Tag Archives: John Hawkes

[Oscars 2013] – Predicting The Nominations

9 Jan

An actual Oscar statuette to be presented during the 79th Annual Academy Awards sits in a display case in Hollywood

I still have a few 2013 releases to catch up with, and I though I wanted to make my Oscar nominations predictions post having seen all of them, the nods are due early tomorrow morning so I’ll have to post them now.

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[Review] – The Sessions

31 Oct

Title: The Sessions
Year: 2012
Director: Ben Lewin
Writer: Ben Lewin
Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
MPAA Rating: R, strong sexuality including graphic nudity and frank dialogue
Runtime: 95 min
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Metacritic: 80

The film that came out of this year’s Sundance with the most buzz, being rivaled only by Beasts of the Southern Wild, was Ben Lewin‘s The Sessions, which was back then called The Surrogate. There it won the Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting, was acquired for a huge $6 million by Fox Searchlight and has just now been released so that it can campaign it for some awards glory, and at the very least some really neat nominations are sure to come its way.

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[Trailer] – Lincoln

13 Sep

Finally, here it is, feast your eyes upon it, the first full trailer for Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln has just been released, and you can watch it below.

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[Trailer] – The Sessions

28 Jun

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival a film called The Surrogate got some really great buzz, and Oscar talk surrounding the lead performance from John Hawkes. The film then changed its name to Six Sessions, and now it’s just The Sessions, and a trailer has just been released, which you can watch after the cut.

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Best of 2011: 20 Supporting Actors

6 Feb

A whole month after 2011 ended I have wrapped up my yearly rankings, having seen 256 films released in 2011, granting 13 perfect A+ scores and a really superb 76 scores in the A range. To remember the year that was I thought I should start a feature that will hopefully become a yearly thing for me and do a few Best of 2011 posts, choosing my Top 20 films, directing efforts, screenplays, and performances (separated by lead male, lead female, supporting male and supporting female) and doing a post honoring them with a brief paragraph explaining what made each of those 20 options so remarkable and memorable and thus made 2011 a great year for films. For the fifth entry in the series of posts we have my Top 20 Performances by Supporting Actors of 2011:

20. GEORGE CLOONEY as Governor Mike Morris in The Ides of March

The Ides of March has been widely represented in my rankings (18th Film, 18th Screenplay, 13th Director, 13th Supporting Actress) and now George Clooney, after also getting mentions for his film, screenplay and directing, gets a shout-out for his performance as Governor Mike Morris, the idealistic and eco-friendly candidate of the political campaign at the center of the film. Mr. Clooney’s performance is great, because he knows what to do and don’t do with the role, and he’s just great at sparring with the rest of the insanely talented ensemble this film counts with, just having so many great actors around to play with is enough to make any performance be much better.

19. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy so far has been my #9 Film, #10 Director and #8 Screenplay, and in all three of those mentions I’ve said it was probably the smartest film of all 2011. I could have really chosen some other actors from this film, like Tom Hardy or Colin Firth, but I went with Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of BBC’s Sherlock who’s headed for great things, the stuff he does here with the role of Peter Guillam, the one agent at Circus the Gary Oldman’s Smiley can trust in, is just wonderful, bringing a lot of presence and magnetism to the screen.

18. ZACHARY QUINTO as Peter Sullivan in Margin Call

After making my Screenplay rankings (at #9) Margin Call gets a nod in this ranking because its whole ensemble is just supremely talented and brings a lot to the table. Zachary Quinto, best known for his role in Heroes and as Spock in the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek, is Peter Sullivan here, a young analyst at a financial services firm that gets given a USB drive with data that anticipates the financial meltdown and kicks off the whole film. I think Quinto is a damn fine actor, and in a cast full of really great actors and performances, he managed to stand out because of what he brought to Peter.

17. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN as Paul Zara in The Ides of March

Another mention for one of the Ides men, and you just know that Philip Seymour Hoffman in a politically-charged film surrounded with great actors would just throw it out of the park. And that’s exactly what he does in this film, especially since the source material was a stage play, and parts of the screenplay behave like a play as well, which means you have Mr. Hoffman as Paul Zara, the veteran campaign manager for Mr. Clooney’s character, delivering some lines that sound just like monologues taken right from the stage, and you can’t ask for much more than that, this whole film is a terrific showcase for actors.

16. VIGGO MORTENSEN as Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method

Viggo Mortensen is a hugely talented actor, we know that by now, and in David Cronenberg’s latest he goes against type to play Sigmund Freud. I say it’s going against type because when we think of him as Aragorn or fighting Russian mobsters while naked in a steam room, in here he’s engaging in really intellectual conversations and puffing cigars while portraying the father of psychoanalysis. I thought this unexpected casting really paid off though, with Mortensen bringing a charm and a humor to him, looking older and more refined than what he usually looks like in film; just great.

15. SETH ROGEN as Kyle in 50/50

My 19th Film, 6th Screenplay and 10th Supporting Actress performance (Anna Kednrick). Now Seth Rogen gets in this ranking thanks to a performance by him that saw him take quite a lot from his personal life: His best friend Will Reiser was diagnosed with cancer and he was with him every step of the way, he then wrote a script about his experience and Mr. Rogen stars as the character inspired by him. This is a career-best performance by Seth Rogen, the best performance he’s ever given by a clear mile, and the chemistry he has with Jonathan Gordon-Levitt is amazing, their rapport awesomely helping the film achieve the balance between funny and serious.

14. JOHN C. REILLY as Mr. Fitzgerald in Terri

John C. Reilly is one of the most incredibly versatile actors working today, and in Terri he’s working alongside Jacob Wysocki, a terrific new star, and the scenes they share with each other are a thing of awe, scenes that actually require some real communication between two characters, something easier said than done in today’s films. Mr. Reilly has nailed down this very unique brand of sad comedy in a way, and he uses that to perfection here to represent a huge range of emotion in his character.

13. ALAN RICKMAN as Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

My 13th favorite film of the year, and a performance that for a while fanboys like me were trying to campaign all the way to an Oscar nomination, to finally get the most profitable film franchise of all-time an Oscar nomination outside of the technical categories. That campaign may have failed, but after seven films in which his character was just shrouded in mystery and secrecy, that veil is finally lifted in this conclusion, Snape’s real agenda revealed, and that meant we got some moments of spectacular emotion from him, and Alan Rickman just nails every last one of them, getting us teary-eyed in a film that did just that more than once for me.

12. EZRA MILLER as Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin

There’s something about Ezra Miller’s performance here that is just simply chilling to watch as the demonic spawn, as the horrible son to Tilda Swinton’s Eva, as the kid that goes on to commit a horrible shooting spree at his school. What the young Mr. Miller brings to the table is terrific, getting to the deepest of layers of Kevin and just portraying this antagonistic relationship with his mother, going toe-to-toe with Ms. Swinton, that’s amazing to watch for all its intensity. This guy is headed for some really great things.

11. KENNETH BRANAGH as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn

Kenneth Branagh was pretty much born to play Sir Laurence Olivier. You get the sense that the guy had been preparing for this role his whole life, and the little details he brings to his impersonation of him show that he indeed probably spent quite a lot of time studying the acting great. It’s obviously never easy stepping into the shoes of such an icon, but Mr. Branagh manages to show the more human and vulnerable side of him, doing it in a way that’s both funny and heartbreaking, holding your attention every second he’s on screen and just going at it with the insuperable Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe.

10. JEREMY IRONS as John Tuld in Margin Call

The second member of the terrific Margin Call ensemble in my rankings. And it’s Jeremy Irons, a great actor who hadn’t really been this good in quite some time, he gives such an overpowering performance that just eats up whoever else is on-screen with him as he plays John Tuld, the C.E.O. of the financial firm that’s headed for the crapper. You need a guy as experienced as Mr. Irons to play a guy like him, carrying himself with a coolness under dire straits, calmly assessing what he has to do in order to survive; and he’ll do anything. Just a brilliant performance.

