2011 was a good year for film. Good, but not great. One would think that the widespread fear of the end of the world would hustle some film-makers into their masterpieces. Some (The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius for instance) were able to make their marks before 11:59 tonight, but it seems that next year has more surprises in store than just the apocalypse.

I share many of these with my fellow movies editor Jeremy Baril, so if you haven’t yet read his list, we suggest reading it now. Ready? Okay, now you’re prepared for something slightly different.

First, we’ll begin with the Honorable Mentions:

  • Argo
  • The Bourne Legacy
  • Gravity
  • World War Z
  • Skyfall
  • Now for the PLATINUM Honorable Mentions:

  • LooperAn original story involving a hitman who has been hired to kill his future self directed by Brick helmer Rian Johnson. I’m on board.
  • Prometheus Just look at that teaser trailer. Seriously. Just look at it. I’m excited already and I haven’t even seen a single Alien film.
  • Men In Black III– I’ve always been a sucker for sequels that take place years after the original. I’m also a sucker for anything Josh Brolin decides to be a part of. Bring it on.
  • Kill Bin Laden Get this, The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow was making this film about the NAVY Seal team that was planning to kill Osama Bin Laden before Seal Team 6 killed Osama Bin Laden. After the assassination, Bigelow chose to include Bin Laden’s final moments in the film, and now she can slap the highly coveted “Based on a true story” label on the poster.
  • Paranormal Activity 4 I know, the IMDB link claims that it isn’t coming until 2014 but since Paranormal Activity 3 left room for another sequel, we can safely assume that Paramount will mount another just in time for Halloween. What are they gonna do, just drop their most successful horror franchise? They are cheap to make and audiences are gobbling them up like they are going out of style.
  • #10 Ted

    Seth McFarlane has gotten some flack over the past few years about the inevitable unfunniness of his brainchild Family Guy. Now Fox has milked his brain for all it is worth with American Dad and The Cleveland Show. There is no denying that Seth McFarlane is a very funny guy. Anyone who grew up watching the first few seasons of Family Guy and the more recent seasons of American Dad could tell you that.

    In fact, Family Guy stopped being funny the moment American Dad starting really getting laughs. Coincidence? I think McFarlane can only throw his magic touch into one project at a time, and it might be safe to say that his first upcoming feature film, written and directed by himself, might have a taste of that old school Seth McFarlane humor.

    Ted, according to creator Seth McFarlane, will follow a demented teddy bear (voiced by McFarlane) as it torments it’s owners Mila Kunis and Mark Whalberg. It sounds a little cliche, but here’s to hoping that the most successful comedian of our generation will make a glorious return to true comedy next year.

    Ted will come alive on July 13th, 2012.

    #9 The Hunger Games

    Okay, before I get flamed from every possible angle, you should all know that I am still on Chapter 4 of The Hunger Games. Those of you following my “Read The Hunger Games With Jimmy” series have been incredibly patient and I thank all of you for that. I plan on continuing the series, and I still plan on fulfilling my promise to finish my analysis of the book before the premiere.

    The trailer alone is enough to peak anyone’s interest in the film. The thought of something so brutal, so young, so modern and yet so frighteningly imaginable stirs the imagination. I already know that the book doesn’t shy away from what would actually happen in the circumstances that these characters are placed in, and I can only hope that the film version has the balls to do justice to the source material.

    The cast looks magnificent, the visuals presented in the trailer sold the ideal, and even though director Gary Ross has a past of soft and fluffy films like Big and (to a lesser extent) Seabiscuit, fellow screenwriter Billy Ray (State of Play, Breach, Suspect Zero) is sure to bring on the violence the way author Suzanne Collins (also credited as a screenwriter) intended.

    The Hunger Games will begin on March 23, 2012.

    #8 Seven Psychopaths

    Following his 2008 critical hit In Bruges (which, aside from being a Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire reunion also happens to be my own personal favorite movie of all time) long-time playwright Martin McDonagh has finally decided to follow his masterpiece with another film, again starring Collin Farrel who won the Golden Globe for his last partnership with the writing genius.

