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First off, regarding the Oscars, David Fincher said it best in the first line of his unused acceptance speech for Social Network: "We've finally answered the question, 'Apples or oranges?’” Joaquin Phoenix echoed Fincher during his recent Oscar rant in Interview magazine when he said: "I'm just saying that I think it's bullsh*t. I think it's total, utter bullsh*t, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other ... It's the stupidest thing in the whole world." Carrots, apples, oranges and the stupidity of the Academy Awards aside, the last quarter of 2012 is loaded with one of the best crops of films ever to grace the Cineplex in such close proximity to one another. Whether or not they’ll be scheduled to compete in the Oscar race, it’s the audience that truly wins for once.

The Master


Paul Thomas Andersen’s The Master is a lush, unsettling fever dream of a film that features Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman going toe-to-toe as master and muse. Phoenix’s disturbed portrayal of World War II veteran Freddie Quell is sure to net him an Oscar nomination, but whether or not the film itself wins, Paul Thomas Anderson has solidified his position as one of the great (dare I say?) masters of contemporary cinema.

Argo


Argo won over audiences and critics alike with its perfect blend of realism and Hollywood BS. Following his success with The Town, Argo heralds Ben Affleck’s arrival as a director who knows how to deliver the goods. A stand-out performance by Alan Arkin as Hollywood producer Lester Siegel, amazing art direction and a stunning last minute set piece seal the deal.

Skyfall


But really, who cares about the Oscars when there’s a new Bond film coming out? Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, the Bond franchise is back with Skyfall. The fact that American Beauty director Sam Mendes was brought on to direct says a lot about the film. Mendes is a Brit and a former theatre director. Between him and the Adele-penned theme we can probably expect a stylish and elegant portrayal of the legend.

Django Unchained


Quentin Tarantino has long said that The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Rio Bravo are two of his favorite films, now we finally get to see his take on the Western. We can only wonder what road Tarantino’s notorious sadistic streak will lead us down this time.

Lincoln


Did anyone else get chills when the Lincoln trailer came on after the first Presidential debate? Written by Angels in America scribe Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln covers the last few months of Lincoln’s life as he struggled to end slavery and the Civil War. Expansive wide shots and lines like “Shall we stop this bleeding?” coming from Daniel Day “I drink your milkshake” Lewis will make this an unforgettable film.

Zero Dark Thirty


Kathry Bigelow’s controversial Zero Dark Thirty nearly turned into scandal for the White House when it was reported that the administration had leaked classified information concerning the top secret Bin Laden raid in Pakistan for political gain in the 2012 Presidential election. Bigelow’s previous effort The Hurt Locker contained one of the most suspenseful first-thirds of any movie in recent history featuring Jeremy Renner as a member of an Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit in Iraq defusing bombs and traversing the lethal landscape. The last scene of the Zero Dark Thirty trailer where Seal Team Six is closing in on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad through a night vision goggle POV is reason enough to see this.

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