9. NICK NOLTE as Paddy Conlon in Warrior

The main beef people are having with Nick Nolte’s performance in Warrior, which got him an Oscar nomination, is that it’s a typical Nick Nolte performance that he could do in his sleep by this point in a career that spans nearly four decades. But, so what? It’s also an undeniably great performance, and one that, alongside his role in HBO’s new TV show, Luck, seems to be injecting new blood into that career that seemed to be slowly and quietly dying. It’s a role that he could rock, for sure, his gravelly voice adding a lot to a man who’s broken; you just know that Mr. Nolte took a lot from his own life experience to portray the guilt that consumes Paddy, battling an old alcoholic past he can’t turn to now to find solace.

8. JOHN HAWKES as Patrick in Martha Marcy May Marlene

From my #10 Film with my #14 Director and #13 Screenplay of the year, comes the supporting turn by the great John Hawkes also making a ranking of mine. After finally breaking out big with his Oscar-nominated turn in Winter’s Bone, here he gives yet another chilling performance as Patrick, the leader of a cult in upstate New York. He brings a lot to this role, just his eyes give this role a magnetism it needed, because you can see how this character is someone that you could grow to love and trust, how he’d seduce you into following him and joining his cult, Mr. Hawkes is such a tremendous actor that you believe him of being, both emotionally and intellectually, able to carry of such a psychological manipulation.

7. ANDY SERKIS as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Yes, that’s right, I’m firmly in the Andy Serkis bandwagon. People were trying a lot to campaign him to an Oscar nod for his role in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with the one catch being that Mr. Serkis doesn’t actually appear in the flesh in the entire film. Instead, he gives a motion-capture performance, showing how amazing the technology he helped pioneer in The Lord of the Rings movies and King Kong can really be. And this is acting no matter what purists may say, his performance as Caesar steals the show from every human actor here, how he plays out the evolution of Caesar, from a small chimp to an ape that leads a revolution against humans, is amazing, and how convincing and moving his facial expressions and movements can be is a wonder to behold. Welcome to the future.

6. COREY STOLL as Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris

Another film with mentions in all my rankings so far (#14 Film, #8 Director, #9 Supporting Actress and #1 Screenplay) and the performance by Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway is just sheer genius, it’s just an insanely memorable and effective performance from Mr. Stoll as the literary legend. Woody Allen obviously did an amazing job at bringing to life lots of legendary icons, but Hemingway stands out, speaking just like he writes and acted by Mr. Stoll with an unbelievable intensity. Just take a look at the scene in which he explains to Gil why he won’t read his manuscript and try not to be in love by this role and this performance.

5. BEN KINGSLEY as Georges Méliès in Hugo

Another film making it into all of my rankings (#1 Film, #1 Director, #11 Supporting Actress and #11 Screenplay). The performance by Ben Kingsley really should have gotten him an Oscar nomination, as Méliès he brings to life a legend of film history, now as a grumpy old man, pretty much broke, running a toy shop at a Paris train station, under the impression that all of the brilliant work he left behind to the world has been forgotten with him. This whole film is bursting through the seams with passion and love by Martin Scorsese, and the job Mr. Kingsley does is spectacular, there some scenes in which he’s just heartbreakingly good.

4. JONAH HILL as Peter Brand in Moneyball

Yes, the words “Academy Award nominee” now go before the name of Jonah Hill, and it’s actually a deserved recognition. His performance in Moneyball (my #7 Film, #9 Director and #4 Screenplay) is just outstanding, kind of groundbreaking inasmuch as that he has never done anything even remotely like this before, and he shows he really does have some dramatic chops in him as Peter Brand, the numbers guy brought in to help save the Oakland A’s. Going toe-to-toe with Brad Pitt and creating some really awesome chemistry between the two of them to make for a masterful film. I really didn’t know Mr. Hill had this in him.

3. PATTON OSWALT as Matt Freehauf in Young Adult

The only good thing about Patton Oswalt having been stupidly snubbed out of an Oscar nomination is the made-up story he started telling on Twitter about him and the other snub-ees forming a club and partying. Because honestly, he really deserved a nomination for his role in Young Adult (my #12 Film, #15 Director and #3 Screenplay) as Matt Freehauf the old classmate of Charlize Theron’s Mavis Gary whom she unexpectedly strikes up a connection with. Considering our lead character is a pretty unlikable woman, the film actually depends on Mr. Oswalt quite a bit because we as an audience need some we can sympathize to and relate to, and he just nails every single frame he’s in.

2. CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER as Hal Fields in Beginners

Christopher Plummer is an absolute lock to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar unless Max von Sydow stupidly manages to deny him of his long overdue right to call himself an Academy Award winner. His work on Beginners (also appearing on my rankings as my #15 Supporting Actress and #5 Screenplay) is just a sheer joy to watch, as an old man who, after the death of his wife, comes out of the closet and decides to live the twilight of his life as an active gay man. The bond that forms between him and his son (played by Ewan McGregor) during this stage of his life is amazing, and just how carefully Mr. Plummer crafts this role is amazing, bring a lot of presence to the screen and stealing every scene he’s in with his charm and iconic voice.

1. ALBERT BROOKS as Bernie Rose in Drive

Another film that’s been in all my rankings so far (#4 Film, #2 Director, #6 Supporting Actress and #16 Screenplay), and this time it gets a #1 nod for one of the most horrible and unforgivable Oscar snubs in recent memory. He plays a role that’s unlike anything you’d imagine from him, a bad guy in a movie full of them, but he gives Bernie Rose this sense of charisma and empathy that really gets you to be enthralled by this guy who you know means no good. This is an absolutely perfect performance, I really mean that, and I’m still mad about him not getting an Oscar nod.

Those are my Top 20 performances by actors in supporting roles. 4 of the Oscar nominees made it into my rankings (Max von Sydow was the one that didn’t), but were I to ran the actual Oscars only Plummer and Hill would’ve gotten nominations. Hopefully Plummer will continue his road to the golden man with as much as ease as he’s had in the precursor awards, which should be especially easy now that he (somehow, stupidly) doesn’t have to contend against Brooks.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

27 Nov

Title: Martha Marcy May Marlene
Year: 2011
Director: Sean Durkin
Writer: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy
MPAA Rating: R, disturbing violent and sexual content, nudity and language
Runtime: 102 min
Major Awards: –
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

 

Expectations were running incredibly high for me going into Martha Marcy May Marlene, the buzz surrounding it, and especially the lead debut performance by Elizabeth Olsen (Mary-Kate and Ashley’s younger sister) were seriously superb, and the supporting cast included actors I really love like Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes, the latter of which seems to be really hitting a stride after his impeccable performance in last year’s masterful Winter’s Bone (which I gave an A+ to). So I went into it really expecting to be impressed by this film by first time feature writer-director Sean Durkin, and I left it feeling thoroughly satisfied with what I had just seen, this is a tremendous film, a really gripping psychological drama that creates this terrifically haunting atmosphere and is grounded by a pitch-perfect performance by the young Ms. Olsen, who should seriously be in contention for an Oscar nomination.

If you don’t know a thing about this movie you may be wondering about the riddle-like title of it, and what exactly does it mean. Let me explain it to you, Martha is Ms. Olsen’s character real name, Marcy May is the name given to her be the leader of the cult she’s in, and Marlene is the name the women in this cult use to answer the phone. Yes, this is a movie about a cult, one that’s located in a white farmhouse in upstate New York and, in case you were wondering, Mr. Hawkes is the one in charge of playing Patrick, the leader of the cult who gives Martha her new name and who controls the group of people living under him, most of whom are obviously women.

There’s something about Mr. Hawkes’ perfomance as Patrick that’s just incredible to watch. This guy is an actor I really like, and the stuff he brings to this role is just so exquisite to watch come to life, he plays Patrick perfectly, creating a man that you can very possibly see how he could get you to trust in him, to love him and then, finally, to subconsciously relent all your decisions to his will the way all cult leaders do. It’s a chilling performance that only an actor as great as Mr. Hawkes could have pulled off, those early scenes in which he gets acquainted with Martha are tremendous, he’s seductive almost, making himself and his community incredibly appealing to a girl in need of a father figure and a place to call home, he’s an incredibly magnetic actor, and he totally sells you on Patrick, making you believe that he’s a man both intellectually and emotionally capable of such extreme psychological manipulation. The scene in which he sings “Marcy’s Song”, a folk tune by Jackson Frank, will send chills down your spine, because under all the sweetness that’s apparently in the song you will see the glimmer of a quietly confident man in full brainwashing mode, and if you’ve seen Winter’s Bone then you know the effect Mr. Hawkes’ eyes can have.

That scene though early in Martha’s story is one we get some time into the film, in one of the many flashbacks used by Mr. Durkin to little by little shine a light on why Martha is such a damaged girl. Instead, when the film opens we see her running away from the cult and calling her married older sister, Lucy, the character played by Ms. Paulson, who comes to pick her up and take her to the lake house she shares with her husband, a British architect named Ted who’s played by Hugh Dancy.

Their relationship is clearly strained, when Martha calls Lucy you see in her eyes and voice that she wasn’t necessarily happy to be calling her sister after living in a cult, but instead it was a call made out of necessity, because family is kind of obliged to take you in. And while Lucy certainly seems to care for her sister, you do get to see a distance between the two, and she clearly can’t really see how damaged her younger sister appears to be. Because damaged is a good word to describe Martha’s state of mind, one that’s not only having a hard time restarting a normal life that isn’t dictated by Patrick’s rules but that’s also flooded by a paranoia that they’ll find her and take her back. She’s struggling to shed away the imposed personality of Marcy May and find Martha again.

I thought it was a very smart move by Mr. Durkin to present us with this time-shifting narrative, moving along at a free pace between the two years Martha spent in the cult and the present as she’s trying to get back her life with Lucy and Ted. It was a smart move because it creates a sense of confusion in our minds as viewers, and the structure of how the story evolves gradually makes us join in Martha’s paranoia that the cult might resurface to take her back. And to see the two timelines at the same time also enables us to feel how the two are probably mixed up in Martha’s own mind, she knows that she’s out of the cult but the teachings of Patrick and the cult will stay with her for quite some time, he made sure of that by ripping her of her identity from the moment she set foot on his compound, by establishing himself as a ruler in her mind.

It’s truly commendable how Mr. Durkin shows us the world of the cult, he basically acts as Patrick in a way, easing us into that new reality little by little. First he shows us the good things, working on the farm and caring for the community’s infants, and once we’re engaged with the story he shows us the more shocking aspects of the world ran by Patrick, one in which all women have to sleep with him and, perhaps most frighteningly, are under the impression that it’s their desire to do so, when we knows its clear that Patrick has already robbed them of their own free will without them even knowing so. All of this is shown with such masterful pacing that we don’t really feel the grip of the movie tightening until we start sharing Martha’s paranoia and fears and sympathize with her case, knowing both how hard it must be to leave the cult once that she’s so deep in it, and how hard it must be readjusting to normal life, especially considering Ted and Lucy aren’t really the most helpful when it comes to realizing how deeply disturbed she is psychologically.

A lot of the credit for this working as outstandingly as it did has to go to Ms. Olsen. This is probably one of my favorite female lead performances of the year so far, if not my absolute favorite, she’s just so, so good here. She’s pretty much playing three roles, after all, because the three names represent three women who all behave in different ways, and she’s impeccable as each one of them, making you believe all three personalities. The fact that such a young actress was given such a wide range of emotions to play in her first leading performance and that she nailed them like she did speaks volumes about her power as an actress, about her presence, there’s just something so deep and vulnerable about her, not to mention she’s breathtakingly beautiful, that I think it’s imminent that she becomes one of the very best actresses around. This is a remarkable film, one of the year’s best and that’s certainly introduced us to one of the brightest young stars we have today.

Grade: A+

Contagion

8 Oct

Title: Contagion
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: 
Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle, Demetri Martin, Elliott Gould, John Hawkes
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, disturbing content and some language
Runtime: 
106 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 
84%

 

A lot has been made of Steven Soderbergh’s impending retirement, it seems like it’s never coming considering the guy has like five more films in various stages of development, but when he really does release his final film ever, which is set to be Liberace with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, he will be a director I will truly miss seeing new work from, and watching his latest, Contagion, that became all the more apparent to me. What’s so amazing about Mr. Soderbergh is his versatility in the topics he tackles in his films and the scope of them, he obviously rose to prominence thanks to his stunning debut Sex, Lies, and Videotape and from then he’s managed to produce big Hollywood films with huge casts (Traffic, the Ocean’s trilogy) as well as more artistically ambitious films (like his four-hour Che epic, or The Girlfriend Experience in which he cast pornstar Sasha Grey as his lead). And he’s made them all to varied to degrees to success, that’s true, but for the most part they are really amazing films and, more importantly, you never feel like this guy is compromising, even the Ocean’s films, which could be seen by many as a money-making move, are actually tremendously fun movies and, at the very least, you get the sense that Mr. Soderbergh and his amazing cast were just having the time of their lives making them.

