DID YOU READ

Tim Grierson on the Return of Arnold Schwarzenegger

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The Arnold Schwarzenegger comeback begins in earnest on Friday. That’s when his new movie, “The Last Stand,” opens. It’ll be the first film in 10 years in which he’s the primary star and leading man. Even when he showed up in the “Expendables” movies or had his likeness used in “Terminator Salvation,” he was merely a periphery player. If people pay money to see “The Last Stand,” it’ll be because of Schwarzenegger (with all due respect to fans of Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzman, of course). It’s been a long time since that was the case.

Schwarzenegger’s comeback is unique among Hollywood stars because he’s not coming back in the usual way. He hasn’t recently recovered from addiction. He isn’t trying to rebuild his image after a tabloid scandal. He didn’t make himself a pariah by spewing scathingly inflammatory and offensive comments about minority groups or women. No, he’s just been busy serving as the governor of California. (Although, yes, he has had to apologize for some of his past behavior. And he’s no stranger to the tabloids. The man is certainly not a saint.) He’s not coming back in a kinder, gentler, changed form. He wants to be the same Arnold, albeit (as his character jokes in the “Last Stand” commercials) a slightly older model.

Before Schwarzenegger took office thanks to the fall 2003 recall election of then-Governor Gray Davis, he remained a popular star — a faded one, but a star nonetheless. Before that summer’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” — the year’s eighth-biggest hit — he had been in a series of box-office misfires (“Collateral Damage,” “The 6th Day,” “End of Days”), and even the $100-million hit “Batman & Robin” was seen as an underperformer, not to mention a campy fiasco. It would be incredibly simplistic and glib to suggest that Schwarzenegger’s move into politics was a savvy career transition. (Becoming the governor of the country’s most populous state brings with it far more stress, challenges and real-world consequences than anything faced in Hollywood.) But from a movie-business perspective, it allowed him to potentially bypass the commercial-wilderness years that eventually befall all action stars. No lame reality show, no halfhearted stab at showcasing his “serious side.” He just left.

But you got the sense that he never fully closed that door: His cameo in 2010’s “The Expendables,” which opened five months before he would leave office, proved that. And then when he was free of the governorship in early 2011, he made it be known that he would immediately start considering movie projects, including proposed remakes of “Predator” or “The Running Man.” At 63 and after seven years as governor, he wasn’t going to slow down and enjoy life. He clearly wanted back in to Hollywood.

Of course, that plan got derailed when it was revealed that he fathered a child with his family’s maid a decade earlier. But that derailment was brief: Soon, he was signed up for “The Last Stand,” the English-language debut from South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon, who previously had made “I Saw the Devil” and “A Tale of Two Sisters.” He also came aboard “The Expendables 2” for a larger role than in the original. And “The Last Stand” isn’t his only upcoming film: He’s going to be in “The Tomb” with his “Expendables” costar Sylvester Stallone in the fall; and “Ten,” with Sam Worthington, is set for an early 2014 release. He seems incredibly determined to make up for lost time.

Clearly, Schwarzenegger is hoping to hit the reset button with his fans after many years away. It’s difficult to find an analogous Hollywood star to compare to his situation, so it might be more appropriate to look to the music world. In the last few years, several rock bands who were big in the late 1980s and early ‘90s — Jane’s Addiction, the Pixies, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots — have reunited, finding success with concertgoers who are happy to revel in a little nostalgia. It’s worth pointing out that none of those bands have delivered much in the way of compelling new material — they’re just recycling the past. It seems to be the same for Arnold: His comeback isn’t some kind of redemption story like so many of his peers’. He just wants back into the limelight, offering the same bill of goods as before.

As the “Expendables” films have proved, there’s definitely an audience for bygone action heroes who are willing to crack skulls and blow stuff up like in the old days. So why not Schwarzenegger? The early reviews of “The Last Stand” haven’t been so good, and it seems unlikely that this movie on its own will catapult Arnold back into the ranks of the A-list. But considering how unusual his comeback scenario is, it would also be foolish to predict just how it’s going to play out.

You can follow Tim Grierson on Twitter.

Jackie That 70s Show

Jackie Oh!

15 That ’70s Show Quotes to Help You Unleash Your Inner Jackie

Catch That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-10P on IFC.

