However, in preparation for that, I have seen quite a few movies recently, as well a revisiting some older favorites on Blu-ray/DVD. Here's the last batch I saw in the theatre.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
The film deftly smashed down a truly sprawling, epic novel (the mini-series was 7 hours, to give you a sense) into 2 hours of full-on tension and spycraft. I have come to a place where I love watching films about people who do interesting jobs exceptionally well, and this cast, comprised of almost every interesting English actor working today, shows us exactly that. No, there's no action "set pieces," no sex, the violence is anything but sensationalized, but what it does have is a gripping sense of what it must've been like to work in intelligence during the cold war. A ripping thriller.
Clooney is as good as he usually is in The Descendants, which is very good. It's another low-key role, but that's what Clooney does. He's not a scenery-chewer, he's a leading man. the fact it's low-key doesn't take away from the truth, or honesty, he brings. The film is beautifully shot (Omaha's Alexander Payne), well acted across the board (the whole cast is great), but, ultimately, I've seen a lot of these "family in crisis" films. You know, where the absentee parent, at the most stressful time imaginable, has to step up and actually be a parent. It's a terrific film, but the familiarity of the beats knocked it down a few pegs, for me.
Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol
What I can report is that Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille) makes a pretty triumphant debut as a live-action filmmaker. There are action sequences here that rival any other film you'll find. The sequence with Cruise's Ethan Hunt dangling on the outside of the world's tallest building is with the admission alone, it's so well executed and effective. Simon Pegg gives good comic relief, and Jeremy Renner shows his action chops. Sadly, the film doesn't completely mesh, so as to go from "exciting good fun" to "great movie."
War Horse is Spielberg in full epic mode. Gone With The Wind-style sunsets and the whole nine yards. I'm sure plenty of people will call it sentimental hogwash, but where else are you supposed to go with a young adult book, narrated by a horse, no less? In my mind Spielberg has caught the perfect tone, and while I feel the wider canvas of film diffuses the intimate focus that the stage version had, this is still a fine adaptation.
The performances are exquisite, with complete fidelity to the style being used. Jean Dujardin is quite hilarious in the lead role. The script is witty, the supporting turns amusing.
I think the main problem, for me, is that the 30's/40's, while I admire the hell out of the craft on screen, are not MY "golden age" of Hollywood. For me, it's the 70's. I'll take The Godfather, Easy Rider, Bonnie & Clyde, or Taxi Driver over any of the films of the silent or early talkie era. Your reaction to The Artist may depend on your feelings. I certainly saw more people walk out of this film than any other this year (only 3, but still). That said, it's beautiful and well worth seeing.