But back to Contagion, the film at hand and his fifth-to-last film ever if his current retirement plans hold (he still has the already-completed Haywire, the currently-filming Magic Mike, a feature version of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the aforementioned Liberace), this is another film that sees Mr. Soderbergh handle a huge cast full of seriously huge movie stars (you have 4 Oscar-winners here and another 4 who have been nominees) and he gets performances out of every single member of this huge cast that only a director as experienced as he can get. Seriously, this is a really well-acted film that’s just super tense and has a really neatly-written plot, a plot that’s about a deadly virus spreading, but one that handles the subject in such a smart way, insofar as that it takes a factual sort of explanation to it, that it really gets to be all the scarier because of that.

Because really that’s what makes Contagion so infinitely compelling, the fact that everything it says about this virus seems to be backed up by an logical explanation, or at least one that sounds logical. I’ve heard the film being described as science-fact instead of science-fiction, a kudos to the fact that they apparently worked with very smart scientists to create a virus that, while fictional, could very well be a real thing. And that’s what makes Contagion so scary, that’s why if you maybe go to a bar after seeing this one you will keep away as possible from the peanut bowl, especially because it’s precisely a peanut bowl that Mr. Soderbergh chooses to linger over after a sick-looking Gwyneth Paltrow grabs a few while waiting at the airport, he lets you know that the next person to go for a peanut will get a bit more than that.

This is the smartest disaster movie you’ll get to see this year, or maybe even ever now that I think about it, and it’s really a disaster movie from the very get-go which makes it all the better, Mr. Soderbergh wastes no precious time on expository scenes before that, you hear a cough as soon as the movie starts and then you’ll get a look at Ms. Paltrow, patient zero of this horrible new virus, showing the deadly signs of the disease. That’s the sort of movie this is, one that’s just incredibly fast-paced, you get little shots of people coming into contact with one another, potentially passing off something, you get all these very different cities accompanied by the number of people living in them, the number of candidates for contagion, it’s just really masterfully done, Mr. Soderbergh tightening the screws as much as he can to emphasize the tension here, it’s sharp and intelligent filmmaking at its best.

It shows that this is a director that has handled serious stuff with pure entertainment in the past in films like Traffic or Erin Brockovich, because he gives us a really terrific look at how government and society would handle such a huge pandemic but he mixes it so well with a purely entertaining and tense thriller that you never feel like this is too dense. Not to mention that, again, the talent assembled in front of the camera is just as amazing, with a who’s-who of Hollywood stars handling all of the ensemble roles. They don’t really get that much of a shot to really stretch into their characters, as they don’t get much time on screen because there are so many of them, but still, if you have Kate Winslet setting up the quarantine zones or Matt Damon as the husband of patient zero or Marion Cotillard trying to identify the source of the virus then you’re bound to see them do great things with these roles even in limited time, and indeed, they achieve some first-class emotional connection in very precious and small time.

Contagion is just a truly amazing film, Mr. Soderbergh finds a way to really make us feel scared and anxious and emotionally connected to characters that he actually keeps at arm’s-length for most of the film, and he uses this virus as a metaphor for so many things from greedy corporations to personal human relations, it’s just a wonder to watch him to do his thing here. A part of me wanted more depth to the characters to get to see these actors do wonders with them (or in the case of the blogger played by Jude Law, to make him not look like a thinly-drawn caricature of a more complex role), I don’t know, I guess I just wanted to see what Mr. Soderbergh could have done with an extra twenty-five minutes or so. But nevermind me nitpicking, this is still an incredible film, you will leave the theater afraid, that’s for sure, afraid about getting sick, afraid about how seemingly unprepared we as a civilization are if something like this happens, and afraid at only having four more films from this genius to look forward to.

Grade: A-