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When life gets you down, just ask yourself: what would Jackie do? (But don’t ask her, because she doesn’t care about your stupid problems.) Before you catch That ’70s Show on IFC, take a look at some quotes that will help you be the best Jackie you can be.


15. She knows her strengths.

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14. She doesn’t let a little thing like emotions get in the way.

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13. She’s her own best friend.

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12. She has big plans for her future.

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11. She keeps her ego in check.

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10. She can really put things in perspective.

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9. She’s a lover…

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8. But she knows not to just throw her love around.

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7. She’s proud of her accomplishments.

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6. She knows her place in the world.

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5. She asks herself the hard questions.

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4. She takes care of herself.

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3. She’s deep.

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2. She’s a problem solver.

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1. And she’s always modest.

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Tim Grierson on the Oscar Nominations That Will Never Happen (But Really Should)

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About 20 years ago, writer Danny Peary published “Alternate Oscars,” a book in which he went back and second-guessed every Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Actress, and Actor since the Oscars’ early days of the 1920s. To Peary’s mind, there were plenty of instances when Oscar voters had gotten it wrong, and so he proposed who the real winners in those categories should have been. For people who love to argue about what constitutes the “best” in filmmaking, it’s a smart, terrific read.

This year’s Academy Award nominations will be revealed early Thursday morning, January 10, and I’d like to offer my own variation on Peary’s book by selecting the nominees I’d love to hear announced, even though I know they have no chance. In each category, I’ll pick one deserving individual or movie that, currently, isn’t part of the Oscar conversation at all. I don’t think my picks should win, but in a better world, they’d at least get to be part of all the Academy Award hoopla on February 24.

Best Supporting Actress

Anna Kendrick, “End of Watch”

I was tempted to go with Kelly Reilly, who’s terrific as the drug addict who falls for Denzel Washington in “Flight,” but because she’s still considered a bit of a dark horse, I’ll go with another performance that’s been even more overlooked. Anna Kendrick has proved to be a sharp, effervescent presence in movies like “Pitch Perfect” and “Up In the Air” (which earned her an Oscar nomination), but in “End of Watch,” she plays a very different character: a tougher, less adorable woman who falls in love with Jake Gyllenhaal’s LAPD cop. Kendrick’s sweetness, as always, is on display, but she responds to the harder-edged tone of “End of Watch” by delivering a performance that’s grittier and sadder than anything she’s done before. It’s crucial for showing us how the wife of a cop never can relax, always knowing that her husband’s work carries with it enormous risk.

Best Supporting Actor

David Oyelowo, “Middle of Nowhere”

Character actor David Oyelowo has been showing up in everything recently, appearing in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “The Help,” “Red Tails,” “The Paperboy,” “Lincoln” and “Jack Reacher.” But in the little-seen character drama “Middle of Nowhere,” he really gets a chance to shine, playing a Los Angeles bus driver courting a woman (Emayatzy Corinealdi) whose husband is in prison. The film focuses on Corinealdi’s struggle to go on with her life while staying true to her man, and the excellence of Oyelowo’s performance is such that while we root for Corinealdi, we can’t help but wonder if this charming, sensitive driver might not ultimately be a better match for her.

Best Actor

Liam Neeson, “The Grey”

Because Liam Neeson rose to prominence in the 1990s starring in acclaimed movies like “Schindler’s List,” “Husbands and Wives” and “Kinsey,” there can be a negative kneejerk reaction to his recent transition to action movies like the “Taken” films, naysayers accusing him of “selling out” or compromising his art. But Neeson’s performance in “The Grey” reminds us that “serious” acting can occur in supposed popcorn films as well. Playing an oil-field worker stranded in the Alaskan wilderness who must fend off ravenous wolves and inhuman cold, Neeson gives us a portrayal of a lost soul who turns his ordeal into an unlikely chance at redemption. “The Grey” may be “just” an action-thriller, but the nuance and feeling in Neeson’s performance suggests what a superior actor can do with gripping material.