    The script leaked early last year, and although I haven’t read it (I intentionally spoil every other movie for myself by working at Hypable, why would I want to spoil this one?), those that have read it have chosen it to occupy a place of honor on their lists of the most anticipated movies of 2012.

    The photo I’ve used above has nothing to do with Seven Psychopaths and is actually a screenshot from In Bruges. If that’s not an indicator of exactly why I’m excited to see McDonagh and Farrel team up again then I don’t even know what to say. Last time it was about hitmen, this time it is about a screenwriter, a psychopath, and a dog.

    Seven Psychopaths will be released whenever it feels like it. (The actual date has not been set, but it is slated for a 2012 release.)

    #7 The Great Gatsby

    It has been years since I’ve opened The Great Gatsby, but the way that it portrayed the roaring twenties has stuck with me through the years. This will be a special treat for me, because with the exception of a few shocking events near the middle and end of the novel, I don’t very well remember every single event.

    In an instance of perfect casting, Leonardo diCaprio and Carey Mulligan have been cast as Gatsby and Daisy. To be honest, half of the reason I am so excited for this adaptation is to see Mulligan as Daisy. She has been knocking her roles out of the park for the past three years and no one could have cast the essential character better, although the choice of director (Baz Luhrmann) is a little peculiar to me even though I am an enormous fan of his.

    I seem to remember hearing reports early last year that he was planning to shoot the film in 3D, and that seemed to indicate that he would indeed be using his standard ostentatious directing method with this interpretation of the classic novel. The photos that have emerged from the set have looked perfect so far, but here’s to hoping that we wont see any green absinthe fairies in West Egg.

    The Great Gatsby will roar into theaters on December 25th, 2012.

    #6 Django Unchained

    No official artwork for Quentin Tarantino’s next film has yet been released, but artists all over the internet have given a poster for Django Unchained the good ol’ college try. This just goes to show that people all over the world are waiting for the follow up to Inglourious Basterds, which Tarantino had dubbed as his “masterpiece”.

    One could say that Tarantino has been slowly building up his fan base with every film that he makes, the landmarks being Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds. Now with Django Unchained, Tarantino takes an all-star cast (with the likes of Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Cristoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sacha Baron Cohen and Kurt Russel) and sets them in what he calls a true Southern tale.

    According to Tarantino, the world is full of Westerns, but this will be an authentic Southern that tells the story of a liberated slave that, with the help of a German bounty hunter, will try to rescue his wife from the cruel owners of the plantation.

    I would have seen this movie if you had just given me the cast list, but after Tarantino finally won me over with the masterful Basterds (we’ve had a love hate relationship for the past decade or so), the fact that he wrote and directed this just makes me all the more excited to see it on opening night.

    Django Unchained will be released on December 25th, 2012.

    #5 Les Miserables

    Not even musical theater nerds can agree on Les Miserables. Believe it or not, there are some out there that just don’t like it. Personally, it is the most powerful musical I have ever seen. It masterfully weaves several stories, each dealing with love and sacrifice, during the wake of the French Revolution. Although the book has been adapted into a non-musical form fairly recently, many a film-maker has glanced at this daring gargantuan musical and has swiftly said “no thanks”.

    It’s a daunting task, adapting what can be arguably called the greatest musical of all-time to the screen. Recent Best Director winner Tom Hooper seems to think that he has the chops to make people all over the world sob hysterically in their local theaters. He took the job, hired an all-star cast including Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, and reports now indicate that he may film the required singing live on-camera, a move that has earned him accolades not only from me, but from musical theater buffs everywhere.

    There are some that think that it simply can’t be done. Yes, there is a very distinct possibility that the three hour musical might not live up to expectations, but as of now I can’t think of a team that I would rather have than Hooper and company.

    Les Miserables will flood theaters on December 7th, 2012.

    #4 The Hobbit

    The Hobbit was my favorite book for four solid years. Before I got my hands on the Harry Potter series, I found myself getting lost in Middle-Earth every couple of months or so. I was (at the time) unable to penetrate Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, so I found it particularly awesome when The Fellowship of the Ring came out before film-makers really thought about giving The Hobbit a try. It was truly indescribable to have a world I was so familiar with suddenly come to life on the big screen, and it was even more fascinating that it told a story that I legitimately had never heard before.

