October is upon us and awards season will begin its stride. However, there aren’t enough Oscar worthy films this month to excite us. However, October will provide us with one gem, one which will probably go down as the Best Picture of 2012 – “Argo” by director Ben Affleck (yes, the guy from Gigli). Also, we cannot forget it is Halloween month, a month where Hollywood exhibits its slew of cheesy but fun horror films. Movies like “Friday the 13th,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Halloween” are no longer a part of the October lineup, but instead, we are being introduced to intriguing new indie fright efforts from new directors and writers. Here, we select what we think are the best of the bunch (and we’re not including Paranormal Activity 4).
6. The House I Live In (Documentary, October 5th, No Rating)
Plot: From the dealer to the narcotics officer, the inmate to the federal judge, a penetrating look inside America’s criminal justice system, revealing the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy.
Why you should see it: With a US presidential election coming up in November, if you are at all interested in your social landscape, the new doc ‘ The House I Live In’ (I keep on thinking of the Frank Sinatra song and ten minute short he won an Academy Award for back in 1946) is a must see movie that analyzes our government’s status on the war on drugs. No other documentary has targeted the topic on the business of the US drug more than this film. It’s insightful yet discouraging. What you think you know is nothing compared to the reality of it.
5. Frankenweenie (Comedy, Animation, Horror, Sci-Fi, October 5th, Rated PG)
Plot: Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.
Why you should see it: Tim Burton hasn’t really been at the top of his game since “Big Fish” in 2003. Great creative minds usually got through a slump that sometimes can last a decade or even more. But now, Burton seems to be waking up from his with his new animated 3D movie “Frankenweenie”. Riffing off the classic tale of Frankenstein, this is a story he’s been devising ever since he was a kid. The result today is everything that made you remember why Burton was one of the more respected directors of our generation. He desaturates all color from this film to concentrate and tackle the deep emotions a child goes through with friendship, death and moral responsibility. To say “Frankenweenie” isn’t his best work in years would be a flat out lie. The animation is crisp and razor sharp and the 3D is crystal clear. When you think about a perfect Halloween film for kids, not too scary and with a great message, you will from now on think of Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie”. An Oscar nomination in the Best Animation category is guaranteed.
4. The Sessions (Drama, October 19th, Rated R)
Plot: A man in an iron lung (John Hawkes) who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) with the help of his therapist and priest (William H. Macy).
Why you should see it: When it comes to indies, it’s hard to find a better actor than John Hawkes. He is by far one of the more underrated actors in Hollywood. Every time he has appeared on screen, whether it’d be on television or film, he has left an indelible mark on many who have seen him perform. The most memorable is perhaps his performance in “Winter’s Bone” where his face became almost synonymous with that of American rural poverty. This time he exercises his versatility to play someone completely different – a clean cut invalid looking to lose his virginity with a surrogate. Many are calling this true story crazy, but many are also applauding it’s honest and genuinely touching journey without the saccharine. Fantastic spirited performances also accompany the film that only enhance the quirky yet poignant narrative to a crowd pleasing result.
3. V/H/S (Horror, October 5th, Rated R)
Plot: When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.
Why you should see it: Found footage horror films have become all the rage since “The Blair Witch Project” premiered in 1999 at the hands of Hispanic director Eduardo Sánchez. “ V/H/S” might be one of the best ones on a Top 10 list. The first sequence is so tough to get through, many are said to have almost walked out. With its creepy, archaic VHS quality visual and style, 10 directors make 10 vignettes that are sure to make you not only pee in your Levi jeans, but arguably, hurl onto someone’s head in front of you. Now that’s horrific!
2. Sinister (Crime, Thriller, Horror, Rated R, October 12th)
Plot: Found footage helps a true-crime novelist (Ethan Hawke) realize how and why a family was murdered in his new home, though his discoveries put his entire family in the evil path of a supernatural entity.
Why you should see it: This is hands down the horror film we’ve all been waiting to see this year! Ethan Hawke has been making some good films as of late (Daybreakers, Brooklyn’s Finest, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) and this one looks like no exception. The cinematic quality and the effective “sinister” construction of the harsh suspense will leave many who see it unsettled after they walk out of the theatre. The differentiating factor of this horrible nightmare experience compared to many other terror movies is that it develops its main character well, thus, creating a story that not only sucks you in, but truly scares you from the very first shot. Get ready to cry, scream and be utterly frightened!
1. Argo (Drama, Thriller, Rated R, October 12th)
Plot: As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA ‘exfiltration’ specialist (Ben Affleck) concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador.
Why you should see it: After ‘The Master’ and ‘The Life of Pi’ premiered in festivals to lukewarm receptions, the political thriller ‘Argo’ is the one film looked upon to salvage the 2012 year as its Best Picture. With humor, drama, action and magnificent performances, actor/director Ben Affleck has fine tuned his directorial craft to create a sharp, astutely enjoyable cinematic experience that goes down as his best work yet and arguably unrivaled this year. This well-rounded film exceeds expectations on almost every level and even leaves you fully entertained. The Oscar will no doubt nominate this film for various awards and will be no surprise if it wins Best Picture and Best Director for Ben Affleck.