Best Actress

Kara Hayward, “Moonrise Kingdom”

There’s a very good chance that Quvenzhané Wallis, the lead in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” will be among the Oscar nominees for Best Actress. If that happens, she would be the youngest nominee ever in that category, beating out Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was almost 14 when she got a nomination for “Whale Rider.” (Wallis turns 10 in August.) I’d like to spotlight another young actress, 14-year-old Kara Hayward, who was wonderful as the dark, melancholy Suzy who runs off with her beau Sam (the equally fine Jared Gilman) in “Moonrise Kingdom.” Though director Wes Anderson’s bittersweet coming-of-age romance features a slew of big names like Bruce Willis, Ed Norton and Bill Murray, the movie revolves around its two adolescent protagonists, and Hayward (in her first film role) is the sort of stormy, mysterious beauty that would bewitch the heart of any young dreamer.

Best Picture

“Compliance”

Ann Dowd, who’s fantastic as the fast-food manager duped by a prank caller in “Compliance,” has put up her own money to mount an Oscar campaign for Best Supporting Actress. I wish someone would have done something similar for this controversial psychological thriller, which examines how (and why) a group of employees do progressively more demeaning things to one of their coworkers (Dreama Walker). “Compliance” is not an easy film to sit through, but writer-director Craig Zobel uses provocation to ask sincere questions about power, class and gender that are just as upsetting as anything you see in the movie. Blessed with a sharp, precise script and a superb cast, “Compliance” is too divisive to ever have a chance at a Best Picture nomination. But I humbly suggest it might be one film from 2012 that we’re still discussing (and debating) in 2032.

You can follow Tim Grierson on Twitter.

Tim Grierson on the Unforgettable Movie Moments of 2012

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When you think back on a year in movies, what flashes through your mind? It’s probably snapshots: incredible scenes or indelible images or a funny line that’s always going to stick with you. In 2012, I saw over 300 films, and even some of the worst had their moments that I can look back on fondly. So, as we prepare for 2013, here’s a random list of the scenes and moments of the film year that I really treasure. I’ve kept some intentionally vague so that I don’t spoil anything, but hopefully these favorite glimpses will help inspire your own happy memories of a great film year….

The dazzling motion-capture sequence in “Holy Motors.”

Josh Brolin’s dead-on perfect impression of a younger Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) in “Men in Black 3.”

Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) leaves the White House for the very last time in “Lincoln.”

Navy SEALs launch their raid on Bin Laden’s compound in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) meets the woman who may be her long-lost mother in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Anne Hathaway sings “I Dreamed a Dream” in “Les Misérables.”

The tsunami comes in “The Impossible.”

Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson) travels through Manhattan in his tricked-out limo in “Cosmopolis.”

Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) hatch their plan to run away together over a series of letters in “Moonrise Kingdom.”

Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is reunited at long last with his boyfriend in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

In a split second, something happens between Nica (Hani Furstenberg) and Alex (Gael García Bernal) that threatens their relationship forever in “The Loneliest Planet.”

We finally get to see Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany’s (Jennifer Lawrence) dance routine in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) explains the intricacies of strip-club seduction to the Kid (Alex Pettyfer), complete with lots of pelvic thrusting, in “Magic Mike.”

The plane finally, finally takes off from Iran in “Argo.”

Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) and Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) have their big blowup in the jail cell in “The Master,” causing Freddie to go temporarily insane, smashing everything in his path.

Jafar Panahi, under house arrest, finally goes outside to see the fireworks in “This Is Not a Film.”

Feuding siblings J.R. (Carlen Altman) and Colin (director Alex Ross Perry) finally make some peace — in the most unexpected way possible — in “The Color Wheel.”

Ottway (Liam Neeson) prepares for his final showdown with the wolves in “The Grey.”

The utterly sincere use of Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” in “Rust & Bone.”

The, uh, scene involving fried chicken in “Killer Joe.”

The riff-off in “Pitch Perfect.”

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sits down at a diner with his older self (Bruce Willis) to find out what’s become of him in “Looper.”

Pi (Suraj Sharma) barely survives the shipwreck in “Life of Pi.”

Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Janet (Anna Kendrick) do a pretty sweet choreographed dance to “Push It” at their wedding reception in “End of Watch.”

Although he’s drunk and high, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) manages to land his doomed aircraft in the harrowing opening of “Flight.”

Elena (Nadezhda Markina) finally decides how to resolve her disagreement with her husband (Andrey Smirnov) in “Elena.”