    As soon as whispers of The Hobbit started echoing through Hollywood, my inner child had to be stifled. What if they ruin it? What if it doesn’t live up to The Lord of the Rings? What if it doesn’t live up to it’s paper and ink counterpart? All of these questions were running through my head until evil genius Guillermo Del Toro signed on to direct. Frankly, I was curious how Del Toro’s vision would fit into Jackson’s pre-established Middle-Earth. Would it change, and if so would the changes be justified? I love Guillermo, so when his vision hit troubled waters I was understandably worried.

    Enter Peter Jackson, cape billowing in the wind, to take the reigns of Middle-Earth once again. Under Jackson’s rule, 90% of the original LOTR cast agreed to come back for cameos, and every Hobbit fan breathed a heaving sigh of relief knowing that they would return to Middle-Earth the same way they did back at the turn of the millenium. Now the trailer has come out, and most Tolkien-philes can rest easy knowing that their baby is safe in the hands of Jackson.

    The Hobbit will leave the Shire on December 14th, 2012.

    #3 Lincoln

    No, I’m not just excited for Lincoln because Daniel Day-Lewis bears a freakishly uncanny resemblance to my favorite president. I’m excited because: A) Daniel Day-Lewis is simply and mathematically the best actor to grace the silver screen since Marlon Brando, B) Stephen Spielberg is widely known as the best director of the past 40 years, C) It is based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln written by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Goodwin, and D) The screenplay was penned by Emmy, Tony and Pulitzer prize winning playwright Tony “he wrote freaking Angels in America” Kushner, John “The Gladiator” Logan, and Paul “this is my first screenplay, I’m just a FREAKING ABRAHAM LINCOLN HISTORIAN” Webb.


    Also, this picture of Daniel Day-Lewis wearing the Abraham Lincoln hat.

    As if this wasn’t enough reason to get excited, we already know that this project has been in Spielberg’s brain for over a decade. He was always talking about it, has worked his mind around every possible angle of it, and now he’s finally working on it and has cast every single good actor in the world to work with him on the project.

    So I guess now one question remains: Will Lincoln win every Oscar or just a handful?

    Lincoln will conquer the South on December 25th, 2012.

    #2 The Dark Knight Rises

    Unless Gone With The Wind is planning on releasing a sequel anytime soon, it might be safe to say that The Dark Knight Rises could be the most anticipated sequel of all time (now that the Harry Potter movies are done with). Fans ofThe Dark Knight were devastated when director Christopher Nolan straight up said that unless he was possessed by a truly worthy idea, the Dark Knight legacy would fall one movie short. According to Nolan, he would have rather it end at The Dark Knight if the alternative was a half-hearted threequel.

    Just as many fans justifiably jumped out of their skins when Nolan announced that not only was he planning on making a sequel, but that fan favorite Bane would be the last villain to terrorize Gotham in Christopher Nolan’s vision. Although there are still bat-fans out there that are questioning his casting choices (remember when we weren’t sure about that Brokeback Mountain actor playing the Joker?), it might just be safer to sit tight and trust that Nolan (like Batman himself) will do Gotham City justice. ‘

    As if we weren’t already excited, the six minute prologue released in IMAX convinced this writer that Nolan may have hit another one out of the park, and the trailer released shortly thereafter showed the world exactly how Bane could top The Dark Knight‘s diabolical Joker.

    The Dark Knight Rises will appear in theaters on July 20th, 2012

    #1 The Avengers

    Yes, my two most anticipated movies of the year are comic book movies. Big whoop. Wannafightaboutit? Before I am disbarred and excommunicated from the film critic society (an actual thing), take these words into your brain.

    First. Time. In. History. That’s how many times in cinematic history four major characters from four separate movies have come together for one gigantic megafilm. Fanboys were worshiping this movie before they even knew it was being made, half of them still can’t even believe that it’s actually happening, and this was all before nerd-deity Joss Whedon was crowned as writer/director of the beastly project.

    I have often called Joss Whedon the most creative person in Hollywood. Anyone who loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer can tell you that if there is someone who can write and direct the shit out of a movie about super-humans, it’s this guy. Who wasn’t angry through the roof when his genius brainchild Firefly was unjustly cancelled? Who among us has seen Dr.Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog more than eighteen times? I’m not saying the guy can do no wrong (I’m looking at you, Dollhouse), but if there is someone we can trust with the Avengers, it’s this guy. I mean, nerds, he’s one of us.

    Then the trailer came out, and anyone that doubted if the lead characters of four distinctly separate films would mix well were quickly shut up by an awesome 8 second exchange between Captain America and Tony Stark. Listeners of HeroHype know that just seeing the characters occupy the same space was enough to make true fanboys wet their pants with excitement.

    I still can’t believe it’s actually happening.

    The Avengers will assemble on May 3rd, 2012.

    So what do you think? Was there anything I missed?  What are your most anticipated films of 2012?

    Tags: 2012, Movies

    The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

    James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

    Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

    Read full article

    The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

    James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

    Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

    Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

    According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

    A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

    So far casting is off to a great start!

    What Disney can learn from the 2009 Chinese live-action ‘Mulan’

    Here's what 'Hua Mulan' got right

    4:30 pm EST, February 17, 2017

    Disney seems to have a long-term plan to churn out live-action versions of its most popular animations, and Mulan is the latest of its projects. The live-action version of the Chinese legend is already getting us excited, but many people don’t know that an excellent live-action Mulan movie already exists, made by a Chinese studio.

    Hua Mulan (sometimes translated as Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) is a 2009 film by director Jingle Ma. It tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and rises in the army’s ranks. It won many awards in China, and stars Wei Zhao as Mulan.

    Disney’s Mulan wasn’t favorably received in China when it was released, with audiences saying it was too different from the original legend, and too Westernized. Now would be a good time for the studio to make the film as globally appealing as it can be — and Hua Mulan is a perfect example of how to do our favorite female warrior justice.

    Read full article

    Disney seems to have a long-term plan to churn out live-action versions of its most popular animations, and Mulan is the latest of its projects. The live-action version of the Chinese legend is already getting us excited, but many people don’t know that an excellent live-action Mulan movie already exists, made by a Chinese studio.

    Hua Mulan (sometimes translated as Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) is a 2009 film by director Jingle Ma. It tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and rises in the army’s ranks. It won many awards in China, and stars Wei Zhao as Mulan.

    Disney’s Mulan wasn’t favorably received in China when it was released, with audiences saying it was too different from the original legend, and too Westernized. Now would be a good time for the studio to make the film as globally appealing as it can be — and Hua Mulan is a perfect example of how to do our favorite female warrior justice.

    Here are some things Hua Mulan got right that Disney would do well to learn from.

    hua mulan decision

    Bringing more realism to the legend

    Hua Mulan follows a plot that is more loyal to the original legend of Mulan, which states that she was a warrior for the Chinese army for over a decade. In the film, she even becomes a General, and retires with the nation’s respect, even after her identity as a woman is revealed.

    Seeing Mulan lead thousands of men in Hua Mulan is a rare and empowering experience. Her struggles as a woman in a position of power, and the various dilemmas that come with commanding such a large number of people, are what bring intensity and meaning to the story. Mulan itself explored the concept of honor and femininity as well, but we only got a very small glimpse at the power that the legendary Mulan is said to have actually wielded.

    While Disney may not want to make a movie that ventures too far from a family friendly atmosphere by portraying a Mulan who goes to war too realistically (as in, showing her killing enemies), it would be great to see her rise in the ranks and revolutionize such a male-dominated space the way she is said to have done.

    hua mulan warrior

    Not shying away from the grit — but not making it too grim, either

    Hua Mulan does an excellent job of skirting the line between grim tragedy and friendly comedy. With thousands of extras, the battle scenes are as breathtaking and inspiring as they are horrifying. There’s a scene where Mulan counts the dog tags of all the fallen soldiers, and a considerable amount of time is spent exploring her despair and responsibility as the army’s struggle becomes more desperate. The emotional rawness of the story creates a very real, very flawed, yet very lovable Mulan — and takes audiences on an exploration of heroism, perseverance, and honor.

