supporting Actress nominations.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: Paramount’s fifth kick at Tom Clancy’s can is the third origin story of the unassuming CIA analyst who finds himself thrust into the heart of high-stakes espionage, and … eh, it’s fine. Kenneth Branagh goes a bit overboard on the scenery-chewing, though.

The Nut Job: I get the feeling Phil would rather claw his eyes out than sit through the CG family adventure again. But at least Sarah Gadon got paid for her time.

Ride Along: Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are unlikely partners in this buddy-copy comedy about … wait, seriously, Ice Cube? The guy who sang “Fuck Tha Police”? Yeah, I’m as confused as Rad is.

The Square: Jehane Noujiam’s study of the Tahrir Square protests that reshaped Egypt’s political structure — or seemed to at the time, anyway — was one of the breakout films at TIFF last year. Now it’s up for an Oscar as Best Documentary Feature, and opening in Toronto. Susan thinks you should see it; so do I.

Stranger By the Lake: Alain Guiraudie’s moody, intensely homoerotic murder mystery (or is it? No, it totally is) has been picking up acclaim on the festival circuit for the better part of a year; now Toronto audiences who missed it at TIFF can catch up to it at the Lightbox. You know, if that’s the kind of thing they’re into.

Et voila! That’s everything! Go have fun while I bounce around Manhattan for a few days.

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