Culture Film

Judging by the trailers

It’s a strange time for the movie business. We know what to expect from the summer and fall seasons: blockbusters and award bait, respectively. We even know what to expect in December: movies with either big hearts or big budgets. But January through April is a mishmash of award season rejects (The Monuments Men), risky endeavors from auteurs (Noah), and Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel). To guide you through this grab bag of movies, I’ve decided to rate them for you, judging them entirely by their trailers.



Director: Spike Jonze

Release: January 10



Things are going to get weird. Set in Los Angeles in the near-future, the film revolves around a love story between Joaquin Phoenix and, well, his computer, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. (It’s every nerd’s dream.) The film is bound to make some viewers uncomfortable, perhaps by the intimacy between man and machine, or by the meditation on loneliness striking too close to home, causing us all to melt into Joaquin Phoenix’s crying face.

Rating: *****

For fans of: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Where the Wild Things Are


The Monuments Men

Director: George Clooney

Release: February 7



The latest from George Clooney looks like Ocean’s 11 set in WWII, with Clooney and friends tasked with protecting historical artifacts during Hitler’s reign. They face all kinds of obstacles: disgruntled generals! snooty French art collectors! military training! I’m mostly excited to see The Artist’s Jean Dujardin happily smiling as bombs fall around him. (Does he ever stop smiling?) The latest trailer pitches it as a moving drama instead of the buddy comedy the original portrayed it as. Will it get caught stuck between the two tones? Only Clooney knows.

Rating: ***

For fans of: Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12, Ocean’s 13



Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Release: February 21



All too often in big budget movies the villains are portrayed as flat characters. Not so in Pompeii. The villain in this one is a textured, towering, terrible… mountain! OK, so that’s not much to look forward to in the way of complexity, but don’t worry, the film will deliver by way of explosions, many characters looking fearfully towards the sky, abs, and did I mention explosions? If that wasn’t enough, we also get a tidal wave. CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Rating: *

For fans of: Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans


The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson

Release: March 7


Starring most of Hollywood, The Grand Budapest Hotel looks like the most Wes Anderson-y film of Wes Anderson’s career. Set in the opulent, wintry hotel of the film’s title, the plot follows Ralph Feinnes’ Gustave H, the hotel’s legendary concierge, as he indulges in shenanigans involving a stolen painting, mustachioed guests, and a very old mistress. It might just be the most fun we have all winter, at least in a theatre.

Rating: ****

For fans of: Wes Anderson



Director: Neil Burger

Release: March 21



Based on a popular young adult book trilogy and set in a dystopic future, this movie follows the story of a feisty young woman who must overcome the odds to join a secret resistance. Yes, we’re talking about Jennifer Lawrence Shailene Woodley in The Hunger Games Divergent. OK, there are some similarities here — but fans of the book series know this is its own epic and not some knock off. Shailene Woodley was fantastic in The Descendants and let’s hope she can bring the same energy to this series.

Rating: ***

For fans of: The Hunger Games, Twilight



Director: Darren Aronofsky

Release: March 28



We all know the story of Noah, but have we seen it as a visual spectacle? Now we can. The trailer seems caught between honouring and expanding the Old Testament story, but there are a few things we know for sure: Russell Crowe looks angry, Anthony Hopkins looks old (like, Methuselah old), and — oh, hi Hermione. If this all sounds too biblical, don’t worry: they threw in a big battle scene, a magical flaming sword, and reportedly some angel-like creatures with six wings.

Rating: ***

For fans of: The Bible, The Bible


Grand Budapest Hotel photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight