Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some films to get excited about in 2011

Note: this is a very preliminary list and I can't really go into much detail about some of these films because there's not been much info released about them, but either way, this is a list of films that I'm most excited about that is scheduled to be released this year. Later this week, I'll be making a list of early 2011 titles that have peaked my interest. For now, this is just an overall look of what to expect this year.

To be honest, I'm not too terribly enthralled by this year's list of upcoming films, but there are still a handful of films that I'm foaming out the mouth for.

top 15 films I'm definitely excited about:

The Tree of Life
Directed by Terrence Malick
starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn
coming out in May

I've been waiting for this film for quite some time now. I'm a big Terrence Malick film and considering the length of time that passes between his films, whenever one of them does come out, it's an event... at least for film geeks. Even though I'm expecting this to be as poetic and as philosophical as his other films, I'm hoping that there's an audience for this film. Malick's a really special director, one of the very best, and I'm expecting to be blown away by this film. I hope others will be too.

directed by Steven Soderbergh
starring half of Hollywood
coming out in October

Knowing that Soderbergh is considering hanging it up for good in about 2-3 years, means that we have to take advantage of the fact that we still have some time watch his films. Contagion is looking to be an amazing film with a wide array of cast members. After "Knockout" and "Contagion," there only appears to be about two more films left on Soderbergh's plate. So let's enjoy seeing his films on the big screen while we can.

The Descendants
directed by Alexander Payne
starring George Clooney
coming out this Fall, most likely

This will be Payne's first film since 2004 so I am definitely excited about "The Descendants." Alexander Payne is a great visual storyteller and he always brings the best out of his actors. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he works with George Clooney and am hoping he'll make more than two films this decade.

Young Adult
directed by Jason Reitman
starring Charlize Theron
release date TBA

Reitman, directed his second Diablo Cody script, is coming fresh off the success of "Up in the Air" which showed a lot of growth and maturity within the young director. Reitman only turns 34 this year and yet this will be his fourth film and he's already got two best director Oscar nominations. Obviously it's way too early to know if Young Adult will fall in the same path as "Juno" and "UITA" but I've been hearing that the Young Adult script is Cody's darkest, most mature. It'll be interesting to see how Reitman handles her script; how dark is he willing to go?

War Horse
directed by Steven Spielberg
coming out in December

Any sane person would put a dramatic, non-tentpole Spielberg film at #1 on their most anticipated films list but I'm not that sane. Regardless, I still am very excited to see Spielberg tell a non-blockbuster story and consider this is supposed to be a World War I story, I'm interested in seeing Spielberg explore that territory. It comes out in late December so you know that this film will be garnering a lot of awards attention by this time next year. Will it deserve it? We'll see.

The Skin That I Inhabit
directed by Pedro Almodovar
starring Antonio Banderas
release date TBA

A horror film directed by Pedro Almodovar, starring his old collaborator Antonio Banderas. Count me in.

Cowboys & Aliens
directed by Jon Favreau
starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford
coming out in June

Though I'm not a real big fan of Daniel Craig, the trailer for this film has definitely left me interested. This could be the big blockbuster film of the year, it has all the right pieces in place.

Hugo Cabret
directed by Martin Scorsese
starring Ben Kingsley
coming out in December

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited as hell for this movie. But, I have some reservations about the fact that it's being shot in 3D. Scorsese is master craftsman and I have no doubts about his skill, but I just wonder how well he'll be able to handle the 3D technology. Either way, this still is shaping up to be one hell of a film.

Red State
directed by Kevin Smith
starring Michael Parks, John Goodman
being shown at Sundance, release date TBD

Judging by the one minute teaser, this looks to be unlike anything Kevin Smith has ever done. Even if this turns out to be a failure, kudos to Kevin Smith for trying something new. I have feeling this is gonna come out successfully. Looking forward to it.

Damsels in Distress
directed by Whit Stillman
starring Adam Brody, Greta Gerwig

If you haven't heard of Whit Stillman then do yourself a favor and go rent Metropolis, Barcelona, and Last Days of Disco right now. Stillman was one of cinema's brightest back in the '90s with very sharp, well-written comedies of manners. Once you start to get into his films, you'll be wanting to wear a suit, drink some wine, and discuss existentialism while being extremely witty and sharp-tongued. That being said, Stillman hasn't made a film in 13 years! So that should only double the excitement. The old pro is going back in for another round. This time with a young cast and in a brand new decade. Let's see if he's still got it.

Rum Diary
directed by Bruce Robinson
starring Johnny Depp

As if 13 years was a long time between films, try 19 years. Bruce Robinson hasn't made a film since 1992, but two of the films he made are considered cult classics (Withnail & I, How to Get Ahead in Advertising). He's back behind the camera directing Johnny Depp in "Rum Diary" which is based on the classic Hunter S. Thompson novel of the same name. Fans of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas shouldn't expect the same type of craziness with this film as both novels that they're based on are remarkably different. Still, this looks like one hell of a combo. I'm excited for this.

