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Weekend Preview: Swinton, Belafonte, Wahlberg and Streep

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood January 12, 2012 at 5:14PM

Meryl Streep may be a major contender for a Best Actress Oscar nomination and win (as per usual), but reviews for her film "The Iron Lady" (expanding its run this weekend) are less than upbeat. While Streep's performance is called "virtuouso," the Margaret Thatcher biopic from Phyllida Lloyd is also being called a failure.
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"We Need to Talk About Kevin" | "Contraband" | "Sing Your Song" | "The Iron Lady"
"We Need to Talk About Kevin" | "Contraband" | "Sing Your Song" | "The Iron Lady"

Meryl Streep may be a major contender for a Best Actress Oscar nomination and win (as per usual), but reviews for her film "The Iron Lady" (expanding its run this weekend) are less than upbeat. While Streep's performance is called "virtuouso," the Margaret Thatcher biopic from Phyllida Lloyd is also being called a failure. Tilda Swinton, another possible Oscar nominee, also has a devisive film opening this weekend: Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" (opening in NY this weekend, LA next) is a psychological thriller that takes the nature vs. nurture question to new heights, and while viscerally powerful, it's tough to watch.  "Contraband," led by Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale, is from Working Title, which means it's smarter than your average suspense thriller, which isn't saying much. HBO Films doc "Sing Your Song" (limited) may not have any Oscar buzz or big-budget action, but the story of singer, actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte is sitting pretty with a 100% Tomatometer rating. ThePlaylist calls it "fascinating."

"The Iron Lady" The Weinstein Co., UK/FR | Director: Phyllida Lloyd; Cast: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent | 56% Tomatometer | TOH! Review Round-up: Will The Iron Lady's Nasty Reviews Hurt Meryl Streep at the Oscars? | Roger Ebert: "You have to be very talented to work with Meryl Streep. It also helps to know how to use her. 'The Iron Lady' fails in both of these categories." | Peter Travers: "One can only marvel at [Streep's] virtuoso performance as Britain's Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady.'"

"Contraband" Universal, USA | Director: Baltasar Karmakur; Cast" Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster | 59% Tomatometer | Michael Phillips: "Wahlberg has the presence, the glower and the laconic line readings to guide us through a mess of pain, painlessly." | Todd McCarthy: "The gritty style only accentuates the increasingly far-fetched dramatics in Contraband, an involving, atmospherically grungy mid-register thriller."

"We Need To Talk About Kevin" Oscilloscope, UK/US | Director: Lynne Ramsay; Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller | 83% Tomatometer | TOH! Interviews Ramsay & Swinton | Kenneth Turan: "It's a domestic horror story that literally gets to us where we live, a disturbing tale told with uncompromising emotionality and great skill by filmmaker Lynne Ramsay." | A.O. Scott: "Ms. Ramsay, with ruthless ingenuity, creates a deeper dread and a more acute feeling of anticipation by allowing us to think we know what is coming and then shocking us with the extent of our ignorance."

"Sing Your Song" HBO Films, US | Director: Susanne Rostock | 100% Tomatometer | John Anderson: "'Sing Your Song' does three things only a superior bio-doc can do: Tell a stirring life story, place that life in the context of its times, and portray it with the kind of depth and breadth that makes you wonder why it hasn't been told before."

This article is related to: Box Office, News, Genres, Indies, Headliners


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.