    Of course, we can’t expect Disney to go all out with blood and grit — they’re bound to bring out Mushu, after all — but Disney prides itself on epic battles and fantastic special effects, and they’ll want to serve us war scenes as breathtaking and realistic as possible.

    However, we’re all tired of grittiness for grittiness’ sake. Despite the heaviness of the more emotional scenes of Hua Mulan, there is sweetness and humor. The friendships in the army, much like those of Disney’s version, can be laugh-out-loud funny, and the scenes of Mulan’s struggle to preserve her male appearance are equally fun to watch.

    Related: Disney’s live action Mulan lands female director

    After all, audiences won’t be going to see Mulan to see war and sadness — the animated version was fun and adventurous, and although it had somber moments, it still managed to keep things just lighthearted enough for us to not get too sad. With animation, that lightheartedness is an easier task; portraying war with real actors could prove a more difficult challenge.

    Establishing more depth in the main relationship

    In Hua Mulan, Mulan and Wentai’s relationship is beautiful, but it builds over a long period of time, and strengthens through their mutual respect as they both struggle to lead an army. Their love is based on that combination of trust built over time, and shared responsibility.

    Shang and Mulan have what is possibly one of the best relationships Disney has ever come up with. Among the Disney ‘princesses,’ Mulan and Shang probably have the greatest chemistry and story of all, and scenes from the animated film continue to be shipping fuel. Presumably, they’ll want to replicate this relationship in the new live-action version.

    However, the animated film was sadly limited to only a few glimpses of the developing relationship. It would be amazing if we could see more of the friendship between Shang and Mulan (as Ping) and how it becomes something more. It’s rare in a ‘princess’ movie to see romance begin with sincere friendship, and it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the confusion regarding Mulan’s gender in both a funny and profound way.

    Giving it a more realistic conclusion

    There are some scenes that could do with a makeover, especially at the very end. Mulan’s final trick to kill Shan Yu — by dressing three soldiers in drag and having them attempt to distract him — is hilarious in the animation, but would come off as strange and unrealistic in a live-action movie, and perhaps even a little offensive.

    Hua Mulan’s approach to defeating the enemy is a much more powerful one. Although it equals Mulan in stealth and cleverness, it involves realistic strategy and power dynamics, and finally involves her making a deal that saves China through negotiation, rather than war — and making a terribly painful personal sacrifice.

    Disney has a penchant for epic final battle scenes, but that isn’t what happens in either Mulan or Hua Mulan. In both cases, it’s Mulan’s cleverness that saves the day. It would be great to see that cleverness translated into a realistic solution, in the same way it does in Hua Mulan.

    It’s not like Disney hasn’t subverted its own canon, after all. In Maleficient, it isn’t the prince’s kiss that lifts the spell. Disney could certainly benefit from giving Mulan a more epic finale, and perhaps one that does her legendary character justice.

    Immersing us in historically-accurate China

    Besides perhaps The Jungle Book, we’ve yet to see a live-action adaptation that takes place in a non-European culture. In fact, this would be the first film to employ solely actors of color. What Disney decides to do here will be particularly interesting; since Aladdin will be getting its own adaptation soon, and Pocahontas could also follow in the live-action trend, the decisions taken here will likely set a precedent for what will be done with those films.

    There were rumors earlier of Mulan having a white love interest, which now seem to be crushed, thankfully. We want to see a film with an entirely Asian cast — hopefully at least mostly Chinese — and get a chance to explore the scenery, sets and props of ancient China.

    Although, it’s only fair to say that Hua Mulan also has its own white character — a Russian singer called Vitas, who inexplicably pops up now and again. That’s another tip for Disney: don’t just insert white guys into the story for no reason.

    Hua Mulan’s shots of rural China are beautiful and unique, and it would be amazing to see what Disney can do if they choose to show much of what they did in animation, with real sets and locations. Hopefully, Disney gets a chance to actually film in China itself.

    All this doesn’t go to say that we want a copy of Hua Mulan. Not at all. Hua Mulan is an excellent film in its own right, but it’s considerably more adult than Disney would ever dare make an adaptation. The realism of its wars and of the toll duty takes on Mulan and her companions is nothing like the fun, if occasionally emotional, adventure Disney took us on with Mulan.

