Critic’s Corner: Winter Movie Round-Up

The winter season is oftentimes the best season for film—the Oscars are near and cold temperatures are driving people into warm movie theaters on lazy Sundays. Below are nine of the most intriguing films of the season or, at least, nine films I think are intriguing.

Out of the Furnace

Directed by “Crazy Heart’s” Scott Cooper, “Out of the Furnace” follows steel mill worker Russell Baze (Christian Bale) as he is lured into a crime ring. When his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) goes missing, Russell seeks justice.

The cast of the film is quite promising with Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson and Forest Whitaker taking on supporting roles.

American Hustle

So I know I’ve mentioned this movie before, but it’s just because I’m so excited. Jennifer Lawrence. David O. Russell. Bradley Cooper. The 70s. Ah, I can’t. I won’t summarize it again here, but, seriously, watch this trailer. Just watch it.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Anything with Kristen Wiig in it is worth watching in my book. Both she and Ben Stiller take on quasi-serious roles in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” about a man who escapes his passive life by dreaming of fantastic adventures that render him a hero. When his job is threatened, he sets off on a journey around the world and, for the first time, finds his fantasies colliding with reality.

Stiller is also directing the film, which bodes well—he directed the acclaimed “Tropic Thunder” in 2008 as well as cult classic “Zoolander.” If the trailer proves anything, it is that the film is beautifully shot and its design is quite imaginative— “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” should be a real feast for the eyes.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” loosely follows the true story of Jordan Belfont, a New York stockbroker who met his demise in a whirlwind of corruption and fraud. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Belfont and is likely to give an impressive performance, especially under Scorsese’s practiced hands. With films like “The Departed” and “Shutter Island” under their belts, it’s clear the two men make a dynamic duo. Maybe this sleazy role will finally earn DiCaprio the Oscar he deserves—the man’s touch turns whole movies into gold.


In “Her,” lonely writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his advanced operating system called Samantha—Siri, anyone? The film is likely to touch an interesting nerve concerned with rapidly evolving technology and how people relate to each other in light of it.

“Her” is Spike Jonze’s first feature since 2009’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” which, although stunning, received only mild praise. Jonze, also the director of “Being John Malkovich,” is arguably one of today’s most unique and offbeat directors and it will be interesting to see what he can do with this man/robot love story, especially given the film’s wonderful cast—Rooney Mara, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson play (or voice) the three significant women in Theodore’s life.

Le Passé (The Past)

From Iranian director Asgar Farhadi comes “Le Passé” (The Past) about a French woman who begins a new romantic relationship after her Iranian husband leaves her and their two children to return to his home country.

Farhadi made a splash in 2011 with “A Separation,” the incredible film that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film that year. A realist, Farhadi seems to harbor a particular interest in failing relationships—“A Separation” was also about a couple considering divorce—and, if his previous masterpiece is any indication, he will probably hit the nail on the head with “Le Passé.”


Based on the biblical legend, “Noah” tells the tale of a man who, after an apocalyptic vision, builds an ark to protect his family and the earth’s animals. Unlike some of director Darren Aronofsky’s subtler films like “Requiem for a Dream” or “The Wrestler,” “Noah,” with its CGI animals and large budget, looks ridiculously epic. Like “Black Swan” or “The Fountain” on steroids.


Lars Von Trier’s newest film is being called “the most sexual movie ever made,” which is hardly surprising given its title.

Not unlike a female version of “Shame”—Steve McQueen’s controversial feature about a man struggling with his sex addiction—“Nymphomaniac” is a sex odyssey that follows the exploits of a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

Gainsbourg gave a striking performance in “Melancholia”—a beautiful film by Von Trier that was snubbed by the Academy in 2011—and will work alongside Stellan Skarsgard, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe and Shia LaBeouf in this erotic work.

The film has already stirred up a lot of controversy. Von Trier’s original cut of the film was an astounding five and a half hours long and, after refusing to cut it down any further, Von Trier allowed someone else to make the final cuts—the film is now four hours long and contains a number of explicit scenes. Even though the film will likely be rated NC-17 in the U.S., there will be no soft-core version released for general audiences. But the marketing for the film isn’t shy about the explicit nature of the film. One of the film’s original trailers was taken off of YouTube because it supposedly violated the site’s nudity and sexual content policies. And, by the way, the posters advertising the film feature each of the film’s actors giving the photographer their best orgasm faces—SCANDALOUS. Click here to see all of them—The Guardian gave the faces some pretty funny nicknames.

La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)

“La Grande Bellezza” (The Great Beauty) centers itself around a journalist who hobnobs with high society until his 65th birthday, when a shock from the past forces him to re-evaluate his values and the direction in which his life headed.

It’s Italian. It’s in Rome. It’s about glamorous people. What’s not to love?