Some of our biggest directors brought out long-simmering projects, with mixed results. Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” had a mysteriously beautiful performance from Daniel Day-Lewis and a few hushed, allusive sequences that captured Lincoln’s grandeur without solemnizing him. But too much of the film felt like a streamlined history lesson in the golden age of Hollywood mold. Quentin Tarantino’s pre-Civil War slave epic “Django Unchained” (opening Christmas) is his latest tasteless (sometimes hilariously so) pop mélange of blood and guts and revisionism. It’s his “Mandingo” redo.
Literary and theatrical adaptations were up and down. “Les Misérables” (also opening Christmas) was a great big fat enjoyable entertainment, with Anne Hathaway sporting what I sincerely hope will not become the new fashion look – shorn hair and hollowed cheeks.
“Anna Karenina” had one of those awful high concepts – all the world is literally a stage – plus Keira Knightley’s too-thin Anna and a Vronsky who resembled Justin Bieber with a moustache. “On the Road” was mostly in the ditch. I suppose we should be grateful that Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D “The Great Gatsby” was put off until next year. (I know, I know, don’t prejudge ...)