Source Code
directed by Duncan Jones
starring Jake Gyllenhaal
coming out in April

Normally, I'd brush this film off to the side as its material could easily go wrong really fast. But Duncan Jones is the man behind "Moon," one of the best sci-fi films of the 2000s. Yeah, I said it. Even though this is just his 2nd film, the trailer actually looks really promising, and of course I want a young director like Duncan Jones to succeed. Here's to hoping that he will churn out another great film.

A Dangerous Method
directed by David Cronenberg
starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbinder

There are people who love Cronenberg but hate the fact that he's gone "mainstream" over the last decade. I'm not one of those people. Even though Cronenberg used to be one of the most daring and iconoclastic directors, his decision to helm some more serious films is applauded by me. Cronenberg has proven in the last 5 years that he's very skilled at directed other people's material and he's just as great at crafting films as a Scorsese or a Spielberg, it's just that he's spent so much of his time making his own weird, quirky films. A Dangerous Method looks like it could be a very interesting film, about the relationship between psychoanalysts Freud and Carl Jung. I'm really interested in seeing what Cronenberg does with this.

We Bought A Zoo
directed by Cameron Crowe
starring Matt Damon
coming out in December

Once again, we come across a filmmaker who just doesn't make films very often, but when he does, he strikes gold more often than not. However, Cameron Crowe hasn't really struck gold with his last two films. Vanilla Sky was a highly uneven affair and Elizabethtown kinda flat out sucked. But there's no reason to think We Bought a Zoo won't be a good film. Crowe has had six years between this and Elizabethtown. A good film by Cameron Crowe is something the world really needs this year.

Your Highness
directed by David Gordon Green
starring James Franco and Danny McBride
coming out in April

This film just looks flat out ridiculous and could turn out to be a massive failure, but I like almost everyone behind this film so there is no reason for me to think that it won't be good. It looks funny, judging by the trailer, and word on the street is that this film is so dirty, people can't believe it was only rated R. I can't wait.

some excitement, need more convincing
Muppet Movie

Jason Segel is largely behind the new Muppet Movie. Any normal person would be excited over a brand new Muppet Movie and I'm interested in seeing what Segel does with it. That being said, there are a number of ways this film could go wrong and, because of that, it has a chance to not be very good. So I have to wait for more before I officially get excited. Comes out in November.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Who am I to doubt David Fincher on this one? Over the last three years, Fincher has made three really good to great films. There's a pretty good chance that this will be great too and yet, I'm not too crazy about the whole Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. Perhaps after seeing a trailer, I will get more excited. This is coming out in December.

Jeff Who Lives at Home
The Duplass Bros are my new pair of directors that I constantly check up on. I really started getting into their films this year, especially with Cyrus, which I thought was a really good, very solid film and it has peaked my interest on these guys. I'm very interested in seeing what their second "mainstream" film will be like, but I'm not head over heels for these guys just yet. This could be the film that puts me over the edge.

The Ides of March
Directed by George Clooney, this could wind up being a great film but I'm not too fond of George Clooney the director. I don't think he does very interesting stuff, visually. So, I have some obvious reservations for this film.

Super 8
The next JJ Abrams film. The teaser for Super 8 has left me pretty excited, but I need more.

One Day
From the director of "An Education," starring Anne Hathaway. I thought An Education was good, but I wasn't too crazy about it. For director Lone Scherfig, I do see tons of potential and Anne Hathaway usually picks good material to work with. So this could be a very good film, but I need a little more than what An Education offered to me, which was a good film, but the plot was just too thin and superficial for me to fully embrace.

On the Road
Of course I'm excited for this adaptation of the classic Jack Kerouac novel, but then again... that novel was quite the classic so it'll be hard to imagine this film topping that. Walter Salles is the man responsible for the great "Motorcycle Diaries" though and he's behind this film as well. It's also being shot in black and white. So, who knows... still would need to see a trailer first.

Take This Waltz
Take This Waltz is the second film by bright up-and-coming director, Sarah Polley. Her first film Away From Her garnered a lot of acclaim so naturally her follow up should be getting a lot of attention. Starring Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams, it'll be interesting to see how Seth Rogen handles more serious material and if Sarah Polley is skilled enough to steer Rogen in the right direction. Even a great director like Noah Baumbach sort of faltered when he cast Jack Black in "Margot at the Wedding." Then again, there have been plenty of talented comic actors who have had success in dramatic films. Still, it needs to be seen to be believed.

The second film by director Steve McQueen. Here's another director who received a lot of acclaim for his first film. His first film was "Hunger" starring Michael Fassbinder which, unfortunately, I have not seen. Nevertheless, I'm still looking forward to this and I'll probably more excited for this after I eventually watch "Hunger."

New film by Lars von Trier. I loved Breaking the Waves from von Trier, but I'm not that huge of a fan of his work (although, to be fair, I haven't really seen his work before Breaking the Waves). Still, this highly controversial director looks to be at it again with this film and I have no reason not to be excited about it.

Obviously, there are other films coming out in 2011 that I missed, but these were the ones I'm most excited about. I will cover them more as I get more information on them, as well as other films that I missed out on.

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