Mallory (Gina Carano) and Paul (Michael Fassbender) fight it out in their hotel room in “Haywire.”

Ohlsdorfer (János Derzsi) and his daughter (Erika Bók) try to leave their doomed farm in “The Turin Horse,” but then, for a reason that’s never explained, they turn around and head home.

The moment when we’re sure that the young boy Cyril (Thomas Doret) is dead in “The Kid With a Bike.”

A prank caller (Pat Healy) tells a fast-food manager (Ann Dowd) that one of her employees (Dreama Walker) stole money from a customer’s purse in “Compliance” — and then things just get worse and worse.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) squares off with a pigeon in “Amour.”

Performance artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen silently sits across the table from his collaborator and former lover Marina Abramović during her MoMA show in “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present.”

Isaac Sachs (Tom Hanks) realizes he’s in love with Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) — just as his plane explodes — in “Cloud Atlas.”

Jackie and David Siegel’s dream mansion sits unfinished — a sad symbol of their fading riches — in “The Queen of Versailles.”

Batman (Christian Bale) confronts Bane (Tom Hardy) in his underground lair — and quickly realizes he’s no match for him — in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Erik (Thure Lindhardt) cries with relief after learning he’s not HIV positive in “Keep the Lights On.”

After trying to control his emotions for so long, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) finally becomes the Hulk in “The Avengers.”

Anna (Keira Knightley) and Count Vronksy (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) dance through a sea of frozen-in-place partygoers in “Anna Karenina.”

A distraught Hester (Rachel Weisz) dashes into the London Underground in “The Deep Blue Sea,” suddenly finding herself having a flashback to when she and her husband (Simon Russell Beale) huddled there with others during the London Blitz while everyone sang “Molly Malone.”

Mark (John Hawkes) and Cheryl (Helen Hunt) say goodbye after the last session in “The Sessions.”

Charlotte (Nicole Kidman) lets it be known just how hot she is for convicted murderer Hillary (John Cusack) in “The Paperboy.”

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) meets a strange, scary creature named Gollum (Andy Serkis) in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

The final, beguiling dance in “Not Fade Away.”

Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters) preaches his heart out in “Red Hook Summer.”

Super-competitive brothers Jeremy (Mark Kelly) and Mark (Steve Zissis) engage in a comically high-stakes Laser Tag battle in “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon.”

A new dance craze, the Sambola, is born in “Damsels in Distress.”

Neil Young drives around his old hometown telling stories in “Neil Young Journeys.”

Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) and Constance Sack (Malin Akerman) paw each other while belting out “I Want to Know What Love Is” in “Rock of Ages.”

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her sister’s place in “The Hunger Games.”

Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) saves the boy from the burning car in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

Jeff (Jason Segel) dives into the water in “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.”

“Afro Circus,” from “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” gets embedded in our brains.

We discover tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun’s (Jane Lynch) comically horrible backstory in “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) start having some trippy drug visions in “21 Jump Street.”

After a night of drinking and bonding, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Jack (Mark Duplass) decide that sleeping together might not be the worst idea in “Your Sister’s Sister.”

Daniel (Luke Kirby) tells married Margot (Michelle Williams) in sensual detail exactly what he’d do to her if they were lovers in “Take This Waltz.”

The android David (Michael Fassbender) watches “Lawrence of Arabia,” modeling himself after Peter O’Toole, in “Prometheus.”

In “Taken 2,” a kidnapped, imprisoned Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) calls his daughter (Maggie Grace) and tells her to throw grenades around Istanbul so he can figure out where he is. (You know, because, sure, why the hell not?)

Armie Hammer playing a perfectly lunk-headed prince in “Mirror Mirror.”

Any time Rihanna says anything in “Battleship.”

The big motorcycle chase at the end of “The Bourne Legacy.”

Any scene with Eva Green in “Dark Shadows.”

The wonderfully ridiculous and over-the-top action sequence that kicks off “The Expendables 2.”

The restaurant dance sequence in “Step Up Revolution.” (Honorable Mention: Every other dance sequence in “Step Up Revolution.”)

We discover the reason why James Bond (Daniel Craig) doesn’t want to discuss Skyfall in “Skyfall.”

Happy holidays, everyone. See you in 2013.

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