    Disney’s version is a movie to be excited about, and the additions the animated film made to the legend are what makes it a classic. It would be amazing to see Mushu, Shang, the ancestors, and maybe even the cricket, on screen, as well as the songs, of course! “Make a Man Out of You” with real actors will definitely be one of the biggest highlights.

    So far, we know that Mulan’s director will be Niki Caro. Although she isn’t Chinese, a matter that raises a lot of questions about representation, it’s still encouraging to see a female director chosen — and if Caro’s powerful film Whale Rider is any indication, she’s rather good at telling empowering stories with female leads. Hopefully, the rest of the team can be filled with talented Chinese filmmakers that deserve to have a hand in rendering such a culturally significant story properly.

    After all, Mulan is primarily a Chinese legend, and her story spans a history much longer than the 18 years since Disney’s animation came out.

    In the meantime, go check out Hua Mulan, which is a fascinating film (although a considerably more adult one; you’ve been warned)!

    What are you expecting from ‘Mulan’?

    There’s a new drama coming to HBO this Sunday and you can’t miss it. Big Little Lies is a delicious trip through the small, rich, and scandalous town of Monterey, California.

    Featuring an all-star cast — Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley — HBO’s book to TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s wildly popular novel should please both book readers and newbies (I’m the latter) thanks to the soapy drama and lack of censorship.

    ‘Big Little Lies’ review: Come for the cast, stay for the story

    Big Little Lies takes elements of True Detective, Real Housewives, and Gone Girl, and mixes them into one lovely, hate-filled cocktail. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Monterey, the secrets and connections between characters run deep.

    Read full article

    There’s a new drama coming to HBO this Sunday and you can’t miss it. Big Little Lies is a delicious trip through the small, rich, and scandalous town of Monterey, California.

    Featuring an all-star cast — Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley — HBO’s book to TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s wildly popular novel should please both book readers and newbies (I’m the latter) thanks to the soapy drama and lack of censorship.

    ‘Big Little Lies’ review: Come for the cast, stay for the story

    Big Little Lies takes elements of True Detective, Real Housewives, and Gone Girl, and mixes them into one lovely, hate-filled cocktail. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Monterey, the secrets and connections between characters run deep.

    Reese Witherspoon’s Madeline is the ringmaster. She’s the typical Helicopter Parent trying as best she can to keep Monterey’s relationships and extracurricular activities together. Bringing her down is her ego and never-ending animosity toward a couple of characters, including her ex-husband’s new bae Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz, below). Together, Bonnie and Madeline’s new hubby Ed (Adam Scott) want to keep the peace between their two partners, but they’re the only two who seem capable of keeping tempers in check.

    Meanwhile, Perry (Skarsgård) and Celeste (Kidman) have serious marriage issues that seem impossible to resolve. Of the leading ladies, Celeste seems to be the most level-headed despite her shitty husband. Then there’s Laura Dern’s Renata (below), who hates Madeline with all of her heart. Some of the best scenes are between these two ladies.

    Not helping the Renata/Madeline relationship is the latter’s new friend Jane (Woodley). She’s just moved to town with her son Ziggy, who might’ve caused serious trouble on his first day of school.

    It’s this event that initiates the show’s biggest mystery: A murder. Who did it? Who’s dead? The answer is not revealed in the first four episodes despite flash forward sequences in which we see an investigation taking place. As you continue to watch, it becomes increasingly clear that any of the characters could be be the victim or murderer. (This writer hasn’t read the book, so please don’t spoil me.)

    Big Little Lies is the perfect show to cuddle up with on Sunday evenings for the next two months. While some have called this show corny, I find it to be a delight. I just have one suggestion for every viewer: Bring a glass of alcohol to the party. While screening the episodes, I very much enjoyed watching the drama unfold with a drink in hand.

    The only problem? It’s just seven episodes long. Here’s hoping for more seasons or more adaptations of Moriarty’s books at HBO.

    Big Little Lies premieres Sunday, February 19 on HBO.